They don’t need to make it Dark Souls- they just need to understand what Dark Souls does right, and then put their own spin on it.
In recent years, western RPGs have managed to rise the crest of public consciousness and mainstream appeal, owing to their open world and freeform design, led by the rise of the prominence of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls games. Modern western RPGs follow the template that Bethesda set for the genre with their hit games, but especially The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim.
But the one thing that Bethesda have consistently failed at has been crafting compelling combat systems, at least as far as Elder Scrolls goes- even 2011’s Skyrim, for instance, lauded as it was, drew frequent criticism for its combat, which was viewed as simplistic and trite. At the time, it was something people complained about, but didn’t pay much attention to- holistically, Skyrim was a far better game than anything else on the market at the time.
But this is something that definitely needs improvement going forward- particularly as other RPGs are beginning to catch up to, and even overtake, Elder Scrolls games, in all aspects, including, yes, combat. If Bethesda want to remain at the front of the genre they have helped popularize, it is time for them to take stock of their weaknesses, and work on them.
The good thing is, as far as combat is concerned, Bethesda already have some excellent examples within the genre that they can look at emulating. Specifically, From Software’s Dark Souls‘ combat systems seem like they could translate fairly well to Elder Scrolls. Now, this does not mean we want Bethesda to make Elder Scrolls as difficult or unforgiving as Dark Souls is famous for being- it does mean, however, that we want them to take cues from what Dark Souls does do right, from encounter design to responsiveness of combat, from weapon and gear balance, to actually putting skills and stats earned by the player to good use.
Bethesda have shown a better understanding of combat since, as last year’s Fallout 4, for all of its other faults, still managed to create a compelling and nuanced combat system. So there is hope that they can right the shit for The Elder Scrolls 6, too. Because if they do not, the alternative is a game that will seem as behind the curve upon its release as Fallout 4 did last year. And while we are sure that Bethesda’s games popularity isn’t about to wane any time soon, expecting sales and acclaim by consistently putting out inferior products does not seem to us to be a strategy that is sustainable in the long term.