Elden Ring is the next dark fantasy game by FromSoftware, but how does the multiplayer work, and how does it compare to previous Souls games?
While Elden Ring is a new IP by FromSoftware, made in collaboration with George R.R. Martin, it borrows heavily from previous games in the Souls catalog. The trailers show a bleak fantasy world, not unlike the ones we’ve seen in Dark Souls. Elden Ring’s multiplayer will also resemble previous Souls games in many ways.
The Elden Ring gameplay preview confirmed that co-op, PvP, and invasions are all returning from earlier games. Since then, the Elden Ring beta has given us our first look at the game’s multiplayer. Those who’ve played a Souls game before will instantly be at home with the mechanics of Elden Ring’s multiplayer.
Elden Ring’s multiplayer
The co-op gameplay in Elden Ring should be familiar to players. Hosts can summon guests into their world to support them in combat and aid in exploration. Guest characters will take the form of guardian spirits, meaning if you’re playing as one, you can only interact with the world in a limited way.
For example, you can move around, battle enemies, and collect Rune Fragments (this game’s currency and version of ‘souls’), but you cannot progress in quests or rest at Sites of Grace (bonfires). This can only be done in your own world, but there are still lots of benefits to joining another’s game – more on this shortly.
Those wishing to summon aid can do so by using a consumable item called a Furlcalling Finger Remedy. This will enable you to see other players’ golden signs on the floor. By stepping on them, you’ll then be given the option to summon that player as a guardian spirit. Furlcalling Finger Remedies are limited in number, and players will need to gather them in solo play if they wish to summon help frequently. Therefore it may be wise to use them sparingly, such as when needed for boss fights or against invaders.
However, like the similar functioning Humanity consumable in Dark Souls, we expect Furlcalling Finger Remedies will become more plentiful as the game goes on. FromSoftware will not want to restrict those coming to the game for its multiplayer components too much.
Joining another player’s world
Entering the world of another player can be very rewarding. While you’ll be unable to advance in quests, it’s still an excellent way to gather Rune Fragments. It’s also a good way to scout areas and learn boss battle strategies ahead of facing these obstacles in your own world. Downed bosses drop a large chunk of Rune Fragments too, so it’s an ideal way of leveling up.
To enter the world of another player, you’ll need to use an item called the Tarnished Furled Finger. Unlike the Furlcalling Finger Remedies, this is not a consumable item and can be used as many times as you like. You’ll also begin the game with one, meaning you won’t need to track it down before you can play co-op.
This lets you place your golden sign on the ground for other players to find and summon you. Your sign will be visible to all players on your server. Other Elden Ring players will be keen to summon you for support, so it’s often easier to be summoned than to summon. Aiding another player get through a difficult spot is also a great way to encourage them to do the same for you.
In FromSoftware’s previous titles, the game’s single-player campaign and multiplayer have been blended. This way, players can interact with others in co-op, but also ward off invaders in PvP. Sometimes both types of multiplayer take place at the same time. Like previous SoulsBorne titles, Elden Ring also features PvP battles and invasions. This is when a player enters another’s world, but not as guardian spirit, but a plunderer, intent on taking what belongs to the host.
The first PvP option in Elden Ring is an honorable duel. Players can use an item called the Duelist’s Furled Finger to leave a red sign on the ground. Others can then accept the challenge and summon you into their world for a fight to the death. To the winner, the spoils, which in Elden Ring is a stash of Rune Fragments.
However, more predatory players can use the Bloody Finger in the game’s multiplayer menu to seek out vulnerable players and invade their world. They can then hunt down the host player to take their Rune Fragments by force. This is often a thrilling high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse for both players, and one where it’s fair to use dirty tactics.
Invaders also need to beware, some players are not as vulnerable as they appear, and may be luring you in for precisely the same reason you’re invading them. Hosts have the home field advantage and may have a squad of guardian spirits waiting for you. Invading players are also just as likely to be attacked by the game’s AI enemies as the host is, so this play style is not without its risks.
The Elden Ring beta hasn’t revealed everything we wanted to know about Elden Ring’s multiplayer. There are still questions regarding how and when co-op partners and PvP invaders are expelled from a host’s world and how far they can go.
In prior titles, if a player defeats an area’s boss and progresses to a new part of the game, their co-op partner would return to their own world, with a stack of experience points and the host’s gratitude. Invaders, however, would be unceremoniously banished, going home empty-handed.
This is still the case in Elden Ring, but with the game being a more open-world adventure, these mechanics will be harder to maintain. Players are likely to take more time exploring the world, so co-op partners will inevitably last a lot longer. This also means invasions are likely to go on to the bitter end, until either the player or the invader best the other.
Players can use an item called the Finger Severer to dismiss co-op partners, but this won’t work on invaders who’ve forced their way into the world. We’ll be keen to see if the rest of the Elden Ring Beta provides the answers to these questions, as the very nature of the game means it won’t be able to fully follow the multiplayer mechanics of previous SoulsBorne games.