We’re probably just around the corner from receiving some news about Elden Ring’s upcoming DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree. After all, it’s been over a year since FromSoftware’s grueling yet contemplative action game came out. People are ready to move onto newer and better things, right? But as dataminers like Sekiro Dubi show, the popular open-world game is still rich with secrets of its own.
This much was apparent from the get-go, of course. Exploring the Lands Between made it evident that something was amiss, game-wise, to nearly anyone experiencing the game. Nowhere was this more obvious than when the game lost steam midway through and bosses started getting reused left and right. It wasn’t long before dataminers found proof that the game had changed a ton during development, both on a macro and micro level. What we’ve learned so far has been wild, ranging from complicated mechanics involving collecting monsters to developing a murderous clone, questing with your trusty merchant, and even learning what the hell was going on with that dude on the game’s cover. I’m only mentioning the highlights here, because it would probably take an essay to explain how cut content suggests that Elden Ring might have some time-travel shenanigans going on.
And now, there’s more. What’s just been released to the public doesn’t feel quite as earth-shattering as some of the earlier revelations about what could have been, but it does portray a much different version of Elden Ring. It’s also the closest thing we have to a development diary or a behind-the-scenes glimpse, though there’s definitely a lot of interpretation involved. Here, we learn of a character named Guilbert, a “Redeemer” who sure loves the idea of vengeance. Guilbert will probably look very familiar to you if you played through the Radahn portions of Elden Ring, but his story was originally quite different than the character you go on to meet. In this version of the game, you could have teamed up with Guilbert to take down the first major boss in Limgrave.
Heck, you would have interacted with the entirety of the opening sequences much differently overall, both mechanically (there are sections where you’re harassed with summons) and lore-wise (you learn more about Malenia, Radahn, and Godrick through Giulbert). Perhaps the Redeemers were intended as a joinable covenant faction, an idea which only barely survived into the full release.
It apparently took a year to restore all this cut content into what you see in the video above, though Sekiro Dubi tells Kotaku that the datamining community has known about the character for a while now. It’s one thing to see evidence of a character or their dialogue, Sekiro suggested, but it’s another thing to research all the maps and “which exact locations that NPC appeared, how it behaved, when and where it said dialogue X, and so on.”
It was an iterative process, and it came together after larger discoveries started forming a breadcrumb trail of information. New code, map, and character discoveries like the ones mentioned earlier in this post changed the context of older bits of code, map, and character discoveries.
“Why put the effort? Why not?” Sekiro Dubi said of the year put into the quest recreation. “It’s my hobby, and I like to try to build the development history of Elden Ring, trying to understand how they were making design decisions, moving NPCs around, improving/changing translations. It’s an interesting process that shines light into how Elden Ring was made.”