The announcement in 2018 that FromSoftware would be partnering with Activision for their next game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, was met with plenty of trepidation. The publisher doesn’t exactly have the best reputation among audiences, and many feared that they would exert too much control over Sekiro to make it a financially viable product rather than just letting From do what they do best, and make a great game. However, according to the Japanese studio itself, the collaboration between the two entities has been a very fruitful one.
While Activision has had some level of input in the project’s direction and development, such as its increased focus on tutorials as compared to past FromSoftware titles, according to the studio’s manager of marketing and communications, Yasuhiro Kitao, they’ve mostly let them do their own thing. While speaking with Game Informer, Kitao revealed that Activision gave complete creative control over Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice to FromSoftware, while also mentioning that the feedback they have been getting from the publisher has also led to needed improvements in the game itself, especially in areas where FromSoftware doesn’t have too much expertise.
“They offered to help us with areas that we don’t consider our expertise, such as user testing, offering feedback in regards to usability, things like this,” Kitao said. “We’re getting a lot of stimulation from the ideas they give us.”
Activision, however, has also supposedly made sure not to go too extreme with concerns regarding accessibility, and seems to understand that the core essence of a FromSoftware experience is something that needs to be retained. “From has always had this sense of mystery in their games, so there’s a fine balance between walking people through the experience and allowing them to discover it,” said Michelle Fonseca, senior product and marketing director at Activision. “We’ve been very thoughtful on what to show and how to keep that right pace for the fans. We don’t want to show too much [in the marketing], either. There’s a lot that we want to reserve for people to discover on their own.”
“[Activision has] given us all creative control of the project,” Kitao added. “Everything past the start screen is From’s jurisdiction. It’s a really great collaboration that we’re proud of.”
That definitely sounds encouraging. A partnership between FromSoftware and Activision seemed like a jarring one when it was first announced, given how much of polar opposites the two seem to be of each other in so many ways, but if the collaboration has been as good as the people attached to the project say it is, that’s definitely cause for optimism.
Certainly, Sekiro looks great in everything that we’ve seen and heard of it so far, from its increased focus on exploration, to how it handles its new combat system, to how that and new traversal mechanics affect the boss fights as well. It won’t be long till we find out for ourselves- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launches on March 22 for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.