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Sorry haters, Dark Souls 2 was instrumental in the creation of Elden Ring

Dark Souls 2 walked so that Elden Ring could ride on horseback.

By looking at specific review scores, or even at Metacritic, you’ll get the idea that Dark Souls 2, either in its original or in the Scholar Of The First Sin iteration, is a well-liked title. By and large, that’s true. That’s not, however, the case among die-hard fans, as many see Dark Souls 2 as the absolute black sheep of the franchise.

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Living up to the original Dark Souls is no easy task, but a very vocal group of fans claim that Dark Souls 2 failed to clear that high bar by too long a distance. In an attempt to solve that problem, FromSoftware released Dark Souls 2: Scholar Of The First Sin, a revamped version of the original DS2. Despite an improvement in most aspects, SOTFS still didn’t clear that high bar.

King Vendrick in Dark Souls 2
Screenshot by Destructoid

Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki loves Dark Souls 2

While series creator and overlord Hidetaka Miyazaki was doing interviews to promote Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree DLC, he surprised fans by taking the time to explain Dark Souls 2’s influence in the biggest game in FromSoft’s history.

To give you some context, Dark Souls 2 is the only game in the series not directed by Miyazaki. He could’ve just thrown the two directors and the team behind the very troubled sequel under the bus and claimed he’d have done better, which we’ve seen some once-big-name devs do in the past again and again.

Miyazaki isn’t that guy. He told reporters that there was no way to predict how Elden Ring and all of his other games would have turned out without Dark Souls 2.

To IGN, he said, “In regards to Dark Souls 2, I actually personally think this was a really great project for us, and I think without it, we wouldn’t have had a lot of the connections and a lot of the ideas that went forward and carried the rest of the series.”

Dark Souls 2 deserves some love

If the experience provided by Dark Souls 2 being so different from the original Dark Souls disappointed you, then I believe that you — and I, admittedly — have gotten it wrong.

The nature of Soulslike games isn’t just repeating Dark Souls, but repeating experimentation itself. Sometimes experimenting with a crappy game will give you gold, like when Miyazaki tinkered with a dead project called Demon’s Souls, and sometimes it just doesn’t work altogether. Miyazaki’s greatest strength here seems to be not a magical ability to come up with masterworks out of the blue but to learn from what doesn’t work.

Dark Souls 2 really is baby Elden Ring

What irks me the most about Dark Souls 2 is the absence of the extraordinary interconnected world and the emphasis on verticality in the level design of the first one. Dark Souls 2 traded that for a more wide-open world approach. The result is a game that feels huge from left to right but also far shallower. It prevented us from experiencing all the magical moments we had exploring the depths and the heights of DS1, and that was tough.

Screenshot by Destructoid

I don’t want to undersell it. Elden Ring is one of the greatest games ever made, and it did way more than just this. But Elden Ring‘s big selling point was giving us the wide world of Dark Souls 2, filling it with huge and smaller setpieces that are on par with the quality of the level design seen in the first game and adding a double-jumping horse to make navigating it all fun.

Oh, and by the way, Dark Souls 2’s PVP still absolutely owns. In fact, it might be the best in the series.

Elden Ring Shadow Of The Erdtree will be released on June 21 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.


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Author
Tiago Manuel
Tiago is a freelancer who used to write about video games, cults, and video game cults. He now writes for Destructoid in an attempt to find himself on the winning side when the robot uprising comes.