Dark Souls II’s new director on making one of the toughest series in videogames “more accessible”

Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II stars on the cover of our new issue, E249, which is out later this week. Last week, shortly after the game was announced, we told you about the game’s two new directors, Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura, and that they intended for the game to be “more straightforward and more understandable.”

That single quote, it seems, unsettled an awful lot of people. How do you make a game, the inaccessibility of which is such a key component of what makes it so special, more accessible without turning it into something else? Clearly, publisher Namco Bandai wants Dark Souls II to outsell its predecessor, but in order to do that it needs those who bought the first game to buy the sequel.

It can’t change too much, then, and over the course of our 10-page feature Shibuya explains what he feels can be tweaked to be more welcoming to new players without alienating that core Dark Souls audience. What follows are extracts from our first look at the game, along with some material that didn’t make it into the magazine.

“Accessibility to players who haven’t picked up Dark Souls is definitely a key topic,” Shibuya tells us. “Right in the beginning when players first pick up the game is something that I will definitely focus on. To not immediately throw them into Dark Souls but provide a good introduction in terms of what the game’s about and how the game should be played.

“Hopefully that adjustment at the very beginning of the game will help draw in players and get them addicted right away without immediately making players feel rejected [by] the game system itself.”

Shibuya is, by his own admission, “more direct than subtle” but for most of our interview he is cagey on specifics. While he mostly speaks in broad strokes about what he wants to change, he singles out the covenant system, which he says was “difficult to fully absorb and experience in Dark Souls.

“Making it more accessible to players is something that I want to express… I will follow the same concept as Dark Souls, but there were a lot of hidden story elements that some players may not have caught before and I’m hoping to make some of that a little bit more clear or directly expressed to the player as well.”

Issue 249 of Edge, which goes on sale December 20, also features our end of year awards, our verdict on Wii U, and much more besides; see our magazine page for what’s inside. You can buy or subscribe to Edge in print, for iOS devices (including our award-winning interactive iPad edition) from Apple Newsstand, and for Android through Zinio or Google Play.