With E3 season nearly upon us, rumors have already started swirling around what will and won’t be revealed on the conference floor. So, with the happiest gaming season almost here, why not add our own fuel to the speculation pyre? What do I think (or hope?) will see the light of dawn this month? The only thing a “good hunter” should hope to see…the next hunt in Bloodborne II . But really how likely is that?
Bloodborne released in March 2015 for the PlayStation 4. It was a time when some might have said Sony was in need of a killer exclusive title for its flagship platform. Sure, we had Killzone: Shadow Fall and inFAMOUS Second Son, but compared to some of the promised games like Uncharted 4 or The Last Guardian, these early exclusives paled in comparison. So, in a way, Bloodborne was there just when Sony needed it. It was a game developed for a niche market that somehow grew into a beast that even Dark Souls critics could appreciate.
Personally, I can’t claim to be a Souls fan. While the core concept has always intrigued me, my two-hour commitment to Dark Souls was not what I considered an enjoyable experience. When I reached the bridge just after meeting Solaire of Astora, only to be burnt to a crisp for attempting to cross, I decided to put the game down and I never picked it back up. It’s possible that I played Dark Souls at a point in my personal gaming history when I was looking for something a little less brutal. For some reason, the style and combat didn’t really resonate with me either: it’s a story you’ve likely heard from many gamers, but it’s no less true in my case. I had given up on the Souls franchise: I was completely uninterested in it. Then, I saw Bloodborne.
Ever since discovering Yharnam’s dark streets and surrounding areas, I’ve been in love with the horrific setting established in Bloodborne. It doesn’t take long to appreciate how cohesively From Software pulled together environments and to utterly fall in love with its fully realized world. There are few games that I’ve played quite as many times and even fewer that have kept me constantly reconsidering what I believe to be the lore and central themes that are most true. Whether it was diving into a New Game Plus playthrough, helping a friend to attain the Platinum Trophy, or tackling the beefy The Old Hunters downloadable expansion, these gothic streets easily pulled me away from every other 2015 release and dominated my early gaming experience with the PlayStation 4. To say little else on the topic, I don’t claim to be a Souls fan, but I’m hopelessly addicted to blood.
The Souls franchise essentially started on the PlayStation 3. The genre was born with Demon’s Souls but, for several reasons, that game never completely took off. It’s likely this is a result of Sony’s early lack of confidence in the title, which caused it to publish the game only in Japan (ATLUS later took over to publish the game in North America and Bandai Namco published it in Europe). By Shuhei Yoshida’s own admission, Sony “definitely dropped the ball” when it handled the publishing of Demon’s Souls. Although Demon’s Souls remains a Sony-owned IP, developing further installments for it became unlikely after From Software had migrated its efforts into a separate, more successful third party “Souls” series in Dark Souls. After that, if Sony wanted From Software to develop a new game to make up for its past misstep, it would have to be a new IP. Thus, a new game was born from the old blood with Bloodborne.
We can now say that Bloodborne was a commercial success after having sold over one million copies within two weeks of launch, and over two million copies seven months after launch. Bloodborne cannot be denied as one of Sony’s hottest new IPs, which is why I don’t think the game will languish as a one-off. After all, why go through the trouble in reviving the notion of a Souls PlayStation exclusive if not to make further use of it? Sony saw the Dark Souls series’ success as a realization of what Demon’s Souls could have been. Beyond trying to make up for the past mishandling of a single game, the company might now see a Bloodborne series as its ultimate second-chance.
Of course, it’s impossible to talk about the future of any installment in the Souls-verse without first acknowledging From Software’s involvement or potential lackthereof. After the launch of Dark Souls 3, series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki said that he will no longer be involved in the development of Souls titles, at least for the foreseeable future. However, Miyazaki-san also stated that he would not oppose “another staff member” on the From Software team developing a new game in the genre. Will Bloodborne II be developed by From Software? It’s not outside the realm of possibility, but I won’t hold my breath.
For now, the question of whether or not From Software is involved in the development of Bloodborne II may just be irrelevant anyways. Besides giving fans a level of confidence in the new game, it may not be worth Sony’s time or money to court an unwilling developer, especially if that means waiting until a time when From Software has rekindled its interest. No, Sony is much more likely to simply hand this one off to Bloodborne co-developer SIE Japan Studio and maybe hire one of Miyazaki’s staff as a consultant.
I think that at this point it’s apparent that the probability of an eventual Bloodborne II is high. But, why now? Why would it be revealed at E3 2017? At Sony’s E3 2016 conference, it unleashed a powerhouse of exclusive announcements. Following that up this year will be nigh impossible, which is why most of this conference will probably consist of gameplay trailers further revealing what we already know to be on its way: God of War, Spider-Man, Detroit: Become Human, Days Gone, etc. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong, but there can’t be much more Sony could possibly have up its sleeves, and without that new, unexpected reveal, there will inevitably be gamers who are left disappointed. There needs to be something at the end of that conference to show the future of the PlayStation 4 still has some splash left in it, and here’s what I think it is.
Just as Bloodborne did in 2015, when PlayStation 4’s exclusive content seemed to be in a state of early doldrums, when Sony needed something to show its platform was dynamic and worth the investment, I believe that its sequel will be revealed at this conference to occupy the jaw-dropping surprise space. When the show is at its end and the stage goes dark, Bloodborne II will usher in another nightmare.
As we near E3, what do you want to see the most at this year’s show? What’s your dream scenario? Be sure to let us know in the comments. Lastly, keep an eye out over the coming days as some fellow DualShockers writers will be sharing their biggest dreams for E3 2017 as well in our ongoing series.