It would take a very sorry soul indeed, to call into question the quality of FromSoftware, the development studio behind the Souls-borne games. Ever since the release of Demon Souls, FromSoftware has been poking and prodding at their game design, all the while honing their craft, title after title.
Save for some pretty blatant issues with Dark Souls 2, FromSoftware been about as consistent in putting out some of the best gaming experiences on the market with every shot they take. This is certainly true for the Dark Souls Trilogy, Bloodborne, and Sekiro. But now the Development team faces a whole new task: redefining themselves.
FromSoftware has been known has the “Dark Souls team” for the past decade. Their other titles, Sekiro and Bloodborne, are generally referred to as their ‘side-projects’. Even with the inaccuracy of those descriptions, they hold true for how many players feel about what FromSoftware is all about: Dark Souls. Even the side projects are considered to be Dark Souls with experimentation in faster combat and fewer RPG elements.
With the fast approaching official release of Elden Ring, it’s becoming more and more clear that a failure to meet the standard as the “Dark Souls Team”, which is synonymous with “talented” at this point, will result in a stronger backlash from FromSoftware’s fan base (and their critics) than would otherwise meet them.
The Studio is evolving, and with that evolution they are moving away from the titles they are known for. This is how, and why, Elden Ring is being brought before us. With that comes a set of risks and rewards that are multiplied heavily over “just another Dark Souls” release.
As mentioned, the criticisms will slam harder. But the praises, potentially, could be amplified to a degree that even a well known Dark Souls 3 would be jealous of. It’s a game that’s been watched, closely, by the players associated with the studio. There’s whole YouTube channels run for the sole purpose of updating people on what news has or hasn’t come out about the game, it’s actually pretty funny.
Well, what this means for FromSoftware is that a failure to impress, or worse yet, a failure to properly transition into a new phase of the studio’s life, could spell a long, dreary 10 years for the team. They don’t have their previous titles to fall back on, they have no announced side projects for fans to get their hopes up for, this is it. Elden Ring is the main course, and it’s nearly here.
They want to move away from Dark Souls and begin refining themselves, and that’s exactly what invigorated artists at the top of their game do. But with that comes the harsh reality that they may never find their footing ever again. They may instead topple under the weight their past successes have placed on them.
If Elden Ring’s release comes to pass without blowing players away, we may very well find ourselves in a world where a genre defining studio struggles to find their identity. That kind of struggle either kills an honorable artist, or turns them into a machine that churns out mediocre title after mediocre title just to keep the wolves at bay.
The last thing we need is a FromSoftware that hastily throws out new title after title, desperately trying to fix the mistakes of their last game while simultaneously creating horrendous issues in their new one. But a shaking of the player’s confidence in them could very well lead us to that kind of future.
Here’s to ten more years.
Praise the Sun,