Following Bloodborne’s stellar 2015 release, FromSoftware is more popular than ever and they show no signs of stopping. Dark Souls and all related games – hereby referred to as games in the “Souls family” – offer challenging gameplay, beautiful aesthetic, and fantastic level and boss design. Since these games do appear to be coming out in rapid succession, it is important to be aware of “franchise fatigue” which has affected many games like Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty.
For years, there has consistently been a new FromSoftware game on the horizon. Bloodborne felt like a breath of fresh air for the ‘series’. It tweaked the fantastic core gameplay of Dark Souls and implemented it into an all new world. Going forward, FromSoftware needs to continue diverging away from a gothic medieval setting and into something new and exciting.
There is no doubt that FromSoftware has created a very special franchise. Their recent games have had a great influence on modern gaming, even spawning clones like Lords of the Fallen and Salt and Sanctuary. After the announcements of Dark Souls II, Bloodborne and Dark Souls III were so close together, I began to worry about the franchise becoming annualized causing the dreaded franchise fatigue. This is concerning because I feel that games within the Souls family are some of the best out there currently; it would be unfortunate to wear out the series with too many games. Since these games have been so successful, it is not likely that FromSoftware will want to abandon the formula that has worked so well.
Bloodborne was the first real diversion away from the core Souls series and it was met with tremendous success. In fact, many people consider it their favorite entry in the franchise. Hopefully this great achievement will prompt FromSoftware to continue taking risks with their games and venture out into new worlds. Even though I love the world of Dark Souls, I do not want to see another entry past Dark Souls III. In my opinion, another game will feel cause franchise fatigue and be unnecessary, regardless of quality. A sequel to Bloodborne seems very likely to happen, which would be great.
Looking forward, there are a lot of settings in which a Souls family game could exist. It has been proven that FromSoftware are masters of a gruesome and melancholy aesthetic so it would be great to see how they can implement this into other settings. Some type of science fiction setting would be very interesting to see. The creative team at FromSoftware are masters of giving life to Lovecraft-inspired monsters and making them feel like a great threat. Anyone familiar with Lovecraft lore knows that he put a lot of work into creating various alien races. Since the president and creative director of FromSoftware, Hidetaka Miyazaki, is clearly a great admirer of Lovecraft, it seems plausible that we might see a science fiction addition to the Souls family.
Before Demon’s Souls was a reality, FromSoftware worked consistently on the Armored Core series, a mecha-based action game. Since 1997 there have been 15 entries in the series and fans are anxiously waiting for a new Armored Core game which seems likely to be Armored Core 6, so FromSoftware are quite well versed in its universe. It would not be a stretch to see some sort of combination of Armored Core and Dark Souls in the future. Thinking about Souls-style combat in giant mechs evokes many ideas and possibilities in my head.
We already know that FromSoftware excels at creating dreary environments, but it might be interesting to see the same difficulty and formula implemented into a brighter and less oppressive environment. I have no problem with worlds filled with black and gray, but I often find colorful worlds to be more visually rewarding. The same amount of detail could be added to a gleaming and polished world which could be a great compliment to the franchise’s excellent level design and gameplay. I have always wondered what Dark Souls would look like in a cell-shaded world similar to Borderlands. A comic book-esque environment would prove to be a perfect backdrop for the brutally difficult and punishing gameplay that FromSoftware engineers.
If the Souls family keeps expanding and evolving, it is important that it maintains its difficulty. This is a staple of what makes the franchise great and usually the first thing that people talk about in regards to the games. For a while, it seemed like video games were getting too easy and were simply be meant to be played quickly from start to finish. FromSoftware has reminded us that difficulty is important. Not only is it an old-school video game mentality, but it causes us to slow down and take in all aspects of the game. In order to progress into the next area, strategy and patience are required. In many modern games, this has been forgotten.
The future of FromSoftware games has yet to be determined, but E3 2016 would, of course, be the perfect place to talk about their plans. This franchise is not in any danger of dying as the critical reception and demand is higher than ever before. FromSoftware has no shortage of great ideas, so there will be a lot to look forward to.