Spearheading the progression forward for developer From Software is their critically acclaimed series, Dark Souls. The upcoming installment, Dark Souls III, appeared in Microsoft’s presentation at Gamescom, and Gamespot conducted an interview with the creative mind behind it all, Hidetaki Miyazaki, who had a few words to say regarding his plans for the future.
The interview, reported on by Gamespot writer Tamoor Hussain, seems to have been brief, and the focus was on Miyazaki’s intentions going forward. Miyazaki is the creative mind behind all of the Dark Souls games, as well as recent PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne. When Gamespot asked him about the days to come, they specifically asked whether or not future projects might place the Dark Souls formula in a more sci-fi setting. Miyazaki had the following to say:
Dark Souls is my life’s work. Everything I came up with for Dark Souls III is based on my personal preferences. However, Dark Souls III is also actually the turning point for the franchise.
What this meant was unclear, but it does hearken back to a statement made in 2014. Perhaps unknown by many is that Miyazaki was made president of From Software back in May 2014. He had shown his worth with his work in the games he developed for within the franchise, and upon being promoted he mentioned that From Software intended to “launch several new projects” that haven’t been mentioned since. Concluding the interview, Miyazaki stated,
I do want to work on something new. I’m pleased to hear people are interested in seeing that.
Dark Souls III is geared to launch in early 2016, and it’s going to see a lot of changes when compared to its predecessors. For those that played Bloodborne, it’s easy to see that Miyazaki used the new intellectual property to test out variations on the gameplay that the Dark Souls series is known for. While it is very similar to those games in many ways, there are many key differences that have made it into Dark Souls III.
Bloodborne made two huge changes to the formula. The first was the removal of shields. In Dark Souls, players could wield any weapon with one or two hands, and this would change the way your character fights as well as the stat requirements for the weapon. For example, a weapon that was too heavy for a character to wield with one hand, due to their strength stat, could be wielded normally with two hands, requiring less strength, at the expense of a potential offhand weapon. Bloodborne trashed shields altogether and everybody uses a one handed blade weapon that can be extended to act as a heavier two handed weapon. Every player also had the ability to fire a rifle shot from their offhand, requiring ammo and a reload after each shot. Without a shield, blocking is no longer an option, so the game pushed the focus to rolling and evading.
The second major change works in tandem with the first, and it has to do with health recovery. In both Bloodborne and Dark Souls, players reach bonfires where they can rest and restore health, but this also respawns all enemies. In Dark Souls, however, players had an Estus Flask that was essentially a refillable health potion. Depending on the type of bonfire you rested at, five or ten charges of the flask would be refilled and you’d have potions to go out an explore with. In Bloodborne, however, players heal with Blood Vials, which are finite and do not get replenished by any means other than finding them on defeated enemies or in chests and the like. While healing items are finite, a brand new mechanic was introduced. When the player takes damage, the amount of damage the last hit dealt will be shaved off the health bar as you’d expect, but it leaves behind a translucent segment of the health bar that represents all the damage that hit inflicted. Every time the player strikes the enemy before being hit again, some of that translucent segment of the health bar is restored. These two major changes, working hand in hand throughout gameplay, change the tone of the combat drastically, and make patience less significant. It’s all much more fast paced and forces players to make vitally important decisions in even less time. This is what has been introduced to Dark Souls.
In Dark Souls III, veteran players will immediately notice the increased run speed and stamina regeneration rate. These both clearly increase the pace of the combat and, therefore, the game as a whole. Unlike Bloodborne and even Dark Souls II to an extent, From Software has returned to their map design roots, bringing back the routes first seen in Dark Souls that famously feel as though they’re taking the player deeper into a location than they thought it would, only to walk them through a gate that was previously locked from the other side that they hadn’t even noticed when they passed it half an hour ago. If you’re unfamiliar with the series and what is being described, play Dark Souls. Seriously, the map and route designs are a work of objective genius and do what they set out to do flawlessly.
Dark Souls III could be the last game of the series, if some speculators of Miyazaki’s words are correct, so get your hands on the games and see what you’ve been missing out on. Again, the game is planned to launch in early 2016 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.