How Edge 381’s cover game The Lords Of The Fallen is looking to thrive in a post- Elden Ring world

(Image credit: Future)

Hexworks, a new arm of developer-publisher CI Games, began working on The Lords Of The Fallen three years ago, before Elden Ring was public knowledge. When the first trailer for FromSoft’s epic emerged, creative director Cezar Virtosu’s heart sank: one of its bosses and main weapons closely resembled ones the Barcelona-based studio had been working on. Then again, if their game had a few things in common with the latest from the progenitor of the Soulslike, perhaps that meant they were on the right track…

With The Lords Of The Fallen, “both a sequel and a reboot” to the 2014 original, as executive producer Saul Gascon outlines, Hexworks is hoping to establish itself as “the second reference” in the action-RPG genre. It’s not shying away from comparisons with FromSoft’s output, by any means: “Our strategy was that, yes, we will be ‘Dark Souls 4.5’,” Virtosu adds. That means a semi-open world with more verticality in its level design, set in a dark fantasy world that is five times larger than its predecessor, and totally interconnected: as Virtosu puts it, “it’s like a chain of pretzels”. 

But it’s found a way it hopes will set its game apart from the other pretenders to the throne. Unclasp the magic lantern from your belt and its light reveals a corrupted twin dimension: the Umbral realm. Like A Link To The Past’s Dark Hyrule, this place will be affected by your actions in the other world – and vice versa – and it affords you the possibility of a second chance when you die. If you don’t want to restart at the last rest spot, you can venture within, perhaps scooping up some treasure en route to the totem that will transport you back to reality, resurrected. Our expansive cover feature explores all this in detail, while outlining the surprising connections between the realms, why its chosen title was better than a numbered sequel, the game’s crossplay multiplayer, and much more. 

Elsewhere in E381, we meet two of the industry’s most influential creators in reflective mood. Arkane studio director Harvey Smith looks back on his journey from running D&D sessions to forging cutting-edge immersive sims. And, ten years after breaking through with Thomas Was Alone, Mike Bithell examines how he became the go-to for unconventional licensed games. We profile Bohemia Interactive as the Arma maker unveils its future plans, and talk to Gareth Damian Martin about how Citizen Sleeper was shaped by tabletop RPGs and the gig economy. And in Time Extend, we revisit Los Santos to see how Grand Theft Auto V holds up, a decade and two console generations on from its original release. 

In Hype, we look forward to Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew and what could be 2023’s most pleasant surprise in the tropical sandbox of Tchia. And in Play, we have reviews of Fire Emblem Engage, Season: A Letter To The Future, Jett: Given Time, Hyper Gunsport and more. Edge 381 also digs into some hot industry topics, with some clear-eyed perspective on how machine learning is finding its way into every aspect of game making, plus a detailed look at how legislative changes will shape the year ahead. You can buy the magazine at UK retailers now, or order online here.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.