What’s Next For FromSoftware After Elden Ring

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The SoulsBorne sequels might just be lying ahead of Armored Core’s reincarnation.

In a time when video games are either overrun by battle royale tropes or riddled with microtransactions, FromSoftware created a fever for every masochist’s favorite genre. Soulslike is a term that originated when FromSoftware built Demon’s Souls for the PlayStation 3, and that same formula is perfected today, as much as it can be for now, as Elden Ring.

Over a whopping 20 million copies sold, and a game of the year win later, Elden Ring stands atop FromSoftware’s arsenal of SoulsBornes, and there’s still much more in store for it. 

However, each title the studio releases soon becomes loomed over by the expectations of what innovation they will manifest next. And that leads us to what lies ahead for the acclaimed Japanese AAA studio. It’s apparent fans would prefer Sekiro 2, Bloodborne 2, or Dark Souls 4 over anything. Oh, and speaking of, official insights are already out on what FromSoftware’s cooking up for later.

FromSoftware’s Brewing Armored Core VI & Shadow of the Erdtree

Only months after Elden Ring was fresh out of the oven and continuing to bask in the spotlight, FromSoftware surprised everyone at The Game Awards 2022 by dropping the reveal trailer for Armored Core VI. Shocking news for some, but for long-time followers of the developer, not so much.

FromSoftware’s President, Hidetaka Miyazaki, confirmed in 2016 after the fresh release of Dark Souls 3 that a new Armored Core entry was in the early stages of development (thanks Kotaku), and considering how long it’s been since, the timing’s just right. But it wasn’t “all hands on deck” with Armored Core VI. 

The studio has also promised to deliver Elden Ring’s first DLC expansion, “Shadow of the Erdtree“, in the near future. Back-to-back launches aren’t uncharted territory for FromSoftware, so despite there being a couple of projects in development, quality is assured.

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Armored Core’s going Dark Souls

Armored core VI’s trailer

Armored Core VI’s reportedly a soft reboot of the fan-favorite mecha series that’ll have a spoonful of the classic SoulsBorne DNA instilled into it. Whereas Shadow of the Erdtree, as per my sources, the cult following of Elden Ring, indicates that one of the Lands Between’s Demigods, Miquella, will be of particular interest in the DLC.

These two releases lock out any chance of a Sekiro 2, Bloodborne 2, and Dark Souls 4 in 2023. FromSoftware’s 2023 slate is booked, and maybe even early 2024 considering when Shadow of the Erdtree launches, but now let’s talk business.

The Rabbit Hole of Dark Souls

There was initially little confidence in the Souls genre being successful at any point in time. The boss fights are always insanely tough, the worlds are always gloomy, and on top of that, you play as the weakling in every single game. Most people in 2010 would’ve expected the category to die by now, but it’s never been better.

If I were to credit the games that pushed the genre to such heights, then I’d dub them Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3. The final nail in the coffin was the 2019 game of the year award snagged by Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and then the announcement of George R.R. Martin‘s inclusion in Elden Ring. 

But now they’ve come to pass, and everyone seems to be asking which SoulsBorne game comes after FromSoftware gives Elden Ring its send-off. There are two sides to this story.

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Miyazaki isn’t a fan of sequels

When Miyazaki first hinted at an Armored Core game in development in 2016, that wasn’t the only news he let slip back then. He also stated that:

“First of all, this is not the final product for the Dark Souls series……. For me, Dark Souls 3 is the end.”

That roughly translates to Miyazaki confirming he won’t return to direct a future entry, but if any other company member has a story worth telling, they can, by all means, do so. 

These statements have aged rather well as, years later, no new installment in the series has happened. But it has been on hold for quite a while, and now discussing the possibility of Dark Souls 4 wouldn’t be unsound.

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There hasn’t been a SoulsBorne sequel since 2016

Come to think of it, it’s not just the launch of Dark Souls 3 alone. Since its release in 2016, FromSoftware hasn’t made a single SoulsBorne sequel. Armored Core VI is back from the dead a decade later, but it isn’t being led by Miyazaki. Instead, Sekiro’s lead combat designer, Masaru Yamamura, is helming the reincarnation of the mecha-driven franchise.

On one front, Miyazaki has shown a preference to work on bringing more fantasies to life with new original IPs rather than continuing the same lore. That would also mean that possibilities for Sekiro 2, Bloodborne 2, and even Elden Ring 2 have suddenly become darker. But on the other hand, he wouldn’t mind other company directors finishing what he started. 

Pick Your Poison: Sekiro 2, Bloodborne 2, Dark Souls 4

FromSoftware’s rise to prominence in the gaming space has been like a page straight out of a fairy tale. They did the unthinkable by making a genre built on brutality, something gamers can’t get enough of. You’re either one of those waiting for their next original or those who’re waiting for their next sequel.

But before I dive further into the bottomless abyss that is fanboying over whether we’ll see Bloodborne 2 or Dark Souls 4 in the near future, I must get one thing about FromSoftware out of the way.

FromSoftware’s penchant for everything grim

Demon’s Souls, Sekiro, Armored Core, and absolutely every other game by FromSoftware all retain a common denominator, a proclivity for the grim and ghastly. Unlike Tango Gameworks, who just broke their cycle of making survival-horror games only by shadow-dropping Hi-Fi Rush, an upbeat musical game, FromSoftware doesn’t seem likely to pull the same stunt.

Speaking to IGN, Miyazaki stated why the studio always prefers to tell a darker story than one that is more “family-friendly“.

“I would say there are two main reasons why we tend towards these apocalyptic settings. One is purely direct to taste and the preference of the game director and game developers.” 

Miyazaki stated why the studio always

The second:

“a lively, bright setting is a little bit beyond FromSoftware’s capability or experiences as a developer.”

Knowing how true the team at the studio is to its word, a change in dynamic with a new IP that’s jovial looks unlikely, so the eerie way it is then.

Prospect for Elden Ring 2

Two projects are being led at FromSoftware right now, and both are under different directors. Hidetaka Miyazaka’s a connoisseur of innovation, so his Shadows of the Erdtree project is another original. Once the DLC is out, there are only so many options as to what route Miyazaki takes.

While it’s easy to say Miyazaki will probably stick to creating new worlds rather than continuing old ones, Elden Ring’s success isn’t ignorable in the slightest. It’s the studio’s biggest launch to date. It won 2022’s best game of the year and remains a best-selling title every month.

Not making Elden Ring 2 is what would be beyond belief. Elden Ring was bigger and bolder than anything FromSoftware has cultivated so far, which is quite something to say, as who would’ve thought an open-world SoulsBorne game was possible? 

The fanbase for Elden Ring is unbelievably huge; they wouldn’t ever mind a follow-up title and would go bonkers with the pre-orders. It’s a premeditated success story, so even if Miyazaki doesn’t like the idea, FromSoftware might choose otherwise.

On the off chance Elden Ring 2 never happens, then we’ve got another original Miyazaki IP on the horizon. Considering the studio’s love for everything dismal, it’d be a brand of just that.

The sequels we’ve all been waiting for

It’s not just Elden Ring 2 that could happen. FromSoftware’s always tight-lipped about a dozen different games in the works. Masaru Yamamura’s directorial debut is coming up with Armored Core VI, and after that, my guess is he’ll be the one to champion the SoulsBorne fans’ demands for a sequel.

Suppose Yamamura does indeed direct a game after Armored Core VI. In that case, I’m confident it’ll be a sequel to one of the studio’s previous titles, with the obvious choice being Sekiro 2 since he was the lead combat designer on the first installment.

Bloodborne’s been out of the picture the longest, but Sekiro was also received exceptionally well. The dice could roll in favor of either, so it’s a raffle of a kind, really. Still, if I had to put all my eggs in one basket, then the likelihood of the next Souls sequel would be Sekiro 2 firstthen Bloodborne 2, and finally, followed by Dark Souls 4.

Regardless of which sequel gets greenlit, it’ll be the one we’ve always been waiting for, as all of them are what we’ve been waiting for. In a way, every FromSoftware game acts as a spiritual successor, so even if it’s a new IP, I’m sure SoulsBorne fans wouldn’t rebel.

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