FromSoftware's Dark Souls is a cult classic that helped pave the way for a new breed of action-RPGs way back in yonder 2011. Sure, Demon's Souls came first, but it was Dark Souls that spurred a generation of sequels, successors, and imitators we now often refer to - for better or worse - as "Soulslikes". But come May 9, the beloved game (or at least the PC version of it) will be lost to the embers, like so many lost... well, souls.
This is because Dark Souls Remastered, an upscaled and tweaked version of the original game plus its Artorias of the Abyss DLC, will be taking its place on Steam come May 25 - though owners of the original version will still be able to download and re-download their copy. Dark Souls Remastered is also coming to PS4, Xbox One, and later this year to Nintendo Switch, but right now the only confirmed de-listing is the PC version.
Publisher Bandai Namco announced the news as it simultaneously opened pre-orders for the remaster, and released this (admittedly cool) trailer:
"Okay, so what?" you may be thinking. "Dark Souls Remastered is everything the original had, but better, right?" Well, yes and no. The original Dark Souls was created by FromSoftware and directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki. But Miyazaki - now president of FromSoftware - is currently overseeing new projects. Dark Souls Remastered, then, is largely in the hands of different people. And historically, porting the game hasn't gone well - Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition (which is to say the PC version of the game) was notoriously buggy before fanmade solutions smoothed out some of the bumps.
As for Dark Souls Remastered, Polish development studio QLOC is supervising the PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions of the game, while Chinese developer Virtuos is ironing out the kinks of the Nintendo Switch version. QLOC handled previous remasters and ports including Dragon's Dogma and Dead Rising HD, while Virtuos previously worked on bringing Rockstar's LA Noire to Switch. So any version is likely to be in good hands and I wouldn't expect a downgrade in quality. At the same time, while FromSoftware is involved to some extent, Dark Souls Remastered isn't really its game. So if you're a purist, losing access to the original could sting.
It's not just the principle of the thing, either. Dark Souls Remastered changes more than just model and texture resolutions, it alters the balance of the game. A new bonfire has been added near Vamos the Blacksmith. The maximum number of concurrent players online has been increased. Estus Flasks will be the only available healing items in PvP. Defeating an invading player will restore your Estus Flask. Etc. All minor tweaks, yes, but the point remains: this is a different game than the version it's remastering. Some may like these changes, others may not.
So, if you want to own the original Dark Souls, you have a couple options: purchase it on Steam before May 9 when it will be de-listed (we've reached out to Bandai Namco to find out if the game will continue to be sold digitally on the Xbox or PlayStation stores), or scour used game listings for a console copy. And if you want both, well, there's a bit of good news there: if you own Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition on PC, you'll be able to pre-order Dark Souls Remastered for 50% off.
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