When Dark Souls 2 was announced via a trailer at the VGA’s, the crowd went crazy. Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, before it, have huge followings. This is because of the difficulty of the games and the way they don’t hold your hand. Some of the anticipation simmered down when one of the new directors, Tomohiro Shibuya, recently told Edge Magazine he wanted the game to be more accessible and easier to understand. There's a fine line, however, between making the game more accessible and making it easier to play — the latter being a huge mistake.
The challenge of Dark Souls is what makes it special. Potentially stripping that away might net FromSoftware a few more sales of the game, but will dissolve the hardcore following that it has. There isn’t a game I can think of that has the hardcore following Dark Souls has, and the developers would be wise to keep giving the fans what they want. Dark Souls is daunting. I often wander around, hoping not to run into enemies since you are vulnerable to just about anything. If you take even the most basic of enemies for granted, you’ll find yourself dead and plotting your way back to finding your precious souls. There isn’t any help, nor a certain path to take; you can write your adventure how you like it.
Unintended consequences come with an easier game. The first would be the death of a potential sequel after the upcoming Dark Souls 2. Without the immense challenge that the original games present, the hardcore following will not come back. Dark Souls 2 will sell just fine if it’s an easier game, but it will likely turn off a lot of fans if a sequel after that was to be made. Fool me once, shame on me after all.
Another unintended consequence of a “more accessible” game is the less in-game messages that are needed/posted. One of my favorite parts of Dark Souls is reading the messages left on the ground by other players that have either successfully accomplished something or died trying. It’s also a blast trying to figure out if the posts the players leave are actually helpful or if it’s a trick into making an area seem safe. I ran into one scenario in Dark Souls where someone left an “easy enemy ahead” message, so I walked into the area feeling good about myself only to see a knight standing there waiting to kill me. Was it cruel? Absolutely, but it's also what makes Dark Souls the game that it is.
Dark Souls 2 has to maintain what made the first two games great. The last thing the market needs is another generic third-person action game that blends into everything else. The difficulty has to remain in Dark Souls 2 if anyone is to get an old-school style action game that doesn’t make you feel safe and doesn’t tell you what to do. Exploring and finding previously unknown secrets is part of the lore in Dark Souls and it needs to stay that way.
What do you think about Dark Souls 2 being more accessible? Would you buy the game if it was made easier than the last or would you hold off entirely? Let me know in the comments below