For the past two weeks I’ve been knee-deep in Dark Souls 3, scouring the world for lore tidbits and shouting in anger while I work through the game’s impressive boss list. Honestly, Dark Souls 3 is the most fun I’ve had with a title in the Souls franchise before – it beautifully combines covenants, lore information, boss fights, regular encounters, and the new weapon systems. Everything just works in Dark Souls 3, a rare occurrence these days in the video game industry.
It’s the pinnacle of the Dark Souls franchise for many, and it may be the last installment in the franchise as we know it.
When Dark Souls 3 was first announced back at E3 last year, Bandai Namco called it the final episode. Like many other fans of the franchise, I was disheartened at the thought of the franchise fading while From Software explored other gaming avenues.
Later down the road however, series creator Hidetaki Miyazaki sat down during a presentation and responded to the rumor that Bandai Namco had helped start back during E3.
“First of all, this is not the final product for the Dark Souls series,” he said. However, I believe it’s the turning point for the Dark Souls series… it’s not final.
During the interview Miyazaki, made sure to provide as little detail as possible when pressed about the future of the franchise, but made a few mentions of other settings the company has worked on in the past like the mech-driven Armored Core and science fiction focused franchises.
While it’s highly doubtful that Dark Souls is going to get an armored robot makeover, it’s safe to say that From Software’s mind is currently focused elsewhere – and that’s a damn good thing to hear.
This day in the gaming industry, sequels are starting to become cash-cows more than honest projects in the eyes of many, especially with additional studios being hired to continue franchises beyond what the original developers may have intended. It’s a theme that has helped drive a few franchises into the ground while providing lackluster continuations for many others.
The result of this practice is a series of video game releases that work to keep video games in the past instead of pushing them into the future by taking advantage of new technology, gameplay mechanics and narrative ideas during development. Essentially, they’re playing it safe in order to maintain a consistent flow of profit – which isn’t advancing the industry creatively.
I’ve started to notice that the more time I put into Dark Souls 3, the more I feel that From Software is starting to run dry on innovative ideas that push the series forward from a gameplay standpoint.
Like previous installments in the franchise before it, Dark Souls 3 is built on difficulty and the satisfying learning curve for players who endure it. It beats you down continuously only to pick you back up and inspire you to fight towards an utterly satisfying victory - but the game doesn’t add many new things that bring the franchise forward as a whole.
Don’t get me wrong, Dark Souls 3 is a phenomenal game that establishes itself as the best of the franchise - which is exactly why From Software needs to give the series a little breathing room over the next few years in order to work on making it even better.