Is It Time For FromSoftware To Move Beyond The Souls Formula?

With FromSoftware getting new directors, the studio can take a break from its Soulslike games.

Story Highlights

  • FromSoftware has utilized the Souls formula for more than a decade at this point. 
  • It’s time for the studio to move on and no longer be bound by it. 

Even when I was a Souls newbie, making my way through the Undead Burg, I couldn’t help but think one thing. What if FromSoftware were to bring their unique combat and progression system to an open-world title? Fast forward to 2022, and the company did just that. Elden Ring took the world by storm when it came out largely because the game felt like the natural progression in the Souls formula

But even despite its new bells and whistles, the game is still fundamentally Dark Souls. There’s just no denying that under the hood, the way the game plays is very similar to the Souls series. While Elden Ring felt like the logical next step for some Souls fans, it also feels like the right stopping point for others. After all, where else could you possibly take the Souls systems without them feeling redundant and overused

That’s not to say the company should just stop making Soulslike combat systems. I mean, FromSoftware has carved out a new genre of its own because of how good its games are. But I do believe it is time for the company to move beyond the “formula” that we saw get reiterated. Instead, the developers should focus on newer titles that can reignite them creatively. Here’s why.

There’s A Lot of New Blood At The Office

Recently, Miyazaki mentioned in an interview that FromSoftware has a number of executives who have been under training. These executives are now able to take on new directorial roles at the company. A game that one such new director created was the recent Armored Core 6 title. While Miyazaki will still continue to work on games for now, in the future, it’s likely he will eventually take a step back from directing.

Sinh in Dark Souls 2.
                                                                                                         Sinh in Dark Souls 2.

The Souls series, and the many off-shoots and spiritual successors we have gotten since then, very much have been Miyazaki’s brainchild. After all, he layered the groundwork for the games and has been the head honcho as far as the development is concerned. The one Souls title that he didn’t work on, was Dark Souls 2. Yui Tanimura directed that instead. And well, it went down as one of the most controversial FromSoftware titles ever.

With Miyazaki potentially stepping away from directing in the future, I think the company should also let their Souls formula rest with him. It’s clear that without his visionary approach to Souls games, they just won’t be the same. Plus, even if they do end up being good, there is only so much you can do with this genre before it starts to get repetitive.

I think it is time for the new directors at FromSoftware to step up and help the studio carve out a new identity. Whether that is by making innovative sequels for their older titles like Armored Core, or King’s Field. Or diving into completely new territory as they did with Demon’s Souls, all those years back. While minor Souls off-shoots can still be a part of their catalog, I don’t think they should be the main games moving forward.

Elden Ring Would Be An Ideal Place To Stop

Part of the reason why I think the Souls formula could use a rest is because it’d be great to have the series end on a high note. I don’t think fans would like to have Soulslikes become the new Call of Duty franchise. With new ones released every couple of years, but still rehashing mostly the same concepts and ideas over the years. Elden Ring was able to keep things interesting with its open world.

But will the next Souls successor be able to bring something equally innovative to the table? It’s hard to see where else these games could go from this point onwards, without feeling like just slightly different versions of the same thing. Even with Elden Ring, there were quite a few enemies and areas that simply felt like retreads of things that we’ve seen.

Erdtree Avatar in Elden Ring.
                                                                                                  Erdtree Avatar in Elden Ring.

Take the Erdtree Avatar bosses for example. Those were straight-up the Stray Demons from Dark Souls 1, with a new coat of paint. It’s understandable why some of these assets have to be reused, especially when making a game with as much scale as Elden Ring. But will fans also be as forgiving for the next Soulslike title from FromSoftware? I’m not too sure.

Personally, I’d rather see FromSoftware continue to remain the creator of the best Soulslike games in the market. As opposed to being the studio that eventually couldn’t reach its own highs, despite constantly trying to catch that lightning in the bottle it got with the first couple of entries. 

The Studio Has The Potential For A Lot More

If there’s one thing FromSoftware has shown, it’s that the studio has the potential to be a lot more. The developers have proven that they are more than just the people who make Souls games. With Sekiro, they dabbled into a more action/combat style of game. And many consider it to be one of their best works since its initial release.

The studio also went back to its roots with its recent Armored Core sequel. And unsurprisingly, FromSoftware knocked it out of the park with that release too. This really goes to show the studio can definitely tackle tons of different genres and types of games. So limiting themselves to always be working on the next big Soulslike could not only stifle their creativity. 

Ultimately, I’m sure we all would love to continue to play Souls titles, that get better and better with each release. But realistically speaking, there’s only so much that can be done without FromSoftware genuinely breaking free from the formula it has established and trying something new. All eyes are now set on the company’s next move after Elden Ring’s DLC comes out.

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Danish is an opinion piece writer at eXputer who loves sharing his takes on the industry. He is a long-time PC gamer with a passion for delving into the discussion and discourse surrounding the titles that he plays. Often eager to jump right into the fold and formulate his take on the latest topics, his noteworthy presence on gaming forums, and keen insight help him understand the gaming community in a thorough manner. This helps him provide a more nuanced look into any topic or discussion.

Writes Opinion Pieces at eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Mass Communication.

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