What Dark Souls World Design and Storytelling Could Mean for Elden Ring

The unique design of the world of Dark Souls has always been a major draw, and that fact will remain in the open world of Elden Ring.

FromSoftware’s global design is legendary in the gaming industry. The levels and maps he created in games like dark souls form interesting paths that always find a way to loop back on themselves. Exploration is rewarded with vital shortcuts and awe-inspiring views. The worlds created by FromSoftware are intentionally designed not only to be fun to navigate, but also to tell a story.

Architecture and enemy placement always add information to an area’s dark lore. These elements support the story and make the world richer, with a complex history. The idea of ​​telling a story through the design of the world exists not only in individual domains, but also in the whole structure of each of the dark souls Games. Understanding how FromSoftware uses the overall structure of each of its games to reflect their stories can provide clues as to how the story of Ring of Elden will be played.

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The world of Dark Souls mirrors the cycle of fire

First dark souls, the country of Lordran is designed to be very vertical. All areas are stacked on top of each other in a column, and it’s quite easy to jump from almost any area to another thanks to this structure. When all of these areas are viewed next to each other, it becomes clear that the world is designed in the shape of a chimney.

Many areas also perform the same function as the different parts of a fireplace. Ash Lake is similar to the ash dump at the bottom, while the first flame furnace serves as the hearth that generates all the heat. All of this is funneled into the flue and out of the crown at the top of the chimney. Finally, the city of Anor Londo (the high point of the game) acts as the crown.

The story of dark souls is that the gods of Anor Londo have set up a challenge to cause undead humans to sacrifice themselves to the First Flame. Through this sacrifice, the gods can prolong the Age of Fire and preserve their power. If the player decides to sacrifice themselves, they only act as fuel for the gods in the same way that wood is fuel for a fireplace.

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The world of Dark Souls 2 reflects the endless cycle

Unlike the first game, dark souls 2 has a more horizontal than vertical world. The country of Drangleic is vast and vast. The player explores a number of ruined kingdoms that have all gone through their own eras of prosperity and decline. It is clear to see that a repetition cycle is demonstrated with each domain.

NPCs in these areas also have dialogue mentioning even older kingdoms that existed before the ruined ones that exist now. Kings, queens and lords gained great power and built a great kingdom on the bones of a nation long dead. Inevitably, these kingdoms too decline and fall into ruin. This cycle repeats itself indefinitely, and Drangleic is no exception to this rule.

This cycle of realms mirrors the cycle of fire and darkness in the game. The first flame begins to fade and a dark age begins to rise, but before the fire can be extinguished for good, some undead sacrifice themselves to start the cycle again. The world is forever trapped in this limbo between light and dark that can never be broken. Therefore, for the purposes of dark souls 2, the player does not choose between sacrificing himself or becoming the Dark Lord. The choice doesn’t matter. Whichever path you choose, the fire will always go out again, and someone new will always come to light it again.

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World of Dark Souls 3 reflects the cycle can be broken

Lorian and Lothric from Dark Souls III

The global concept of dark souls 3 is again vertical like that of the first game, but this time reversed. Instead of Anor Londo upstairs, it’s now downstairs. The player descends into the ruined city of Anor Londo which has now fallen into darkness. The city of the gods is closer than ever to being engulfed by the Abyss. The Abyss Watchers now guard the only path to Anor Londo.

The new high point in the world is Lothric Castle. This realm is a place built by and for humans. The gods have lost their power and are about to disappear. Lothric, the young prince, is the nation’s last remaining ruler and deliberately chose not to sacrifice himself to the flame. This new structure in the world with the gods below represents the possibility of change.

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In one of the purposes of dark souls 3, the player can absorb the First Flame and permanently end the Age of Fire. This decision breaks the endless cycle of fire and ushers in the age of darkness. At this time, humans reign at the top and are no longer sacrificed for the glory of the gods.

How will the world design of Elden Ring influence its story?

Ring of Elden will be FromSoftware’s first open-world Soulslike game. Its map has already proven to be quite large with a number of diverse environments. There are still a lot of unknowns about the game’s story or the themes it will develop. However, based on FromSoftware’s world design history, it’s likely that each new area players explore will help build that story piece by piece.

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