The Elden Ring Closed Network Test has begun, and with it comes multiplayer in both cooperative and PvP competitive forms. Summoning and invasions has been a significant part of previous FromSoftware games, and that remains true for Elden Ring. If you’re familiar with the systems used in Dark Souls and Bloodborne then you’ll quickly get to grips with Elden Ring’s methods, but for those who aren’t, allow us to break down how multiplayer works in Elden Ring.
After selecting your character and taking your first steps into Elden Ring’s open world, the game will alert you to the ability to play in multiplayer. Getting together with friends, randomers, or enemies all starts In the options menu, where you can select a bespoke multiplayer menu from which you choose exactly how you will play.
For many people, co-operative play will be how they want to experience Elden Ring. This is done using a summoning system; one player is able to draw a sign on the ground, and another is able to use this sign to summon the drawer into their world. While not immediately clear, this does assign each player a rough role; the person offering help, and the person seeking it.
If you want to offer your aid to another player, you must use an item called the Tarnished’s Furled Finger. This will draw a gold summoning sign on the ground, which can be seen by other players in their own world. When another player activates your sign, you will be summoned to them.
If you want to summon an ally into your game, you must first use an item called the Furlcalling Finger Remedy to grant yourself the ability to see gold summoning signs. Unlike the infinitely usable Tarnished Furled Finger, Finger Remedies are a consumable item. The Closed Network Test provides 99 of them from the start, but you will need to ensure you have stock of them before you can play in co-op. Basically, you can offer your help at no cost of all, but those seeking help must have Furlcalling Finger Remedies in their inventory.
Elden Ring – Gameplay Demo Screenshots
Both the Furled Finger and Finger Remedy items are accessible from the multiplayer menu. From here you can also set up a password system to limit who uses your signs, which ensures you only pair up with friends.
It should be noted that co-op doesn’t provide the ‘full’ experience for the person who has been summoned into another player’s world. For example, summons cannot activate a Site of Grace, Elden Ring’s version of Dark Souls’ bonfires. You also have a fewer number of restoratives than the hosting player, cannot open treasure chests, and death will send you back to your own world. These are all restrictions Dark Souls players will find familiar, but those new to FromSoftware should know in advance that co-operative does have quirks that other co-op games don’t have.
If, as a hosting player, you wish to end your co-op session, the Finger Severer will remove a summoned player from your world. Useful for forcibly ending sessions with friends who keep insisting on one more battle when it’s hours past bedtime, or kicking useless summons.
Elden Ring isn’t just for people being nice and helping each other out, though. There’s also competitive multiplayer, which can be activated in a couple of different ways. The first is to use the Duelist’s Furled Finger, which – like the Tarnished’s Furled Finger – will draw a summoning sign on the floor. This one is red, and signals to players in other worlds that you’re looking for a fight. Those who accept your challenge can summon you to their world for an honorable duel.
More aggressive players can opt to invade other players’ worlds and hunt them down. To do this, you’ll want to use the Bloody Finger from the multiplayer menu. This will then search for other players who can be invaded and send you to their world.
Playing in co-op automatically opens you up to invasions, but in single player you can volunteer to be invaded by using the Taunter’s Tongue. This acts as a beacon to those using the Bloody Finger and will summon up to two invaders into your game.
Should you find yourself in a bit of a pickle during an invasion, you can send out a cry of help using the White Cipher Ring. With this activated, you will automatically request help from other worlds when invaded. Those who instead wish to be on call to answer the pleas of such players should activate the Blue Cipher Ring, which will whisk you away to play knight in shining armour to those in distress.
As you can see, Elden Ring multiplayer is a complex little beast, with distinct mechanics for each method of play. The multiplayer menu does make it a reasonably easy system to understand; where in previous FromSoft games these items would be in your regular inventory, sorting them into their own bespoke menu does keep everything in an easily accessible place. But it’s still a slightly fiddly experience, and one that may take some getting used to if you’re only accustomed to joining a PlayStation or Xbox party and then jumping into a game.
For more about FromSoftware’s latest, be sure to check out our Elden Ring hands-on preview from the Closed Network Test, as well as watch a full boss battle in 4K. You can also check out the first 19 minutes of the Network Test if you’ve not been able to get in yourself, as well as read up on the game’s five classes.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.