With Dark Souls, From Software went from a prolific but niche studio to one of the most celebrated Japanese video game companies working today. The latest game in the series is a legitimate mainstream hit, “Souls-like” is a burgeoning genre, and Hidetaka Miyazaki’s team have joined gaming royalty for their wonderfully-, terrifyingly-realized worlds.
That said, all things must come to an end. Last week, Miyazaki confirmed that Dark Souls III‘s upcoming DLC packs represent the last word in the series, and further that his team have already moved on to developing a new IP. However, just because Dark Souls is over doesn’t mean From Software will abandon a formula that has served them well.
Last year’s Bloodborne proved that the From Software game can be taken to strange and interesting new places while still retaining the challenge and mystery that has received so much praise – and while rumors abound that a sequel to Bloodborne is in the offing, such a project wouldn’t comprise a new IP. Here are some of the more likely candidates for From Software’s next big thing.
A Brand New, Bloodborne-Style Spiritual Sequel
Historically, this is the most believable route for From to take. Twice before (four times, if you count the older titles King’s Field and Shadow Tower) their punishing dungeon crawling RPG has transformed into a new franchise – even changing companies with the original Dark Souls and then back to Sony with Bloodborne. The latter game especially showed that Miyazaki and his team’s dark fantasy style could be served up without the Souls‘ series knights in armor, magic spells, or castles. Well, maybe one castle, for old time’s sake.
For their next game, From Software could change things up by moving to yet another new setting. There are countless fantastical time periods, any of which are ripe for the Dark Souls treatment. What about Ancient Greece? Instead of cloaks, togas. Instead of swamps and snow, islands and sea, home to an entirely different stable of mythological monsters.
Perhaps From could try an Arabian Nights Souls-like game; rather than grey skies, the journey takes us under a scorching sun through bustling cities and wind-blasted deserts.
Even the conquest of the New World, from the moral grays of manifest destiny, to the struggles of the early settlers would make for a fine addition to the dark settings of the previous games.
A Science Fiction or Mech Shooter
Far removed from the melee focus and the mythological lore of the Souls series, From could instead take their game to a different genre. In an interview with Gamespot last year, Miyazaki expressed his interest in dabbling in “both sci-fi [and] Japanese mechs” for their next project. From fans are no strangers to mech games, as the Armored Core series was their biggest success before Demon’s Souls.
A futuristic action game would benefit from the improvement of From’s in-house engine across the development of Bloodborne and Dark Souls III, even if the result is not particularly Souls-like. The biggest question is who would publish the game: a complete departure from the Souls template may not please Bandai Namco, to whom the success of Dark Souls has been a massive boon.
Miyazaki has spoken highly of the PlayStation 2 fairy tale Ico as one of his motivations for getting into video games. “That game awoke me to the possibilities of the medium,” Miyazaki said in an interview with The Guardian. “I wanted to make one myself.”
More specifically, in another interview with IGN prior to the release of Bloodborne, Miyazaki said that he always had an interest in doing something more colorful or with a more family-friendly tone, but admitted that the darker games were more his speciality.
This is probably the least likely of all possibilities right now, as part of the From Software brand has become the dark fantasy themes in their games. While developers tackling adult subject matter is occurring more frequently, there are fewer examples of mainstream studios that step back from mature-rated content and into all-ages games.
An Old-School, First-Person Dungeon-Crawl
If leaving behind the Dark Souls brand sounds a little bit risky when its popularity is at an all time high, From Software could always take a lesson from the indie game community. Both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls are considered spiritual successors to From’s earlier King’s Field series – the major differences in King’s Field being a simpler combat system, no online elements, and the expected lower quality visuals.
So why not go with a more direct successor to King’s Field as an independent developer? Rather than relying on publishers, a team at From could release a smaller-budget RPG that brings the modern lessons of Dark Souls back to its claustrophobic, low-fi beginnings.
Of all the options, this could be the most exciting. From Software has already embraced a yearly release cycle; if they break up every other game with a downloadable title, it might give them a chance to catch their breath once in a while.
These are only some of the directions that From Software could take with their next game. What do you want to see from the House-that-Souls-built in the next twelve months? How long before someone caves in and they announce Dark Souls IV? Would you prefer to just get a new Armored Core rather than a new IP? Share in the comments.
The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.