Oh Elden Ring, now that we've seen a proper trailer, and a large handful of screenshots, it's time to comb both for clues about what's old and new compared with From Software's past Souls joints. One of the neatest new bits, which I think will actually impact how I play, is how From have expanded the summoning system for Elden Ring. Souls games have previously let you summon NPC characters and other players to fight beside you. According to an interview with game director Hidetaka Miyazaki, Elden Ring will also let you summon your enemies, and I'm simply thrilled by the idea of turning baddies into my sidekicks.
Elden Ring's summoned characters look pretty familiar to the Souls games. They're the blue, transluscent folks that you can spot here in the trailer at the 1:41 mark.
Of note though, those summoned assitants don't look to be your Sun Bros or Onion Knights. No, those pals are apparently former enemies. Miyakazi explained a bit about summons in an interview with IGN:
"Usually they're enemy characters, but you can summon them as allies to assist you in battle. So those were the local offline summons. And these spirit summons, we feel like – as well as there being a large variety to them – they're a nice collectable hidden element within the game world to discover and to equip as you go. They offer a lot of different strategic options, but also the player might find that they just like a certain enemy tagging along with them, a certain summon pleases them aesthetically. So there's a lot of strategic and a lot of personal touch to these summons. And we hope that players will also enjoy discovering their own progression elements as well."
Elden Ring will also have online player summons, of course, Miyazaki adds. That's well and good, and I do fully enjoy stomping around FromSoft games with my pals. I find the idea of enemies collected as little sidekicks quite enjoyable though.
This excites me on a couple levels. At the most basic, I always enjoy the mix of sounds in FromSoft games. There's so much silence that the crunchy, metallic clomp swish stomp of another being trailing behind you is so satisfying to hear. "Ah yes, my little buddy," I look forward to thinking to myself as I hear the clip clomps of some platemail monstrosity following me like a pet dog.
On another level, Souls games have a very catching feeling of stomping on enemies that were once quite difficult. You know how it is, getting thrashed by the same fella with a giant spear several times before a combination of leveling up and muscle memory eventually make them trivial to dispatch. That sense of mastery feels nice. I imagine that adding further insult to injury by bringing those enemies along as your new pals will feel even nicer.
Clock that blue pal with the whip at the 1:45 mark in the trailer. That looks like a baddie that will have trashed me several times before I'm able to summon them.
Oh, and, there's the co-op implications too. I suspect that Elden Ring will likely let you concurrently summon a mix of NPCs and players as past Souls games have. I quite hope that I'll have the opportunity to impress a stranger with a rare summon and then be able to show them where to find it for themselves. That's the spirit of Souls, to me.
Of course now I'm wondering if Elden Ring's lovely little vase fellas are enemies, and if so can they be summoned. Talk about a summon which is aesthetically pleasing.
There's plenty more to pore through in IGN's interview if you're keen. Miyazaki talks a lot about how there's more "freedom" in Elden Ring. It comes up in how skills are not tied to weapon types, allowing more customisation in combat builds. There's talk of horseback riding and fast travel and how Elden Ring will still largely allow you to tackle areas of the game in whatever order suits you—though there is an expected main route. He explains Elden Ring's relatively light stealth system as well.
Elden Ring has now announced its launch date for January 21st, 2022. It will be arriving on PC via Steam and will be available on PlayStations and Xboxes as well.