“Elden Ring is a narrative collaboration between Hidetaka Miyazaki, creative director and game designer of the Soulsborne series, and George R. R. Martin, the author behind Game of Thrones. Players are immersed in the world of The Lands Between, with Elden Ring relying on the open narrative threads of an open world. A key role is played by Queen Marika, whose disappearance scattered the fragments of Elden Ring around the world. It is the player’s task to find the fragments of the Elden Ring and ascend to the rank of Elden Lord. The following text provides a detailed insight into the story of Elden Ring – be warned against spoilers!
Overview: History, Story, Lore of Elden Ring.
In December 2021, a first story trailer from publisher Bandai-Namco provided an early glimpse into the narrative world of Elden Ring. It lays out the basic narrative coordinates of the title, which sold over 12 million copies worldwide in just its first 17 days. The Shattering, in English: The Shattering, laid darkness over the land. It is the result of the broken Elden Ring, which plunges the region of the Interlands into chaos. A war of demigods unfolds, splitting the land and reducing its former beauty to ashes. From now on, the only hope is the Elden Lord (in the original: Elden Lord), the successor of the first Elden Lord Godfrey, who is supposed to unite the Elden Ring and the Interlands.
Once upon a time, the Intermediate Land, now ruled by Queen Marika, was a paradisiacal place. The shining Earth Tree in the heart of the land was and is closely linked to the power of the Ring. The breaking of the ring, however, has caused chaos, and the once beautiful intermediate land is no longer recognizable. The Golden Order, the Golden Order, is crumbling. Demigods wrestle for power, fight for the shards of the Elden Ring. With the title Elden Ring, Hidetaka Miyazaki emancipates himself from the narrative worlds of the Souls and Bloodborne series. The in-between land is a separate continent surrounded by water.
The player is immersed in the role of a stained, a Tarnished. Once upon a time, the Tarnished were banished, rejected by the mighty Earth Tree, no longer able to live in the Interland. But the shattering of the Elden Ring makes the Stained the only hope to defeat Chaos and help the Interland reach a new golden age. As a Stained, the player must confront the corrupted bearers of the Fragments, known as Shardbearers. They represent the powerful boss opponents of Elden Ring. In these battles, the player collects the fragments of Elden Ring to become the Elden Lord and restore the Golden Order.
The creators of the story – Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R. R. Martin
Hidetaka Miyazaki is now a household name for many gamers. The Japanese game designer and creative director at From Software has been closely associated with the Soulsborne series since Demon’s Souls. He is considered the creative mind behind the game design and storytelling of the famous role-playing series – and in this way, whether consciously or unconsciously, has been able to exert a creative influence on many developments in the current games industry. As a director and producer, he participated in the Dark Souls series (2011-2016) and also left his mark as a director in works such as Demon’s Souls (2009), Bloodborne (2015), and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019). His games are considered groundbreaking examples of modern role-playing game design. The thrilling boss fights in particular have become the trademark of the Soulsborne series. At the same time, Miyazaki does not shy away from reinventing himself. With Elden Ring (2022), he opens up his game world to the open world game principle, which promises players new freedom.
The renowned author George R. R. Martin also made an important contribution to the storytelling of Elden Ring. The author, born in 1948, published his first short stories as early as the 1970s. Since then, his greatest successes have included A Song of Ice and Fire, the multi-volume book series that debuted in 1996 and for which sequels are still announced. The writer also made a name for himself as a screenwriter and television producer with his involvement in Game of Thrones (2011-2019) – in the 1980s he already provided scripts for The Twilight Zone and later for The Outer Limits.
With Elden Ring, George R. R. Martin breaks new ground – and for the first time actively provides narrative elements for a popular role-playing game series. Although the degree of George R. R. Martin’s influence in storytelling remains unclear to this day, he at least made significant contributions to Elden Ring’s backstory and lore. As a fan, Miyazaki approached George R. R. Martin for a collaboration; according to Miyazaki, the two quickly realized how similar they were on this issue. Martin was closely involved with the worldbuilding and story of the world of Elden Ring, while the responsibility for the story lay primarily with Miyazaki. When it comes to deep immersion in the narrative world of Elden Ring, both Martin and Miyazaki undoubtedly left their mark.
Environmental Storytelling in Elden Ring – A Trademark of the Soulsborne Series
Environmental Storytelling has become a popular buzzword, especially in the context of the Soulsborne series. Environmental Storytelling describes a special narrative style in the game design of video games. The environment becomes the place of storytelling. The player discovers what might have happened on location in concrete places, in artifacts, and in present and past events. The player thus collects narrative fragments from place to place, which gradually come together like a puzzle to form an entire story. The design of the game world thus becomes a main character in the narrative of the video game.
Hidden places, curious artifacts and mysterious enemies have characterized Soulsborne’s narratives since the beginning. Thus, Dark Souls not only influenced the enemy design of role-playing games, it also expanded the understanding of how elemental the game world is to the narrative. In doing so, Miyazaki also always allowed for ambiguity in the world and a resulting speculation in the player’s mind. For example, Bloodborne’s backstory is known to only be fully embraced by playing through it multiple times and diving into fan speculation. In doing so, the game recommends knocking on every door and piecing together snippets of dialogue into a narrative whole. The player thus becomes an active participant in the creation of the narrative.
The open world of Elden Ring provides From Software’s creators with new ways to exploit environmental storytelling. The player’s free movement determines how they perceive the narrative world. It was always part of the principle of Soulsborne that the world is more than just scenery, that you can travel everything you see. Thus, the Earth Tree makes a prominent appearance in Elden Ring, representing a geographically important reference point in the open world of Elden Ring. In doing so, it is also key to Elden Ring’s narrative with its influence and history. Players don’t run through the world – and slay any bosses: the enemies are key figures in Elden Ring’s narrative as Shardbearers. With Elden Ring, Miyazaki and From Software deliver another example of modern environmental storytelling.
Lore and Characters – More about the story of Elden Ring
Although environmental storytelling is a visible part of Elden Ring, From Software has opted for a more direct approach to the story this time. At least to understand the basic story, you don’t have to search long: quest givers, sequences and items communicate the core story of Elden Ring more directly, while the open world still keeps many secrets. The open world also introduces nonlinear elements into the storytelling: The player directly or indirectly determines when and in what way he experiences certain game moments.
In the process, the player meets numerous characters who are interwoven with the story. First and foremost is Queen Marika the Eternal, the godlike queen whose kingdom fell after the destruction of the Elden Ring. Her children are demigods who carry great runes with them. Among the first characters the player meets is Melina, who helps the player with items and information throughout the story. A mysterious aura is spread by the NPC Renna, she is also closely connected to the events of Elden Ring. She allows you, spoiler, to summon spirits during the course of the game.
Besides that, as is usual for a From Software title, numerous bosses appear that are connected to the story. Among the early opponents is Godrick the Grafted, who is one of the powerful demigods with a part of the Elden Ring. Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy, Renna, Queen of the Full Moon and the Star Scourge Radahn are also part of the ensemble of boss opponents and in some of the cases powerful demigods. Those who play Elden Ring should not forget certain basic principles of the Soulsborne series to get acquainted with the story: Read item descriptions carefully, talk to all NPCs exhaustively and explore every nook and cranny. This is how the full complexity of Elden Ring, the new masterpiece by Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R. R. Martin, unfolds.
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In summary: Story of Elden Ring
A dark age has descended upon the land between: The Elden Ring has scattered to all points of the compass, and the demigods have made off with its shards. The player must set out on a quest as the Tainted One to complete the Elden Ring and attain the rank of Elden Lord. From Software once again relies on environmental storytelling, thrilling boss fights and – this time new – an open world full of narrative secrets.