We recently got our biggest look at Elden Ring to date. The new trailer included lots of new gameplay footage and story teasers. One thing we already knew about ahead of E3 was George R. R. Martin’s involvement in the game.
The famous author, who is best known for working on the Game Of Thrones books, was brought in as a consultant for Elden Ring. Martin created the world and the story the game is set in. He also consulted on other aspects of the game through development.
Interestingly, Martin recently said he finished his work on the game years ago. That would have been around the time he was also consulting on the penultimate and final seasons of Game Of Thrones.
To that end, we couldn’t help but ponder how Martin’s work on the Game Of Thrones series might shape Elden Ring’s narrative and world.
From Software is well-known for its elaborate plots. However, it hasn’t always done the best job of presenting them. Hidden away in item descriptions, the world or buried between the lines, it’s up to the player to piece together the narrative. From Software moved away from this blueprint with 2019’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The developed followed a more traditional narrative set up that included a named and voice-acted protagonist.
Elden Ring appears to feature From Software’s more traditional storytelling. It will have a customisable protagonist who acts as a vessel for the player in the world. This doesn’t mean things are going to be exactly the same though. Martin’s literary approach to storytelling could drive From Software down a different route in the way it delivers stories.
Martin actually had very little to do with the story itself. He was instead tasked with building the overall world and mythos. This is interesting because previous From Software titles typically design worlds as a backdrop to the overarching narrative and individual character stories. Game Of Thrones was interesting because the world wasn’t just there as a backdrop. Several elements of the Known world in GOT were pivotal to the story. The likes of the wall and north of the wall were major plot devices throughout the entire series.
We’ve seen very little of the story so far, but from gameplay alone we can see that From Software is placing much more focus on the world. Miyazaki has already confirmed that The Lands Between will be the biggest game world in the series to date. With so much emphasis on the world, it would be weird for the team not to make it a key element of the narrative.
Martin has already been pretty vocal about his distance from the project. It's likely he won’t have much of an impact on the characters. This doesn’t mean that the team won’t be inspired by Martin’s work. Elden Ring’s director Miyazaki is a huge fan of GOT and reportedly recommends Martin’s work to new fans.
One of the benefits of telling a story in books is that the author has more time to explore individual characters. Video games are typically better at telling the story of one primary character, while providing briefer presentations of characters in the world. From Software has told some of my favourite stories in gaming through its supporting characters. Whether it’s the tragic tale of Sif and Artorias from Dark Souls or Father Gascoigne and his family’s untimely end. From Software has never been afraid to explore deep intertwining stories.
Unfortunately, those stories were easily missed. Here’s hoping Martin’s ability to tell great stories directly to readers will translate to Elden Ring. There should always be some extra details lingering just beneath the surface, but the ability to directly convey stories to players would make the world far more engaging.
Set pieces and events
As much as I adore the Souls series, it always felt like you were traversing areas after battles had ended. Some of the biggest areas often showed the signs of a hard-fought battle. You as the player, were tasked with picking off the few remaining enemies. Sekiro moved away from this slightly, by providing some of the most cinematic set pieces in the series to date.
Martin commonly uses grand set pieces in the Game Of Thrones books to tie together numerous character arcs. Everything from the Battle Of The Bastards through to the battle at Blackwater satisfyingly tied numerous character plots together From a cinematic standpoint, the TV adaptations of these fights were visual spectacles, which needed to be seen to be believed.
Elden Ring could channel those epic set pieces by creating large-scale events in its world. Rather than being the character that arrives days, weeks or even years later, you could play a primary role in turning the tide. Footage of Elden Ring’s world has already shown that there is already the scope for such large scale set pieces. Here’s hoping we see a battle or two throughout the story, we already know horseback combat exists, so it isn’t impossible.