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Dark Souls II’s new director on making one of the toughest series in videogames “more accessible”

Nathan Brown:

Dark Souls II stars on the cover of our new issue, E249, which is out later this week. Last week, shortly after the game was announced, we told you about the game’s two new directors, Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura, and that they intended for the game to be “more straightforward and more understandable.”

That single quote, it seems, unsettled an awful lot of people. How do you make a game, the inaccessibility of which is such a key component of what makes it so special, more accessible without turning it into something else? Clearly, publisher Namco Bandai wants Dark Souls II to outsell its predecessor, but in order to do that it needs those who bought the first game to buy the sequel.

It can’t change too much, then, and over the course of our 10-page feature Shibuya explains what he feels can be tweaked to be more welcoming to new players without alienating that core Dark Souls audience. What follows are extracts from our first look at the game, along with some material that didn’t make it into the magazine.

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dedicatedtogamers2349d ago

Here's the thing: the Souls series isn't all that "tough". Rather, most videogames these days hold your hand so much that when games like Demon's/Dark Souls come out, they seem a lot more difficult. I'm all for them changing the game, and this is coming from someone who sunk 350+ hours between Demon's/Dark Souls. The reason why I'm okay with them changing it is that if they can make the game appeal to a slightly wider audience (for example, the 10+ million who bought Skyrim), then not only will we have more people playing online, but it ALSO means that the series will continue. The sales of this franchise are so low that they're probably barely breaking even.

But of course, "hardcore" gamers like to complain about anything. Fallout 3 and Skyrim are two of the most-loved RPGs of this generation, and yet BOTH of those games were very, very "accessible"-ized compared to their predecessors.

NeXXXuS2349d ago

They shouldn't just change the game like that because they themselves as an industry feel like it's too hard for gamers. I've died countless times on Dark Souls and Demon's Souls and I didn't have a problem with it. You just have to pace yourself in these games. You can't always rush the enemy and expect to be successful every time... ಠ_ಠ

guitarded772349d ago (Edited 2349d ago )

As someone not put off by the difficulty, there is one thing I would like to see. I want the game to be able to be played in offline mode, and for the player to be able to pause the game while in offline mode. Sometimes I want to take a break and grab a drink or a smoke or something, but I am fearful that something will kill my character while I'm away. That alone would make it more accessible for me.

Felinox2349d ago

I've never had the chance to play these as I have two children. It really appeals to me though, including the dificulty. I have almost every achievment in Skyrim since it can be freely paused when a diaper needs changed or whatnot.
Don't get me wrong though. I hate the trend of games getting continualy easier to sell more. I just wanna be able to pause. Maybe a parent mode.

Kelun2349d ago

@Felinox

If you really need the game paused, find a bonfire or press "start" and go to "Save and Quit".

Menchi2349d ago

The thing is, Demon's Souls was a low budget affair, yet it is possibly one of the best games released this Gen, and considering it didn't have a massive budget, I'm willing to bet it did great for itself in terms of profit.

Dark Souls had a higher budget, and it scored a lot more sales, so I don't believe it "broke even" I'm gonna go with it, did pretty well. Well enough for them to want to continue the franchise... But, they've again, went and increased the budget, so now they're aiming outside the scope of that fanbase, to appeal to a wider audience, to match the higher budget.

I just can't see, why they didn't stick with Dark Souls level of budget, and just stick with that VERY loyal fanbase and continue making profit, rather than risking that loyal fanbase on a higher budget, less true to the original title, that will probably shoot the franchise dead.

ceedubya92349d ago

Definitely not a franchise that they need to take too many risks with. Honestly, I think it would be good to find a way to bring in more players, but a game of this style probably will never be a huge draw anyway. Sometimes, its better to just stick to what you know. Trying to do too much could turn out to be a disaster.

SAE2349d ago

They can make it more accessible as they want to get more sales but they still can make it as a lower difficulty or put these settings in the options so fans could turn them off ...

The problem is that it's rare to see developers care about fans when they get huge profit from them , they just want to sell games after the success , i wouldn't blame them because it's a living job not a hobby but why not make an effort and respect the fans wishes by keeping what they want too by making a mode for them?. they can call it classic play through (campaign , single player ) ..

Bimkoblerutso2349d ago (Edited 2349d ago )

As far as I know, Demon's/Dark Souls are two of the most financially successful niche games of the generation.

Obviously you can't move it into "SUPER MASSIVE AAA EXPLOSIONS!!!" territory on a niche budget, but I think From Software does more with the money they're allotted than the vast majority of AAA developers out there could ever hope to.

The point is that From Software can obviously make tremendously awesome games without watering down the experience and forcing a bunch of budget-intensive features into their finished products.

Edit: Yeah, what Menchi said, hehe.

SolidDuck2349d ago

Actually from software is a pretty small developer and were very excited about there sales of demons and dark. I don't have a link but google it and u can read about it. Especially demons. They were not even planning on releasing it in the west till it kinda blew up and Altus stepped up and offered to publish it in the west. No one that is a big fan of the souls games wants them to get easier. I actually wanted it to get harder and more confusing. I love sitting down with a souls game and trying to figure out all the hidden stuff that they don't explain. No other game that's being released now days is like this so I love it. It seams like every game now days is changing to try to become mainstream and boost sales. I want dark souls 2 to sell well and from software to make lots of money so they continue to make souls games and maybe even a new kings field. But I hope they can find a good middle ground that's boosts sales and still makes there fans happy. From software has not let me down so far, I have confedence it them. Day one for sure from me.

Irishguy952349d ago (Edited 2349d ago )

Thankfully again, it seems they are NOT changing it.

-Bigger starting tutorial
-Easier accessible covenants

I don't need the tutorial, I never did, I'm sure some people woiuld have appreciated it in Demons souls. Or Dar souls(which ever you first played)

The covenants, I wouldn't mind a little more explanation on them in the sequel, also move back to servers like it was recommended, Demons souls Multiplater was better due to it.

I hope that is all the changes they are making, I want that difficulty to be high again. Don't change how unforgiving it is. So far, all the 'new direction' seems to be is making players used to how your supposed to play it quicker. The game itself is supposedly going to remain the same other than that.

I don't understand actually

"Nothing wrong with making the game more accessible. I will admit, I love the challenge, but it can be frustrating at times. I can deal with that by taking a break, coming back later, and feeling a huge sense of accomplishment from pulling through with a sliver of health left. But, the game does have a chance to reach more people if it can become a little more forgiving for those that don't have the steel will that most of us have. "

This type of comment, nothing indicates the game is going to get easier or less frustrating at the moment.

Also, I hope the new tutorial is not that long...better not be FFXIII's length(ie Half the game)

KwietStorm2349d ago

I completely agree that the series is old school, and by default, is tougher than most games these days that need an extra level of difficulty to be hard. But I ask, what's so wrong with that? Why can't they carry the torch, so to speak, and just represent their game as it is? Does every game on the market absolutely have to be "accessible?" And I really emphasize those quotation marks. Not every game is for everyone, and that's just how it is. Of course, you're going to have those people who aren't very good, but they really want to enjoy it, so they keep trying, but ultimately complain that its too hard. I have the Demon's Souls platinum because of persistence above all else. If you play a Souls game like God of War, you're going to die. And this is exactly what I mean by representing their game and keeping its integrity.

isarai2349d ago (Edited 2349d ago )

What's the point of keeping a series alive if it destroys what made it great?

But honestly, he doesn't seem to be mentioning difficulty at all. Instead it seams he's just providing a more complete and in depth tutorial sequence, bringing story more forefront to engage the player more into the story, and making features more apparent like the covenant system so it doesn't become a feature most people forget is even there. That seems to me what he's been addressing to make it "more accessible"

So while i am a little worried it might be nerfed, i'm pretty optimistic at this point and am not just dismissing it just yet.

+ Show (4) more repliesLast reply 2349d ago
LackTrue4K2349d ago

I know fans wont like this, but this opens the door for many others to try the game (including me). Still, I think all they need to do is add a "demon/hard" mode to it. Looking forward to this game :)

ceedubya92349d ago (Edited 2349d ago )

Nothing wrong with making the game more accessible. I will admit, I love the challenge, but it can be frustrating at times. I can deal with that by taking a break, coming back later, and feeling a huge sense of accomplishment from pulling through with a sliver of health left. But, the game does have a chance to reach more people if it can become a little more forgiving for those that don't have the steel will that most of us have.
Perhaps if they just made another difficulty level for novices like you said, that could suffice. And then lead a pure mode for Souls veterans. They can still keep the core fans in mind while throwing a bone to potential new players.

FanMan2349d ago

im slowly becoming worried for this game..
hope im wrong

CLOUD19832349d ago (Edited 2349d ago )

Every time a new director get a game that was made for hardcore audience & words like "more accessible" coming out from his mouth, then the 1st thing I'm thinking is "another game going down for the sake of the more casual audience & sales".

Crapcom wanted more sales also they wanted to reach CoD numbers 10 million+ & for that they transform RE6 to CoD & what was the result? they didn't even reach 4 million between 2 platforms when RE1 sold more than 9 million if we add directors cut & RE2 more than 6 millions & all that just in 1 console.

So Mr Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura beware what u wish for, u want more sales? u might not get even what the old games sold, & even if u succeed to increase the sales if the final product make the old fans feel betrayed then don't expect to give u a 2nd chance I remind here the example or RE5 & 6, many get RE5 w/o knowing what to expect but when they see for their selves where the new directions is headed they boycott RE6 & that shows clearly on the sales.

StockpileTom2349d ago

Other franchises ruined for more accessibility and action:

SOCOM
Ace Combat
Age of Empires
Rainbow 6
Call of Duty (haven't bought a new one since 4- yes, they always were arcade-like but they used to tell a fine story without the overuse of explosions and QTEs)

any others? reply with more... I am sure there are some more... Dark Souls is the last bastion for the hardcore RPG fans... for shooters google "H-Hour: World's Elite"... if you liked the old Ace Combat google "Vector Thrust"

shutUpAndTakeMyMoney2349d ago (Edited 2349d ago )

lol console gaming kills another one?

The game barely sold 1 million across 2 consoles.
smh..

Don't worry Cod will still sell.

Thank god CD Projekt are a pc company. Now the witcher 2 is f**king tough..

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