Sekiro, From Software's next game, subverts nearly everything we've come to expect from Dark Souls, wrote our Steven following a lengthy hands-off demonstration at E3. In conversation with Eurogamer, company president Hidetaka Miyazaki explored these nuances further—in relation to the dev's partnership with Activision, its single character focus and class options, and its tutorials.
The Dark Souls series—and its Demon's Souls and Bloodborne console cousins—operate on a strict 'learn by doing' basis. As detailed in Steven's linked article above, Sekiro breaks from Soulsborne conventions in a number of ways—something which From's collaboration with Activision has helped with. Miyazaki tells EG that Sekiro better explains its systems to the player, and that this is something it's received "much-needed support" with from the publisher.
"It also depends on that level of comfort and playability that comes with the rest of the game," says Miyazaki. "These things generally aren't our forte, but we do need some support, and Activision is providing that. One reason we're working with Activision is they hold our creative vision in the highest regard. From has editorial and directive control over the game and the game's contents; after you press the start button, it's all up to the From team.
"That said, we do need help with some things and we are getting advice from Activision, but they do 100 percent respect our vision and they do not want to mess with that core fanbase and that core gameplay concept."
One of Dark Souls' most redeeming features—and to a lesser extent Dark Souls 3's—is its fluid setting that effortlessly interconnects each area to the next. Much of the game's narrative unfolds relevant to each zone, which is something Sekiro aims to reflect despite its character-driven story.
"It's a character-driven story this time, but it's not a story-driven game," adds Miyazaki. "The player isn't going to be led down one linear path and have the story spoon-fed to them by many many cutscenes or anything like that. That aspect of From Software's previous games, of gradually picking the pieces up of a fragmented story and building those layers, building that depth, figuring things out for yourself, that's still very much intact in this game."
Another striking sidestep Sekiro makes from the Souls series is its single-class focus. Miyazaki defends this decision by suggesting players must now manage multiple ninja traits when overcoming bosses and obstacles. He suggests attacking opponents head-on is as feasible as stealth—and that a hybrid approach to combat can help players identify their enemies' weaknesses.
Eurogamer's chat with Miyazaki is absolutely worth reading in full. Do so in this direction.