Since Demon's Souls' debut in 2009 until Bloodborne's release just a few months ago, FromSoftware has continued to wow audiences with awe-inspiring game worlds. In this article, I attempt to summarise what has made each of their worlds special and hopefully provide some insight as to how they can create the best world possible for Dark Souls III. Grab your Estus Flask and let's dive into The Abyss.
The debut title Demon's Souls did an incredible job of transporting gamers into a fantastical yet believable world filled with sin and depravity yet a little glimmer of hope. This atmosphere was established through subtleties in its mysterious lore, characters' questionable intentions, and distinct environments with their own unique back-stories. I'll never forget the moment I first trudged through the swamp in the Valley Of Defilement. With its disturbing history in mind, dealing with slowly being poisoned while taking on grotesque creatures was one of the most nightmarish moments that I've ever experienced in a game. Elsewhere in this world, the desolate Shrine of Storms kept you on your toes by appearing barren yet skeletons would reanimate in the distance and aggressively rush towards you. Of course, there are also the classic castle-themed areas (Boletarian Palace and Tower Of Latria) which contained massive medieval structures. The only issue with the world of Demon's Souls is that it had these stunning locations, but they were all separate from each other. Thankfully, its sequel would remedy this in a masterful way.
Dark Souls took the basics of Demon's Souls and expanded them into a cohesive open world. The developers accomplished this seamlessly as it remains one of the most memorable worlds in gaming history. At first, you are unable to warp between bonfires, but being forced to explore the vast environments which were intricately and ingeniously interconnected made it a fulfilling journey as opposed to a chore. To this day, I can close my eyes and imagine each individual area and how they all link together with hidden shortcuts and immense elevator shafts. However, as I worked my way through Dark Souls II, I was disappointed by how this cohesion wasn't implemented as well as it was before. Although it consisted of many awesome locations that I've come to expect from the series, it definitely seemed more stage-based like Demon's Souls than Dark Souls' unified landmass. This is due to the fact that the areas all branch off of a central hub and aren't connected to each other. Also, being able to freely warp around means that exploration is less rewarding as it relies more heavily on just going from point A to point B. Don't get me wrong, Dark Souls II is phenomenal but it does lack a fully unified world.
Obviously, the worlds in the Souls series are more than just locations. The inhabitants of these worlds can be just as (if not more) crucial to forging an immersive experience. As previously mentioned, Demon's Souls introduced us to a cast of characters whose intentions mostly remain a mystery. A similar collection of characters would emerge in each sequel. Some running themes include delicate-looking females who level you up, unsuspecting merchants from faraway lands, snobs who reluctantly respond when you engage them, and individuals who appear trustworthy yet eventually stab you in the back or even murder other characters. These personalities collectively offer insight on what it's like to be human in a chaotic world with many of our inherent traits being realistically illustrated.
It still has yet to be seen, but I hope Dark Souls III's world is composed of what fans like me crave. Ideally, it would combine the innovation of Demon's Souls, the cohesiveness of Dark Souls, and the immensity of Dark Souls II all while featuring a colourful cast of characters to meet along the way. Who knows, maybe they'll throw us a curveball. After all, it was recently revealed that the combat system will be heavily influenced by Bloodborne so perhaps the world will be, too. That being said, I definitely look forward to playing in a dark fantasy world instead of another gothic horror setting. They should save that for the inevitable Bloodborne sequel. Whatever the case may be, I know that FromSoftware will create something worthwhile and I'm very excited to experience it.
I could go on all day about what I want to see in Dark Souls III, but I think I covered all of the aspects that I wish its world would contain. What components of the Souls series' worlds do you enjoy the most? What would you like to see in Dark Souls III? Let's talk about it in the comments below.