Even if you hadn't already known that Hidetaka Miyazaki was once again in the director's chair for Dark Souls 3, any fan of the Souls series would be able to see his influence within the first couple of minutes of the hands-off E3 demo.
It's especially apparent when the player encounters a narrow walkway filled with a large pack of enemies waiting for you at the end, almost daring you to try and fight them. So, you take the logical path and try to avoid the fight by going up the stairs to a bridge. Only you are almost immediately greeted by a dragon that swoops in and perches himself on the platform across the bridge, then proceeds to try and roast you with fire breath.
"Having a dragon at the first castle stage is very typical to the series, and it's actually one of [my] favorites," said Miyazaki.
Welcome back Miyazaki-san. The Souls series missed you.
Dark Souls 3 marks the series first foray into the new generation of consoles, and with the added power comes the goal of making the scale of the world in Dark Souls 3 more impressive than it has ever been before. Sure enough, the demo showcased a gigantic castle fortress called the Wall of Lodoleth that seemed overwhelmingly massive in scope. Paths seemed to branch in a multitude of directions, and once we were 25 or so minutes into the demo, Miyazaki was able to look back and point out way off in the distance the bonfire that we started from, emphasizing that the world of Dark Souls 3 would be very interconnected, much like how Dark Souls 1 was.
Speaking of Dark Souls 1, Miyazaki said something interesting during the presentation when he was describing the story of Dark Souls 3.
"The story is about the 'Lord of Cinder,' which is very unique to the series, and the "Dark Hero" who tries to kill those lords," said Miyazaki. "We revealed the announcement trailer during the Microsoft press conference, and at the very end of the trailer, there was a scene where the Lord of Cinder was resurrected."
The Lord of Cinder, of course, was Gwyn's title from Dark Souls. Could the Dark Hero refer to the player character in Dark Souls as well? Miyazaki didn't give very many details, but it seems clear that there's a direct connection to the original Dark Souls
Miyazaki also mentioned that the world in Dark Souls 3 is facing a doomsday, leading to a kind of post apocalyptic aesthetic in the world. He wouldn't explain what exactly happened, but its clear that death and destruction have ravaged this fortress.
When the demo begins, we see a group of hollows that don't even notice the player as he walks forward. They simply sit with their arms outstretched towards the sun. Next to them is a tree with seven or eight dead hollows skewered on its branches, but even still, their heads and arms are facing towards the sun in prayer. It was a very eerie sight to behold, and one that was further punctuated by a dead dragon wrapped around a tower up ahead, with ashes blowing in the wind from the dragon's carcass.
The player heads inside a dark room that the dead dragon is overlooking, and in typical Dark Souls fashion, is immediately struck by a leaping enemy that was lying in wait to the left of the entrance.
"All of the level designs, enemy placements -- everything has been designed to kill you guys," Miyazaki says, eliciting a series of chuckles from the journalists in the audience.
As the player makes it through the dark room, he eventually finds a small grave that can be lit as a permanent light source, but it can also be interacted with to read a short epitaph that tells what happened to the person that the gravestone belongs to. This one in particular says "Raised his sword for the Lord of Cinder." Miyazaki promises that there are more of these epitaphs hidden away in the world, and that they will inform the player of the lore of the world.