When aliens try to piece together the history of our civilisation from the contents of somebody’s PS4 hard drive, they’re going to assume Dark Souls was our most important cultural touchstone.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands includes a little nod to Dark Souls, because of course it does.
Dark Souls and its extended family may be considered niche due to their difficulty (although it’s hard to think of such well-known games as anything but mainstream), but they’re hugely popular among developers, as evidenced by how many games these days include a small tribute to the franchise.
The most popular way to reference Dark Souls is to include something akin to the iconic bonfires, and that’s what we find in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, too. YouTuber xGarbett takes a look at it above.
The Witcher 3 had a similar Dark Souls easter egg, as did Just Cause 3 and Overwatch. Borderlands 2 has a stack of Dark Souls Easter eggs, and you can find references in World of Warcraft, Mirror’s Edge, Fallout 4, Destiny, Killzone Shadowfall, Dota 2, Skyrim and the From Software-published 3D Dot Heroes, too.
More importantly than these cute little references to a beloved game, Dark Souls has already had a powerful impact on triple-A and indie game design, and is certain to leave behind an enduring legacy. We’ve seen some flat out clones of the series, like Lords of the Fallen, and mutated iterations of it, as with Titan Souls.
Some games cherry pick bits and pieces of the From Software formula, like Nier Automata’s corpses, and you could argue that shades of Dark Souls are felt in most third-person action games these days, through evolving RPG systems and an emphasis on high risk high reward combat.
If we are to see no more Dark Souls games, as seems likely, it’s nice that some of its ideas live on – and that developers like the Ghost Recon Wildlands team continue to pay tribute.