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Elden Ring is plenty tough, but director expects players to finish

elden ring
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Update: Elden Ring is a brilliant but also frustrating.

Elden Ring has been in the works for a long time, and now that it’s almost here, the old FromSoftware chestnut is making the rounds:

“I didn’t beat Dark Souls. Can I finish this game?”

Every time a new From game comes out, a horde of eager players take to social media, wondering aloud whether this will finally be the "Soulsborne" game that helps them overcome the developer’s hallmark massive difficulty curve. Hidetaka Miyazaki, director of Elden Ring and most of the Dark Souls series, believes that the answer is "yes." That’s great news for new fans. It’s also great news for longtime From veterans, because Miyazaki doesn’t believe that the difficulty curve is radically different from previous games.

"In Elden Ring, we have not intentionally tried to lower the game’s difficulty, but I think more players will finish it this time," he said, as part of a wide-ranging interview on the PlayStation Blog (opens in new tab) today (Jan. 28). "The player’s level of freedom to progress through the world or return to a challenge later are all elements that I feel will help people get through the game at a more leisurely pace."

Miyazaki explains, as he has in previous interviews, that the difficulty in From games is not the primary point. Instead, it’s about training players to explore environments carefully, build characters wisely, observe enemies thoroughly and try again persistently. In that respect, Elden Ring’s design philosophy is exactly the same as in Dark Souls, or Demon’s Souls, or Bloodborne or Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

The big difference here is apparently that Elden Ring’s open-world design gives players a lot of flexibility in selecting the challenges they want to pursue.

"They can come back to something later when they’re at an impasse so that they can have this freedom of progression and not have to bang their head against a wall over and over," Miyazaki said. "They can figure out what to do and how to approach it again, at their own pace."

With that in mind, however, Miyazaki did have one recommendation for players who haven’t mastered a Soulsborne game before. He said that they should feel free to choose any character class and discover a playstyle that works best for them. (He actually recommended choosing "whichever looks the coolest," which sounds like pretty solid advice.) He did, however, note one exception:

"I would recommend against choosing the naked [class] (known as the Wretch)," he said. "It’s probably the most difficult starting class!"

Elden Ring will be out on Feb. 25 for PlayStation, Xbox and PC. Tom’s Guide will have a full review of the game closer to its release date.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.