Phil Spencer is the Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, so he's obviously privy to some information and previews that are verboten for us schmucks on the ground level. Case in point: Spencer says he's played "quite a bit" of Elden Ring, the upcoming (and highly-anticipated) action RPG from Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware.
"As somebody who's played all of Miyazaki's games over at least the last decade, this is clearly the most ambitious game that he's done," Spencer tells GameSpot in a recent interview. "I mean, I love his games, but seeing some of the gameplay mechanics stuff that he's tackling, he and the team are tackling this time, of the setting, working with another creator in terms of story. I love it."
Elden Ring's world building is in the hands of A Song of Ice and Fire series author George R. R. Martin, but other than Spencer's quip about "another creator," we don't have an update about how the narrative is coming along. Hopefully better than Winds of Winter, har har!
I'm sorry. That was a cheap shot. Writing is difficult, and writer's block is a nasty little demon. Good luck, Mr. Martin.
Spencer's comments about Elden Ring piqued social media's interest for several reasons. First, any project from the maker of the massively popular Dark Souls series is going to command attention whenever it's thrust into the spotlight. But Microsoft's relentless acquisitions of studios, most notably the recent Bethesda grab, might have been the basis for a Bloomberg report published last week that suggests Microsoft is looking to add more Asian studios to its stable of developers. There's some Twitter buzz revolving around the possibility of Microsoft taking FromSoftware under its wing, too.
But in the very same GameSpot interview, Spencer says no such deals are in the works "to [his] knowledge."
"I've talked about my affinity for Japanese studios and thinking back in the day when we had more games that were created in Japan as part of our first party," Spencer tells GameSpot. "I'm excited when the deal closes to get to spend more time with Tango [the studio behind The Evil Within] and the work that they're doing. So it's an area that I'm interested in, but no, I don't think it's... I think that's not accurate."
Microsoft will always have its secrets, but for now you can probably accept Spencer's Elden Ring impressions as the happy ramblings of a Souls fan. Elden Ring is coming to the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on a yet-unknown date.