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If Project Beast is Demon's Souls 2, here's what must happen

Demon's Souls 2 rumours are firing out of the internet like a volley of Heavy Soul Arrows following the leak of Project Beast gameplay clips. Resident Souls addict Dave Cook has some suggestions on what needs to be done if it's going to keep the series fresh.

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So yeah, the leaked Project Beast video is essentially a series of gameplay GIFs cobbled together with old Souls music laced over the top, but man does it look impressive. I really hope it is the rumoured Demon's Souls PS4 sequel we've heard of, but then again, it could be Dark Souls 2 DLC.

Either way, the Dark Souls series has proven popular and with enough lifetime sales under its belt to warrant a sequel, you can bet good money that someone at From Software has already considered what will come next. That's just how this industry works. It's a numbers game.

Regular readers will know that I'm a Souls obsessive, and if you missed my six-part Dark Souls 2 review journal, you really should check it out. Seriously, go leave me a comment so we can geek out over stats and all that amazing shit. Based on that, you can guess how hyped today's Project Beast leak made me. Actual back-flips.

So if Project Beast really is Demon's Souls 2, here's what this lowly, yet long-time series fan would like to see happen:

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Make it harder

This is a no-brainer, considering the Souls games are known for their difficulty, but I felt Dark Souls 2 was by far the easiest game in the series with a seriously pitiful final boss. But then again - and I've thought on this long and hard - maybe it felt easier because I put so much time into Demon's and Dark Souls? I knew the rules, I understood that in many cases Poise and stamina are more valuable that raw health.

When I think back of all the bosses I felled in Dark Souls 2 by simply keeping my block up then strafing around their slow attacks, I actually yearned for something as punishing as Ornstein and Smough. The sequel didn't have an encounter comparable to their difficulty spike, and I killed many bosses on the first try. It shouldn't have been that easy.

I just hope that Project Beast ups the challenge, because more difficulty equals greater gratification. By the end of Dark Souls 2 I just felt a bit, 'meh,' and this is a serious fan talking. That's not to say the game wasn't brilliant, because it still excels as a standalone title, but comparing it to its baby brother is like guessing who'd win a fight out of Gywn and Barney the Dinosaur.

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Stop pandering to the rushed audience

Around this time last year, Namco and From Software were dealing with the fallout after calling Dark Souls 2 "accessible," which understandably got a lot of die-hard fans upset. I'll admit it; I was worried too. What that meant in the final game was less space between bonfires, boss fog gates in rapid succession, a simpler boss soul weapon system, lots of vendors in Majula and everything placed deliberately for ease of access.

I didn't like that. So what if a few people didn't like the chore of running for ages, fighting lots of enemies and then taking on a boss with whatever health they had left. The sense of achievement that came from doing that then felling a boss like Queelag was more tangible and gratifying than almost anything I experienced in Dark Souls 2.

Both Demon's and the original Dark Souls made you work for their prizes, giving you a slight rush of empowerment and satisfaction before beating you down again with its cleated boots. I'm not a fan of making games easier or more accessible for those who don't have time to level up, grind or learn the intricacies. That's where the Souls beauty lies, and Project Beast needs to retain that.

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Change the character classes

The character seen in all the Project Beast footage so far seems to have a shotgun in their hand, which is interesting as the Souls series hasn't dabbled in gunplay before. I know, the thought of Demon's Souls 2 having shooter mechanics might make you throw up in your own mouth a little, but I think it'd be a real game-changer in terms of character classes as long as it doesn't screw with the existing melee mechanics too bad.

I'm guessing a tonne of Dark Souls 2 players went with either the Knight, the Pyromancer, the new Swordsman class or stuck with either magic or miracles. These class archetypes are fine and dandy, but I'd like to see some properly new and inventive skill sets in Project Beast. Give us that guy with the shotgun and make him a hunter, or better yet, how about a Necromancer who can summon Hollows? There's lots of potential out there.

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Turn combat on its head

As I said earlier, too many Dark Souls 2 bosses could be killed by simply goading them into attacking, walking around their slow swipes and hitting them a few times before repeating the process. That sequence became so hard-wired into my brain by the end that I started to become uninspired by each new fight. Project Beast should do more to shake up that approach.

The trouble is figuring out how to do that without breaking the core mechanics that make the Souls games feel so unique. Change it too much and it won't feel like part of the series, keep it static and it risks being dull. Maybe the trick is in addition, such as new types of heavy attacks and parries, ranged gun combat and different evades depending on your class? It's a tricky one.

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Keep it ambiguous to a point

Ambiguity is great because it forces us to use our imagination to fill in the gaps. This is why Demon's and Dark Souls have always felt so personal to the player. We're given the space to make up tailored back-stories and theories about the world state, characters and overarching lore. There are no wrong theories, just your own personal yarn about a dark world gone terribly wrong. That's really powerful.

But by the end of Dark Souls 2 - I feel it was around the giant's memories - I had no idea what the point was any more. What started as a quest to lift my curse had turned into something greater, about succeeding the throne and understanding why Vendrick's arrogance led to retaliation from the giants. Then there's all the theories about his brother, Nashandra's intent and the Emerald Herald's true purpose.

I like not being told everything, but that can be achieved while still giving the player just enough purpose and understanding to make the goal clear to a point. Don't tell us everything in Project Beast, but do give us some crumbs that steer progression and give us some measure of satisfaction by the end credits. I felt deflated upon completion, compared to the feeling of relief and joy at finishing the first game.

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More inventive bosses

I covered this a little earlier, but there's has to be more to Project Beast's bosses than rolling to the left, hitting the enemy then repeating that sequence until it topples. Remember False King Allant from Demon's Souls, and his wide range of utterly punishing attacks - including one that takes a Soul Level off you with each hit - and you'll likely be met with memories of irritation and grinding to finally take him down.

That's not an annoyance. That's a challenge, and I'll say it again; there's ultimately much more satisfaction to be had in working hard to achieve something than having it doled out instantly with zero effort. This is a worrying trend in gaming today, where triple-a titles dispense big explosions and pay-outs simply because you reached a map marker. Big deal.

Games that make you work for the big pay-off may feel gruelling or clunky at times, but I think many of us are forgetting the sense of sweet delight that comes with finally overcoming those gauntlets. It's a sensation those who have legitimately completed games like Contra and Mega Man will know full well. Chucking lots of reward at us for doing nothing doesn't have the same effect. Trust me on this one.

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Lot of series links please

Project Beast should at least belong to the same broader universe as its predecessor. There are tenuous but notable links between the first and second Dark Souls games, and that's the kind of awesome fan-service nods that get us all theorising and discussing them on forums and around the watercooler. If Demon's Souls 2 is an actual thing, then I'd love to see references to King Allant, the colourless fog, the Nexus and the Maiden in Black in there.

Oh and praising, there still needs to be praising of some kind.

About the Author

Dave Cook avatar

Dave Cook

Contributor

Living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Writing a game called Jettison and a book called Seventh Circle. Loves spicy food.

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