FromSoftware has evidently envisioned a more ambitious rider and mount system for Elden Ring during development.
Elden Ring really is the gift that keeps on giving. Even if you look past the content already in the game, our evolving interpretations of it, and the different discoveries players continue to make this many months after launch, there's an untapped goldmine of cut features and content that we've been slowly uncovering.
One such feature that seems to have gone through a few iterations during development is riders and mounting. Across the game's world, you'll come across enemies riding horses as well as other creatures. The player can himself do that with Torrent, of course, and the system that governs all of those interactions is the same.
Souls modder Zullie the Witch, who digs deeper into FromSoft's games than anyone else, has uncovered some interesting quirks about the feature. According to their findings, the way the mechanic works is actually fairly simple.
NPCs (and the player character) have attach points on their 3D models. This so called dummy poly also exists on the mounts, bearing the ID of 500. The game simply looks for a matching ID to initiate the mounting animation and attach the two together.
Because these points exist on many NPCs, even when they don't actually use them, you can effectively attach your character to it and mount them. This can be done for riders as well as other creatures, meaning you can ride NPCs - such as Blaidd the Half-Wolf.
As Zullie points out in the video, this does indicate that FromSoft previously imagined certain NPCs as riders, even if they don't have mounts in the final game. Another example of this is Mohg, one of the game's toughest bosses.
Indeed, these unused attach points may not necessarily be intended for a mount, as Elden Ring can sometimes treat stationery weapons as mounts in that sense. It's possible that those NPCs may have at one point been able to operate a ballista or some sort of siege weapon.
It's also possible that the same points would have acted as actual attach points that tether the NPC to another object, such as the Trolls pulling the caravans seen across the game's world.
Zullie found several NPCs with RideRequest AI instructions that allow them to mount creatures they're paired with, except they don't actually have a pairing.
We've been keeping an eye on similar developments in the Elden Ring community, and you can see everything we reported on at the Elden Ring game tag. For more specialised pages, such as our popular Elden Ring beginner’s guide, click through the link.