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What do we Want from From Software's Next RPG?

Even though Bloodborne is barely behind us, let's look to the future and imagine the ideal fifth Souls-style experience.

Analysis by Bob Mackey, .

By now, most of us have had time to fully digest Bloodborne and its many, many cruelties. And even though Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin will definitely help fill the gap before From Software's next creation, it's hard to stop thinking about what the future will hold for their brutal brand of RPG.

Of course, these games aren't completely infallible; each Souls experience comes with a handful of tiny issues that stand in stark relief against the otherwise excellent game design. If From Software wants to deliver a flawless RPG instead of just a nearly flawless one, they'll keep the following wish list in mind for the inevitable Dark Souls 3 or Bloodborne 2. (Because you know one of these is bound to happen.)

Improve Co-Op Functionality

I'll admit, I used to be one of those Souls elitists who scoffed when people complained about the largely anonymous nature of its multiplayer. "That's how it's supposed to work," I'd say, because, really, that was true up to a point. With Dark Souls 2 and Bloodborne, From included features to assist players with finding people they know, but these methods require a bit too much legwork for such a simple goal. Yes, by this point I realize making things harder than the norm is part of the Souls agenda, and I'm totally down with that. Fighting an ultra-hard boss for the dozenth time? Sure, let's do it. Playing an online game of Marco Polo for minutes on end in an effort to find your friends floating in server limbo? Not so much. I'm fine with co-op being a "sometimes" thing instead of an "all the time" thing in From Software RPGs, but setting up a session with someone you know shouldn't require so much damn work.

Iron Out Those Technical Issues

Bloodborne may be a visually stunning game, but From Software RPGs have always had their issues on consoles. To date, the PC versions of Dark Souls 1 and 2 remain the best way to experience both of these games, simply because they do a great job of smoothing over the technical problems that marred the console versions—though the PC port of the original Dark Souls needed a fan-made patch for this to happen. Even with the power of the PS4 in their hands, From dropped the ball a bit with Bloodborne, leading to some not-so-smooth frame rates—especially in co-op—and excruciating load times often exceeding 30 seconds—honestly, the last thing you want in a game where death is a fact of life. And sadly, there's no forthcoming PC port to save us this time around. If From wants us to absorb the sheer joy in their games without constant hardware hiccups interfering, they'll make these technical issues a priority with their next release.

Mess with Our Safe Spaces

In a From Software RPG, the central hub always exists as a safe space, and, outside of the traditional "traitor" NPC who offs others if you don't off him first, these areas rarely change. Bloodborne shakes things up a bit by gradually whittling away formerly safe areas, and by making certain locations much more dangerous after specific plot events—but I think From could go much further with this idea. The dangerous little piggies from Dark Souls 2's Majula make for a great example: Starting players exploring the periphery of this seemingly peaceful hub usually end up getting snuffed out because of these unexpected (and unexpectedly strong) enemies. And since some of the greatest moments in Souls games have you warping back to the hub and being surprised by some sudden change—like Frampt's big, ugly head poking out of the ground in the first Dark Souls—I'd really love for them to mess with players' expectations more often. What if you, say, jumped back to the hub, only to find it completely destroyed and crawling with dangerous enemies? This kind of situation definitely wouldn't feel out-of-place in a Souls game.

Make Covenants Matter

Covenants went from "mostly useless and slightly broken" in the original Dark Souls to "viable, but still negligible" in the sequel. Bloodborne, on the other hand, dials back the amount of covenants to three, but hides them extremely well: Ask most Bloodborne players about which covenant they joined, and the response will most likely be, "Wait, there are covenants in this game?" Covenants in From Software RPGs have always been great in theory, but since so many of them exist, and joining one isn't required, it can often be impossible to experience them as intended. That's why I'd love to see the idea of covenants become an essential part of the next From Software RPG; a feature that splits players into different factions and changes the experience significantly depending on their chosen affiliation. If From builds a game around mandatory covenant membership, they could easily expand on and improve promising concepts that didn't pan out in the past.

Restore the Threat of Invasion

One of the greatest features of any Souls games can be found in how other players can often be more dangerous than the terrifying creatures and unspeakable environments your humble little adventurer faces on their journey. Unfortunately, the threat of other humans invading your game has all but disappeared over the years, and in Dark Souls II, you can essentially opt out of this aspect of the game if you want. And while you could chalk this up to server issues, this part of the experience feels completely absent in Bloodborne; after dozens of hours of co-op, I've yet to be invaded once. Now, I realize invasions don't always pan out, and one even resulted in my character getting hacked into oblivion, but I kind of miss the rush of adrenaline that came with seeing the words "Dark spirit GOKUWEEDLORD420 has invaded!" flash on my screen. Obviously, there should be some sort of "cooldown" period between invasions for the sake of fairness, but we Souls fans have grown a little too complacent over the years. It's important to remember that in any From Software RPG, hell is other people. Or at least, it should be.

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Comments 19

  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #1 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    I don't know what I want from them, have never asked of them, and don't expect of them my specific desires.

    I agree with the invasion part however, I've only encountered 3 of those, whereas with the first two it was uncommon to NOT encounter this Human (we don't talk about the other one...)
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  • Avatar for Kadrom #2 Kadrom 3 years ago
    For a perfect example of "messing with the safe places," From can look to Silent Hill 4 and the way the apartment becomes gradually more and more haunted as the game progresses. It starts off as your safe place in between levels, but by the end you are rushing through the apartment as quickly as possible to avoid damage (or spending costly resources to exorcise the hauntings) and the levels themselves become your new haven.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #3 chaoticBeat 3 years ago
    After I was finished with Demon's Souls, I imagined an expanded version of that game with big, open forests and the ability to ride horses with lances.

    With the sequels, I think they did fulfill a lot of what I had been envisioning with bigger spaces and beautiful, twisted forests. But I would still like to see horses and lances (in a totally From way of course). I don't know, maybe it doesn't belong in a Souls game. I remember thinking about a possible stealth plane sequence in a future Vanquish game. I guess I just like seeing all aspects of the world explored. I am really enjoying the Chalice dungeons and I think they are a great addition to the game.

    I agree with wanting more invasions, I haven't had one during my time with the game. Although, I haven't used either summoning bell much and supposedly that ups the chances of an invasion...

    Ultimately, I have loved where they have gone with DS 1 and 2 and I am currently loving Bloodborne. Whatever they do next, I will be there.
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  • Avatar for IPA #4 IPA 3 years ago
    Cute-em-up. No exceptions.
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  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #5 Monkey-Tamer 3 years ago
    Have a system and people will figure out how to not only exploit it, but how to screw everyone else out of sheer malice. The save state destroying fiasco of Dark Souls is still fresh in my mind, and to this day I play offline for this reason. I'd rather have random computer controlled invasions for this reason. It sucks, but the reality is that people on the internet will be idiots.
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  • Avatar for Compeau #6 Compeau 3 years ago
    They should bring back the greatest From game: Otogi.
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  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #7 ojinnvoltz 3 years ago
    Still too invested in Bloodborne to think about what's next. When Namco Bandai inevitably poops out Dark Souls 3, I won't get it. Playing through Dark 2 I got a bit burned out on the formula; the excellent DLC reinvigorated me and Bloodborne's changes gave the formula a real shot in the arm. I said to a friend years back that I could play the Souls games forever, all they need is a procedurally generated Souls game. I was wrong; the repetitiveness of the Chalice Dungeons is starting to burn me out again.

    The next Souls-like needs to take as big a leap as Bloodborne is from D. Souls. I hope Namco Bandai poops out Tales X Dark Souls (maybe Tales of Souls). The reason I say "poop" is because Dark Souls is too big for Namco Bandai to not try to annualize the franchise (like Tales).

    In my ideal world, Hidetaka Miyazaki makes an Armored Core with the lessons he's learned making the Souls games. Armored Souls.
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  • Avatar for Aleryn #8 Aleryn 3 years ago
    Quicker and more efficient access to multiplayer components. I respect their obtuse style but I think it would serve them better to open it up a tad more.
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  • Avatar for SigurdVolsung #9 SigurdVolsung 3 years ago
    I just unlocked the Platinum trophy on Bloodborne two days ago and without ever having to use the beckoning bell or playing any multiplayer. If they are going to change anything about the multiplayer of these games, I hope they keep that ability. Keep it entirely optional and have it not affect your trophies or any gear that you can receive. I am not interested in that part of the experience, as I do not like playing with others in any game. Other than that, just keep it coming and improve in small ways. I've loved all the games but my favorites have been Demon Souls and Bloodborne. The fact that Bloodborne is effectively Lovecraft Souls also has me fascinated what they could do with other such specific worlds of fancy.
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  • Avatar for amyar #10 amyar 3 years ago
    I haven't played Bloodborne yet, but one thing that's bothered me in the footage that I've seen is the inconsistent visual detail. The environments are stunning and the player, npc and enemy designs are great, but I can't help but feel that other aspects of the game's appearance are unrefined.

    The revelation for me came when I saw the player climb a ladder. There was no animation for sheathing weapons; they just disappeared. And when they got attacked by an enemy while climbing (other than the hp dropping), the avatar had no reaction to the fucking axe that just slashed them across the back. Also, I think that characters still don't move their mouths when they talk :/ These aren't make-or-break moments, but I figured that since From Software probably has a pretty big budget by now, they could afford to improve some of these features.
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  • Avatar for mr-faramir #11 mr-faramir 3 years ago
    perhaps Armored Souls was next... :)
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  • Avatar for mr-faramir #12 mr-faramir 3 years ago
    Deleted April 2015 by mr-faramir
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  • Avatar for DogNozzle #13 DogNozzle 3 years ago
    It kinda seems like covenants have been thrown in to the Dark Souls series without the kind of large-scale playtesting that would really be required to figure out if they work as intended or not. To be honest I'm not sure that this sort of structured multiplayer gameplay really aligns with the series' mysterious/obscure/figure-stuff-out-for-yourself ethos.

    I would imagine that I'm in the minority on this, but I would actually like to see From ditch the multiplayer aspects of the series going forward, except for the templated messaging. I always feel like coop breaks the carefully-tuned difficulty balance, and the PvP inevitably ends up being an exclusive playground for the small minority of players who are inclined to focus on it (this hasn't been a major problem for the average player since Demon's Souls, where it was basically impossible to stay human due to constant invasions).
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  • Avatar for apoc_reg #14 apoc_reg 3 years ago
    I just want more Bloodborne, more weapons, locations, items etc.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #15 VotesForCows 3 years ago
    Can't disagree with any of these - I hate invasions, so part of me doesn't want to every see them again, but they're certainly thrilling!

    On covenants, I see your point, but I also like how they were handled in Dark Souls. It felt like they were a way to define your character - playing a SunBro felt very different to playing some of the darker ones, and that difference was self-generated by the player. As a SunBro I'd never assassinate NPCs, for example.
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  • Avatar for SigurdVolsung #16 SigurdVolsung 3 years ago
    @apoc_reg I am with you there. I've been a huge Lovecraft fan for decades and a huge Souls fan since the release day of Demon Souls (early adopter due to being an Atlus fanboy). So combining those two things has made me an addict of Bloodborne. Seriously... I've been losing sleep over it and dreaming of it when I do sleep.
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  • Avatar for Crepe_Suzette #17 Crepe_Suzette 3 years ago
    I remember the music changing at some point in Demon's Souls hub area, the Nexus, that scared me to death. I was expecting some sort of demon lurking in there.
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  • Avatar for matthewjohnson31 #18 matthewjohnson31 3 years ago
    I'll call out a trend that I'd like to continue: an increased focus on quality mob encounters. I just ran through the bit in Bloodborne with about eight dogs and ten or twelve riflemen, and that's the sort of thing I'm talking about. The series has provided some great boss battles, but there's only so much you can do to break up the pattern (and the best ones tend to fall into a few categories). Improving encounters with ordinary enemies would be a way to keep the series fresh.
    @compeau I've heard the Souls games called spiritual successors to King's Field, and Bloodborne to Shadow Tower, so who knows? Maybe Otogi is next. (Maybe it can be an XBone exclusive!)Edited April 2015 by matthewjohnson31
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #19 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    Here's what I want, and playing Bloodborne more has really solidified it for me: a decrease in checkpoints. Souls games are usually pretty good about this. Demon in particular had very nicely sparse checkpoints. Dark2 started to have way too many, and it hurt my enjoyment of the game. Bloodborne is back in the right direction, but there's still a bit too many for me.

    I love games where I explore a dangerous new world, and the deeper I get, the more tension is piled on because I know if I die it will be a harsh penalty. That's the perfect feeling for exploration! You should feel like the farther you push on, the more danger you're in. One of my favorite examples is Blighttown in Dark Souls 1... it really captured that "descent into hell" feeling, with you descending down deeper and deeper, finally reaching the swamp at the bottom, and desperately searching for a bonfire because you didn't want to redo all that. What a great feeling. Feelings like that are why the Souls games are unmatched in today's video game market.

    So what I'm saying is... more of THAT, please!
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  • Avatar for Xboxboy #20 Xboxboy 2 years ago
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