The World Design of Dark Souls | Boss Keys


There are a lot of memorable moments in Dark
Souls, but there’s one very specific part that stuck out for me. After arriving in Firelink Shrine, you venture
into the Undead Berg, fight the Taurus Demon on the bridge, narrowly avoid getting roasted
alive by a dragon, find your way to the Undead Parish, fight past giant soldiers in the church,
take this random elevator down, and arrive all the way back at… Firelink Shrine. It’s at this moment you realise that the
world of Dark Souls is very different to most other games. It’s not a linear series of zones – but
a complex, maze-like world that branches off into different areas, then loops back around
on itself through shortcuts and elevators. It seems to snap together like a fancy 3D
jigsaw puzzle, and exploring this world feels like navigating a Metroid map, or a Zelda
dungeon. Which is why I’m dedicating this special
spin-off episode of Boss Keys to the world of Dark Souls 1. I’m going to be looking at how this world
is put together, the advantages and disadvantages of non-linear world design, and how Dark Souls
has even more in common with Zelda than you might think. So, buckle up and come with me, Mark Brown,
on a journey to the fantasy kingdom of Lordran. To start, we should identify the basic structure
of Dark Souls. And I think this game fits quite neatly into
five distinct acts. There’s the intro, in the Undead Asylum,
where we learn the ropes and defeat the first boss: the Asylum Demon. Then, for act two, we’re in Lordran proper
and must ring the two bells of awakening. One can be found after we fight the Bell Gargoyles
on top of the Undead Parish, and the other is behind Quelaag, down in Blighttown. You can do these in either order, but most
first time players will do the church first. Then, for act three, it’s off to Sen’s
Fortress – which is a sort of nightmare funhouse. And then we head to Anor Londo, where we fight
Ornstein and Smough, and receive the Lordvessel. Now, in act four, the game tasks you with
retrieving the four Lord Souls. These are collected by defeating bosses who
are found in new areas – but ones that are just off from places you may have visited
before: there’s Gravelord Nito in the Valley of the Giants, Seath the Scaleless in Duke’s
Archives, the Four Kings in New Londo Ruins, and The Bed of Chaos in Lost Izaleth. These often have other bosses along the way,
like Sif and Pinwheel, and all of this can be done in absolutely any order you like. When you’ve got all four, it’s on to the
final area and the last boss, Gwyn: Lord of Cinder, for act five. So, I think this works really nicely. Acts 1, 3, and 5 are very linear and have
a sense of forward momentum to them. While acts 2 and 4 are more open, and branching. It’s an accordion like structure that is
actually… very familiar. You see, the basic outline of Dark Souls is
near identical to the basic outline… of Zelda: A Link to the Past. In that game there’s an intro, and then
some early dungeons that can be done out of order. Then the path constricts for Hyrule Castle,
but then branches out widely as you re-explore old areas, now with access to the dark world,
to tackle the tougher dungeons in largely whatever order you like. Then the path constricts one final time for
the battle against Ganon. Perhaps it’s not surprising, given how Souls
creator Hidetaka Miyazaki has spoken about his admiration for the Zelda series, but I
think it’s a very interesting parallel nonetheless. But then again, while this does describe the
path that most players take – this isn’t a completely accurate portrayal of how Dark
Souls is laid out. You can actually do lots of stuff out of order. You can kill Pinwheel at any time after arriving
in Lordran, you can kill Sif and the Four Kings before ever visiting Anor Londo, and
you can kill the Ceaseless Discharge as soon as you’ve finished off Quelaag. And you can skip some of these bosses entirely. If you take a secret route to Blighttown through
Darkroot Basin, you can skip the Capra Demon and the Gaping Dragon. If you help out Solaire you can skip the Demon
Firesage and the Centipede Demon. And if you choose the Master Key as your initial
gift, you can even dodge the Taurus Demon. There sure a lot of Demons in this game. They should have called it Demon’s Sou…oh wait. Uh, plus, there are also four entirely optional
bosses – Moonlight butterfly, Stray Demon, Crossbreed Priscila, and Dark Sun Gwyndolin – that have
no impact on the structure of the game whatsoever. They just give you cool goodies. So the structure of Dark Souls really looks
more like… this. Not quite as attractive, is it? But it’s
a good visual reminder that Dark Souls is a game with lots of branching paths. Like, when you get to the Undead Parish you
can explore the church, or go fight the Moonlight Butterfly in Darkroot Garden, or fight this
hydra in Darkroot Basin, or go off into the Lower Undead Berg and explore from there. And right from the very beginning of the game,
in Firelink Shrine, the player is expected to travel up to the Undead Berg but you can,
instead, head to the Catacombs, or New Londo Ruins. All of this gives Dark Souls a very liberating
and adventurous feeling. You rarely get the sense that you’re on
a predetermined path – but, instead, you’lre making your own decisions and following your
curiosity through the world. And while some of these areas are complete
dead ends in terms of overall game progression, there are often items in these late game areas
that you can get early if you’re brave enough. Even a low level player can find the useful
Fire Keeper Soul in New Londo Ruins. And then run out of there in fear. That’s because the area is filled with ghosts
that can’t be killed with conventional weapons. Likewise, the catacombs are filled with regenerating
skeletons who will probably kill you if you’re at a low level. But getting killed is a good way to create
a lasting memory in the player’s brain. If you go into the Catacombs and get wrecked
by skeletons, you’ll spend the next 10 hours of the game thinking about coming back to
tackle that area when you’re at a higher level. Which is handy – because that’s where one
of the four lords is hiding. Now, as i said before, Lordran doesn’t just branch
out but it also loops back on itself, with connecting points between many of the game’s
locations. Knock down this ladder, for example, and you
not only get to rest at an old bonfire – but can quickly skip all of this stuff to quickly
get from the Undead Berg to the bridge to the Undead Parish. And then look at Firelink shrine. While it initially connects to Undead Berg,
the Catacombs, and New Londo Ruins – later in the game it will also connect up to the
Undead Parish and the Lower Undead Berg. This is achieved through doors that only open
from one side. So, when you first move through this aqueduct
just off Firelink Shrine, you’ll find a locked door. But later in the game, you’ll permanently
open it from the other side. This means you’re not overwhelmed with options
and branching paths at the beginning – but as the game goes on, the world becomes steadily
more complex. So keeping the connected world of Dark Souls
in your head is a difficult job, especially because the game has no map screen whatsoever
– perhaps a throwback to NES games like Metroid 1 and the first Zelda. But there’s a quiet satisfaction in being
able to navigate this complex kingdom through memory alone. Whether that’s figuring out the best way
to get between two areas, or remembering the location of, say, Andre the Blacksmith, or
the shopkeeper who sells Purging Stones – and then knowing how to get there efficiently
and safely This sort of spatial memory is reminiscent
of games like Resident Evil, where a big part of the challenge is creating efficient pathways
between areas in the Spencer Mansion. That sensation is largely gone in the other
Souls games, where you can simply fast travel between areas, or wrap back to some central
hub to find all the shops and upgrade stations. I much prefer the way it’s done in Dark
Souls 1 because not being able to warp around also creates a pretty strong feeling of isolation
and, I suppose you could say, homesickness, when you venture deep into certain areas. Going further and further into the Catacombs
or Blighttown, feels legitimately unnerving as you’re moving further and further away
from safety and familiarity – and if you want to return to the surface, you’ll have to
literally climb back out. You can’t just warp. I feel like you also gain a much better understanding
of the world by exploring on foot. And what a world it is. The extremely vertical nature of Lordran lends
itself to an initial sensation of going deeper and deeper. The game practically trolls you, giving you
a place called The Depths that isn’t even close to being the lowest point in the game. That area drops down to Blighttown, which
drops down to Demon Ruins, and down to Lost Izaleth. This give the world a real sense of history. Stuff built on top of other stuff. Strata. And then, in stark contrast, Sen’s Fortress
and Anor Londo, are are all about climbing up, higher and higher, which has a very different
feeling. You get a sense of ascension. Rising action. It makes you feel heroic. Miyazaki has said “After ringing the bells
and overcoming the traps of Sen’s Fortress I really wanted to player to feel ‘Yes! I’ve made it’.” It’s worth noting, however, that Dark Souls
does not ever suffer from a sense of samey-ness – despite the fact that all of the game’s
areas must link up to one another. Each zone still feels distinct – visually,
and often from a gameplay perspective as well. You’ve got the pitch black Tomb of the Giants. The twisting staircases in Duke’s Archives. The hazy pathways of Darkroot Garden. Traps in Sen’s Fortress. Pitfalls in The Depths. Invisible pathways that kinda suck to be honest
in the Crystal Caves. And then Anor Londo – which is clean, pristine,
untouched, and completely different to everything you’ve seen before. Now, choice, non-linearity, branching paths,
and interconnectivity makes for fascinating world design, but it does pose two significant
problems that any game of this sort has to overcome. One, is direction. If the game isn’t super linear and straightforward,
and maybe requires some backtracking, how does the player know where to go? And, I mean, Dark Souls is a famously obtuse
game. There are no waypoints, no compass, no map
screen with a big red X on it. You just have to find things for yourself. For the first major quest, ringing the two
bells of awakening, the execution is… mixed. The first bell is very easy to find. The route to the Undead Parish is largely
straightforward, and the top of a church is a natural place to find a bell. But the second – which is deep down in the
ground, is more tricky to discover. So, the bloke at Firelink Shrine does give
you some help. He’ll say “There are actually two Bells
of Awakening. One’s up above, in the Undead Church. The other is far, far below, in the ruins
at the base of Blighttown.” But the route to Blighttown is hard to find. The main path has you find this key in a location
that you never need to visit, and then open this rather random door on the bridge with
the dragon. Look, if you want to seer a door into the
player’s memory, make it like the crest door in Darkroot Garden, or the massive locked
door at Sen’s Fortress, where Siegmeyer talks about how it’s locked up tight. Those doors are hard to forget, whereas this
tiny wooden door is easy to miss. There is, at least, another route, but this
requires finding a semi-hidden cave in the ramp down to Darkroot Basin and then dashing
through the very difficult Valley of Drakes. Having two routes is good. And of course, forcing the player to actually
explore, read the item descriptions, and venture out into unknown areas is also fun. But I’d say this is a tad too obtuse and
may send players running to a walkthrough. A similar thing happens after finishing Anor
Londo, when you are given a very brief, vague, and non-repeatable cutscene showing three
orange fog gates disappearing throughout the world. Basically, in three random areas throughout
Lordran, there are now zones that you can get to, so you can go off and fight the Four
Lords. I hope you’re in an exploring mood. Luckily, there are probably lots of places
you visited earlier in the game, but ran away from with your tail between your legs, like
New Londo Ruins, the Demon Ruins, and Catacombs. And because you’ve got nothing better to
do, and because beating Ornstein and Smough will make anyone more confident to explore
scary locations, you’ll find yourself back in these areas – and then naturally stumbling
upon the next sections of the game, and the four lords. But at the same time, I do think some cryptic
clues, purchasable hints, and that sort of thing could be good. Wandering around looking for the next area
is only fun until you give up and check a walkthrough, at which point the game’s sense
of mystery just falls away entirely. Anyway. At this point in the game, you’ll have unlocked
something very special. Just like classic Zelda games, you are eventually
given the ability to fast travel, as you can use the Lordvessel to warp between bonfires. In some ways this is good. As you barrel towards the end of the game,
you maybe don’t want to be revisiting old locations and backtracking through finished
areas. You just want to get on with things But I actually think that this is where Dark
Souls can lose some of its magic. Where the first half of the game felt like
an actual world, where I had to think critically about how I would traverse it… the second
half felt like a bunch of disconnected levels. In some ways, the fast travel almost feels
like it was stuck on at the last minute, because the game already has a good way to get around
quickly: the Valley of Drakes. This is an underground network of paths and
bridges that connects New Londo Ruins, Blighttown, Deeproot Basin, and a path that will take
you to Firelink Shrine. The difficulty of the enemies means it’s
largely inaccessible to new players, but experienced players can use it to speed between areas. However, by the time you’re strong enough
to fight these drakes, you’ll have unlocked fast travel – making the area pretty much
useless outside of one trip to collect a few scattered goodies. The designers could also have introduced some
more shortcuts and connection points, such as some speedy way to get from Anor Londo
to the main world. This fast travel also removes a key part of
Metroidvanias, which is the thrill of revisiting old spaces with new abilities and skills. Now, on my first playthrough, I did have to
re traverse Blighttown because the warpable bonfire near Quelaag is hidden behind an illusionary
wall, and I completely missed it. So I needed to backtrack on foot to get down
to the Demon Ruins. And you know what? Beasting my way through an area that once
gave me real trouble was a pretty brilliant feeling that can otherwise be lost in Dark
Souls’s second half. I should note, however, that this can also
be accomplished by having old bosses return as normal enemies. Taking down Capra Demons in two hits, and
the Taurus Demon in four strikes feels pretty good. At least not every bonfire is a warp point,
which still allows for some navigation of the world, and also strategy as to which bonfires
you spend humanity on for kindling. Okay. So the other challenge designers have to overcome
when making non-linear games is dealing with difficulty curves. In Dark Souls, the Four Lords and their respective
areas are roughly the same level of difficulty. Which means you can happily tackle them in
any order – but it also means your character will keep levelling up to the point where
the lords you tackle last will be pushovers. But I, mean, what are the other options here? You could make the bosses have different difficulty
levels but then the player may randomly stumble up on the hardest boss first and get frustrated,
and this basically just creates a largely linear and expected path through what is supposed
to be a completely non-linear act in the game You could theoretically scale the bosses in
relation to the player’s current level. I talked about how Uncharted: Lost Legacy
does something like this in its non-linear Western Ghats chapter, where no matter which
order you climb the three towers, you’ll always face this puzzle in harder and harder
variants, because Naughty Dog magically swaps in the correct puzzle before you get to it. Maybe something like this could work for Dark
Souls. But whatever the case, the actual game keeps
the difficulty curve of this act quite flat: though some areas are arguably a bit tougher
than others. And while this absolutely allows for open
exploration and player choice, in my experience I quickly lost sync with the game’s challenge
and was rampaging through Lost Izaleth like a boss. So this video is mostly about the global level
design of Lordran. About structure and non-linearity and direction. But I do want to touch on more local design
for a spell. I think the defining design philosophy of
Dark Souls is that the designers just want to mess with you at every opportunity. Look at Undead Berg. This enemy snipes you from afar, forcing you
to either be defensive or aggressive. But too aggressive will see you walking into
a trap, as this dude bursts out from behind a wall. Then there’s a section where you have to
dart along a bridge and into a building to avoid firebombs, but then you’re right in
the middle of multiple guys. Then there’s a building where an enemy is
hiding behind a corner. A flaming trap rolling down a staircase. An enemy that can shoot you from atop a tower. It’s a nightmare! The ideal way to play Dark Souls is to move
slowly and carefully, and fight enemies in one-on-one bouts where you have lots of room
to move. But the level design and enemy placement does
everything to mess with this, using thin walkways, archers and spell casters, traps, narrow corridors,
and more. The other consideration that the Dark Souls
designers have to consider is the placement of bonfires. From is quite generous in the early game. but makes you wait longer and longer as you
get deeper into the game. Having zero in New Londo Ruins is a bit of
a bummer, and only having one at the very top of Sen’s Fortress makes the whole ordeal
even more perilous and tense. The world is also dotted with secrets. Pretty much every push to explore will reward
you with some new item, and the glowing white markers challenge you to make tricky jumps,
or lure you into an ambush. One of the biggest secrets though are the
illusory walls. These look like normal walls but then fade
away when you hit them. They actually work a lot like the bombable
walls in Zelda 1, in that they are genuine secrets and not clearly signposted “secrets”. But we’ve come a long way since 1986. So you don’t have to waste bombs – but at
the same time, the fact that hitting walls degrades your weapons will stop you from having
to hit every wall you see. Also, everything is optional. You don’t need to whack a single illusory
wall to finish the game. And the clever note system in the game means
other players will be able to point out these walls, though often with some good-natured
trolling. These walls generally hide bonfires and treasures,
but also an entire area; The Great Hollow, and its nearby Ash Lake. To be honest, one of the most remarkable things
about Dark Souls is that it is happy to hide huge amounts of content in areas that some
players will just never find. Take the Painted World of Ariamis, which is
one of the most intriguing areas of the game but to get there you need to roll off a moving
elevator, make a difficult jump, and roll up in a ball in a bird’s nest. This lets you fight a secret boss, get a special
item, and then present it to a painting on the other side of the world. I mean ultimately you’ll just find out about
it on the internet – but still, it’s cool, and lends the world a sense of mystery and
surprise. So the world of Dark Souls 1 is pretty special. Branching paths let you explore by following
your curiosity. Non-linearity lets you create your own adventure,
and is perfect for second playthroughs and speedruns. The interconnected pathways encourage you
to memorise the geography and architecture of the world. The lack of fast travel makes every journey
feel more perilous. And the game’s accordion structure offers
both moments of exploration and moments of forward propulsion. But this sort of world design creates interesting
problems for designers when it comes to difficulty curves and direction: and Dark Souls isn’t
perfect in either regard. Plus, the late game switch to fast travel
takes away from one of the game’s most interesting factors. Instead of trying to perfect this structure
in future games, though, From Software largely ditched this sort of interconnected world
design in the Dark Souls sequels, and Bloodborne. I mean, these games do still thrill with their
level design. The sequels are arguably more complex from
a local perspective, as an area like Yarnham is a loopy, branching maze-like miniature
Lordran – even if the overall world map is more linear. And there are also lots of shortcuts that
take you back to Bonfires and Lamps, which provides that warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing
where you are. Plus, there are still many optional bosses,
moments of non-linearity, and opportunities for backtracking. But it’s never been quite the same as Dark
Souls 1. It’s not like using your brain to figure
out the quickest way to get from Darkroot Garden to New Londo Ruins. Or stumbling down some random cave and accidentally
skipping two boss fights. Or taking an elevator from the Undead Parish,
and suddenly finding yourself back in Firelink Shrine. So here’s hoping that, one day, From Software
might revisit this very special flavour of world design that it showed, in Lordran. Hey! Thanks for watching. This is a one-off episode so please
don’t expect future videos on the world design of Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls 3 or Bloodborne or whatever. Never say never, but it’s not something
I’m planning right now. Instead, I’ll be tackling a different franchise
for Boss Keys season 2. I’ll see you then. Thanks so much to my Patrons for making this sort of content possible.

66 comments

  • Benjy Huburt

    I rewatch this video way to much

    Reply
  • Azure Fuentes

    the biggest miracle is on switch

    Reply
  • Joshua Hale

    instant subscriber

    Reply
  • Chris Sakai

    Do a world design of Bloodborne! Love this!

    Reply
  • Syonix __

    I can handle a gank spank but when I’m on a narrow path getting shot by arrows that’s bullshit

    Reply
  • joster M.

    one of my favorite sections of dark souls 3 is the cathedral of the deep, the whole place has just one bonfire, but it has so many shortcuts and connected paths that really one bonfire is all you need, and that really reminded me of dark souls 1.

    Reply
  • Charsept

    It was very well designed.

    Reply
  • Anthony D. Green

    On the difficulty curve flat-lining at a point I just want to make one point. Unlike every other RPG I've ever played in Dark Souls 1, leveling doesn't make you stronger. I played for a little > 250 hours (New Game++). My character was like level 167 when I finished but it wasn't actually much stronger than he was at ~50-70 as measured by my ability to kill. Sure, I had a bit more HP, I could one-hand my Zweihander, but he wasn't outright "stronger" with every level. I dumped most of my early points into maxing out Faith until I hit the soft-cap because I was a Cleric AND I used divine weapons. That's what made me effective at killing enemies, including bosses, because of my Greater Lightning spam. Leveling up everything else did give me minor incremental improvements but more than that I was just a wiser player. Even on a new file with none of my stuff I'm just… better than when I started. I like that your character doesn't just get an extra 100HP and more defense every time they level but that level just measures the # of choices you made to invest in stats for whatever reason (carry more equipment, run while heavy, run longer, one-hand heavy weapons). Those stats only indirectly make you strong enough to make bosses "easier" but upgrading your weapons and armor and primary weapon scaling stat is the only way you really get "stronger" and I LOVE that. It didn't make the Lord souls easier to collect it just meant that a Silver Knight can kill me as well at level 167 as he could at level 80, really. I can't afford to get sloppy and just laugh them off. I don't have anymore hitpoints than I did 30 levels ago. I can't lift a weapon any heavier than I could 100 levels ago. My magic isn't doing anymore damage than it did 75 levels ago. I actually liked being able to say I didn't get passively stronger at all. And Artorias and Manus made me feel that… HARD!

    Reply
  • tom wylie

    Very nice video, thank you

    Reply
  • Sgt Snubull

    Great video. Thought I was crazy for seeing dark souls as a love letter to games like Metroid and Zelda but it absolutely is. A modern game built upon the legacy of classic challenging games but one that still manages to feel unique despite its inspirations. While all soulsbourne games are great. OG dark souls has a special feel to it. Lighting in a bottle for sure.

    Reply
  • CaliforniaHP

    Link to the Past as an influence aha no surprise. Such a great game, I love it and that Dark Souls was influenced by it

    Reply
  • Nirual86

    Fast travel being unlocked later on is fine after you already got a good feeling about how the whole map is connected. The only issue I see here is that its probably giving players too many options to warp, it should probably be just one in each major area.

    I really like the system AM2R added in that regard. It's not exactly fast travel, you still need to make it to one of the tubes or the central hub once you get to it, and you kinda need to figure out which tube leads where so its still an effort, but certainly more convenient when you want to revisit those areas for item-hunting.

    Reply
  • DQSpider

    "The best way to play is slowly and defensively" ha ha hahaaa, hahahahahahaaaaaaa

    Reply
  • aaron losey

    Haha i can finally come back and watch this video. Worth it.

    Reply
  • Jan Diether Valero

    how Dark Souls has even more in common with Zelda than you might think

    Me: Other than a silent MC that smashes pots???

    Reply
  • bananafishbones

    One little critique I have has to do with your comments on the Lower Undead Burg door. The item description of the key tells you exactly where the door it opens is.

    Reply
  • Daniel Didit

    Maybe developers should stop trying to make Soulslikes and make more Soulsvanias.

    Reply
  • BleachBasket108

    You can roll into most of the illusionary walls instead of wasting weapon durability by smacking them

    Reply
  • Fábio Reale

    Most people don't think about it, but you don't need the master key to skip Taurus. The alternative is going trough New Londo. This does, however, require to kill the sealer.

    Reply
  • kfuffle

    I'm pretty new to these souls games I've just completed DS1 now I'm playing DS2 and well to sum it up DS1 made me feel like I was playing Metroid Prime … DS2 makes me feel like I'm playing Metroid Prime 2 …. I didn't hate prime 2 it just wasn't a patch on the original … A good game but it became a chore and DS2 is fast becoming a chore

    Reply
  • Jonas 1994

    I think Dark Souls 1 should either have all bonfires warpable or have no warp option at all. The inconsistent nature of the design hurts two types of people: those who want fast multiplayer experience and people who enjoy the overall world design.

    Reply
  • Christopher

    Thank you Dark Souls

    Reply
  • Umbra Dread

    Could you do a video on ds2/3 or Bloodborne?

    Reply
  • Nicholas Steel

    The best thing about the Fast Warp mechanic? It's entirely optional! You don't have to use it! You can quite literally ignore it and walk everywhere! (same with Dark Souls 2, 3, Bloodborne etc.)

    Reply
  • Gonzalo Zúñiga

    Where are the spanish subs???

    Reply
  • CrashSable

    What is the point in having levelling mechanics if you're just going to make the bosses and areas scale to your level? Beasting through Lost Izalith because it's the last area you went to is the game working as intended. If you didn't want that, then you should have played a more linear game or played one without levelling mechanics at all.

    Reply
  • Psycho Path

    Now I wanna see an episode about the world design of sekiro, as you put the image of the teaser at the end of this!

    Reply
  • Peter .Cartwright

    I half agree about the issue with the second half having a flat difficulty curve. You do level up more and more without bosses getting harder per se, but each area has has it's own challenges. Some people will face TotG asap to get it over with, or find it easy, whereas I wait until after Bed of Chaos so I can grab the sunlight maggot that lights up the area. Each area has it's own benefits too – pyromancers will prefer to take on the chaos ruins early to get pyromancies, whereas miracle users may prefer to get to Nito.
    Difficulty is flat but the order you tackle them in makes a massive difference

    Reply
  • Front Swine

    Nice video, mentions everything we love about the original DS.

    Reply
  • Jared Zett

    They should make an HD remake of this game

    Reply
  • Paul McCollum

    I feel like I need either a map or a fast travel. My main problem with ds is that I literally can't remember every area each time I pick it up.

    Reply
  • Kalinho_PL

    DS design is magnificent and horrible at the same time. I think it demands too much from a player ( that wants to play other games and has life :p )but at the same time it generates exceptional amount of satisfaction once you git gut. This vision and development stubbornness is very polarising but I guess it is what you need to be a trendsetting, legendary game. I think Sekiro suffers even more from this design but I love it even more.

    Reply
  • Never No

    Is it just me, or does the level design of Dark Souls remind anyone else of the Pajama Sam series?

    Reply
  • Nekid Snek9000

    I completely missed the depths until later in my playthrough. One of the most incredible games ever made. If only destiny or something could be more like it. Multiplayer almost halo 3 like

    Reply
  • Red

    I keep clicking on this video because its about Dark Souls, immediately see "This video contains spoilers", and then click off because I haven't played the games but want to.
    Please help Mark, I've made this error roughly six times already!

    Reply
  • Robert Sandlin

    today, roblox is broken with simulator games.

    Reply
  • Jackson Almodobar

    I know this is an old video, but hearing you describe this brings to mind a format that would better enable a steady difficulty curve without compromising choice. A bottom heavy bell curve. You start of modestly linear in the first few zones, then once the basics are grasped, multiple pathways to new zones are unlocked, each focusing on a different aspect of gameplay. This would be the point of widest player choice. Eventually these separate zones will consolidate into fewer mid game zones that ramp up the difficulty, but still offer some choice. The number of new zones decrees as you go further until you reach the ultimate few chalanges that test all the skills that you first learned in the various first stages, but were refined in the less numerals second stages.

    Reply
  • 杨过

    BGM中有个奇怪的音符一直在循环播放,听起来不太舒服

    Reply
  • Deyvson Moutinho Caliman

    First time I played Dark Souls I avoided the Capra Demon by sheer luck, and then when I finally found it I killed it very easily. After a while I read and watched about people saying it was too hard. But there are a few problems with the game branching out too much, I found Ornstein and Smough too early and I had to get to their level to kill then. It took a lot of effort as it happens to most players. But once I could beat then places I had not gone yet, which were quite many, became a little too easy. In Dark Souls II they tried to branch a little, but it had a problem where if you went in the same direction and forced yourself that way, which was not that hard, since the game was easier than the first one, we would become so strong that when we finally went to the other path we could easily beat it. Still this is a minor problem considering the amazing level design a game offers when they go a non-linear path. I also didn't have much trouble in Blight Town, that people complain so much, probably because I went there later than most. Catacombs were quite easy also, those skeletons on wheels didn't give me much trouble. But Ornstein and Smough and Seath sucked the life out of me, Seath becase I didn't have itens to cure curse and because he is too far away to go back. One problem I found with Dark Souls I is that only two places are good to level up, instead of leveling up more organically I basically always had to go to that gate that costs 20k souls do open or World of Ariamis later on, and I didn't have patience to kill the same enemies over and over.

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  • SunnyBoi

    What I loved about dark souls was when me and my brother would play. Whenever we watched each other and saw something happen (like being thrown into the painting) to the other, we would always ask "How did you do that?" and the answer would always be "I don't know"

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  • Benjamin Lee

    I think that the fast travel is necessary for a game as deadly as Dark Souls. While you do get significantly stronger as the game goes on, your health doesn't keep up in the same way, and it's easy for an ambush or simple carelessness to take off loads of your health if you aren't prepared. If the only late-game shortcuts were through the Valley of Drakes, I probably would have given up, because even at the intended level those Drakes wrecked my shit. And can you imagine having to re-run Sen's Fortress in order to revisit Anor Londo?

    If you want players to get a feel for the area while keeping the travel difficulty down to something sane and reasonable, a better choice would be to build areas like the Cathedral of the Deeps in DS3. That area has one bonfire, but there are three different shortcuts that lead back to it, which you unlock as you make progress through the area. That keeps the sense of an interconnected world without forcing you to traverse the entire area every time you need to revisit it.

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  • lynchinjesus

    Should be 15 seconds saying controls and camera..

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  • This statement is false Nothing is true

    It took me twenty hours to find blight town in my first play through and I had the master key

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  • FBI SHILL

    Just check out that like to dislike ratio. Woah

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  • jake smith

    bold of you to assume i wasn't roasted alive by the dragon

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  • DontSigh

    Finally found someone who can articulate why I have such a problem with the instant warping and the disconnected hubs!!! Everything you said about the backtracking, finding your way around, the scattered blacksmiths and merchants, the tactical element to where you go and what bonfires you set your respawn at, it's exactly how I feel. These things make it feel like you're inhabiting a world, rather than just going through a level, and it's a feeling that hasn't been replicated in any other soulsborne game for me.

    I do think that the lategame warping is more the result of running out of development time (and other factors, most likely) than the cause of a lesser design, though. And getting the lordvessel is a neat and very satisfying narrative moment, so I don't mind it so much.

    Fast travel alone makes the world less immersive, but if you can level up at the bonfire at least you don't have to interrupt the flow of the game by warping back to level up every ten minutes. This shows in the second half of Dks but also in Sekiro, which does the fast travel thing but at least lets you do basic leveling up right where you are.

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  • Jiffi

    god i miss old dark souls

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  • Lucan Good

    That joke at 4:24 is sooo under appreciated lol

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  • Eduardo Gutierrez

    It's world design is still better than Dark Souls 3. I hope From truly can make Elder Rings very multi linear. Also alternative bosses and final bosses.

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  • Mario Wolf

    Eh I remember old times, different games but required paper and pen, planing etc. Trying this and that thinking how to finish some quests while interet wasnt a thing to help You out.
    If I ever made a game, somehow I will try to get to point were there is gonna be so much to do, discover, mechanics, conections that it will take quite time to get it discovered and even if not everyone will want to tell about it but more help guilds, allies.
    So much planing🙌🏻

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  • Nova Void

    Granted you CAN take any path you like, but the level of your character and loot tiering in general (you can't use the Large Titanite found in the Tomb of Giants until you've upgraded your gear sufficiently with Titanite from prior "low level" areas) heavily influences your path to the point that you have to be a very stubborn or stupid person to do things in a sub-optimal order.

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  • Ultra Cactus

    This video is the Dark Souls of Boss Keys.

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  • James 1137

    Sekiros level design is there best one yet in my opinion. Cant wait to see what they do next. Sekiro added and improved so much and the world design is such a perfect improvement from what they were trying with dark souls. As much as I love just new styles from them I would love a new medieval dark fantasy one. Like dark souls but something new again. They really do seem to perfect things each game. (Outside of dark souls 2&3 of course but that's expected and fine)

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  • James 1137

    I played dark souls for about 6 months without internet and got truly lost in it. When I got online again and found people like ENB it opened up a whole new world for me in many ways. Reminded me of a kid playing resident evil 2 for seemingly years before truly uncovering everything. It's there worste game now imo gameplay wise but it will always mean more than most to me 👍

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  • Alexis Medina

    7:50 this sounds nice, but a Dark Souls without fast travel would be a pain in the ass. Even DS1 limited fast travel (no travel to blightown which is an important area, for example) was annoying at times.

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  • Charlie Ricker

    Kinda tired of everyone hating on the warping. When you have played the game more than once or twice, warping is incredibly welcome. I understand that it does kill some of the exploration fun in later entries, but it also makes it more streamlined, and each area still does have lot's of exploration, even with the warping. I dunno, people are quick to hate on it, but I kinda think the games would not be as repayable if you had to always trek everywhere. It's fun to explore, it's not fun to run the same paths over and over and over.

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  • Massive Douche

    That elevator ride back to firelink shine will forever be burned in my mind as the most mind-blowing thing I've ever experienced in a game. It all just made so much sense all of a sudden.

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  • DarkApocalyptiaX

    The bed of chaos is honestly the EASIEST boss in the game. Just throw yourself two fire bombs at its arms, then go for the kill and it is dead in less than 20 seconds!

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  • roberto gurrola

    I think finding the bell below was fantastic, I actually beat every boss In the starting area because I got lost looking for it because I thought "there's no way the bell is over there" all the paths were fairly straightforward and even the forgettable doors were easy to find once you naturally passed them again

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  • Silk Worm

    4:11 That's a secret route???

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  • Ryo Davis

    One of my favorite things about Dark Souls is that it teaches you to belong in its world. It starts off "hard" because you don't yet know the rules. And when Lordran kills you, it's saying "You're not one of mine. Not *yet*. Let me teach you." And through repeated efforts, it teaches you to understand itself. I'd argue that most of the things that feel challenging on a first playthrough are a cakewalk in successive runs. Lordran isn't trying to mess with you… it's trying to show you the environment you're looking to blend into, similarly to the clown fish/anemone interaction.

    Once it's taught you how to be a part of it, Lordran is a very welcoming world, and the magic of the first half makes it an absolute joy to explore.

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  • SkaiaSkull

    If you have the master key it's actually quite easy to get to Blighttown. And it's the easier way in my opinion. Firelink: New Londo: Valley of Drakes: and Blighttown is right there.

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  • Silver

    Pretty sure you can only do 4 kigs after o n s, so itd be cool if you could maybe slightly change your slide? Guess thatd be too much work tho

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  • William Hitchcock

    I never had an issue figuring out where to go, i was excited figure it out.

    I have mixed feelings about fast travel. Firstly I hate that you start with fast traveling in the newer dark souls. Traversing the world was a big part of the game. Any time I wanted to go do anything while I figured out what to do and how to do it I felt like I had to gear up for a journey. I have no problem with bonfire warping later in the game though.

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  • Johnny Bravo

    4:36 WREKT

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  • Hydra Mori

    Welcome to "g"

    Reply

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