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Elden Ring release date, trailer, George R.R. Martin and multiplayer

"I doubt you could even imagine it. That which commanded the skies, giving life its fullest brilliance. The Elden Ring."

Oh, the Elden Ring. Ever since we heard these words at 2019's E3 we've been doing nothing but imagine exactly what the Elden Ring game entails. The lovechild of FromSoftware's auteur, Hidetaka Miyazaki of Dark Souls fame, and the fantasy legend behind A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, it quickly captured the hearts and minds of gamers and bookworms alike. The united brutality and skill of an author like Martin and a developer like Miyazaki promises an unparalleled experience of masterful storytelling and precise gameplay.

We think. The thing is, most of what we know about this mysterious game comes from whispers, leaks, cryptic interviews, and a few scant moments of trailer. Even these little tidbits, however, are enough to convince us that Elden Ring is going to be a great big deal in the world of gaming.

Elden Ring's trailer is cinematic, cryptic, and cool

Sparking to life on stage at the Microsoft conference during 2019's E3, the world premiere of the Elden Ring trailer both captivated and confused excited audience members. Announcing a new world crafted by Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin, the trailer is cinematic, poetic, and most of all mysterious. True to FromSoftware form, we're not sure what's going on, but it looks dramatic, all wreathed in elaborate armor and body horror. 

The trailer's mournful narrator tells us that the Elden Ring, something apparently important, was shattered by someone ... or something. We see a many-armed man offering up a severed limb, a knight in golden armor on a ruined battlefield shrugging on a prosthetic arm, and a blacksmith of sorts pounding away at something, each blow cracking open their skin as if they're hewn from rock. Could they be destroying the Elden Ring? What is it? Where does this take place? This first trailer was short on answers but effectively got the world talking about Elden Ring.

Elden Ring's release date is currently a mystery

The E3 trailer wasn't the first time we heard about Elden Ring. Just a few days before the conference, there was a leak that revealed both the name of the game and George R.R. Martin's newfound partnership with FromSoftware. Maybe because of this, FromSoftware, and by extension Bandai Namco, have been tight-lipped about any information surrounding the game. 

It was rumored that FromSoftware had initially planned to give an inside look at Elden Ring to a choice few reporters at Gamescom. It turns out that this wasn't the case; publisher Bandai Namco has been open about every game other than Elden Ring. Thus we can only speculate on when the release date might be. Typically, there have been two or three years between the release of Dark Souls titles. FromSoftware gave the world Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in March 2019, so perhaps we'll finally learn what the Elden Ring is come 2021. Maybe sooner. For now, we can only hope and sharpen our parrying skills.

Elden Ring is definitely a FromSoftware game

Both Martin and Miyazaki have reputations for being a little bit sadistic. Martin tortures his characters with cruel and unusual plotlines, and Miyazaki challenges his players to seemingly impossible duels. In interviews given about the game, Miyazaki has stressed that Elden Ring will be just as challenging as any of the other games from FromSoftware, saying in an interview with Xbox Wire, "The importance we place on the joy the player experiences through overcoming challenges will be the same as it is in our other titles. I believe it will prove to be a very satisfying experience." 

Expect not only boss fights, but also an unprecedented focus on the RPG elements of the game. Miyazaki said that players will be able to customize their characters and their fighting styles with a wide range of weapons, magics, and ways to engage, and hopefully defeat, enemies. The third person action RPG will have a greater range of player choice than ever before; but at its core, Miyazaki says it is still certainly a FromSoftware game: "Of course, we are not shying away from the fun of responsive melee-based combat, and these elements will be present as well."

Elden Ring has multiplayer ... maybe

Elden Ring is one mysterious game. The internet is rife with rumors as gamers try to decipher what this game is all about, when we get to play it, and how. As with other Soulsborne games from FromSoftware, the Elden Ring experience will be on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. That's about all we know for sure.

Then there's the rumor mill. 4chan, that old den of iniquity, hosted some posts claiming that Elden Ring is a multiplayer game featuring a hunter, a warrior, and a giant as they take on creatures from Norse mythology, specifically frost giants, draugr, and shape-shifting water spirits. There's no way of knowing if this is true, but other fans have noted that the mythology of the game could be Norse or even Celtic in nature.

4chan is hit and mostly miss with these kind of rumors; sometimes they prove shockingly accurate, whereas usually these "leaks" are just a bunch of hogwash. Considering George R.R. Martin's affinity for telling stories with multiple main characters, there is at least some basis for this multiplayer rumor.

George R.R. Martin + FromSoftware = Elden Ring

Hidetaka Miyazaki is a self-professed fan of George R.R. Martin's work, so much so that he recommends Martin's antebellum vampire novel Fevre Dream to every new employee at FromSoftware. Martin is well known for getting ridiculously in depth about the world his characters inhabit, something FromSoftware wanted for their open world game. 

Martin didn't write the story that players will experience when they load up Elden Ring; he wrote the world's past, rather than its present. In an interview with IGN, Miyazaki explained that this was the best way for the partnership to work: "Storytelling in video games – at least the way we do it at FromSoftware – comes with a lot of restrictions for the writer. I didn't think it was a good idea to have Martin write within those restrictions. By having him write about a time the player isn't directly involved in, he is free to unleash his creativity in the way he likes. Furthermore, as FromSoftware we didn't want to create a more linear and storydriven experience for Elden Ring. Both issues could be solved by having Martin write about the world's history instead."

Could Elden Ring be about Celtic folklore? Or Norse?

Is the apparently lush lore that George R.R. Martin penned for Elden Ring 100% original, or is it steeped in an age old mythology? This is the question that newfound fans of the mysterious game are trying to answer by analyzing the trailer for hints. The wealth of severed arms have led some fans to believe that Elden Ring is based in Celtic mythology. In Celtic myth, one of the first kings of Ireland was Nuada, who loses an arm in battle. According to the law, a mangled man cannot rule, so he was forced to step down as king. Favoring Nuada, a warrior god created a silver arm for the outcast king. The god's son one-upped his dad and miraculously fashioned Nuada's missing arm out of flesh and bone, allowing for Nuada to ascend the throne once more. 

Nuada is especially well known for the magical weapon he wielded against his foes: the Sword of Light. This was one of four treasures brought to the new land from Scandinavia, where the Norse gods rule. It's possible that Martin took inspiration from both Celtic and Norse mythos when making the world of Elden Ring. Only time will tell.

A spiritual successor to Eternal Ring? Or Dark Souls?

Once upon a time there was a FromSoftware game called Eternal Ring. In this first person RPG, Cain Morgan arrives on the Island of No Return in search of the mythical and magical Eternal Ring. Just as Demon Souls was the spiritual precursor to Dark Souls, fans have started scrutinizing Eternal Ring for signs that Elden Ring could be its spiritual successor.

By contrast, there is some tenuous "evidence" that suggests that Elden Ring could be connected to the Dark Souls universe. The poster for the game is just as cryptic as the trailer: three scratchy, golden rings. For some, this looks very similar to some Nordic runes. Others say that the poster is reminiscent of an inverted sign of the holy symbol of the Aldrich Faithful, a covenant in Dark Souls 3. Dark Souls fans are putting their (aldrich) faith in this theoretical connection, hoping that Elden Ring is somehow a part of the larger Dark Souls universe.

Elden Ring will be big and filled with lore (and horses)

Here's what we know about Elden Ring: it's going to be big. And not just in the sense that we're sure the whole gaming world will be enraptured with it upon release. Rather, one of the things we know for sure is that Elden Ring will be an open world game with a massive, massive map. It will be too big to get around on foot, and therefore there will be horses for players to ride around on. 

According to Miyazaki in an interview with IGN, this environment will allow for players to slowly uncover the lore lovingly crafted by George R.R. Martin: "We are known for letting the player explore the game's lore through fragments of environmental storytelling, and this time around Martin's story is what you will be trying to unravel." Players will be able to travel around to multilevel castles and treacherous villages; Miyazaki says that villages are the same kind of dangerous dungeons we've come to expect from FromSoftware. But this new kind of open world was a challenge for the developer, proving that Elden Ring will be unlike the Soulsborne games that came before it.

What is the Elden Ring?

We know that Elden Ring is a game, but what is the Elden Ring? Whatever it is, it was at one time a big deal, seeing as it "commanded the skies" and "[gave] life its fullest brilliance." But it was destroyed, shattered by an unknown assailant. 

From what Miyazaki has let slip, it does not seem that the Elden Ring is anything like The Lord of the Ring's own MacGuffin, the One Ring. Rather, the Elden Ring is a concept of reality, like the circle of life. Having been destroyed or disrupted, the world is now darker and more dangerous. This theory seems to be confirmed by Miyazaki, who said in an interview with Xbox Wire, "Elden Ring is the name given to a mysterious concept that defines the world itself. As the trailer at the conference implied, this 'Elden Ring' has been shattered. The significance of this will be one of the important themes of the game. That's about all I can say at this point in time."

The Elden Ring could be coming soon (to a Target near you)

Target has gained something of an infamous reputation in the games industry. Over and over again, Target has leaked release dates before the respective game's publisher was able to, listing the date that gamers can order the game before they hear about it via carefully crafted media announcements and press releases. Could Target have already leaked the release date for Elden Ring? Not likely, but here's why Target's listing for the game has internet sleuths excited. 

Currently Target's listing for Elden Ring puts the release date on June 30, 2020. This is a date that is often used as a placeholder by online retailers, however, alongside the more usual Dec. 31. Fans have theorized that because the year is included, it could be possible that Elden Ring will be released in 2020. Additionally, the June date rather than the December date apparently suggests that the game would come out in the first half of the year. These are all just theories, but downright exciting ones should they prove to be credible. (Which, right now, they're not. But we can dream, can't we?)

The Elden Ring subreddit is making up fake lore

The Elden Ring subreddit appears to have gone mad. Driven bonkers by a lack of news on the game, they have taken it upon themselves to make up facts, characters, weapons, and areas in the game that are 100% not at all real. But they can dream. 

Rabid Elden Ring fans are dreaming of Glaive Master Hodir, Shattered Vikings, and Illad of Edea. They talk about these characters as if they are already playing the game, poking fun at how difficult Hodir is to beat or asking for advice as to where to find the Branch of Akasha. This "fake lore" goes so deep that if you stumbled upon r/Eldenring, you might be convinced that the game has been out for a while. The fake lore doubles down on the theory that Elden Ring will be based, if only loosely, in Norse mythology, photoshopping winged helmets and hammers onto their contextless memes.

While we don't yet know what kind of story George R.R. Martin has in mind, he might do well to take some inspiration from this wacky subreddit. They have woven a deep and apparently touching tale in a world that doesn't yet exist.