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Dark Souls II
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Dark Souls II's director talks freedom and accessibility

11:00 AM on 04.09.2013 // Keith Swiader
  @keithswiader

An informal discussion with director Yui Tanimura

So, you saw the gameplay reveal yesterday, you saw the screenshots, and yet, you still want more Dark Souls II. Of course! Why wouldn't you?!

Well, good news for you, as it just so happens a round-table discussion with Dark Souls II's director Yui Tanimura took place in Manhattan last week, where the topic on-hand dealt with where developer From Software is headed with the much-anticipated sequel.

Tanimura said From Software received a lot of feedback from the community regarding the Souls series, and from that feedback the team focused on three things: Freedom, streamlining and accessibility, and the network.

Freedom

"In terms of freedom what we mean is Dark Souls 1 had this seamlessly connected world with free exploration, and we tried to enhance that further to provide more options for the players to choose from and decide how he or she wants to play based on their play styles," Tanimura said.

Such options include environmental tactics, where players will be able to use traps that are laid out throughout the world in order to take down their foes.

From Software is also utilizing a new engine that they hope will allow players to become more immersed into the world than ever before, with feelings of "nervousness" and "fright" flowing through them as they face the game's challenges.

Yikes! Streamlining and accessibility?!

When the words "accessible" or "streamline" are spoken in a sentence that regards a Souls game, fans begin to die a little bit on the inside. The thought of a Souls game losing its brutal difficulty is downright preposterous, as that, along with its beautiful environments, is what draws fans to each release.

So when Tanimura says that From Software is looking to make Dark Souls II more accessible, you may think there's cause for alarm. Thankfully, that isn't the case.

"So, just to clarify, when we said the word 'accessible,' I'm sure there were people who took that as the game becoming a little bit easier, which is not the case," he said. If the gameplay presentation I saw is anything to go by, this statement is definitely true, as I witnessed more than a handful of deaths within a mere 20 minutes.

"But what we did mean was we wanted to, after a lot of feedback from the community and fans, streamline the experience so that we take away a lot of the tedious or, pain in the ass aspects that were in the original Dark Souls," Tanimura added.

While the exact definition of this concept remained quite vague, even after the presentation and discussion, Tanimura noted examples such as the "unnecessary need to move from one area to the next" in order to progress the game, the removal of backtracking, and the refinement of bonfire checkpoints.

"So one of the things that we're thinking of doing is, in Dark Souls 1, the warping from bonfire to bonfire, you can only use it in certain locations in the later half of the game. But for Dark Souls II we're starting to think of bringing that right to the beginning so it's more convenient for players -- to a certain extent -- instead of having to walk all the way back to an area to get where you need to be," he said.

If you're still not convinced that Dark Souls II will be as excruciatingly challenging as past games, Tanimura assured that the game won't feature the likes of an easy mode. From Software is instead working toward reaching the fine balance between difficulty and achievement -- a primary goal for the team -- and will continue to work toward that balance right up to the game's release later this year.

Tanimura said it's all about making sure players continue to have enough sense of accomplishment throughout Dark Souls II so that they play through its entirety, and not make it "unfair" or "unconquerable."

The network will be server-based

And that's about the short and skinny of this aspect, as Tanimura said From Software was not ready to reveal more information on Dark Souls II's network capabilities at the moment. He did say, however, that servers are new for the Souls series, and that they hope to utilize this mechanic to provide a smoother online experience.

Being developed on PC, Dark Souls II looked great in the demonstration I saw, and the direction in which From Software is taking the series sounds rather promising. 

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