There is no direct connection in the story between Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2, but the two games share a similar core, according to Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki.
In an interview with Famitsu magazine this week, Miyazak — who is moving from his previous director role to a supervising role, while Tomohiro Shibuya will step up to the director's chair — revealed that Dark Souls 2 would not be a vastly different game from its predecessor.
"If we're going to announce this as a sequel to Dark Souls then I think there's certainly a core that we need to protect," Miyazaki said. "I'm talking about how we think about the difficulty level and how you achieve things in-game; about the concepts behind the mechanics and level design. Outside of that core, though, I think it's better to leave things to the discretion of the director. There's a lot around that core that we need to fix or adjust, besides, and individual touches always tend to come out in the world setting and artwork, so I'm not meddling in that very much."
That core was shown in the Dark Souls 2 trailer shown at the Video Game Awards on December 7. "The trailer embodies the sense of solitude and desperation, both of which are core parts of the previous games," Shibuya said. "We concentrated on getting this across in a way that would easily come across even to overseas gamers. In my personal opinion, I think the angles and such you saw have a lot of uniquely Western-style tastes to them."
The game is set in a different part of the same planet -- to put it another way, if the first game was set in the North Pole, this one would be in the South Pole; that sort of contrast.
While Shibuya admitted the trailer contained no in-game footage and declined to give details on the characters (and the big, mean dragon) that appeared in the video, he did say that Dark Souls 2 shares at least some connection with the original.
"I can't completely answer this question, but the two settings are connected, yes," he said. "However, I wouldn't say there's a direct connection as far as story is concerned. The game is set in a different part of the same planet -- to put it another way, if the first game was set in the North Pole, this one would be in the South Pole; that sort of contrast. 'Time' is one of the central keywords we're keeping in mind as we create this. I can't give concrete details about this yet, so hopefully you'll be able to use your imagination for now."
While the initial announcement was short on details, one feature From Software admitted to for Dark Souls 2 was dedicated multiplayer servers — a departure from the original, which only allowed players to interact with each other in limited ways. "Setting up a dedicated server lets you retain your data, making it easier to share it with other players," Shibuya said. "We'd like to evolve the asynchronous message-oriented online support from the previous game; we're imagining a framework where players are able to directly interact with each other."
"I think having dedicated game servers will be the source of a lot of new potential in DS2."
"I think having dedicated game servers will be the source of a lot of new potential in DS2," Miyazaki added. "There was a lot with the original Dark Souls I wish I could have done if we had the ability to have those serviers, so in that way I'm pretty jealous of the new director here. I think the concept behind online play in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls was pretty plain to gamers, so I'm hoping we can evolve on that concept here without removing ourselves too far from it."
Dark Souls 2 won't be out for a while yet, but given the last game's success, a lot is riding on Shibuya's shoulders. "Not just me, but I think everyone on the team sees the previous Dark Souls as our biggest rival," he said. "It's an enormously huge presence in our minds and we feel a lot of pressure, but we're all giving a full effort to surpass what we've already accomplished."