Dark Souls II Creators Want To Make The Series More 'Understandable'

In an interview in the December issue of Edge Magazine, one of the new directors for Dark Souls II says that the sequel will be more "understandable". In Edge's comments section, initial reaction to that word has not been kind.

Here's one commenter:

Ugh. No, we do not want to see Dark Souls become The Elder Scrolls. Having new directors who want to bring "direct, not subtle" to Dark Souls is already worrisome enough (and I hope Miyazaki has the power to rein them in if they get too stupid), but adding journalism like this to the situation is just nauseating. It's quite possibly inevitable that Dark Souls sequels are going to become diluted un-FromSoft AAA shitgame fare as the series gains popularity, as is the way of all video games once great, but I am disgusted with Edge's sycophantic propping up of bad ideas right now. If you're looking, From/Bamco: keep Dark Souls obscure!!

And another concerned fan:

For a series like the Souls games, such an uttering is tantamount to blasphemy. These titles are renown for being ridiculously tough games to beat and that bare-knuckle difficulty has won it a hardcore fanbase. You die a lot. Other players invade your games to either help or hurt your quest. Players need to suck down a lot of pain to snatch victory. And those acolytes don't want anything about their sacred journeys to change. Edge says:

An eternal battle rages at the heart of Dark Souls II. On one side stands the stern force of challenge, the very soul of the Souls series. It has inspired thousands of fans to hack their way through two of the most demanding and rewarding games of an era, fans who expect at least the same test on the next go around. On the other side is the bright promise of accessibility. And why not? Why shouldn't FromSoftware and Namco Bandai open Souls up to a wider audience when it could otherwise be in danger of becoming stuck in a cult cul-de-sac?

Entire systems, such as Dark Souls' covenants and Demon's Souls' World Tendency, remain mysteries to even reasonably experienced players — wouldn't it be a service to the games to help everyone understand them better? On the other hand, isn't the very nature of the Souls series about obfuscation and what it makes you work for?

Despite the fan reaction, the possibility of changes in Dark Souls II could be a useful thought exercise for even the most hardcore fans of the series. Something in Dark Souls II will likely be different from Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. If change has to come, what aspect of the Souls franchise do you think could benefit from a re-think?


    Self-fulfilling prophecy. Same thing happened with the lovely 'boo motion controls' and 'f**** the casuals' poppets.

    They'll find something to be pissed off about because they're looking for it.

    Personally, Dark Souls has been pretty manageable (tough but fair) for me so far, I hope Dark Souls 2 can add more of a challenge.

    I'd be happy to see Dark Souls become a tiny bit more accessible (before anyone argues, try telling me you NEVER had to look at an FAQ to figure out what half of your items were for), but I'm fairly confident they won't tone down whats important - the lore, and the gameplay.

    I best heard Dark Souls described as being a riddle, every part of the game challenged you, but every aspect of it (with enough patience and determination) could be conquered. This was a incredibly specific and deliberate design that the From Software team built, so I doubt they would create a sequel (not another Souls game, but another Dark Souls) only to deastically change what made the game so adored in the first place.

    Tricky situation. It is understandable that From Software want to maximise return on investment, and a more accesible game might do that (I haven't picked up Dark Souls yet, knowing it will likely be too hard for me, although I am planning to grab it over Christmas now that it is < $50). However, I see a risk in making the game more accessible being a homogonising of the game-scape. Or to put it another way, it is important that a unique game like Dark Souls exists in the world, and it would be nice to see Dark Souls 2 continue to offer a 'cult' experience.

    I hope they don't make the story straight-forward. One of the joys of both DS games are the cryptic lore in the item description. It gave us a lot of opportunity to speculate and play around with the vague stories. This has so far been more effective than on-you-face lore like Dragon Age which is boring and generic.

    My one big concern is the accessibly. Demon and Dark Souls already does the tutorial well enough. Not much is needed to know apart from rolling, attacking, using your shield and items. Other than that just look at your guide or read the signs that are on the floor.

    I hope they won't casualise the game and ruin an enduring franchise. We don't have enough games like Dark Souls without crossing the line into stupidity like Skyrim and Dragon Age. Keep it simple but hard, don't oversimply and cater to the casual market.

      I agree with everything you've said, but I think there is a lot of room to make the game more accessible (or should I say designed better), without affecting the way the story is told or the difficulty/progression of the game. Simple things like the invasion system, summoning other characters, even the point of Humanity, none of these were clear to me without me having to read an FAQ. I even found a thread online entirely full of people frustrated that it took a forum to tell them how to zoom with the bloody bow.

      I think if we get the same cryptic yet engrossing story and challenging gameplay, but sitting within a UI that makes basic game mechanics like Multiplayer easier to grasp, then we'd all be happier for it.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home to start playing Dark Souls again.

        but thats half the point of the whole game, is that the things weren't explained, its a trial and error game, learn by doing, forcing you to explore deeper and pull you through intrigue and this is a huge thing missing in games these days.

        Even this part of DS is partially ruined by there being wikis. If you havent played megaman x, play it and dont look at any guide or manual and see how it pulls you along with no prompts not explinations but still gets you there, its amazing design and something shared by the DS games, although they are clearly more punishing learning curves but still.

          Would doing a few simple things like having clear information about how weapon scaling works make the game worse? I doubt it very much. It really just depends on what they are planning on making more understandable. If all they work on is making the mechanics- like scaling, spell damage - clearer, that would be great. It wouldnt make the game easier, it would just mean less time reading the wiki.

            I think you are extremely wrong there. Why do you need to know these things? You only know about a cap, or effective level because someone else told you there is a cap, that some stat only works to a point, if you didnt youd be none the wiser and go your merry way about things with the knowledge you were provided PURPOSELY, thats the biggest problem with this argument, you are given what the designer has given you for a reason, to try and guide your experience, that is not how these things should work.

            its exactly what pokemon did, pokemon had hidden values for years before it became common knowledge, did anyone care? nope game was still fun as hell, and some people got lucky and figured it out, that was theirs to share, or to keep, but now we have the internet and thats all ruined.

            As I said below it is sad that to make it in the markert they have to give in to people the game wasn't made for, and its happening everywhere in the industry. It is why games are becoming so samey and derivitive, because everyone is watering down to reach the lowest common denominator, and it sucks.

            Last edited 12/12/12 3:00 pm

              I guess i don't really follow most of what your saying, sorry. You are talking about caps - i guess you mean stat caps/ dimishing returns? but i don't think anyone mentioned that. The stuff I'm talking about isn't "hidden", it's obscure. Like when you are looking at your weapons screen, there is a little picture of a hand with an "A" next to it. So you go online and find out that means it has the 2nd best level of scaling for dexterity. Not sure that that adds anything to the experience that a tool tip wouldnt.

                Sorry maybe I got a bit ranty. What it comes down to is maybe it is purposely obscure to be obscure, and why should they change this design to suit people who want it explained in detail because they can't figure it out or be happy with what they are told.

          I do understand exactly what you're getting at and I wouldn't want them to change much at all, but I think there's a line between enjoyable trial and error which leads to discovery, and a frustrating lack of basic information which really should be supplied by the game.

          In regards to the Wiki's, there are so many elements of the game which 80% of players could only ever find out using the them. Giving the player a chance to discover things on their own is one thing, but the game lacks a basic amount of feedback to even let most players know what they've even done after they've done it (ie, why exactly have I just joined this covenant??).

            But that is the point, you won't discover everything, possibly ever, its a game to come back to, its a game to share stories about, you talk to your friend and he says something happened in it, that didnt happen to you so you go back to find out why or what it was and then you possibly discover something else on your way there. It is clear that is the way it was intended through the not system, cryptic clues and hints along side trickery and deceit. Then you goto a wiki and is all spoilt, someone has lifted the curtain and left it bare.

            Joining a covenant is the perfect example, youre not meant to know, you are a lost soul in an unfamiliar world and youve just agreed to something without knowing what it entails. Were you tricked? was it a gift? will it benefit you or hinder you? If someone cant enjoy these than DS probably isn't a game for them, and if you don't like a game for that reason don't play it, it wasnt meant for you.

            It supremely disheartening that a game like that can't survive these days without having to betray its self to appeal to a wider audience, just because some people don't get it, or like one aspect but cant grasp another.

    A truly good developer should be able to make the adjustments necessary to open the game up to a wider audience without pissing off the vast majority of the existing fanbase.

    I've never played Dark or Demon's Souls, from the things I hear about it, I'm not sure I want to.

    The descriptions I hear make it sound like it's difficult simply for the sake of being difficult.

    I like my difficulty fair and well designed. Not cheap, or hard for the sake of being hard. It's what made Halo games on Legendary difficulty so great, and Veteran on Call of Duty games such a piece of shit.

      The game is never cheap. Just unforgiving. If you make a mistake it punishes you for it. It's the pursuit of perfection of yourself that makes the game so compelling.

      The marketing for Dark Souls was pure genius. They took a boring, clunky, badly designed game and turned it into the Emperor's New Clothes. It's got terrible controls and an abysmal combat system, but the marketing dept. plugged it as "punishing" and "unforgiving", and the unwashed masses ate it up like candy. It's an ACHIEVEMENT if you can beat Dark Souls, it doesn't merely mean you have far too much time on your hands to sink into a crappy game that hates you.

        The combat system was exactly I would expect. Position and weapon types were key as for example using a swinging polearm in a narrow corridor would mean you smack the walls. Copping a glancing blow at the end of a swing would mean much less damage. Movement also had weight and armour hindered mobility (unless you had a build for compensate for it). The game punishes the cocky and arrogant. You die because of complacency or an urge to rush because you've done it 20 times before and gets you.

        The game is well made because once you understand what you are doing or why you died you learn and get better. It's an arcade game without coins.

      100% with freeze here. The game is difficult, but never cheap. No challenge in the game is impossible with patience and determination. You don't beat bosses by trying to level enough before taking them on, you have to actually become a better player in order to beat them.

      Sure it might not be for everybody, but in all honesty theres so much more to this game than the difficulty which justifies the hype behind it. Still, don't be scared off by it's difficulty because it would be a shame if that's all that's stopping you. The game is not brutally impossible, but it will test your skill and I can guarantee that after you've beaten your first couple of bosses the game will give you a sense of accomplishment which you could never get from games like Halo or Call of Duty.

    The obscurity and vagueness is what I love about dark souls. There are no maps, no waypoints to guide you. You the player are exactly like your character. You're given one instruction, ring the bells of awakening. But you have no idea how to do that. You dont have a little fairy or computer AI telling you to turn left, head up the stairs and go through the tunnel. It's all you. Your character comes into the world of Lordran with fresh eyes, just like you. You get prepared to wander the land fight enemies for the first time and die horribly.

    The obscurity of everything in the Dark Souls series is to teach you to be patient and learn from your mistakes.

    The heart of the game for me was the community it created. Leaving hints on the ground, and summoning players to your world made it enjoyable to see that their are good people out there. I like many of the in the dark souls community would frequent the wikis and FAQs to find help and give help.

    Its a great game and I certainly wouldn't want it to be more understandable because discovery is by far the best thing I loved about dark souls.

      !00% right. I haven't spent such a long time enjoying exploring and learning about the game through items and tiny bits of discussion flitting throughout the world. To "give" me the story would be to make it worthless. When I played Dark Souls, one of the first things I notices was how god damn good it felt to have a game where they don't hold your hand and tell you everything but yet was very accessible to play (because they controls were so tight!).

      This reminds me of why no one can ever make a good metroid game anymore. Hey Devs! Do you want to know what people loved about Super Metroid? U get plunked down on this awesome planet with very little to no direction. The music is amazing as are the environments which just compliment each other. You explore by yourself and somehow you develop this amazing story in your head. The game is hard but not impossible and it just oozes character. Then you play freaking metroid fusion "You, go here, then go here. This section is locked. I am telling you where to go".

      Let's just pray they don't freaking direct you in the next dark souls. I'm sure they'll have to "develop" my characters and have him talk a lot or something. Far out. Worst freaking possible news. For a game that I can call my one my top 10 of all games in history, this certainly makes me blue.

    Adding a simple option to play it on "Easy" or "classic" difficulty should solve the problem. I don't get the fanboy rage.

      Because that defeats the Souls series. It's supposed to be a hard yet fulfilling game. Adding an easy option defeats that purpose.

    I'm all for Japanese games getting better being 'understandable' and having 'better communication.'

    I had the Black Phantom Edition of Demon's Souls and used the little guide that came with it while playing the game and felt that it made the game infinitely more enjoyable. In fact I think that I've used a guide for pretty much every Japanese game I've played (especially RPG).

    It's not that these games are too hard without a guide: it's really that these games just do a terrible job of communicating the value and gameplay qualities of the things the player does or the things they find. The amount of times I've had to restart a Japanese game because I accidentally did the wrong thing when there was nothing to even indicate there was a wrong thing to do.

    I don't care if it's the most enigmatic game on the planet, I just need them to fix the godawful controls and combat system before I even consider spending my money on another title by these people. I'm so sick of these Japanese games where your character is utterly defeated by a 2 foot high ledge because the devs were too lazy to include the ability to jump or climb. With all it's artificial restrictions and clunky controls, Dark Souls 1 was a total waste of money IMO.

      controls are best on planet. u stupid

      You don't really play many games do you? Everything you said applies to a lot of Western games too. Oh, and the controls aren't clunky and the restrictions aren't artificial. It sounds like you're just not very good at it but don't want to admit it. Also, you can jump a bit, you just have to run and then hit the run button again. The game isn't about being a super powered human who can jump their own height.

      Last edited 11/12/12 7:52 pm

      I'd like to see you try to jump two feet straight up while wearing a suit of plate.

    I LOVE hard games, I put every game on the highest difficulty first play through. I've dominated TMNT and Punchout on the NES when I was 10, I've done the Halo games Legendary all skulls on. I love to be punished.

    Let me set the record straight. Dark Souls was NOT hard. It had its moments sure, but nothing gave me anything near what I'd consider a difficult challenge.

    See, I like challenges that push my dexterity and reflexes and memory and intelligence. A majority of the creatures in Dark Souls required you to grind and level up, learn an exploit or overcome the sluggish controls. This, coupled with a poorly explained statistics system and shocking menus, the game wasn't a challenge, it was a chore. It didn't require skill, it required an education. It didn't require practice, it required google.

    Give me a real challenge, give me enemies that test the limits of my skill. Don't make the game artificially hard in cheap ways like failing to properly explain the systems of the game or requiring repetitive grinding. I welcome a more understandable game. I welcome a harder game. More 'understandable' mean easier, it just threatens you ability to feel more special cause you've googled a bunch of special info that makes you feel like you're I'm some exclusive cool club.

      I agree 100% about poor interface, but dark souls never required you to grind, plenty of people, myself included have beaten the game at level 1, what you claimed is simply false. the combat is less black and white but personally I found the slower pace lent itself to methodical play, every move you make should be deliberate, you are given time to do and react to each enemy, but if you react without thinking or in the wrong way you will be punished for it, you could mitigate this by using lighter armour and weapons but obviously this has its own trade off.

      Again I'd agree dark souls doesn't push your dexterity and reflexes super hard (not saying not at all) but completely disagree it doesnt push your intelligence and memory, the combat is all about intelligent decision making, sure you can grind and plow through but its fallacious to claim that makes the game inherently grindy, in fact I can't think of a less grindy rpg this generation, can you even beat skyrim at level one? (speaking of god awful combat!)

      also to the guy above asking us to claim we never looked up wikis for what the items were for, I won't say never, but according to that ps3 trophies site I was the first Australian to platinum the game and only a few days after the first Americans, you certainly didn't need to look up a majority of them to most of the games content, and that's one of the things that's just so goddam great about the game, that feeling of mystery as you find something and proceed to go about figuring out what it does,(instead of getting a radio com about how said item will no doubt be used for x) how it fits into the lore and game, theb moment of wonder when hours later you figure it out, now that is how I always felt it harkened back to games of yore, rather than through difficulty.

    I don't think making the gameplay mechanics and info a bit clearer is a bad thing; not everyone has the time or desire for multiple play-throughs, the first being just to figure out wtf.
    As long as they do it right without breaking the immersion with a lengthy hand-holding tutorial or something.

    This makes me sad. There are not enough 'subtle' games now. Everything is so dumbed down for the masses :_(

    All Japanese RPG's tend to have a lot of obscure systems that make little sense to anyone, Japanese or not. Look at the loot systems in pretty much all modern Final Fantasy titles, especially FFXII and it's endgame weapon crafting system.

    I would like the covenant system dumbed down to Western standards, because I am a very very dumb westerner who wants to enjoy a system. It's fascinating and kinda weird that it's a hidden system.

    For me, I don't want my hand held through the story. Subtle hints of what I need to achieve was generally enough in Dark Souls. IE: the item you need to unlock the door to find the second bell of awakening is received after you slay the gargoyles etc etc

    Getting lost is part of the fun of Dark Souls, but It's still fairly linear in a sense that some of the areas such as The Duke's Archives were cordoned off until after you finish Anor Londo etc.

    The difficulty is balanced by common sense, it must be played like a JRPG and you HAVE TO GRIND LEVELS to proceed. Can't beat a boss? Spend an hour or so hacking for souls, upgrade your weapons and increase soul levels and.... almost like a miracle you WILL probably beat the boss on your next try.

    Some of the graphical glitches and the woeful AI are 'charming' but for a modern game are pretty unacceptable, I think. The AI needs to be ramped up in many places, especially skeletons rolling off bridges constantly... although it's still pretty funny to watch.

    The obscurity and subtlety of Dark Souls created a massive fan wiki. Instead of the instruction manual telling you how things work, you have thousands of people online lending you a helping hand. This is what I liked about Dark Souls, and Demon's Souls to some extent. But I just wish crafting and faction type systems weren't so deeply hidden in JRPG's.

    Nothing worse than selling an item you need 20 hours later...

    I remember arcade games in the early 80s when I played and watched people play Donkey Kong or Space Invaders etc. They were hard games in their original format so me, and almost everyone I ever saw, barely made it past the second or third screen. There was a formule to win (i.e. King of Kong) but who had that much money and time? Hard arcade games kept a player coming back to make money. Now we buy the game outright. Dark Souls was difficult for no other reason than being difficult. I don't mind that. Patch 1.05 I did mind! It took me back to wasted time on arcade games. 100+ hours and was perhaps 3/5ths through chasing items that did nothing to help me beat bosses I couldn't better. Perhaps I'll waste time on this game but not when it is first released. I'll wait 'till it's cheap and hints are available. I won't upgrade patches either. And then again I'll realise I have a life outside gaming. Yay!

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