A franchise that is known for its brutally difficult and trial and error gameplay mechanics, is also famous for this very own reason. That, unfortunately, also restricts the amount of people the game could be sold to.
Make no mistake about it, people who are into Souls games, love it for a variety of reasons and one of those reasons is not handholding the player, like so many modern games do. Dark Souls 2 will be a different game that the previous ones in the series, and hardcore fans need to accept that. It’s not about pandering a significant fanbase anymore, it’s much more than that. A lot of money is at stake and Namco Bandai is eyeing that with one of the most prestigious brand released this gen.
Just imagine the advertising potential here. They could make this mass market so easily that the loss of core fans won’t really be a concern to Namco, and the removal of Miyazaki—the director of first two Souls games—is a telling sign that Namco means business here.
As a hardcore Souls fan, this is a very disappointing development indeed. However, plenty of you may say that I am overreacting, they wouldn’t change a good formula, but should I really believe? This generation, publishers haven’t thought twice of backstabbing us with a generic dagger, so what should we expect really? It is really easy to ruin a good formula, and as much as I found Mass Effect 3 to be a good game, the “accessibility” part completely ruined the RPG aspects. Could it be true here too?
Recently in an Edge interview it was revealed that the game will have more emphasis on visuals, and that they are aiming for photorealism. That is nice, but the series was all about gameplay. Brutal unforgiving trial and error gameplay. The only thing that was bothersome was the lack of a steady framerate on consoles which was fixed with the PC version of course, and Dark Souls 2 having a PC version from the start is a really good thing.
Here are the improvements that are being reporting (well if you can call them improvements).
Changed engine with emphasis on graphics.
More accessibility (meaning they will explains covenants better, and…)
Return to dedicated servers for online!
So these are the three prominent things I have found so far based on all the information out there. I don’t care about anything else, and I kind of feel the success of the game hinges on these three things. The second one—accessibility—can make the game more appealing or completely ruin the game.
The Souls games have a large fanbase who will buy the sequel even though these details are a bit iffy… and they demand to be fed the same things they were earlier. A little change? No. There will be a revolt. Now you can call these as a vocal minority, but I think Namco should listen to this audience more than whatever focus groups they have employed for Dark Souls 2.
Miyazaki expressed recently that he was a bit sad he couldn’t work on the game, and if Namco and From Software really didn’t want to change the game so much, then they would have still used the services of Miyazaki. He is now been put on a new IP, but something tells me a Souls veteran should be working on Souls games, because that delicate balance in gameplay has to be maintained and that’s also what makes the series so good in people’s eyes.
Namco said that: “It was a company decision,” clarifies Namco Bandai producer Takeshi Miyazoe. “Miyazaki worked on Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, but for the IP to evolve and provide a new experience within the Dark Souls world the new wind from directors Shibuya and Tanimura is key to providing players with [a] brand new Dark Souls experience. In order to maintain the expectations and satisfaction and the rewards that player’s experience, this was the right time to bring in the new characteristics and taste[s of the directors] for this series to continue on evolving.”
No offense Namco, but that is a rubbish clarification. You do not remove an established director and put people who have never worked on the Souls games before. Sure, the team still exists, but it’s a director’s job to guide the team, he is the captain of the ship, and having two captains can cause issues and conflicts, and that’s something this delicate series just doesn’t need right now.
The game will have vehicles—think chariots and boats; it will have a densely populated world the same size of Dark Souls but with better graphics. It is not set in Lordran but a different world, and is said to be direct sequel to Dark Souls.
These details sound promising on paper, but how many sequels for popular games promised the same thing? And how did they turn out? Think Resistance 2, think Mass Effect 3, think Uncharted 3… that’s the point I am trying to make here. If they do not get the balance right, do not get what the core fans want, the future games in the series will be in jeopardy.
These are all pre-emptive assumptions though, and we still need to see some gameplay before proper judgment on the game, but it somehow feels like Dark Souls 2 may just face the third game curse.