It sounds like Elden Ring may not run up your blood pressure as high as Bloodborne, Sekiro or Dark Souls 3, as producer Yasuhiro Kitao explains that elements of the game have been developed to actively keep player stress levels low.
As reported by IGN (opens in new tab), Kitao stressed this notion in a lengthy interview during the Taipei Game Show 2022. "With the game's world being so large, that can produce real depth and breadth of enjoyment, but it can also lead to unnecessary stress for some players," said Kitao. "The dev team has been very careful to avoid that where possible."
Interviewer Misuzu Araki added that this was understandable: "With battle already being fairly difficult, I can understand wanting to reduce stress elsewhere." Kitao agreed, adding "especially as the enemies are so strong."
But how exactly has stress been reduced?
FromSoftware's intention to create a stress-free environment does seem counter to the hostile nature of the worlds in its back catalog. From the poisonous, framerate-destroying swamps of Blighttown to the parasitic infestations of Senpou Temple, From's games are for the most part rife with danger.
However, Elden Ring being an open world title changes things. And as Kitao explains, that low-stress design mostly pertains to traversal of the game's world: "Horses provide a stress-free method of traveling across the long distances the player needs to travel in the game."
Kitao also suggested that air currents exist for that same reason – to provide players an easy way to ascend cliffs with ease: "That system was introduced as a means of quickly and enjoyably moving vertically upward in order to explore those higher areas."
Additionally, we've already seen some of these stress-free elements of Elden Ring in action, even before the interview detailed above. For example, we know that fast travel will be a part of Elden Ring, which makes sense for such a huge game world. However, unlike From's previous Soulsborne titles, Elden Ring also features a map, on which the player is able to jot down their own waypoints that then appear in the game.
Finally, running back to collect your dropped currency (known as runes in Elden Ring) on death is one of the most nail-biting undertakings in FromSoftware's games, and that's another element of Elden Ring where the developer has elected to reduce stress significantly.
"With the map being so vast, [traveling back to collect runes] can become an unwanted stress for the player," explained Kitao. "With that in mind, we have identified a number of difficult spots, places with lots of enemies or powerful foes, as points at which many players will die and need to re-attempt that challenge.
"The player is able to select the option of respawning very near the spot of their death for these locations. This kind of measure is another example of the team's efforts to implement systems to mitigate player stress caused by the sheer magnitude of the game map."
We're looking forward to experiencing these stress-free elements in Elden Ring when the game launches on February 25, 2022 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC and previous generation consoles. All these new conveniences should mean we'll still lose our minds, albeit at a blissfully slower rate.