Alden Ring’s open world shouldn’t be the norm for the future of Soft Souls games

October 20, 2023 by No Comments

The main points of the story

  • Alden Ring’s open world, while fun, doesn’t have the same charm as Dark Souls 1’s linear levels.
  • Although it doesn’t have an open world, there’s still a lot of freedom in DS1, thanks to its interconnectivity.
  • The best parts of Alden Ring are legacy dungeons, designed around this principle.

When I first played the Dark Souls series, a thought always crept into my mind. I couldn’t help but wonder how FromSoftware’s grueling dark fantasy series felt like it would be perfect for Open world game. Flash forward to 2022, and after years of hype and anticipation, the gaming community finally got the keys Alden Ring.

With its release, FromSoft basically answered the question I’ve always had. Alden Ring was successful in many ways. It featured a huge and diverse open world that always had tons of interesting encounters. But while this is a fun experiment, I don’t think it should be the norm for fans of the next Souls game. So, without further ado, let me tell you why.

FromSoftware excels at linear level design

If you take a quick look at FromSoftware’s previous titles it will become clear that the company is much more experienced with Linear level design. Demon’s Souls, the Souls series, and even Bloodborne and Sekiro have fairly linear levels. However, despite this, none of these games tend to feel formulaic or a chore to get through.

Going back to the original Dark Souls, the game essentially pioneered an entire genre. With Lies of P and Lords of the Fallen recently released, the impact left on the gaming industry by Dark Souls cannot be underestimated. Part of the reason why Dark Souls worked so well is because of the linear world design that FromSoftware had.

Crossing the narrow streets of the Borg did not dieor making your way down Blythetown They are specific experiences that work as well as they do because they were created with a focus on linear transition. Had the game been open world, the careful journey designed for the player might not have worked as well. Such level design also works with the combat and difficulty of the Souls games.

The journey to the bottom of Laytown.

Over time, these games have become much easier for the player. Alden Ring in particular Allows summoningBut in general, the idea was to deal with the levels Trial and error. Linear levels reinforce this idea because they limit your options more. You often have to walk the same paths until you are confident in your ability to take down the enemies that stand in your way.

Linked level design can still have a lot of freedom

Just because Dark Souls 1 doesn’t let you roam wherever you want from the start like Alden Ring doesn’t mean players don’t have agency. When you start your journey in Dark Souls 1, you will most likely end up in the Undead Burg. But once there, the game’s truly linear yet interconnected design shines. There are tons of tracks available to players that can help the games feel fresh every time.

The connectivity of dark souls
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Take, for example, you Taurus demon. While most players might consider him to be the first main boss of the game that you have to kill, the fact is that he is completely optional. Depending on how you do your route, you might not even run into a guy. There is also you master keyA A gift starts You can choose Dark Souls 1. It makes the game even more connected. This key allows you to unlock additional tracks in the first half of the game.

A Taurus demon stands by the tower where players encounter it.
A Taurus demon stands by the tower where players encounter it.

Players have an incredible amount of freedom in how they want to tackle DS1. This is something that still amazes me in game design. Let’s also not forget the feeling of encountering an area, and understanding it leads back to a place you’ve already been. It has truly become a staple of the Souls series. And it only really works when you have expertly structured linear levels that flow into each other well.

An Alden ring is at its best when it is linear

Alden Ring’s open world certainly has its share Cool moments. I can’t forget when I came across this moving mausoleum. Or even open the chest in Limgrave to enter the Clyde. But there’s no denying, the game is really at its best when you get to areas like Stormveil Castle and Lindel’s Royal Beer. Legacy dungeons are isolated from the open world and act as their own sandboxes.

These areas are the closest Alden Ring comes to the linear level design of the original Souls games. However, in many ways, this time they are even better. Getting through these areas through trial and error is a pretty familiar feeling to long-time Sousl fans. And the legacy dungeons, being much more linear than the rest of the open world, still have a Lots of choice Get involved in the ways you choose.

Only good parts are legacy dungeons and some bosses
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It just goes to show that future games don’t have to be just long corridors, even if FromSoftware goes the more linear route. There are many options for the developer to add freedom to the player, even while creating more linear set pieces and dungeons, like the ones we got in Alden Ring.

Imagine if instead of having multiple isolated litter boxes that are populated Caves and similar mines, FromSoftware put their efforts into creating another bunch of legacy dungeons. We would get to see Raya Lucaria With depth like the beer. Not to mention, the missing legacy dungeon in Caelid could have been added as well.

In my opinion, it will make the game much more interesting. Because the similar open world, while fun at first, tends to get repetitive by the end. A tighter series of legacy dungeons leading from one to the next could have made Alden Ring a shorter experience. But in the end, It will be one that has a much more consistent amount of content.

An open world doesn’t always work well with FromSoftware’s design

It has to be said that Alden Ring’s sandbox design doesn’t really work well with the more traditional elements. From navigation to quests, something in the game tends to feel off. Let’s take the Many lines in the game as an example. FromSoftware’s level design may be linear, but their story is anything but.

Players will never be forced to interact with NPCs in the Souls games. So getting to know them and being involved in their story lines is a choice you make yourself. there is No quest logs To track your progress, or anything more than vague suggestions on how to keep moving forward on the journey you’re currently on.

While this style of quest design worked with the Souls series, its cracks really start to show in Alden Ring. In Dark Souls, you’re more likely to encounter NPCs. This is thanks to the linear design. The developers had an idea of ​​the general path a player might take, even with the Connectivity This allowed them to place important NPCs in places that players couldn’t miss. However, the same cannot be said for Alden Ring.

ER NPCs have a strange tendency to stand in the middle of nowhere in the open world. This makes it very difficult to track them down yourself. Not to mention properly completing their tasks. Most players apply following a guide Step by step to complete even one quest.

Bok Balden Ring near the bush where he hides in Limegrave.
Bok Balden Ring near the bush where he hides in Limgrave.

That’s not to say that this kind of non-linear style of questing is bad in and of itself. But obviously it just doesn’t fit Alden Ring’s type of games. I mean, for a game that focuses on exploration and the open world, it does feel bad that you can mess up certain quests, just because You killed a boss you weren’t supposed to.

The Dark Souls formula should be perfect

One of the big reasons I want FromSoftware to go back to their linear designed levels is to perfect the DS1 formula. Even more than DS2 and DS3, Dark Souls 1 has a complex amount of connectivity. This is most likely seen in the first half of the game, right up until you clear Blighttown. Everything from the Burg of the Undead to Lighttown is so amazingly designed.

And it would be a shame if FromSoftware doesn’t give another chance to such a design. Especially since the second half of Dark Souls 1 is sorely lacking in that regard. Once you clean Anor Londo, the game becomes incredibly disjointed. Players can clear the remaining areas in any order they want. But none of them lead to each other. Plus, they tend to feel a little overwhelmed.

Clearly the developers ran into timing issues. But can you imagine what the game could have looked like if the second half also delivered the same quality as the first? With a big studio like FromSoftware now, I think it’s about time they give the fans a full A game of connected souls. Especially one that calls back to the amazing level design of the first two areas of Dark Souls 1.

Why did future FromSoft games release connected maps?
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Not only can this game build on everything the studio has learned since then, but I think it has the potential to be just as revolutionary to the industry as Dark Souls 1 was at the time. There’s no telling what FromSoftware’s next game will be after Elden Ring. But I’m sure the fans will definitely be with A spiritual successor which emphasizes the interconnected design of Dark Souls 1 but on a linear level.

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