This week, those of us eager to hear more about Dark Souls II received a few more morsels of information about the game’s development.
The news likely left fans with with one major question.
Should they be worried?
In an interview this week with EDGE Hidetaka Miyazaki, who sat at the helm of Dark Souls and its predessor Demons Souls, confirmed that he would not be directing the series’ next iteration.
Miyazaki has been replaced by the two-man directorial team of Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura. According to Namco Bandai, the change was made in name of helping the series “evolve” and to “provide a new experience within the Dark Souls world”.
In his interview with EDGE, Shibuya echoed similar sentiments and said that while the game would “follow the same concept” as Dark Souls, it would also be “more straightforward and understandable”.
“A lot of elements were very subtle in Dark Souls, and that was something that was characteristic to Dark Souls.” Shibuya said. “But I personally am the sort of person who likes to be more direct instead of subtle, so I think that part of me will [result in] a difference [for] players when they pick up Dark Souls II.”Normally I’m pretty comfortable with a series looking to appeal to a wider audience. But when it comes to Dark Souls, phrases like “more direct” and “more straightforward” gives me pause.
Part of the charm of Dark Souls was its subtlety. In addition to its difficulty, part of what made the game so rewarding to play was the challenge of figuring out some of its more obscure mechanics such as the humanity system, covenants and even it’s online play.
The game’s frustrating learning curve made you fight tooth and nail for every inch of progress, and all effort and hours of gameplay you put in to unraveling its mysteries made you treasure every scrap of information you gained about the game’s rules.
Those elements are the “soul” of the Souls series, and to dumb them down would be a disservice to such a refreshing franchise.
That being said, there is definitely an argument to be made for making some changes.
Series need to evolve to stay relevant, and to avoid becoming stale. Dark Souls offered players a seamless open world, better combat and generally refined a lot of elements that had their origin in Demon Souls. Miyazaki pushed the series forward while staying true to the elements players enjoyed about the first game.
Those changes not only worked, but were likely the reason for the success of Dark Souls, which sold more than 2 million units worldwide. With those numbers, it’s not surprising that Namco Bandai wants the next game in the hands of even more people.
Will Dark Souls II be a worthy follow up to its predecessor? Will the game be able to placate the series’ core fan base while attracting new players?
We will likely be waiting a while for the answers to those questions. The game itself only about 25 percent complete, and it may not even hit stores until 2014. Until then we’ll just have to be patient and try to avoid jumping to conclusions.