“I’m still in the process of creating the perfect fantasy RPG,” says FromSoftware’s Hidetaka Miyazaki: “Although Elden Ring isn’t quite there yet, it’s getting closer.”

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Before he owned video games growing up, FromSoftware CEO Hidetaka Miyazaki loved tabletop RPGs and their sourcebooks full of quests and monsters. It’s not tough to see this passion in any of the games he designed at FromSoftware, but Elden Ring especially: its wide-ranging map is reminiscent of the ones I liked to pore over and draw (when) as a child, from The Lord of the Rings’ Middle-earth to Azeroth in Warcraft. Elden Ring also seems to be a direct nod to ’80s RPGs, featuring skeleton-filled catacombs that resemble tabletop-style dungeons ripped straight from the pages of an AD&D campaign.

“You could say that trying to capture the excitement of old tabletop games and gaming books was one aspect of making Elden Ring,” Miyazaki told me in a recent interview for the Shadow of the Erdtree expansion. (You can read much more in our cover story, now available on the website).

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I asked if he saw Elden Ring as a deliberate extension of the dungeon crawlers of the 1980s — games that encouraged, if not required, players to draw physical maps to guide their path. Despite being FromSoftware’s most accessible RPG, Elden Ring still lacks the useful features that many newfangled gamers expect (like a quest log), but Miyazaki has more or less built his and the studio’s reputation on avoiding such things .

“I think mostly it’s just my personal preference when it comes to RPGs and exploring these fantasy worlds, so you can see some of my personal quirks come into play in Elden Ring,” he said. “I think the excitement, at least for me, comes from seeing this map of the world and putting it together. So when we finally got it down and started putting it together as we made Elden Ring, it was a really nice moment for me personally.

(Image source: FromSoftware)

“Going back to the Elden Ring interviews, I think I mentioned that I’m still in the process of creating the perfect fantasy RPG. And while Elden Ring isn’t quite there yet, it’s getting close. It’s getting closer.”

It was too tempting a thread not to pursue, so of course I did had ask what’s missing in his “perfect” RPG. Miyazaki laughed as he replied.

“It’s hard to say without revealing spoilers about my next idea or subsequent games. However, I think that one thing that is not necessarily missing and that makes it difficult to achieve my ideal is that when I play, I know that anything is going to happen. I already know everything that’s going on. When it comes to enjoying the game from a player’s perspective, I’d rather not know and ask someone else to create my perfect fantasy game if possible. Then I can only enjoy it as a player.”

I discounted the possibility of short-term amnesia – perhaps a quick case of forgetfulness would have allowed Miyazaki to enjoy one of his games more as a player?

“It would be a dream,” he joked. “To induce amnesia and enjoy a game I created myself. But I could get really angry and break the controller or something. Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”

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