‘I’m still in the process of making my ideal fantasy RPG,’ says FromSoftware’s Hidetaka Miyazaki: ‘While Elden Ring is not quite it, it’s getting close’

Before he owned videogames growing up, FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki loved tabletop RPGs and their source books full of quests and monsters. It’s not hard to see that passion reflected in any of the games he’s designed at FromSoftware, but Elden Ring particularly so: Its sprawling map echoes the kinds I loved to pore over and draw myself (poorly) as a kid, from Lord of the Rings’ Middle-earth to Warcraft’s Azeroth. Elden Ring also seems to directly connect back to the RPGs of the ’80s with its skeleton-filled catacombs, like tabletop-style dungeons ripped straight from the pages of an AD&D campaign. 

“You might say that trying to capture the excitement of those old tabletop games and game books was one facet of making Elden Ring,” Miyazaki told me in a recent interview for expansion Shadow of the Erdtree. (You can read much more of it in our cover story, which is now live on the website).

I asked if he saw Elden Ring as an intentional extension of ’80s dungeon crawlers—the kinds of games that encouraged, if not demanded, players draw physical maps to chart their way. Despite being FromSoftware’s most approachable RPG, Elden Ring is still light on the kinds of helpful features many modern players expect (like a quest log), but Miyazaki has more or less built his and the studio’s reputation on eschewing such things.

“I think more than anything, it’s just my personal preference when it comes to RPGs and exploring those fantasy worlds, so you might see some of my personal idiosyncrasies come into play with Elden Ring there,” he said. “I think that excitement, for me at least, comes from seeing that world map and piercing together that world map. So when we finally got to do that and start piecing that together when making Elden Ring, that was a really nice moment for me personally.

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

“Back when doing interviews about Elden Ring, I think I mentioned that I’m still in the process of making my ideal fantasy RPG. And while Elden Ring is not quite it, it’s pretty close. It’s getting close.”

That was too tempting a thread not to pull on, so of course I had to ask what was missing from his “ideal” RPG. Miyazaki laughed while answering. 

“It’s hard to say without giving spoilers for my next idea or our next games. But I think one thing that’s not necessarily missing, but makes it difficult to achieve my ideal, is that when I play it, I know everything’s going to happen. I already know everything that’s going on. So in terms of enjoying the game from a player’s perspective, I’d love to not know that, and for somebody else to make my ideal fantasy game, please, if possible. Then I can enjoy it just as a player.”

I threw out the possibility of short-term amnesia—maybe a quick case of forgetfulness could allow Miyazaki to enjoy one of his own games more as a player? 

“That’d be the dream,” he joked. “To self-induce amnesia and enjoy the game I created myself. But I might get really angry and break the controller, or something. Maybe it’s not a good idea.”