UPDATED: Dark Souls 2: run for the hills, the early news reports are not pretty

4 mins read

Earlier this month I wrote about my concerns with the announced Dark Souls 2. From the early reports and rumours, it would seem that my concerns are justified.

The first red flag is that the team making Dark Souls 2 is significantly larger than the team that made Dark Souls. “From Software has nearly doubled the internal team focused on world creation alone,” an Edge report claims.

On the surface this might sound like a good thing, right? More resources means a bigger, better game. The problem is that it also means a game that needs to sell more copies to even break even. The constant pressure on a game with those kinds of sales expectations is to find ways to sell to more people. In marketing speak that typically translates into “more accessible gameplay.” To gamers that means “compromised vision for $$$s.”

And given that there’s apparently vehicles in Dark Souls 2, there’s already a purity from the first game that is being compromised. Dark Souls did not need a chariot. Why does Dark Souls 2, if not to provide some “awesome” screenshots to feed the press or stick on the back of the box. Why are the developers talking about “improving the action of the game?” Part of the appeal of the combat of the Souls games in the past has been that the action is simple, but feels restrictive. This is not an action game series, and players are meant to feel like confrontation is a challenge, not something to be relished.

And lo and behold we have also got the new director of the Souls games, Tomohiro Shibuya, talking about making the game “accessible to players that haven’t picked up Dark Souls.” There seems to be some confusion on the meaning behind those words – and it would indeed seem like he’s simply pointing out that the goal is to make the game understandable to people who haven’t played the previous game. However Dark Souls has already found its way into the homes of anyone who is interested in difficult, dark, RPGs. The implication here is that From Software is chasing after an audience aside from the people that like difficult, dark, RPGs. They have to – they have got a bigger budget to exceed to break even after all – but what does this mean is going to happen to the game that Dark Souls fans fell in love with?

And I am saving the icing on the cake for the latest bit of news – Dark Souls 2 may well have paid DLC item storage. Yep, it looks like the realities of developing AAA-games have hit From Software’s pocket book.

(UPDATE: Good news. According to Siliconera, the initial report was misquoted, and that the DLC item storage thing is not going to happen. This is one less thing to worry about!)

The problem? Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls and the King’s Field games before those were never about compromise.

This is the bio under which all legacy DigitallyDownloaded.net articles are published (as in the 12,000-odd, before we moved to the new Website and platform). This is not a member of the DDNet Team. Please see the article's text for byline attribution.

  • We've gotten a firsthand account of what "assessibility" does to "hardcore" franchises with Ninja Gaiden 3 and it isn't pretty. Yes, the game is flashy and looks pretty in action, and it might give off the inclination that all is as it seems, but when you slice through the glossy coating you'll find that the "hardcore" roots that built the foundation for the franchise is crippled in the process.

    Consider my caution flags raised.

  • I am still curious about this title and excited, but I too can't help but feel we are getting a departure from what the series has traditionally been. That may not prove to be a bad thing – I recall your original review of Dark Souls, Matt and if I am remember properly, you already felt like while it was a good game, it was missing something that Demons Souls had before it.

  • welcome to reality; if a developer wants to be bigger and more successful then some things are going to change. And frankly, there was a lot to like about Dark Souls BESIDES the difficulty (which often went into unfair territory, let's be honest)

  • When he said, "accessible to players that haven't picked up Dark Souls"….that gutted me.
    While both Souls titles have been different so far, I've heard that kind of quote before, and the change didn't end up well.

    Look up Zipper Interactive and see how they're doing now. F****** shame.

  • if you don't want change any change, you can just buy dark souls. I think we'd better just stop whining and wait for more significant news

  • I welcome change, all the time. I've still got hope for the game, but broad, accessible change is usually bad news.

  • Yeah adding more people to the team can only be a bad thing. Wouldn't it be great if games like Grand Theft Auto V were made by a team of 20 people. That would really make the game quality. And trying to innovate by making the game more action focused would certainly take away from the experience. Vehicles? What an absurd idea. You know, they should just release the exact same game, with nothing changed at all, and call it Dark Souls 2. Because damn them for trying.

  • Change can be good. Change that rips the philosophical soul (hah, pun) out of a franchise that is now up to its seventh title is not good.

    Is is really that hard to understand why people who have been playing the Souls/ King's Field series since the PSOne era might be concerned with these revelations?

  • Agreed. I don't think From Software will make a bad game (they haven't really to date), but I don't like the idea of From Software growing to the point where it needs to compete with the likes of Nintendo and Square Enix for sales. From Software is meant to be the innovative mid-tier developer, and its games do not suit a broad audience. At all.

  • I really wasn't talking about the difficulty. The Souls games in terms of philosophy and theme do no suit a broad audience, either.

    It's like taking a game series like GUST's Atelier series and expecting it to compete in terms of sales with Final Fantasy. The only way that can possibly happen is if the Atelier games stop being Atelier games and start being generic JRPGs.

  • Indeed. While it was the first popular game in the franchise, Dark Souls was by far the "softest" game in it as well. It had almost none of the bite of a game like King's Field IV or Demon's Souls.

    What I see happening with Dark Souls 2 is a continuing of the "softening", and that does not make me happy at all.

  • You know both audiences can be satisfied with a difficulty level. Don't be so alarmist when you literally know NOTHING about the game.

  • I've been following the games industry for decades and I've been playing the Souls/ King's Field franchise since the first game.

    I know the warning signs when something is going to happen in this industry, and there's a big red flag over the comments that the game's director is making.

    And no, there is no way that "all audiences," can be satisfied with the Souls vision and philosophy. It was always a series developed with a very specific niche in mind. Trying to broaden that audience out will inevitably lead to the Souls vision being compromised. It's a trade off, and it's a trade off I had hoped From Software would not be willing to make.

  • I don't care HOW long you have been following the industry or THIS game. Until the developer / publisher releases some specifics about the title you are making speculations based on your emotional investment into the series.

    I am not saying you don't have reason to be concerned, but having a level of concern doesn't equate to what you think is going to become reality.

    There is absolutely NO reason why a difficulty level couldn't be implemented that would retain much of the feel of the previous games. They could maintain a HARD mode that copies the original while the offer an EASY mode that ups the player damage (maybe even mobility) and / or Neuters the enemy AI.

    Now that was my speculation and you know what, at this point it has just as much of a chance of becoming reality as YOUR speculation.

    "And no, there is no way that 'all audiences,' can be satisfied with the Souls vision and philosophy."

    I have to take you to task a bit here. What do you think From Software is in the business for? Do you think they really want to release games that just barely keep them afloat (Dark Souls only did about 2 million copies, which is respectable and the best they have done, but the stakes are high for gaming companies now).

    I am sure they would want more than 2 million people to experience their games. Suggesting that this company will just axe the formula (that sold so well for them) I think is a tad premature.

    You should be getting in touch with From Software to schedule an interview with the developers to ask them how the will manage to expand the series without disappointing those who have made it successful up until this point.

    That would be a far better article than listening to you complain about things you are only speculating about.

  • I think Jack successfully burned your straw men arguments. You are making speculation and passing it off as fact. Use your station as a games "journalist" and get in touch with the developers or publisher and start asking questions. Then you will be armed with facts and not speculation (that will turn into rumor).

  • "You should be getting in touch with From Software to schedule an interview with the developers to ask them how the will manage to expand the series without disappointing those who have made it successful up until this point."

    Other outlets have done that. All they get back is assurances that the "core" is valuable, while at the same time in other interviews From Software goes on about reaching out to an "expanded" audience.

    I'm the first person to support developers and publishers making a significant return on their investments. From Software has been one of my favourite developers for years. However, it's impossible to deny that some level of compromise – a significant amount of compromise, in fact – is necessary to take a niche game and turn it into a mainstream one. That is all I'm saying here.

    And yes, on a personal level that doesn't make me happy. I understand it, but I don't need to like it.

    "There is absolutely NO reason why a difficulty level couldn't be implemented that would retain much of the feel of the previous games. They could maintain a HARD mode that copies the original while the offer an EASY mode that ups the player damage (maybe even mobility) and / or Neuters the enemy AI."

    There's a reason that neither Souls game had selectable difficulty levels. It goes against the philosophy of the series. There's no reason it couldn't be implemented, but that would essentially prove my point about making compromises to the initial vision of the franchise.

  • Can you point to the bit where I claimed that, for a fact, Dark Souls 2 would be anything? Because I didn't. I took comments made by the developer, put them into context with what typically happens in the games industry when niche games start being expected to sell like AAA-grade games.

  • It doesn't even need no fucking change. Turning it into a fucking action game would be seriously retarded, and you don't think this is worrying as shit for us fans? Looking at the rest of the industry this has happend to me atleast to every fucking franchise I've liked. I'd hate to see that last glimmer of hope amongst a sea of shit to be devoured, just so a bunch of lazy cunts can have yet another game that plays itself.

  • Hi Sideras,

    Thank you for your comment – believe me those thoughts have run through the minds of a lot of us.

    As per our comments policy I've had to moderate your comment a little to remove the non-PG words. I've not changed your comment in any way though.

    Thanks for understanding 🙂

  • Maybe they can have two difficulty settings. One for the real game and another called Pansy for anyone who can't really play the game. Don't ruin what made the game popular though.

  • I can see it now: "Like Dark Souls, but now with button mashing and scripted action sequences and chariot races and QTEs and well, we just dumbed everything down. Enjoy guys!" I try to have super low expectations about these kinda things so that when the product releases it will at least be a bit better than what I was expecting. Hype is my worst enemy from my experience.

  • Don't forget that if you press down R3 the game will point you in the direction you should head next.

    And turret sequences. Every popular game needs those 😛

  • It doesn't mean it's gonna be a shitty game, but if I end up waiting till the fairly obvious release date of October 1/8 (keeping in line with Demon's/Dark Souls) and the game is crap, I am gonna go nuclear on their PR's asses. As an aside, as a PlayStation gamer, who's to say that Sony didn't hire the director away from the team to create a sequel to Demon's Souls…hmmm, there's some food for thought; and you heard it here first. 😉

  • That thought had crossed my mind too, given Japan Studio's involvement in the first game.

    There's likely a lot of IP in the Souls games that Sony couldn't use, but I could certainly see another game "in the spirit of" being released by Sony in the future.

  • I think we should play and judge the finished product on it's merits, let's wait until October (or E3 impressions if there are any). For example, look how accessible Red Dead Redemption was, and it was a masterpiece.

  • I haven't dismissed the game by any means. And I do certainly hope that my concerns are proven unfounded, because I would love another brilliant Souls game.

    Imagine if Rockstar announced a Red Dead Redemption 2, only this time it's going to be a match-3 puzzler.

    I'm using hyperbole, but Red Dead is an open-world western. That's its game design philosophy. Dark Souls was a dark horror RPG. If it were to remain pure to that theme it would never succeed as an AAA-game. That's where my concern is. Just what is going to be changed to make the game more palatable to a big audience?

    It may well turn out to be a brilliant game that disappoints me greatly because it doesn't remain true to the franchise roots.

    It's a game I am going to be watching very, very closely.

  • Elitist turds will use any excuse to shit on this now. God forbid the team expands beyond the narrow minds of the past games.

    "oh noez, hte game actually explained what a covenant is and how it works :("

  • What's wrong with some ambiguity?

    Heaven forbid a game actually make people think about the plot. One of the best things about the Souls games was that they didn't treat the players like blathering idiots who had to be spoon fed everything otherwise they might get all confused. It was nice to play a good game that didn't behave like a Hollywood blockbuster.

  • I love how all the message boards are filled with disbelievers. I have been pumped for a sequel ever since I got into DS, but I can't discredit a game or team before it is even near delivery. We are talking about an announcement trailer which is pure CGI and little talk tidbits that claim they want to make the game more understanding, while keeping the death toll intact.

    How is that seriously the worst news ever? You should be more optimistic and happy that they are allowed to make another game in the series. I will be stoked unless there is concrete proof, much much closer to launch to show me otherwise.

  • Sometimes fanboys really make no sense.

    Some Demon's Souls purists think that game is darker and the better game. Just finished it, it is rather easy on the first playthrough and has way too many easy bosses. Even without summons.

    If you want a game just like Dark Souls, buy another copy of it.

  • I don't believe this game can be bad. The old director will still be there is still supervising the game. Then the 2 directors of this game were high up in the production of the first two souls games. Also I don't know how much I trust that last source. I usually don't take to much stock when the article is by a fifth grader.

    "Hopefully, we will get to see Dark Souls II In the Nintendo Wii U but there is still a petition to get Dark Souls II on the Nintendo Wii U, so there is still a small chance that Dark Souls fans will be able to play it on the Wii U." A quote from that article he sourced.

  • I don't think the game will be bad. I do however worry that the game will no longer be pure to the franchise. After six games I don't really want the seventh to start taking new directions to appeal to a different demographic.

    That last link does source Siliconera, and that is hard to deny is not a reputable source.

  • in defense, I do believe that Dark Souls didn't require as much people to develop as the next project proposes. Hiring more people costs money, and it definitely isn't a cheap thing. More people will mean higher costs of development. Bigger budgets mean the implicit need for an expanded audience to remain profitable, as the games industry isn't in the best financial condition at this moment.

  • For an RPG I think having a bigger team will be better. Why? to make the online aspects of the game better. It was a wonderful idea, but didn't execute well at least with me. Both game's sold well enough to merit a larger team, which I think is fantastic. Also with this "more understandable" thing, I hope is just a mode and they'll have "classic Demon Souls" mode as well.

  • So it wont be an unbalanced awful lookign mediocre pile of shit with terrible controls camera and no story because the creator played western rpgs but couldnt understand the english text so he fillled in the blanks by his own and thus having a missconception about western rpg stories.

    GOOD..insert grumpy cat pic.

  • So, I posted a reply on this piece mere minutes after it published and I'm guessing our system doesn't like my iPhone. Anyway, here it is again:

    The last time that a "hardcore" franchise got the "mainstream accessibility" worked into it was with Ninja Gaiden III. While a few newcomers enjoyed it, they destroyed the heart and soul of the game and ripped the hearts out of the exact same fans that have built the franchise to what it was before NGIII. We did this with our monetary support – supporting them for creating blistering difficult games.

    Needless to say, NGIII was the biggest disappointment of my entire 25 years of gaming. We've seen what "accessibility" can do to a hardcore title and I think the concerns for Dark Souls 2 are completely valid. As a massive NG fan, I've turned to the Souls games to get my "hardcore" fix these days, so this news isn't sitting well with me either.

  • Dude, you point out fallacies in other people's arguments, but don't see them in your own.

    Inductive Argument
    Companies that want to sell more games make their games "more accessible."
    From Software wants to sell more games.
    From Software is going to make their games "more accessible."

    Your whole article is an inductive argument. It's an opinion piece, and I get that, but pointing out logical fallacies in other people's opinions (however dumb they might be) while you do the same thing doesn't seem like journalism. To me it, it's just some kid that doesn't like it when people disagree with him.

  • So you mean the game wont be a pile of crap with broken controls and camera and no story because the creator played western rpgs without being able to read the english text so he developd a false idea about western rpgs and therefore dark souls was a product of misconception?

    You mean the game will have higher quality standards and more polish.

    GOOD insert grumpy cat pic here.

  • Todd Howard said the same thing about Skyrim and though some would argue that Oblivion and Morrowind are better games, in my opinion Bethesda did a great job catering to its longtime fans with Skrim. I don't know much about From Software but they definitely have a challenge ahead of them. Ninja Gaiden 3 was balls.

  • The entire demeanor of your article is done as a statement of reality.

    "From the early reports and rumours, it would seem that my concerns are justified."

    Justified by what? Your feelings, speculation?

    Again use your station as a games journalist and get in touch with From Software. This is just sensationalist nonsense as it stands you have little to no factual information about the game. You have your emotional investment into the series and some concerns about the language the developer is using.

    You aren't a Dark Souls Seer.

  • "There's a reason that neither Souls game had selectable difficulty
    levels. It goes against the philosophy of the series. There's no reason
    it couldn't be implemented, but that would essentially prove my point
    about making compromises to the initial vision of the franchise."

    Well now you are just back tracking, first you said this WAS not possible (AT ALL). Now it is possible but it would insult your "purist" sensibilities. Obviously not enough people agreed with you to make the series a resounding success, so if they have an avenue to sell more copies and still retain a mode to make the old school peeps like yourself, wouldn't they be foolish NOT to take that avenue?

    IMHO the bigger team is a good thing will it mean things will change — YES and likely not everything for the better (of course that is according to taste).

    How do you know they aren't amping up the team to include more online support?

    I am just sick of gamers complaints. I was over the Mass Effect 3 whining and crying before it even started. You don't like an ending to a game, who gives a rats ass. If the game was fun to play the ending should be a moot point. The "pre-complaining" articles seem to be an attempt to grab the developers attention which would be much better suited with an interview and very strategic questions.

  • That may be true, but we are talking about two different teams here. Had From Software had a history of axing a game's vision and forumla after a sequel or two, you may have a point.

    We can't just say since it happened to NGIII it will happen to DSII. There is little to no correlation there other than they are both Japanese devs.

  • You are assuming that is what they are doing. Unless there is some new news.

    You guys are just shitting on this news because you don't like the way it sounds and making assumptions. Give the devs a freaking chance to fail here, don't call it a FAIL before they have really even revealed anything.

    How about some alpha previews first? You know REAL game play and not speculative bullshit!

  • So having the option to play in a classic sense or easy way is not good news to you? Even if it meant the franchise would triple in sales (and thus insure the franchise and maybe even a few copy cats)?

    Think about what you are suggesting here.

  • That doesn't sound like a fact when it contains "seem":

    "From the early reports and rumours, it would SEEM that my concerns are justified."

    With the way the words are worded, he isn't certain about the reality of the outcomes. However, the author uses the entire body of this writing to justify his concerns. Unless you give very solid reasons why he's worrying too much, you might not be doing much to convince him.


    I feel like this article is indicating over-confidence in the justifications. I got the feeling when I read the closing statement:

    "Yep, it looks like the realities of developing AAA-games have hit From Software’s pocket book…The problem? Dark Souls, Demon's Souls and the King's Field games before those were never about compromise."

  • Hi Labossiere,

    I realise this is an inductive argument, however, I am only putting forward a hypothesis here – I'm not stating anything as fact, I'm merely presenting my concerns. An inductive argument is a fine way to present a hypothesis, as it makes it clear where the problem is and what needs to be resolved, and it's based on statistical probability.

    A strawman argument is emotive and achieves little. It's generally considered to be a vary poor form of debate.

    I apologise if I have in some way upset people by presenting my theory, but I don't appreciate having words shoved into my mouth.

  • I also have my background in entertainment and business reporting, which gives me an idea of 'what happens next' in game projects, and so I know what typically happens when budgets scale upwards and developers start speaking rhetoric around certain themes.

    I did not present anything as fact in this piece. Just strongly-worded hypothesis.

    It would seem that we're not going to reach an agreement or see eye to eye on this, so in wrapping up as I don't think anything new is going to be added here – thank you for taking the time to lay out your concerns with the article and provide an alternate point of view in the comments. It's a good argument and I am sure there are plenty of readers that will appreciate it.

  • Dude, you state stuff like it's fact throughout your article.

    "To gamers that means 'compromised vision for $$$s.'

    "And given that there’s apparently vehicles in Dark Souls 2, there’s already a purity from the first game that is being compromised."

    "This is not an action game series, and players are meant to feel like confrontation is a challenge, not something to be relished."

    You could reword some stuff, then you can say "I'm not stating anything as fact."

    Dude takes one philosophy class in college, now he thinks he's Mike Labossiere.

  • You mean the same From Software that ran another two once awesome niche franchises into the dirt: Tenchu and Armoured Core – right?

  • I'd be expecting them to go the same way as Ninja Gaiden 3: apologizing to fans and revamping a more hardcore version on the Wii U. The petition has already been going quite hard, if the game flunkes it will only be a matter of time.

  • Previous Story

    The 24 Games of Christmas! Day #19: To The Moon

    Next Story


    Latest Articles