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An embargo on some kind of press event for Dark Souls III and From Software has lifted, because a number of previews and interviews focusing on its upcoming DLC are now available. The interviews are particularly interesting because they cover a number of subjects that range from the actual DLC content to the future of the company at large. Of course, From Software president Hidetaka Miyazaki also discusses the future of the Dark Souls franchise.
Before we dive into the pieces, I'll ask you to keep in mind that it's pretty much impossible to quote them without spoiling some of the content of the DLC. I'm well aware of how particular the fanbase of this franchise is about spoilers, so I'll ask you to exercise caution when reading this newspost if you want go in blind.
First, we'll start with the previews, like this piece from Eurogamer:
The Ashes of Ariandel demo begins in a cave opening up to a snowy plain. Solemn knights stalk the lands like Game of Thrones' iconic White Walkers, frequently obscured under whirring blankets of snow thrashing through the air. More unsettling are rare trees taking the form of a shrieking women, with strands of hair camouflaged as twigs. It's an eerie image, but just that: an image. These feminine flora are mere window dressings... until they're not. As it turns out, some of them are sentient and these cleverly designed background details do not like trespassers. Before you know it these creaking Evil Dead kissing cousins start spewing streams of frost and hurling fireballs.
Less supernatural, but no less imposing, are packs of feral wolves. Perhaps it was just coincidence, but I'm pretty sure one wolf alerted the rested of their herd by howling after discovering my presence. These more familiar predators are spooky in their own right, and the carnivorous canines only grow increasingly creepy as their colossal den mothers are introduced. In true From form, their introductions are never less that brilliant with one teased through methodically composed level design offering a brief glimpse of them while winding your way through a crevice, while another charges into the fray with no fanfare whatsoever.
Long-time Souls fans are sure to notice one noteworthy element the moment they enter the area for Ashes of Ariandel: The new zone is called "the Painted World of Ariandel." Those who played through the first Dark Souls thoroughly may remember an extensive side area called the "Painted World of Ariamis," wherein players actually entered, well, a painting.
According to Miyazaki, this is not a coincidence, although it’s not a direct connection either.
"It is taking place in the Painted World, but it’s taking place in a different Painted World," he said. "However, there are some connections between this Painted World and the one from the original Dark Souls. The reason I decided to return to the Painted World is because it matches with the theme I’m trying to describe in the first DLC. Players should be able to understand the reason as they play the DLC."
Polygon will also open our interview round-up, with a chat with Hidetaka Miyazaki about the future of From Software, the game's development studio. Of great interest is the mention of the possibility of Dark Souls remasters (or "HD remakes") coming in the future:
"It’s time to move away from the Dark Souls franchise," Miyazaki said. "As president of From Software, I’m not completely denying the possibility of bringing back the franchise in the future. There could be someone else in my company who wants to work on new installments. But we believe that the series will end after the two DLC."
While not shying away from the potential for an inevitable resurrection of Dark Souls at some point in the distant future, Miyazaki went on to suggest that what we’re most likely to see are "HD remakes" of older games in the series on newer consoles. It’s unclear if From Software would envision these as simple ports of the existing games to new hardware or more full-on remakes with new or revised content.
IGN has more news about the three projects currently in development at the Japanese company:
"So there are several titles that we are currently working on [...] Some of those are dark fantasy, some of those could be a mech [game] - that's one thing. The second thing is that one of the new titles I've been working on will probably comply with the expectations from the fans in straightforward manner.
"The last thing is that another title will probably be a little bit weird. When we actually announce the title, probably fans will react with 'oh, what the hell is this very weird game that Miyazaki has created?'"
“For me, Dark Souls III is the end,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean the end for Dark Souls. If someone other than myself, like another staff member, wants to make a Dark Souls, then I don’t want to deny others from making future installments.”
(Note that when Bandai Namco’s interpreter originally translated this for the other Western journalists at the roundtable, he left out the part in which Miyazaki said this was the end of Dark Souls for him at least. I mentioned that Miyazaki did in fact say that, and the interpreter re-translated that bit for the other game writers.)
Part of the reason he felt this way, Miyazaki continued, was because there are people who like Dark Souls very much, and he doesn’t want to unilaterally end the series. “I’m also not saying we should steer clear of making dark fantasy games,” he added. “I’m not ruling that out!”