In the closed network test, players explored a small piece of Limgrave and Stormveil. When I went hands-on with the game, all of Limgrave and Stormveil were open to me, including the terrifying Weeping Penninsula in the south. But north of Stormveil lies another realm, a biome with a very different aesthetic. Each realm in Elden Ring has its own distinctive set of creatures, flora, fauna and more. Stormveil’s big boss, Godrick the Grafted, does not need to be defeated before heading to the realm to the north, as a slightly hidden mountain path can lead players into this area without ever setting foot in the perilous castle dungeon.
This is home to Raya Lucaria’s magical academy, and instead of the bucolic greenery and rolling fields of Limgrave, it’s draped in various shades of blue. I had the least time in this zone for my demo and was only allowed to adventure here for a short 30 minutes. Half an hour of playtime in Elden Ring feels like seconds, so I raced around on Torrent, hoping to take in as much as I could during my short stay. Crystals adorn everything from the environment to enemies, and a dusty mist hangs over shallow waters somewhat hindering movement. Deeper into the zone, the water deepens and the player must travel over the sunken tops of buildings as they approach the imposing, brilliantly lit Raya Lucaria.
New enemy types here include crystal snails, vicious primates, and huge marine life, including giant enemy crabs and lobsters. Different types of turtle warriors roam the water and balloons soar over the landscape. We’re still discovering caves to explore and some of the same exploration tools, like an ethereal candle that summons ghosts to follow, that we saw in Limgrave, but everything here feels different. It’s a completely new realm, something that is conveyed visually and in terms of gameplay – maneuvering in all the water is quite a varied experience, forcing me to take solace in patches of land. Cleverly, these “islands” are also home to lots of important things to find and lead me to several surprising mysteries and discoveries.
Upon arrival, my first assignment is to locate a stele stone using the map. When you enter a new area in Elden Ring, you have no idea where anything is on your familiar map – but finding clues at these steles, which are even marked in areas you have yet to explore, will allow you to get into the essential topography. in a zone to help you explore. The map certainly never tells the whole story, but it can help you analyze your discoveries while guiding your efforts. Sometimes it’s cool to wander aimlessly in one direction to see what you can find, but the map helps identify major landmasses and landmarks.
The journey to Raya Lucaria was stopped at the door to this location which is probably an old dungeon as I was missing a critical key. Just seeing the area in the short time I had there was quite awe-inspiring as it was only until now that I had really seen the unified vision of the Limgrave/Stormveil area. While Limgrave is home to some cool places to explore such as a castle overrun with chimeric creatures, magical portals to strange towers and more, the bold blues and almost tranquil, yet unnerving, mysterious, oceanic feel of Raya Lucaria’s home like an entirely different world. When From Software pulls off this kind of extremely strong world feel for every definitive installment of The Lands Between, the journey through Elden Ring becomes something incredibly special. Check out the full cover story for more details on Raya Lucaria, magical portals, mysterious elevators, Castle Morne and more!