What Will the Upcoming FromSoftware Game Be Like?

It’s been five months since FromSoftware closed out the Dark Souls series with the final piece of DLC for Dark Souls 3, The Ringed City. The full game was, as expected, critically acclaimed, and one could be forgiven for expecting the company to keep the Souls train a-rollin’. Thankfully, that does not seem to be the case. Company President Hidetaka Miyazaki confirmed that Darks Souls 3 was the series swansong, and that he wanted to create something completely new for future games. The developers have pushed the boundaries before with the release of Bloodborne, a game that stuck close to the already established mechanics of the Souls series while toying with the new, Victorian London-esque setting of Yharnam. But what can we expect from… From… next?

As yet, the developers have been tight-lipped about what direction their next game might take. After a brief flurry of recruiting new talent to the company, all has been silent. So, in lieu of actual news, I thought I’d throw a few speculative spitballs at the wall and see what sticks.

The Setting

I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that the next game will steer clear of the medieval style setting of the Souls series. From have done the sword and sorcery thing to death now, with steel-clad knights and dagger-wielding thieves stretching across four whole games. The success of Bloodborne, a game many (myself included) consider to be one of the greatest games of all time, must have bolstered their courage to think a little outside the box and experiment with interesting new settings. I’ve seen some people speculate that a sci-fi world may be next in store, or perhaps something set in a more realistic, modern-day world. Personally I’m hoping for their take on a present day, post-apocalyptic kind of setting. A modern day apocalypse designed by FromSoftware is one of the most horrifying things I can imagine. But would the tried and true Souls gameplay stand its ground in a new setting like that?

The Gameplay

It’s hard to think about a sci-fi Souls game and not consider the Surge from developers Deck 13, or a feudal Japan setting and not think about Nioh by Team Ninja. Other creators have taken note of From Software’s success and attempted to emulate them, in turn beating them to the punch on these new time periods. These games also have a variation on the Souls RPG elements; punishing, checkpoint based nature, tight, visceral combat, deadly enemies and huge bosses. The question is, I think, are From going to try and fix what isn’t broken and veer away from their previous accomplishments, or move forward and continue tweaking what they’ve already accomplished? Again, I’d have to refer back to Bloodborne as proof that they can do essentially the same thing with minor differences and make a huge impact on the final product. I would hope that next time they’ll push the boat out just enough to stay interesting, without going too nuts on new features. Yharnam had trick-weapons, a minor change with big implications on the standard gameplay. But a more futuristic setting, for example, would have vehicles and technology to consider. Small changes that open new game design doors.

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack is totally going to be awesome you guys. I can feel it.

So… What now?

Now we… Keep waiting. While they were initially aiming for a 2017 release for anything new, as it’s now September with no word I think we can safely assume it’ll be 2018 at the earliest before we get any scraps of info from the FromSoft table. But hey, that gives us plenty of time to speculate! What do you think? What would you like to see from their next game?

Bethesda Creation Club Disappoints Modding Community

The recent launch of Bethesda’s Creation Club has left most Fallout 4 and Skyrim mod users scratching their heads. The club was envisioned as a way for mod creators to get paid for their hard work by submitting it to a Bethesda quality control system. This enables mod users to download and play with the mods via an in-game marketplace without worrying about bugs or crashes, as they are essentially using content with the Bethesda stamp of approval. Meanwhile, the creators get a structured design & testing process before the finished mod is made live and payments can begin to be made. The big problem right off the bat was, of course, the price of the mods themselves.

Mods have long been free to use. Most creators make new content for the games they love on community modding sites as an act of passion, as a hobby. Some put up links for donations if people felt like giving back, but many were happy to just create something amazing and hone their craft, perhaps for a future career in game development. Meanwhile the players are, of course, happy to be given free content made by fans, for fans.  Adding money into this equation has long been a contentious issue for the community, starting with Steams Community Workshop back in 2015.

Essentially a prototype for what we are now seeing with the Creation Club, previously free mods were listed on Steam for a price, with a portion of the profits going back to Valve and Bethesda. People kicked off, and it took a change.org petition with over 100k signatures to get Valve to back down on the entire idea. The backlash was so severe it’s a miracle that Bethesda tried again at all, but I suppose the promise of easy money is too big of a draw for them. Who knew.

Ah, but I’m sorry. The Creation Club isn’t “paid mods” despite the fact that you have to pay to get the mods. Their excuse for this is that you don’t actually pay for the MODS, you’re paying for Bethesda bucks. If you wanted to buy (sorry, obtain) everything they just released for Fallout 4, it’ll set you back 3000 Creation Club credits. That’s somewhere in the region of £30 (for the record that’s a couple of weapons, items, and skins.)

Now, my main problem with this is that for LESS money you could go and buy the Fallout: New Vegas ultimate edition. That’s a vastly superior game to Fallout 4 (but I’ll go into that another time,) the entire game, with all of its quality DLC for £15. The price/substance ratio is way off here, and that’s not to rag on the mod creators that signed up for this, either. The mods themselves look great (I was sorely tempted by the customisable backpack) but the simple fact is you can find free equivalents to most (if not all) of these mods online.

In the end, the concept of paid mods is a complex one. Creators do deserve remuneration for all their hard work, but to suddenly charge for something that has been free since modding games was first possible is a hard pill to swallow for many people, even when the mods themselves are high-quality officially sanctioned mods like these. Perhaps if the mods were made “official” paid mods, doing away with these club tokens with a substantial price drop? What do you guys think?

I’d say the sole positive note in this whole trainwreck is that now PS4 users, previously unable to use the mods enjoyed by PC and XBOX ONE users, can have at least some modded content in their Fallout 4 and Skyrim games… For a price. And let me tell you, considering what you can get for free on other platforms, that price ain’t cheap.