Mounted melee combat tends to be a rather shallow mechanic in many games. Will Elden Ring succeed in making combat fun while on horseback?
It has been over a year and a half since any official Elden Ring news was announced. Game Director Hidetaka Miyazaki confirmed at the time of its announcement that Elden Ring would feature the largest open world of any Soulslike yet – and that he was receiving some writing help from fantasy author George R.R. Martin. Only the initial reveal trailer has been officially shown off, but another, recently leaked Elden Ring trailer hints at gameplay details, including the possibility of horse combat.
From the leaked Elden Ring trailer’s gameplay footage, it appears players will be able to traverse the game’s world on horseback. The primary draw of FromSoftware’s action RPGs is typically tough but fair combat, so it will be interesting to see how the studio translates this trademark style to combat on horseback. Using magic spells from atop a mount seems self-explanatory, as long as the usual lock-on mechanics are there, and using a bow shouldn’t be difficult, either. But even though riding in circles and firing off spells doesn’t sound especially engaging, an even greater problem arises when considering how to make melee combat on horseback not a monotonous chore.
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Unfortunately, the one, very brief clip of mounted melee combat seen in the leaked Elden Ring trailer does not look very enticing. It seems to go about as well as other recent attempts, like Ghost of Tsushima or Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla; that is, the player moves their horse past an enemy and takes a single swipe before they are out of range.
Elden Ring’s Mounted Melee Combat Looks Bad
It’s hard to imagine how to make mounted combat interesting, considering the whole point of a cavalry charge is just that – a single charge before regrouping. The Dark Souls style of combat excels when the player is faced with an enemy and must learn its attack patterns in order to overcome it. There are just fewer options for melee combat variety when the player is stuck on the back of a horse and all of the combatants are moving at a higher speed. Mounted combat was practically useless in Ghost of Tsushima, and most players would much prefer to just get on the ground and use the wonderfully fluid combat that took six years to perfect.
For Elden Ring‘s mounted melee combat to be genuinely interesting, it would have to have its own dedicated game mechanics. Something like Sekiro‘s parrying-centric combat might work against other weapon-wielding riders, but what happens when the player is confronted by one of the giant beasts that are more than likely to appear in the next FromSoftware game? A parry system would ultimately feel like a gimmick if it’s only used for melee-weapon horseback combat against other, similarly armed enemies.
Unless things have changed significantly since whenever the leaked internal trailer was made, Elden Ring may unfortunately have rather uninspired horse combat. It’s not a unique problem, as other games with melee combat and ridable mounts haven’t been able to find a good solution, either. For now, it seems Elden Ring players’ best bet will be to simply dismount and engage in the combat that made the Soulslike subgenre so beloved.
Next: What Elden Ring Needs to Attract People Other Than Dark Souls Fans
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