Being able to dedicate the last 60 hours of gaming time to 2 very different gimmick builds in Dark Souls Remastered and then 4 hours to Dark Souls 3 right after made me realize how much 3 revels in From’s worst design choices and the worst attitudes capital G gamers have towards the Souls moniker.
Dark Souls 3 turns every encounter into the Artorias fight; that being a fast, twitchy and almost discordant array of unpredictable swipes and slashes. Dark Souls combat falls into an extremely particular niche, it requires the player consider simple attack patterns that are slow enough to observe yet threatening enough to require the player avoid them and keep their distance all while making attempts to enter different ranges that trigger different patterns and behaviors. This all sounds very entry-level in terms of game design, establish patterns that players are rewarded for exploiting but what happens when there aren’t any patterns… what happens when attacks are too fast to dodge or behaviors are too erratic to be even identified? You are left with the antithesis of Dark Souls 1’s design. I don’t want this post to sound like the persecution of Dark Souls 3, I do feel that it does have strong elements, for example it’s level design aesthetically and spatially is far improved over Dark Souls 2.
Other design nitpicks I have deal with how Dark Souls 3 prioritizes Dark Souls 2’s difficulty adjustments based on bonfires over estus in stark contrast to Dark Souls 1’s adjustable estus and limited bonfires. I think Dark Souls 3 fails 2’s design philosophy by incorporating Dark Souls 1 style shortcuts into a game that already has bonfires a-plenty, it digs deep into the game’s pacing and makes levels far longer and more horizontal than the need to actually be. Dark Souls 3 errs more towards Dark Souls 2 and Bloodborne when its levels get their widest and, personal opinion ahoy, I think that’s unfortunate.
My last disagreement I have with Dark Souls 3’s design is how it treads backwards into Demon’s Souls upgrade systems. On top of reintroducing Demon’s upgrade complexity back into the fray, these upgrades are ridiculously expensive to boot and are a slog to obtain.
I am curious if anyone here agrees with me or has their own opinions on Miyazaki’s shift in design focus after Bloodborne to character action-style combat.