15 minutes of new Elden Ring gameplay footage debuted today (you can watch it above or on YouTube), meaning we have around 54,000 new frames of FromSoftware's latest fantasy sadscape to study. The autumnal forests of the Lands Between look gorgeous on horseback, but the real highlights of the video are the characters. FromSoftware's open world looks even more populated than we expected: The grotesquely adorable giant urn creatures made a triumphant appearance, as did those new spirit summons that we've been very curious about.
Here's what two of our Dark Souls-likers are most excited about ahead of Elden Ring's release in February.
The vase creatures have names and we are thrilled
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Yesterday, before we'd seen the new gameplay footage, Tyler said “I just need to know if the pot boys have names,” referring to the large urn creatures with arms we'd seen in screenshots early this year. They do have names, Tyler. Alexander the Iron Fist, no less. How do you feel?
Tyler Colp, Associate Editor: I love a pot boy with a name. I'm so glad they did it. I suspected the pot boys would talk and they did, or at least this one did. What if this one pot boy is cursed with the ability to speak? Actually, watching a second time makes me curious if the pot boys hold the souls of humans or something. It wouldn’t be a FromSoftware game if the pot boys weren't incredibly sad somehow.
A world we're excited to explore
Lauren: I admit I still had some reservations about a largely open world Souls-style game. Today put most of them to rest. It's beautiful, for starters. Sure, Irithyll of the Boreal Valley has been my desktop background since 2016, but I get the feeling any area of Elden Ring's overworld could easily contest that spot.
Beyond its looks though, I'm intrigued by what's going on in the Lands Between. Did you see that caravan of random enemies behind a huge vehicle being pulled by giants with spears in their backs? This footage didn't stop to figure out what's going on there, but I wanted to know! There was also that dragon attack and a horse ride through a lightning storm. It feels like From has made a world where things are happening around you—if not as much as in a proper sandbox game, then at least more so than your usual Souls game.
Tyler: I too have some reservations about an open world Souls-style game. My biggest worry is that it'll rob some of the elegance that FromSoftware finds in designing incredibly specific, mostly linear locations. One thing it's amazing at is leading your eye with items and enemies. It's not that it couldn't be done in an open world setting, but I'd assume it'll be much more difficult to do right.
I think my biggest takeaway from the environment in the gameplay preview was how alive it felt. Only until the later games in the Souls series did they feel like characters and enemies were actually living in the space. That's not a dig against the original Dark Souls, but when you go back, you can see where a lot of the life in that world is implied. Here, that doesn't seem to be the case. Dragons fly over you, caravans pass by, and everything moves on without you. The place looks like it has a big history, which makes you a little smaller.
I also want to point out how lush the trees and plant life look in this game. The other thing about Souls games is their worlds are often completely decayed. Here, only the things built by humans look eradicated. I'm very curious what that means, and how much that will resemble Game of Thrones, seeing as how George R.R. Martin did a lot of the world building for this game. A land where humans are simply a roadblock for, say, a giant, powerful tree, is ripe for narrative exploration.
Lauren: I didn't want to utter the words Breath of the Wild, but I get the sense we're both feeling it.
Tyler: I think Breath of the Wild wouldn't exist without Dark Souls. So much of that game emphasizes the tiniest details and inescapable sadness that comes with a setting like that. I think it's only natural that Elden Ring reaches backward and pulls some of that into the game. Someone please draw an Elden Ring Zelda!
The good hitbox gif
Lauren: I mean, just look at it. I don't think I can say anything that will top just watching at that slick near-miss. I can't wait to see more of these hitbox love gifs when Elden Ring launches.
Tyler: Actually, I sort of love how ridiculous the hitboxes are on Souls enemies. Don't get me wrong, this clip looks rad. I just think being scraped by a club and getting tossed across the map like a Dragon Ball Z character is classic Souls and I don't want it any other way. The Souls series is a comedy. Nobody can argue against me on that one.
Lauren: You're not wrong. It's just that I think laying down during a boss fight is peak comedy.
The impeccable fashion
Lauren: I adore game fashion. Even in Dark Souls, the endgame for me is often about grinding a particular enemy to get that specific armor piece that will complete my look. In the spirit of my old mysterious friends, the Dark Souls fashion police, I just want to slay with my sword and my outfit. There's a clifftop shot in today's footage with a wonderfully detailed blue robe outfit. Oh, and that sorcerer with the huge hat. That feels like classic FromSoftware to me: characters in dorky clothes just completely playing it straight. I want that hat.
Tyler: Oh, 100 percent. Dark Souls is a game about the inherent corruption of power and the ways in which it trickles down to those without it, but it's also a game about looking sick as hell. Give me golden armor, give me big witch hats, give me capes. I said earlier that this game looks more alive, and I want that to be represented in the kinds of outfits I can wear. I'm curious if any fan favorites like Havel's set will return.
Summons that look powerful
Tyler: Summons scare me. They look like a lot of fun, but they also imply that our power level as players is potentially incredibly high. And you know what that means? It means Elden Ring is going to pummel us with even more devastating enemies—I mean look, they even have several arms to do it with. That said, I think summons could offer a lot of dynamism to the combat that you don't get in previous Souls games, nor in a lot of action RPGs.
One sort of unspoken part about the Souls games is the sense of community that's built into their systems. These games want you to bring in other players and get help from NPCs. You're not in this alone. To me, Elden Ring's large-scale summons are a new extension of that ethos and I'm curious how they'll impact not only the combat but the game's subversion of what often looks like a lonely series of games.
Lauren: Yeah, I do wonder how summons will affect boss fights. These are clearly a big expansion on summons from Dark Souls, which are more rare and usually available for specific fights. Elden Ring's summoned creatures appear to be put to use a lot more frequently.
All that aside, I'm just a big sucker for collecting things. I also really enjoy playing summoners and necromancers in other RPGs. That shot in today's footage of the whole gang of summons just speaks to me. I will be thrilled to have a creature gang.