Good news: Elden Ring, one of the most hotly anticipated videogames of the last few years, is not vaporware. It will actually exist. In fact, it will exist in your very own hands (or, most likely, within the digital confines of your hard drive) starting on January 21, 2022—you know, if it doesn’t get delayed, like every videogame does at one time or another.
If you aren’t familiar with the legend of Elden Ring, well, sit down and we’ll tell you a tale. It was originally announced at E3 2019 as a collaboration between the creators of two massively popular franchises: Hidetaka Miyazaki of From Software, the studio behind the Dark Souls games, and a guy you might’ve heard of named George R. R. Martin, who created all that Game of Thrones business. Dark Souls and its sequels and spiritual successors were one of the biggest (and unlikeliest) of gaming success stories in the 2010s, and HBO’s adaptation of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire was pretty much the last pre-streaming TV phenomenon, so jamming the two together was obviously going to grab a lot of headlines.
And then, after that initial announcement, there was complete radio silence from everyone involved. So much so that it became a sort of running joke among videogame circles that Elden Ring was quietly cancelled, or delayed indefinitely, or fell into the same black hole as Martin’s next Song of Ice and Fire novel, which he’s been working on for at least a decade.
Well, that isn’t the case. Yesterday Bandai Namco shattered that silence, not just confirming the game was still in the works but revealing both a trailer and a release date. You’ll be able to enter the (no-doubt extremely light-hearted and jolly) world hashed out by Miyazaki and Martin early next year, and if you want a glimpse of it, here’s that trailer.
Despite all the stress and concern over the silence surrounding the game, its actual timeline will wind up being very typical of a major release—assuming it does come out in January. Two and a half years from announcement to release isn’t in any way unusual or extreme in this world. The absolute lack of any updates, though, coupled with the reputation of missed deadlines fostered by at least one of the project’s above-the-fold creatives, understandably created a wariness over whether the game would ever actually exist. Fans of Miyazaki, Martin, Dark Souls and Game of Thrones are no doubt happy to be proven wrong.
Bandai Namco’s press release reveals a few details about the game, including a day and night cycle, a weather system, and the ability to play alone or online with others. Hell, let’s quote it at length:
A new world filled with fantastic tales and lore has been woven by Hidetaka Miyazaki – creator of the influential and critically acclaimed DARK SOULS video game series; and George R.R. Martin – author of The New York Times best-selling fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Players will embark on a journey across a meticulously handcrafted world dripping in blood and deception brought upon by a variety of characters with their own unique motivations for helping or hindering the player’s progress, adversaries with profound backgrounds, and fearsome creatures. Throughout their adventures, players will choose the fate of this cursed land by unravelling its secrets and myths.
Featuring a vast and seamless landscape with natural weather and time-of-day progression, players will become fully immersed in the world of ELDEN RING as they begin their journey and choose on their own path. Traverse on foot or horseback, alone or online with friends across grassy plains, suffocating swamps and lush forests. Ascend spiraling mountains, enter breathtaking castles, and witness other sites of grandeur on a scale never seen before in a FromSoftware title. ELDEN RING’s role-playing and customization options allow players to define their own unique playstyle. Experimentation is encouraged with a wide variety of weapons, magical abilities and skills found throughout the world; enticing players to follow previously unexplored progression paths.
ELDEN RING gives players the opportunity to chart their own path through its world. Choose to run headlong into fierce battles against daunting foes or take advantage of the game’s stealth and combat systems to gain the upper hand. It is up to the player to decide how to handle the many challenges that lay before them.
So it sounds like a videogame. Nice. The trailer also reveals a deeply From-style aesthetic, with crumbling ruins, a hushed voiceover making esoteric pronouncements, a knight in battered armor fighting hand-to-hand against shambling enemies… if it wasn’t for the ability to ride (and apparently fight from on top of) a horse, this could easily be the next official Souls game. But about a ring instead of souls, I guess.
We’ll no doubt learn more between now and January 21. Until then you’re free to watch that trailer again and again—if you can get past that YouTube age gate.