Elden Ring has finally graced us with a new trailer that showcases the world and varied gameplay elements. It hasn’t gone into much depth about what the story is trying to say, but as always we are left to speculate on what could everything possibly mean, since there is nothing without purpose in the worlds created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, and of course the influence of G.G.R Martin this time leaves us with more incentive to digest and analyze everything.
This article is purely for speculative purposes, based on the little tidbits we know and the things the last trailer has focused upon. Miyazaki confirmed he is going back to his western roots this time, so we tried to look for what could his possible inspirations be, and how are they are reflected in the world of Elden Ring, among other things that may hint at the true purpose of the story.
See related article from our friends at eip.gg – Elden Ring Armor
Elden Ring Gameplay Preview
The Golden Tree
I am unable to see the tree of gold (shining brightly in the horizon) as anything but The Golden Tree of Aman: Laurelin, mentioned in J.R.R Tolkein’s The Silmarillion and providing similar functions to it as well. It was written that it was actually one of two trees, one is silver and the other is gold, and both of them were responsible for illuminating the world before they were destroyed, and their last two fruits were made into the Moon and the Sun we know nowadays.
I imagine the trees are a big reason (In lore) of why Elden Ring adopts a day and night cycle, among other really creative and illuminating techniques at different times that gives off a vibe that the light in this world is artificially made from a certain source. In Tolkien’s writings it was prophesized that the tree actually existed a long time ago, and it was warned that a long time will pass before the glow of the trees or the Magic sun will be seen again.
So Elden Ring’s events could be happening in the old past or the distant future, and it might be theorized that this tree references the tree of the world – Yggdrasil in Norse Mythology, but Tolkien denied it, saying that they were inspired by the tales of Alexander the great, where he visited the trees before he conquered Persia, and asked them what the future would be. So it might be possible that we will be visiting the tree at some point, and its much more than just a visual identity for the lands between.
The Lion Crest
The Lion was a very big focus in the new trailer of Elden Ring, it was very apparent in a lot of places and most of all on the axe held by the final boss. A lion is a common charge in heraldry (the discipline relating to the design and study or armorial bearing), and it traditionally symbolizes courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valor, because historically the lion has been regarded as the “king of beasts”, especially in medieval times where the game takes heavy inspirations from.
The lion also carriers Judeo-Christian symbolism, particularly related to the Lion of Judah – the coat of arms of Jerusalem. It represents Jesus, or god’s words among other things, and was a big inspiration in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series. The references to the lion points that there will be some kind of second deliverance from god, and that evil will finally be defeated once and for all. It also denotes that there will be a worthy king that rules all over there is in life and death. The lands between may also be a name referring to the state of the world currently existing between life and death.
That’s why I would like to think the world of Elden Ring and its inhabitants are somewhat living on borrowed time. There is a god or a savior looking forward to conquer death through his resurrection, and return to finish his conquest, in a transient world where sins must finally be judged. I feel that this symbolism refers to the player itself, that he is coming to judge the sinners of this world by his own hand, in a manner very close to what the game Blasphemous have achieved through its lore.
The lion carries hints everywhere of your true coming, the Lord of Gold seems greedy in his quest for “Greater heights“. This correlates with what was once described about the Tarnished as people “guided by grace once lost,” and who are “emboldened by the flame of ambition”. I imagine the major theme will be greed for something, and maybe there are many hunters like you who lost themselves in their greed, whatever it may be, gold, status, or something more.
Also maybe the Lion symbolizes the mark of a king’s candidate, and there are others who are on the same quest as you for kingship, but got lost in the process for some worldly desires. That would explain the identity of the Lord of the Gold before you, and why the land of Elden Ring is separated into segments, because maybe each one of the main bosses has a separate idea of what it means to rule and seek ambition, or in other words, how to reach what is the concept that is the Elden Ring.
The Golden Order
The structure and motivations of the Golden Order are what I think partially inspired by their real counterpart: The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. A secret society devoted to the study study and practice of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United Kingdom. They were considered a Magical order and their teachings were a syncretic compilation from the esoterica of many cultures and times.
The most interesting tidbits that led me to making this claim is that within the world view of the Golden Dawn, reality was seen as multi-layered, and only a handful of people could interpenetrate the other realities through rituals and other practices. It was thought that no one living in incarnation (in a human body) was capable of achieving a conscious identity capable of traversing the other layers. and so, some kind of evocation had to be made.
A sorcerer at the castle in the trailer warns us about how his kind is being hunted for the sake of grafting, which means acquiring some form of advantage (money or power) through illicit means. I think its closely tied to the source of magic in this world and how to achieve it, through the use of human souls and rituals to transcend humanity itself, and gain these deformed forms we all define as the bosses of the game.
Many evidence support these claims about the golden order, as its clearly stated that “The Golden Order is broken, to its very core” and that “They will fight and they will die in an unending curse, for how else is a Champion, or Lord, to be born?” which adds a lot of meaning to everything I explained before about the symbolisms of a new world and a fight over its rulership between the Tarnished who are in pursuit of this goal in all kinds of ways.
The Elden Ring
Elden literally means “old/noble friend” and could also imply the meaning of “Valley of the Elves”. In Tolkien mythology, The Two Trees of Valinor were actually prophesized to be rekindled again by the elves, and Miyazaki confirmed that the name of the game is a mysterious concept or a key element that defines the rules and foundations of the game’s world, so I think the concept itself refers to the right of ruling this land, or the almighty power it brings if someone rises above all odds, maybe reshaping the world into a new beginning just like how its explored in the Shin Megami Tensei series.
Miyazaki also confirmed that the Elden ring has been shattered long ago, and that Martin actually wrote about a long time ago before the era the players get to explore, so there is bound to be a lot of connections between the past and the present and why the world became the way it is. A lot of clues and designs point out to how every one repurposed themselves to become more than human, or more particularly to perceive a form of power that was unattainable through human means.
Maybe that’s why the boss monsters this time give that more humanoid body horror feels, and that’s also the reason Miyazaki implied when he said the game is about the will and the ambition of mankind in facing off the darkness of the world. Elden Ring’s main theme might be to reclaim and preserve your true humanity against all odds, and the shattered concept might be the true meaning of humanity everyone is looking for, but blind to its true meaning and purpose.