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Two years after release Miyazaki says Elden Ring’s world still has ‘a small element that I feel has not yet been discovered’

This week brought our first serious look at Shadow of the Erdtree, the major Elden Ring expansion set for release in June, and it certainly looks like FromSoftware is pushing the boat out. FromSoftware CEO and game director Hidetaka Miyazaki has gone on the interview circuit to accompany the trailer and, as well as being maddeningly vague about Bloodborne and re-claiming Dark Souls 2, has been musing on the secrets of Elden Ring’s appeal.

It turns out first of all that Miyazaki prefers the term “Souls-ish” to Soulslike, though that seems unlikely to stick, and in an interview with IGN went into some detail about FromSoft’s principles for building an open world without all the hand-holding typical of the genre.

“What I want to stress is that we didn’t set out with the goal to make an open world game in the traditional sense,” says Miyazaki. “We don’t set out to create a difficult game. We set out to create a challenging game. And in order to achieve that, we need there to be threats and dangers, and we need there to be unknowns.”

The unknowns have long been one of the Souls’ series real strengths, with numerous secrets and twists squirrelled-away in these huge worlds: I still remember how stunned I was to discover Ash Lake in Dark Souls. It is about creating a sense of discovery for the player, the wonderful illusion you’ve found something you weren’t supposed to, that in Miyazaki’s words “feel[s] like it’s there to be discovered.”

The director’s philosophy is simple: “Our main idea is just to trust players,” says Miyazaki. “We trust that they’ll overcome these challenges and we trust that they’ll make these discoveries. And I think giving them trust just creates a healthy landscape for them to play and adventure.”

Miyazaki goes on to discuss Dark Souls 2 and his role of supervisor on that project, which “just is maybe not a good fit” for his talents, and says it’s “very likely” future Souls-ish games will be directed by other FromSoft staff without Miyazaki being too involved. “I’d like to step away from that supervisory role and give them full direction and full control over those projects,” says Miyazaki. “I think really this is the best way and the easiest way for them to flourish within that environment and with those new projects.”

There’s some praise for the studio’s “great staff” and Miyazaki credits FromSoft’s productivity to being “able to understand quickly what we want to make”, “iterate [and] leave things on the chopping board.” After all, Elden Ring is gargantuan but one year later FromSoft also dropped Armored Core 6 to revive its dormant mech series, a game that was well-received and Miyazaki regards as “a success in the sense that it showed that there is still a place for Armored Core, at least for us.”

Perhaps most intriguing is the note Miyazaki ends on. IGN asks whether Elden Ring as it stands has anything left for players to uncover. The creator never gives entirely straight answers to stuff like this, which I’m a big fan of, and Elden Ring would not be alone in FromSoft’s oeuvre for holding long-undiscovered secrets alongside baseless fan myths about the same (see: Dark Souls’ pendant starting gift).

“For me personally, there is a small element that I feel has not yet been discovered,” says Miyazaki. “So, whether that’s up to user interpretation or up to just further investigation and playing, that’s something I’m looking forward to. I think it’s a question of when and not if, but there may be something small still missing.”

Well, Elden Ring sleuths: by my reckoning you’ve got around four months to puzzle this one out before Shadow of the Erdtree drops a whole lot more “unknowns” on us. Expectations for the expansion are justifiably high, and FromSoftware says both it’s the “largest expansion to date” for any of its games and has put a whopping $40 price tag on it (which weirdly enough inspires confidence). Until June, then, we can puzzle over the trailer’s mysteries, and wonder what small thing we’re still missing in the Lands Between.


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