Elden Ring: New gameplay mechanics you need to know about

After trying something new with the action-adventure game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, developer FromSoftware is returning to its action RPG roots with Elden Ring. Much like Dark Souls and Bloodborne before it, Elden Ring features core mechanics like light and heavy attacks, dodging, blocking, parrying, and ranged attacks with bows and magic. However, Elden Ring also has many new gameplay mechanics of its own — many of which tie into the game's open-world design.

It's a good idea to review all of these new mechanics so you can start the game off knowing what to expect when it launches on Feb. 25. Therefore, we created this handy guide that goes over every new mechanic in Elden Ring, as well as how players can use them to their advantage. Here's everything you need to know.

Elden Ring day and night cycle

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

Like many other modern open-world games, Elden Ring will feature a full day and night cycle that will affect how the player engages with the game's enemies. Stealth (more on that later) will be easier at night since foes will have limited visibility, and some of them may even attempt to rest for the night, and there will also be some enemies that only come out at night, too. This likely means that you won't be able to get the items they drop unless you go hunting for them after the sun goes down.

Elden Ring dynamic weather

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

Elden Ring will also feature a dynamic weather system that affects gameplay as well. Currently, we know that both heavy windstorms and rain can begin to occur at any point while playing Elden Ring, both of which make it harder for enemies to see and hear you. However, the reverse is also true, meaning that players will need to pay close attention to their surroundings, or they could be snuck up on by nearby foes.

Elden Ring mounted combat and exploration

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

One of Elden Ring's biggest new features is the inclusion of Torrent, a horse-like mount that the player can use for combat and for exploration. Players can summon Torrent whenever they'd like while outdoors, though the mount can't be used during multiplayer co-op or PvP. Attacking while mounted does significant damage, though players won't have as much control as they do while fighting on foot. Some enemies can use mounts of their own as well.

Notably, players may find small "jump pads" near the base of tall vertical landmasses (such as cliffs) that boost Torrent to the top of them throughout Elden Ring's open world. This gives players a quick way to reach high ground if necessary.

Elden Ring stealth

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

While most of Elden Ring's core mechanics have their roots in the Dark Souls series, the game is also taking a page out of Sekiro's book by including stealth. Players in Elden Ring have the ability to crouch down and make themselves harder for enemies to detect, especially while hiding behind objects or within tall grass. By carefully using stealth, players can sneak up on foes to backstab them for critical damage.

Elden Ring jumping and reduced fall damage

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

Jumping has always been possible in FromSoftware games, but it usually requires the player to get a running start before jumping. Even then, players were only able to jump in the direction they were running, limiting the usefulness of the mechanic. That has changed in Elden Ring, as players are able to perform a short hop whenever they'd like to jump over small objects or position themselves on small platforms. Players can even jump while using their mount as well, and can also leap off their mount directly into combat.

Additionally, players also take much less fall damage in Elden Ring than they did in previous games, which incentivizes players to jump more often. Many high falls will still be fatal, though, so be careful.

Elden Ring crafting

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

Another big new feature in Elden Ring is crafting, which gives players the opportunity to collect materials from both the open world and defeated enemies and then create useful items like potions, arrows, and more. Many of the game's more powerful items will require players to explore specific areas or hunt down specific types of beasts for the right materials, so don't expect crafting to be an easy process.

Elden Ring summoning Spirit Ashes

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

One of the new ways that players can fight enemies in Elden Ring is by using Spirit Ashes, which are ghastly versions of foes you've previously defeated that you can summon to aid you in battle. To summon Spirit Ashes, you'll need to find the various different kinds of Spirit-Caller's Ash in Elden Ring's world then use it while in combat.

Note that summoning Spirit Ashes drains the player of Focus Points (FP), and once Spirit Ashes die in a fight, they can't be summoned again until the player either emerges victorious or dies. Spirit Ashes may also be unavailable depending on your location; if you don't see a gravestone icon on the left side of your screen while playing, it means you're in an area where Spirit Ashes can't be summoned.

Elden Ring swappable weapon arts

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

Like in Dark Souls III, many of Elden Ring's weapons, shields, and other pieces of equipment have special abilities that players can use to mix up their attack patterns or perform some unique moves. However, unlike Dark Souls III, Elden Ring allows players to swap many of these abilities with items called Ashes of War that can be found in Elden Ring's world. By applying different types of Ashes of War to your gear, you can switch the types of special moves you can use with them in combat.

Elden Ring guard counter

Source: Bandai Namco (Image credit: Source: Bandai Namco)

Last but not least is Elden Ring's guard counter move, which is a strong counter-attacking move that rewards good timing. When you block a hit with your shield or weapon, you can immediately press heavy attack right afterwards to perform a guard counter. This move rewards you less than a parry does since you won't be able to land a critically damaging riposte, but it does good damage in its own right and is a great way to fight back against aggressive foes.

Elden Ring is expected to release Feb. 25, 2022, on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC. Elden Ring preorders are available now if you'd like to purchase your copy of the game before it arrives.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.