I recently played through a demo of Dark Souls 3, which was as keen as anything to reference itself. But despite bursting at the seams with self-love, there wasn't one nod to the trials & tribulations of finding Vendrick.
File this one under "just saying". This is one of those times when I'm not sure if this is actually a thing or not, but... I just find it quite odd that in a demo full of fan-pleasing Easter eggs - and I mean, full of them - there's not one bit of love for Drangleic.
It took me an hour to beat the demo's boss. I was expecting far longer, because Dark Souls 2's E3 demo featured one hell of a souped-up Mirror Knight. But then again, that was right after producer Tanimura had commented that the game would be more "accessible", and From Software used the demo to prove that "accessible" by no means meant "easy".
But in the space of that hour, I noticed unmistakable throwbacks — some typically cryptic, some blindingly obvious, but all of them pre-Vendrick.
In the covenant icon slot, there's an unmissable Sunbro icon. Right next to the demo's boss, there's a Red Eye knight — and yes, it's harder. Various tombstones have epitaphs that reference the Lord of Cinder, as well as an exile who was haunted by a dark sun. The beloved Elite Knight armour is front & centre, as usual. Online, some have pointed out that Anor Londo knight statues are subtly present, and I have my suspicions that a statue in the main boss arena is actually Artorias. Not a small amount of nostalgia thrown into that one hour.
But what about *anything* from Dark Souls 2? What about the Pursuer? The Lost Sinner? The Flexile Sentry? Demon of Song? Velstadt? The Ruin Sentinels? Throne Watcher and Defender? The Smelter Demon? The Looking Glass Knight and his damnable squires? These are all iconic, memorable moments, and any Souls game coming afterwards is standing on the shoulders of Vendrick's giants.
As Youtuber VaatiVidya notes, you can actually feel the original Dark Souls in the controls as well. Its parry is a lot closer to the first one, and the more modern elements of movement and combat pacing feel moreso from Bloodborne than Dark Souls 2.
I actually spoke to Vaati to get his take, and he pointed out that a crown features prominently in one of the trailers, as well as a giant rising at the end of the trailer. That's a fair point, though there's no telling if the crown is a Crown or if the giant is a Giant. The giant in the trailer does emit embers as the Old Iron King would, but why would he suddenly be wearing armour?
Perhaps the best theory I've heard is that if Dark Souls 3 is all about the previous lighters of the flame, referred to in 3 as Lords of Cinder, were all rising again, then the events of Drangleic would be only as meaningful as every other link in the chain of fire.
That's the lore explanation, anyway. The real life explanation could be a lot more along the lines of Dark Souls 2 not being something From was proud of. Tanimura has spoke about problems during the project, and it's also possible that series creative Hidetaka Miyazaki simply prefers the content made directly under him.
I'm just a little bit worried that Drangleic is being written out of history. Some Souls fans might actually like that — it's the weakest in terms of lore, though I'd argue it's the strongest in other aspects. Drangleic lore doesn't tie into itself as well as that of Lordran or Boletaria. We're used to there being hidden answers to the questions, and in Dark Souls 2, we never found them. But it's still a world we spent a crazy amount of time in, fell in love with, and were passionate enough about to down the most bosses ever in a Souls game (and best designed), as well as three DLC packs. The last of which, I might add, ends with one of the best moments in the series.
I just don't want to see all of that erased. I don't even want to think the creators want it erased. I don't even like knowing they're ashamed of it in any way, because I freaking loved it.
Lie to me, From. Lie to me with a smile on your face and tell me Santa is real. And embrace your history, warts and all. God knows Dark Souls wasn't without warts. Bed of Chaos, anyone? I'll settle for Titchy Gren's head on a pike (and covered in blood, natch), or the phrase "seek misery" casually thrown in somewhere.
Just as long as it's real.