I was thinking about the multiplayer experience in Dark Souls today in relation to the announcement of the more connected experience that the PS4 is promising.
While we can endlessly speculate on whether taking over a friend’s controller to help them out would be awesome in some future theoretical Dark Souls III, I was wondering about your views on a more fundamental question for the upcoming Dark Souls II.
Do you think that the Dark Souls experience would be enhanced or hurt if you were able to easily play with a specific friend on demand? I can see both sides of the issue, but I think that going through the experiences in Dark Souls alone, or only with a stranger helping you that you could not verbally communicate with, was central to the experience. My terror would have been lessoned, and possibly eliminated, if my partner was fighting alongside me and we were chatting away on our headsets when running across our first Prowling Demon.
While you may argue that I could simply choose to not play with a friend while you would prefer to have that option, I think that even providing that option would remove part of what is integral to Dark Souls as a piece of art. I’m a strong advocate for artists not compromising their vision based on external pressures. I believe that Hidetaka Miyazaki’s artistic vision (the Director of both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls) is crystal clear in both those games. By providing a player with the option to join with a friend, I believe, is the same as saying, "You have the choice to experience my art, or not."
I think the same point applies to Journey. Both these games’ emotional experiences are founded on a sense of isolation that would be lessened or eliminated by playing with a known individual, and especially with verbal communication.
I want Dark Souls II to remain a lonely walk through purgatory.