It seems like forever since Hidetaka Miyazaki's and George R.R. Martin's pet project was announced. First revealed at E3 2019, "Elden Ring" has had quite a bit of anticipation no doubt stemming from the pedigree behind it. The game is being developed by From Software, directed by the creator of "Dark Souls," and written by the author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels: the series that spawned the "Game of Thrones" TV show. According to IGN, a trailer showcasing some gameplay and story was recently unveiled at The 2021 Game Awards hosted by Geoff Keighley.

The First Flame

Hidetaka Miyazaki worked at From Software on the "Armored Core" games, but the "Souls" series is where he really made a name for himself. For the uninitiated, "Dark Souls" is a series set in a world where a curse has caused many of its inhabitants to become insane or "hollow." A fire known as the First Flame is the only thing keeping its human inhabitants from becoming fully undead and ushering the Age of Dark. Players took on the role of a fully customizable undead warrior who escapes from an asylum and is tasked with acquiring the Lord Souls. Once they do, it's up to them to decide whether to extinguish the First Flame or buy this doomed world a little more time.

"Dark Souls" was noted for two things: its brutal difficulty and its lore.

While other games tend to hold your hand with frequent checkpoints, health pickups, and tutorials, "Dark Souls" most certainly didn't. Players were pretty much left to themselves to figure out how basic gameplay elements worked. Enemies were no pushovers, and the slightest mistake could mean a lot of damage or even death. The only means players had to heal themselves was with a flask that had limited uses.

Once players used up their flask, they'd have to fill it up at the next bonfire.

Bonfires were scattered throughout the land and could be earned after defeating a boss. However, the trek from a bonfire to the next boss was always a considerable one, with many enemies and hazards along the way. Players could also level up their skills with the souls of those they had slain at these bonfires.

Whenever a player bit the dust, they'd respawn to the last bonfire they lit, and all the souls they accumulated would be lost in the process.

Much like "Castlevania," the game was deliberately minimalist in its storytelling, putting it in the background for players to discover and interpret themselves. That's not to say that narrative played no part in the experience. While cutscenes were put on the back burner, it was practically drenched in lore and atmosphere, defined by distinct locales and memorable characters- some tranquil and many considerably not.

The "Souls" games pretty much formed the blueprint for other From Software titles such as "Bloodborne" and "Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice," and the upcoming "Elder Ring."

You win or you die

George R.R.

Martin is of course no stranger to the fantasy genre, and Hidetaka Miyazaki is a huge fan of his work. It is for this reason that Miyazaki approached Martin with the prospect of a collaboration. Miyazaki has given Martin full creative control of the game's backstory and the world with even some of the staff who worked on the "Game of Thrones" television adaption assisting. Namco Bandai's official website has also unveiled a plot synopsis, some concept art, and screenshots.

In a place known as the Lands Between, Queen Marika the eternal rules. When the Elden Ring is shattered, her kin claims the shards for themselves, prompting a war that causes them to be abandoned by the Greater Will. Players will journey through the Lands Between on foot or horseback to explore its scenic locales and do battle with terrifying creatures and opponents with rich backstories.

"Elden Ring" is slated for a January 2022 release on PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PS4, and Xbox One.