Elden Ring director Hidetaka Miyazaki recently sat down with Japanese gaming outlet Famitsu to discuss the upcoming From Software adventure following its stunning reintroduction at E3 2021. While their conversation treads similar ground to other interviews, Miyazaki also got into the ways his team is hoping to make the game more welcoming to newcomers.
Since releasing 2009’s Demon’s Souls on the PlayStation 3, From Software has carved out a niche in the gaming world for its unique brand of unforgiving combat. A Souls-like, as these games and their imitators have come to be known, can often feel overwhelmingly difficult, but they also provide a great sense of accomplishment to those players who take the time to persevere and master the mechanics.
This has led to some heated conversations about whether or not From Software should add easier difficulty options to future games, with one side arguing for increased accessibility and the other suggesting that decreasing difficulty would amount to the studio not remaining true to its ethos or, in more hyperbolic appeals, cheating oneself out of a fulfilling experience.
Elden Ring won’t feature traditional difficulty levels, Miyazaki reportedly told Famitsu, but he believes its new systems make the game a more forgiving experience than previous From Software releases like Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
According to translations by Frontline Gaming Japan, Miyazaki puts Elden Ring’s difficulty on par with Dark Souls III due to its open-world nature as well as mechanics like stealth and the customizable spirit summons that should make combat less overwhelming.
Since Elden Ring is less linear than previous games, bosses—a historically important part of the Souls-like experience—can be avoided in favor of exploring a new area. From Software hopes this leads to fewer instances of players getting stuck on a boss battle and not being able to advance the story. The game can even be completed without defeating some bosses, Miyazaki said, a side effect of the freedom of choice for which the developers are striving.
Multiplayer is also a factor, and while details are scarce, Miyazaki mentioned that the online system makes it easier to call in backup this time around. And if all else fails, Elden Ring players can still leave messages scattered around the world, providing tips and words of encouragement or simply commiserating at tough points in the game. Don’t give up, skeleton!
I don’t expect Elden Ring to end the difficulty arguments, but it’s nice to hear what From Software is doing to make its wonderful, epic adventures more accessible. Its long-awaited game finally launches on January 21, 2022 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam.