Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice indirectly influenced Elden Ring's mechanics and storytelling, according to director and FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki.
In a new interview posted on the PlayStation Blog, Miyazaki discussed how some ideas from Sekiro rubbed off on Elden Ring. Work on these two games "overlapped to an extent," so Miyazaki says there wasn't anything that "directly came through from that project," but he did point to a few features and ideas that share design DNA.
Sekiro's posture system, for example, helped shape Elden Ring's stance mechanic. Staggering enemies is less of a central objective in Elden Ring's combat, but stances do add some depth to critical hits compared to the Dark Souls approach of fishing for backstabs or parries, as breaking an opponent's guard or stance also allows for devastating finishers.
Similarly, Miyazaki says "we even referenced Sekiro’s player traversal for the horse mounting system and how you traverse the map in Elden Ring." Sekiro has the most vertical movement and exploration of FromSoftware's previous games, so it was likely a uniquely valuable reference when designing the layered world of The Lands Between. Elden Ring's more forgiving fall damage encourages players to take leaps of faith, and the horse-powered launch pads scattered around connect areas in surprising ways.
"Also, in terms of the narrative and how we tell character stories, Sekiro was a lot more direct than our previous Souls-like titles," Miyazaki added. "While we’re still maintaining Elden Ring’s world with a sense of depth and a fragmented narrative – we’re still upholding our storytelling philosophy – there’s more focus on human elements and drama than before. We definitely took some inspiration from how Sekiro handled that and tried to apply the good parts to Elden Ring."
This lines up with a recent comment from Elden Ring producer Yasuhiro Kitao, who described the game's cutscenes and character interactions as being at least on par with Sekiro. We've also repeatedly heard that the work of George R.R. Martin, who contributed to the lore and world-building of Elden Ring, helped frame a slightly more direct narrative than what FromSoftware fans are accustomed to.
Elden Ring is "perfect" for people who were stressed out by Dark Souls, according to Kitao.