The second I finished the Artorias of the Abyss DLC for the original Dark Souls, I started craving for more of the heart pounding action combat and exploration that made the game a real masterpiece.  So naturally I was excited when I saw the announcement of Dark Souls II at the Spike Video Game Awards back in 2012. I waited for over a year, avoiding any trailers or gamemplay footage so that I could go into the game as blind as when I started the first Dark Souls.

dark soulsThe day I received a text message from the store I pre-ordered the game from, I immediately went and bought it. When I got home I played until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. The game was great; a real joy to play. But after a couple of days of playing and finishing the game I started to feel like some things were missing. Core elements from the first game just weren’t present in this one, and those elements were the quality of the level design and the replayability of the game. I already finished the game and was halfway into New Game+, but everything felt like such a chore, where as in Dark Souls I could start hundreds of new games, trying out different builds and differents routes. This game started to get boring and repetetive real quick. I finished my New Game+ playthrough and another one with a different build, but after that I went straight back to my original love, Dark Souls.

Only later I got to know why the sequel didn’t make me feel all those things the original did. It was because Dark Souls II wasn’t directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, the creator of the series, but by a completely differnet person, Yui Tanimura. This new director had a completely different vision of the series: to make it as hard as possible. That’s what the fans wanted, right? No. Yui completely misunderstood the premise of the series. The reason Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls are difficult is because it will pull you into the world. In these games you’re not some kind of hero, you’re just an undead, trying to do something impossible with no one in the world caring. Rather, they just want to kill you. Dark Souls II didn’t focus on the world building and the level design — they focused on making the game challenging, which is, fine, but it doesn’t fit in the picture I have in my mind when I think about the Souls series.

bloodborneSo why the comparison with Call of Duty? Well, From Software (the company behind ‘Souls‘) announced another game in the series shortly after Dark Souls II named Bloodborne. Bloodborne was an amazing game and held true to everything that made the original Dark Souls amazing. This time Hidetaka Miyazaki was back to direct, and he delivered. It had incredible world building and even better action. This is was the reason he didn’t direct Dark Souls II — he was busy working on Bloodborne, which was a great decision. But now there’s a new game on the horizon, announced only a couple of months ago: Dark Souls III, directed by Miyazaki. Developement for this game ran alongside the developement for Bloodborne, meaning that Hidetaka Miyazaki was working on two games at once. Bloodborne turned out great and had a very unique setting and atmosphere, but looking at the promotional footage of the third Dark Souls, you can see that it share similarities with the second game. It is also known that two different teams were working on Bloodborne and Dark Souls III respectively, just like what happened with Dark Souls II. This could lead Dark Souls III to be a disappointment.

In an interview Hidetaka Miyazaki said that Dark Souls III will not be the last game in the series, but that it should be seen as a turning point for the franchise. Does this mean that there will be yearly releases just like Call of Duty? I hope not. The way they have been putting out the last couple of games is by using two different teams. Looking back at Dark Souls II, this greatly influenced the quality of the games. If they want to keep up the level of geniuty from Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne, I really hope they take their time working on each game, not just cranking them out every year to please the fans. If they would really like to satisfy the fans, they should take their sweet time, like they did with Bloodborne, which started developement right after they finished the Artorias of the Abyss DLC.

Will the Souls series become the next Call of Duty? It may if From Software continues to release yearly sequels made by two different teams led by different people like the Call of Duty franchise.

  • Guest007

    I…don’t see any correlation between Call of Duty and Dark Souls, save for yearly releases. Are there any other factors that make you think such a thing? Directors can easily split their devotion towards different projects, and still have it turn out fine in the end. Gameplay for 3 looks pretty stellar so far.

    • Bas Nieuweboer

      No, just that it seems that they are going to do yearly releases by different developement teams. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be negative about the series, Dark Souls is my favorite game of all time. I just hope that the quality of the games will not decrease with yearly release like with the Call of Duty franchise.