Dark Souls II might have just been announced at this past week's VGA awards, but don't be expecting the same game all over again. The truth is that FromSoftware's surprise hit Dark Souls seems to be more closely linked to its spiritual predecessor Demon's Souls than it does with its upcoming official sequel.
FromSoftware will be revamping the series from the ground up. New world, new protagonist, everything will be completely new, even the director. Series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki will still act as an adviser to the game, but FromSoftware has turned to Capcom director Tomohiro Shibuya to lead this project. Shibuya is best known for creating the Monster Hunter series. Shibuya stated that old fans have nothing to fear in the press release.
"The entire development team is striving to make Dark Souls II an experience that is fresh while not forsaking its roots in presenting players with challenging gameplay. Our goal is to surprise and delight our fans with new experiences and plot twists while enticing new players to join our dark journey."
The popular mulitplayer system the last two Souls games were widely praised for is also confirmed to be completely revamped, making for a much more social game. Shibuya states that he wants his game to be much "more straightforward and more understandable," casting aside the game's patented difficulty and wanting to "see Dark Souls attain as great a presence as The Elder Scrolls."
Demon's Souls was a wonderful hit and the best thing to come out of Japan this entire generation, and FromSoftware defied the odds and was able to carry the torch into Dark Souls as well, keeping it fresh but still familiar, not falling into today's gaping sequel-itus trap.
I don't expect streamlining the experience into The Elder Scrolls is their main target, though. I'd be more nervous about this series being whipped into becoming FromSoftware's answer to Capcom's Monster Hunter knock-off. Easier gameplay, new online multiplayer focus, the creator of Monster Hunter on board. All signs are pointing towards that, and I don't think that formula can keep the series afloat without sacrificing what made it so special in the first place. All it needs is a handheld release.
Don't get me wrong, I'm excited and will most likely play it after loving the first two games, but I'm going to lean towards being cautious on this one.
At least Namco has landed the publishing rights in America again. That hasn't changed. They'll be releasing Dark Souls II on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.