Earlier this week, rumors of a Sekiro 2 announcement at The Game Awards hit the internet. The source was tenuous at best (4Chan with no credible backing), but it got people talking. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was a hit for FromSoftware – the samurai-inspired action RPG having scooped multiple Game of the Year accolades, not least at The Game Awards 2019 – and so, you'd have to assume, fans of the original would welcome a sequel with open arms.
I certainly would. But it just seems so unlikely at this stage. Elden Ring has since elevated both the action roleplaying genre and FromSoftware as a studio so much since its arrival in February, that, should the latter show face at The Game Awards at all, it'll surely do so with something Elden Ring-shaped tucked under its arm. Further tapping into the meteoric and abiding success of the Tarnished's tales in the Lands Between seems inevitable, and I don't see any sense in the devs offsetting or diluting the current tidal wave of hype with a follow-up to a game thought to be standalone. If FromSoftware is at The Game Awards next week, then Elden Ring DLC feels like a given. My question is: why can't we have the best of both worlds?
There's a moment in Dark Souls 3, deep within the Profaned Capital, that I'll never forget. It's not the blockbuster showdown with Yhorm the Giant, nor is it the bastard hard brawls with the Headless Gargoyles, or the unsettling wails of the Jailer Maidens. It's a quieter, incidental and easily missed meeting with Laddersmith Gilligan. We're told throughout the Dark Souls series that history is destined to repeat itself, and that the worlds of each game – Lordran, Drangleic and Lothric – are all interlinked. With each passing age, a new cycle begins to overwrite the last; which is why Anor Londo features in both DS1 and DS3 despite being set in different locations; why Demon Ruins has multiple lava-flooded variations; and why the likes of Darkroot Basin and the Smouldering Lake mirror Farron Keep and Lost Izalith to some degree.
Otherwise remembered as the silver-tongued but helpful chap who resides in Dark Souls 2's Majula, who helps you navigate that area's The Pit by selling you ladders, Laddersmith Gilligan's appearance in Dark Souls 3 is less pleasant. Deep within the Profaned Capital is an unremarkable ramshackle huddle of wooden platforms, each floor of which is linked by ladders of varying heights. On one floor near the top, a dead man lies splayed out on his back – and while it's unclear how he met his maker, the surrounding area is hardly short of nasties. Look a little closer, and you'll notice the man lies among several toppled ladders. Look a little closer still, and you realize the man is Laddersmith Gilligan.
In this interpretation of the world, Laddersmith Gilligan resides in the Profaned Capital. Much of Dark Souls' narrative (and indeed Elden Ring's) is speculative and open to interpretation, but keen lore-hunting players reckon Dark Souls 3 antagonist Pontiff Sulyvahn hired Gilligan to help navigate the awkward terrain in this area, before offing him once he'd served his purpose. In any event, the way this chance encounter with the deceased Gilligan is presented has stuck with me, forcefully epitomizing the idea that history in this universe is forever destined to repeat itself.
In Elden Ring, a similar, probably innocuous, possibly imagined, occurrence has also stuck with me. Caelid, the twisted, red-skied and corrupted sprawl east of Limgrave, is brimming with undead soldiers, and is best known as the setting for the last battle between General Radahn and Malenia. The fact that it's also marred by Scarlet Rot makes it a horrible place to be, but, I reckon it could have ties to the samurais of Elden Ring. The merchant who's set up shop in northern Caelid, for example, sells a full Land of Reeds armor set – the very set samurai classes begin the game with. By opening one of the locked cells in the nearby Gaol Cave – a location in the scarlet lake East of Fort Gael – you can also grab a mini-Katana-like blade, named Wakizashi, whose item description in-part reads: "a weapon unique to warriors of the Land of Reeds." And, within the Gael Tunnel – located on the border between Limgrave and Caelid – you can find a Cross-Naginata spear, and a fully-fledged Moonveil katana after offing the Magma Wyrm field boss.
Like Laddersmith Gilligan, all of this could simply suggest one poor samurai chap came a cropper in one of the Lands Between's most harrowing and deadly spots. But it could also mean something bigger. Perhaps the Land of Reeds, where the samurai hail from, is nearby – possibly to the east of the Lands Between itself. Maybe in the times before The Shattering event, the samurai of Elden Ring had a greater presence here in Caelid. Or, perhaps I've spent too long playing FromSoftware games that I feel compelled to interpret things that don't need interpreting at all.
In our Elden Ring DLC wishlist, we've speculated on what might be next for Elden Ring – within which we've earmarked new settings to explore, and the possibility of visiting the same world during a different timeline. For me, the Land of Reeds would fit that bill perfectly, digging into the samurai of Elden Ring and possibly using the aforementioned Caelid ties as a springboard. In the same way the demon race was examined in the background throughout Dark Souls 1, 2 and 3, I'd love to learn more about the samurai of Elden Ring. And so, while rumors of a Sekiro 2 announcement at next week's The Game Awards are almost certainly bullshit, the idea that something similar could pop up through the lens of Elden Ring would be just as welcomed.
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