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What Could Have Been / Dark Souls

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The Dark Souls trilogy has a lot of ideas that were scrapped, to smoothen gameplay (already Nintendo Hard) or some last minute Executive Meddling. Here's a list for all of them.

  • Dark Souls 1:
    • Quelaag originally had a rather long intro speech which ran from when you entered her domain to when you entered the fog gate for the boss battle. But Miyazaki felt that the script for it was of poor quality and that it took something from her character.
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    • Priscilla was originally supposed to be a major heroine, akin to the Maiden in Black from Demon's Souls. Due to her original role becoming obsolete with the addition of the fire keepers, she was placed in the Painted World of Ariamis due to the location's winter atmosphere.
      • On top of that The Painted World of Ariamis that was used for Priscilla was the actual basis from which the Project Dark prototype was turned into Dark Souls. Gravelord Nito was originally supposed to be the area boss instead of Priscilla, with the latter's boss arena actually being a crumbling floor, much like the Stray Demon. After spending so much time creating the area for the prototype, Miyazaki was determined to include it in the final product, but couldn't do it coherently in accordance to the rest of the game world. So he ended up "cheating" and created the Painted World.
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    • The knight that gives you the Estus Flask was originally named Oscar and was intended to be your rival throughout the game, siding with whichever serpent you didn't, instead of dying when you reach up to him after the Asylum Demon. The name used in the strategy guide is the only holdover from this incarnation.
    • Andre was originally supposed to be a descendant of Gwyn and more imposing, serving as the guardian of the door to the Firelink Shrine. He was also supposed to move the goddess statue found in the ruined temple, allowing the player to progress with the story.
    • The statue would then reveal a path down into the Firelink Altar, aftering passing through the secret entrance, the player would then walk down the staircase, which is broken in the final release, and into the heart of the chamber, as opposed to simply being warped there by Frampt.
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    • Content that was cut from the game reveals that entering into a Covenant with Velka would be possible. Said covenant was quite possibly merged with or was turned into the Darkmoon Covenant.
    • When Smough was first conceived, he was originally supposed to be one of the Four Knights. Miyazaki allegedly liked him so much he decided against making him a knight and worked it into his backstory as a heretic who wished to join the Four Knights.
    • There was Concept Art of Abyss Walker Artorias drawn for the game, indicating he might have made an appearance at one point. He appears in the Updated Re-release, albeit with a different character design than his original.
    • Gwynevere was based on a character from a manga called Yasaragi no Yakata, or Tranquil Mansion, where members of an exclusive club would have a giant woman care for them as if they were children. One idea was that she would lower her hand for the player character to kiss, there is even animations for it, but the idea was scrapped. She was originally going to be more lithe and elegant looking compared to the... voluptuous version that ended up in the game. The artist who designed her was so proud of the concept art when he showed it to Director Miyazaki that the Director couldn't bring himself to reject the design.
    • Firelink Shrine was supposed to be a water temple: a very healing locale with water, greenery, soft light, and subtle music. As the idea of Kindling and Frampt's arrival developed, the water eventually dried up to what is seen in the final product. Even the bonfire was moved, since the uneven ground of the original placement interfered with the player's sitting animations. The finalized bonfire location was originally a small pond.
    • The boss fight atop the Undead Parish was originally the Demon Centipede, but due to how ridiculous it seemed, the Centipede was moved and replaced with the Gargoyles.
    • Oswald of Carim was originally supposed to be a woman of age 60, and you were originally supposed to use an Affidavit item, similar to the Indictment item, to leave your current Covenant instead of being able to straight-up ask to him.
    • Artorias was originally going to have dialog during his boss fight. It was cut for whatever reason, but the files were left in the game.
    • By hacking the game and making the debug menu available, one Dark Souls fan found some very interesting character models that were dummied out of the final game.
      • Of these include an undead clad in bizarre gold armor named "Undead King Jar-Eel", a darkwraith with the power of life drain who would have been the boss of New Londo. The Four Kings use a portion of his coding, and even appear to be wearing a corrupted version of his armor. Presumably, he was removed for being too similar to Gwyn, (a tall, humanoid enemy which has become a husk of his former self). Ingward was also supposed to sic him on you as a test to prove whether or not you're worthy of entering the Abyss.
      • There's also an alternate Bed of Chaos that appears to have been designed as a more traditional boss fight with crawling and jumping animations. Word of God says that the original Bed of Chaos was supposed to have a stronger boss fight concept, but instead became the relatively simple-but-irritating Puzzle Boss due to time constraints that kept the concept from being properly polished.
      • There are also a few unused enemies like the Brain Bugs and the Claw-Hollows, which we saw fan art for but were never seen in the final game.
    • A dummied-out "side quest" had you rescuing Petrus from the necromancers of the Catacombs to start his and Rhea's character arc, instead of being able to encounter him from the get-go and starting the arc via ringing the first Bell of Awakening. Although it may have been cut to keep aware players from figuring out his intentions as easily.
    • Shiva was supposed to be something similar to what happens with Lautrec: he would attack you if you either showed him the Chaos Blade - in an attempt to take it from you - or gave it to him, in an attempt to test it on a worthy opponent. This would also serve as a Call-Back to Demon's Souls, in which Master Satsuki would attack the player if they showed him the Magic Sword "Makoto" (or would attack them if they voluntarily handed it over to him). In addition, he was also supposed to be invaded in the Painted World with a Black Eye Orb (as with Lautrec) in order to re-obtain the weapon. The scripts for the invasion is still in the game, but are unimplemented.
    • Dusk of Oolacile was originally supposed to summon you to her world in order to rescue her, rather than freeing her from the golem. However, the dev team didn't take the concept seriously, and the idea was scrapped. The Artorias of the Abyss content was 99% rebuilt from the initial idea, but a small number of things are still in the game files.
      • An alternate version of Kalameet that had a different appearance, unique attack animations, a tail that couldn't be severed, and he was supposed to be a more airborne opponent with the same range of movement as the Belfry Gargoyles. He even had a unique stagger animation for if he was felled from being airborne.
      • A few early versions of Marvelous Chester exist. One version that looked more like his concept art from the Collector's Edition art book and two versions that were sans his top hat and longcoat that wielded a black-bladed zwiehander.
      • Witch Beatrice originally had an unique younger model that greatly resembled her concept art, although whether she was to have been encountered in the early idea of Oolacile is unknown.
      • An early version of the Sanctuary Guardian that breathed fire instead of lightning. This version was to be an enemy encountered in Blighttown, the Demon Ruins, and Lost Izalith. The "bounding demons" (a.k.a. the ass ends of the Undead Dragons) found in Izalith may be replacements for this version of the Sanctuary Guardian.
    • The triple-shot crossbow Avelyn was originally supposed to belong to Domhnall of Zena before the developers turned it into an elusive treasure.
    • There are a number of unused animations still in the game files:
      • A number of animations for Anastacia from when she was outside of her cell - a talking cycle, a damage cycle, a death cycle, and a "rebirth" cycle.
      • Andre does not have a typical idle cycle, but had a talking cycle where his mouth moved. He also had a transitional cycle where he would put away his hammer before attacking if he was attacked.
      • Priscilla has only two animations - a sitting animation and an animation where she stands up.
      • The Ancient Dragon had a number of animations that indicate that it could have been an enemy.
      • Frampt/Kaathe have a number of attack animations.
      • Chester had a sitting animation, a sitting damage animation, a standing animation, and an animation where he is using an item.
      • Gwyndolin had different damage animations, a knocked-down animation, a sitting animation, a sitting damage animation, a standing animation, and different movement animations.
      • Gwynevere had a talking animation, an animation where she puts her hand out, a talking animation for that pose, and an animation where she draws her hand back toward her. The hand movement animations are tied to a cut idea, where the player character would kiss the back of her hand. Interestingly, during all four animations, her eyes are open and she blinks, and she her mouth moved during the talking cycles.
    • Rumor has it that the "Final Death" idea from Demon's Souls was to make a return in Dark Souls. After the player character had died a certain number of times, they would have Hollowed and that particular save file would have been either locked or deleted.
    • With the transfer of the PC version from Games For Windows Live to Steamworks, a fanmade debug executable for the game revealed a number of cut cutscenes, as shown by Youtube uploader Sanadsk.
  • Dark Souls II:
    • The original storyline, some of which can still be gleaned from the Network Test text files. The original plot involved gathering the means of powering a special pendulum that would let the user travel through time in order to keep Drangleic from falling to the giants. During one particular time jump, you were able to encounter the child version of the Emerald Herald travelling with a shifty merchant, who you could rescue her from; she even had a sidequest where you could collect feathers for her, which explains the Aged Feather she gives you once you reach the Dragon Aerie in the final game. The Gyrm were a slave race used by the King to build and maintain the Castle's sewage system. The Undead Crypt was originally the Immortal Castle, an underground fortress for a race of immortal people that had somehow avoided Hollowing and hated sunlight, with the Shrine of Amana being a hidden path to the Citadel that the Gyrm made under the King's nose. Shalquoir originally required a ring to even talk to her, similar to Manscorpion Tark in the final game.
    • There was originally supposed to be an encounter with a dragon in Things Betwixt, but it was removed because it was deemed "too difficult and off putting for new players". Datamined maps also reveal that Things Betwixt was supposed to be a much bigger area and included the caverns that make up the three Dark Chasm of Old areas as part of it. You were originally supposed to try navigating them in the pitch dark and avoid strong/elite enemies, finding different exits to the area, with one of them being the aqueduct to Drangleic Castle.
    • The original concept for the Executioner's Chariot was that it was supposed to be encountered multiple times, or several different ones would have been encountered throughout the game, as some sort of elite mook that would constantly hunt you down should you have committed evil deeds (killing NPCs and the like). There is no telling as to when the idea was scrapped and the Chariot was limited to just being the boss of the Undead Purgatory. This was revisited in a limited way by having the chariot's two-headed horse become a miniboss in Drangleic Castle in Scholar of the First Sin.
    • The Executioner's Chariot's location was also different in look, compared to the final version of the game. Previously, the Chariot would take up less of the hall, the boss arena was much less of a circle, and there was no holes in the walls to hide in, making it seem like dodging the Chariot was your only option for survival. This can be seen in a few trailers as well as the gameplay demo they featured.
    • The Manikin Mask was once a smooth porcelain mask, rather than the more human-like mask from the final product. Its unknown as to when it was changed, or for what reason.
    • Straid's backstory was different in the Network Test than in the final game. His backstory in the Network Test was that he and the King of Olaphis slew an Ancient Dragon together, but Straid's magic eventually doomed Olaphis to damnation.
    • Lonesome Gavlan was supposed to show up in the Gutter and Black Gulch, and had the appropriate dialogue for the areas. The idea was cut early enough that there aren't even any subtitles for the dialogue in the text dump of the game files, but is seemingly tied to the Gyrm's "home" being the weird shantytown in the Gutter before they were moved to the Doors of Pharros.
    • The Agility stat was originally a stat that tracked the odds of evading chest traps.
    • There are a number of cut items in the game files: more variants of greatarrows (Wooden, Magic, and Dark), more illusory Chameleon items, another Troches item that boosted equipment break resistance, a more powerful variant of the Aromatic Ooze called Pungent Ooze.
    • Both Chancellor Wellager and Sweet Shalquoir were originally able to be killed, having death dialogue.
    • The giants originally had a much different face at some point earlier in development.
    • The Emerald Herald has a child model still in the game files. Similar to the Filthy Woman's Child from Demon's Souls and the child version of Witch Beatrice from Dark Souls, Shanalotte's child model was likely cut due to the taboo of killing children.
    • Originally, the game was planned to be much more open world, with a big map that connected all the areas, but at some point in production the overworld was removed all the areas were connected together in a way similar to Dark Souls. However, due to this not being the original plan, a lot of the areas don't quite fit together that well if you think about it (the most blatant example being taking an elevator from the top of Earthen Peak upward to Iron Keep even though from what we see this is geographically impossible.)
    • Some of the places in the announcement trailer were going to appear in the game but were cut early in their production. There are images of the very early very rough versions of the areas floating around the internet.
    • Larger enemies were supposed to be able to break through walls and obstacles, to punish players who would try to glitch them out for free souls. In the final product, only one enemy does this (the Aldia's keep cyclops).
    • Aldia's Keep was a much, much larger area, and it featured heavily in promotional material, implying it was supposed to be central to the game in some way. Early gameplay footage showed entire areas that would later be cut from the game. In the final version, it has been described by fans as an "over-glorified hallway", and in general is a pale shadow of what was seen in said gameplay trailers earlier.
    • Majula, judging from early concept art, was originally supposed to be an active town of Undead with far more characters than any locale ever seen in the series. The final version, while much more lively and warm than Firelink Shrine, is still a ruin only inhabited by a small group of Undead.
    • Lucatiel and the model that was eventually used as the Bellkeeper soldiers were supposed to be a Souls take on Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. This explains Lucatiel's male outfit and why it is vaguely Hispanic styled.
    • Judging by cut maps, the Old Iron Keep level was supposed to be much longer and take players through the factory that earned the Iron King that moniker. Elements of it were included in the form of the DLC area Brume Tower, but the assembly line rooms remained cut.
    • Your torch was originally going to be a much more important tool. The original build of the game, seen in early gameplay footage, had a rather robust lighting system that would have dark areas get VERY dark, requiring you to have your torch to safely navigate those areas. Near the release of the game though the lighting system got gutted, leaving all areas being generally the same flat brightness, with the Gutter being one of the only areas to still be dark enough to warrant using it. Left overs of this can be seen in areas that are dark but not enough to use one, and the placement of spots where you can light up areas. The Lost Sinner boss fight was even affected by this. Normally, she would be fought in a pitch black cell, requiring you to either bring a torch in to be able to see her coming, or go out of your way to get a key so you could reach two oil lamps outside the cell that light it up, letting you fight normally. In the game proper, you can see just fine so lighting those lamps is completely unnecessary. The Scholar of the First Sin Edition did rework the lighting so that certain areas became actually dark again, making the Torch more useful, but it still isn't as dramatic as the early footage.
    • There are several unused cutscenes hidden in the game:
      • There's more than a few involving Tark and Najka, showing what would happen to them when they were killed. Tark takes a skull amulet from Najka in her death throes and roars at the sky, while Najka takes a bite of a defeated Tark's face.
  • Dark Souls III:
    • In terms of actual things still found in the retail releases files, it's a bit harder to come across in the final game, as it appears that Fromsoft wised up to the data mining of the previous games and removed early alpha and beta content and even developer notes from the game files. Hasn't stopped people from trying, though...until someone managed to acquire a copy of the alpha network test of the game, which contained a very large host of previously unseen content and aspects of the game that didn't make it in. Whoops.
    • Before the Magic Meter (of Demon's Souls fame) was reintroduced, there was a different way to use weapon arts called Weapon Art Points. The only way they could've been regenerated was to rest at a bonfire.
    • Interestingly, many of Miyazaki's concepts that were either scrapped or implemented in an unsatisfactory way in the original Dark Souls have been recycled and better integrated into Dark Souls III, most notably the second stage of the Soul of Cinder being an improved version of Gwyn's boss fight which isn't trivialized by parries.
    • A thing in the alpha test that was cut from the final game was Epitaph stones. While the initial idea was that only the High Wall had them, data mining the alpha reveals that just about all the areas had them. And although the alpha only had the text for the ones that were in the High Wall, the full list is in the Japanese version's text files.
    • There's a cut Ceremony mechanic that would have let you change the time of day and/or world state in each area of the game. The easiest to explain are the ones still in the final game: the "Default" state, the "Gloomy/Cloudy" state, the "Eclipsed World" state (the annular eclipse that resembles the Brand and the pure dark sky in the Firelink Shrine's graveyard), and "Boss Battle Time" (fight against the boss of Archdragon Peak). For the times of day list present in the alpha that didn't make it into the final game: "Evening/Dusk" (which has it's own skybox/lighting at the Cathedral of the Deep and the Undead Settlement), "Moonlit Night" (no sky texture in the Cathedral, has sky texture in the Undead Settlement), and "Noon" (Irythyll only, almost the same as the default skybox in the final game, although a bit darker and without the aurora and particle effects). As for the special world states: "The Past" (almost completely grayscale look with some chromatic aberration or color separation on the screen edges, exists for all game areas, unique skybox in the Cathedral, missing skybox in Farron Keep), "The Sun" (dramatically bright day sky with an absurdly large sun visible, appears in Farron, Irythyll, the Cathedral, and the Undead Settlement), "Eclipsed Night" (dramatically bright night sky with a total eclipse visible in Farron, Irythyll, and the Undead Settlement). Weirder still are that the versions of "Sun" and "Eclipsed Night" in the Undead Settlement have the cut winged Abyss pus serpents flying in the sky.
    • At some point you would have been able to actually create bonfires and alter the world for PvP. Enemies would randomly have "cult deaths", which let you drag the corpse around and use said corpse to perform one of seven "cult rituals" and turn it into a bonfire. These corpses could also be used to make special PvP bonfires, via special ceremony swords rather than using the eye orbs from the previous games, shifting the world to a PvP-enabled "dark/eclipsed" variants and letting players invade that way.
    • Oceiros was originally supposed to be holding Ocelotte in his hand. Data mining reveals that Oceiros' character model has a untextured skeleton in his left hand labeled "baby", there's four texture maps and a model labeled "baby", and there's a rather disturbing sound file of what sounds like Oceiros killing Ocelotte during the transition between his boss fight phases, as well as sound effects of Ocellotte repeatedly being crushed under his hand and crying out in pain during his walking animation. An alternate intro cinematic has been found, with the baby model intact.
    • An entirely cut area has been found called "God's Grave", which had assets and ideas reused for The Ringed City DLC, as well as coding for world states regarding the time of day system was to be handled that also reveals how an earlier version of the game's story flowed, and some other very interesting tidbits. About the only remains of the area is a very low poly distance model without any textures.
      • The game was originally supposed to be like the first game: linear for the first third or half and branching for the rest of it. And as you progressed through the game, the time of day was supposed to change like it does in Bloodborne. But here's the thing: the early area flow was at one point the same up until the Undead Settlement, where you went through either the Catacombs of Carthus or Irythyll Dungeon and arrived at the Profaned Capital, defeat the Profaned Capital king for something, then return to Lothric Castle and fight Lorian and Lothric, make your way through the cut "God's Grave" area, then go after the Lords of Cinder (or whatever they was supposed to be at this point), and then go for the endgame, which was supposed to be the ashen desert ruins of Anor Londo. Which explains why sheer dissonance between the opening cinematic and why Irythyll and Anor Londo are covered in snow rather than ash, the snow and snowdrifts are just retextured ashen sand.
      • The cut "God's Grave" area was supposed to be an area between Lothric Castle and the demon-guarded bridge over the swamp of Farron Keep, which unlocked somehow after defeating Lothric and Lorian. What little of the area's general appearance is that a chunk of it was a massive crypt built within the cliffs which Lothric sits on with a path leading out connected to a forested area. Shockingly enough, Oceiros was supposed to be a boss or the boss in this area, baby intact and all. He also appears to have been one of the earliest conceptualized bosses in the game, due to his voice lines being some of the first recorded for the game.
      • Archdragon Peak was originally part of Lothric Castle and connected to it in some way. The Nameless King was also one of the Lords of Cinder at this point, while the Abyss Watchers stayed about the same save the fact that the Wolf would have been part of the boss fight and Aldritch was part of the Deacons of the Deep fight. There's also a cut boss called "mother dragon" which seems to have been tied to the area in some way.
    • Wolnir was originally encountered in a much different area than the Catacombs of Carthus, as shown in the Gameplay Reveal Trailer. The area appears to have been a large hallway filled with knee-deep water. Where the area is and if it is in the final game is unknown, although it's been compared to Yhorm's throne room in the Profaned Capital.
    • Footage of the alpha version of the Cemetery has been compiled and released, revealing some interesting things about some of the early builds. The dark version was supposed to be an endgame version the Cemetery, the path to the bell tower wasn't supposed to be blocked, and the bell had a lever to activate it, which in turn would unseal the route to the final boss fight. This discovery ended up being something of a smoking gun to help verify some of the info from this document from a supposed anonymous insider, some of which also coincide with early footage of the game.
      • Wolnir's model was the original version of Yhorm, which lines up with the very early trailer footage. The insider claims that the proto!Yhorm was the leader of the Mound Makers covenant and that he was utterly obsessed with treasure, which accounts for the mounds of gold coins and the like found throughout the area. This early version also served as a boss, making the Mound Makers function in a way similar to Nito's Gravelord Servants. On a similar note, the Profaned Capitol was supposed to be traversed in reverse: you started at the bottom of the area and worked your way up, instead of working your way down to what's now a dead end.
      • Yhorm, or rather "Halleck" based on the model's internal name, was supposed to be awakened alongside you and served as the tutorial boss and you were supposed to have a rematch in the Catacombs of Carthus based on the internal name for one of the area's bonfires.
      • Gundyr was the original boss fight for the Consumed King's Garden, which fits with the fact that the Pus of Man enemies only appear in the High Wall, Garden, and Lothric Castle, as well as Gundyr's second form during the tutorial boss fight and the Garden bonfire's internal name being akin to something like "Gundyr's Mausoleum". The insider claims that Oceiros was only greenlit to ape off of Ludwig from The Old Hunters DLC.
      • The Smouldering Lake and Demon Ruins really did connect to Irithyll from the hole in the wall near the giant Avelyn ballista. The original idea was that it connected to the Irithyll Dungeon, as shown in the Alpha data, with the bonfires in the Dungeon still being called "Deep Entrance to Anor Ruins" in the game files, which was supposed to be a second entrance to Irithyll proper via the waterway under the bridge. This explains why the Beast on the bridge can jump down and attack you if you just ran away from it when crossing the bridge. Smouldering Lake was also supposed to play host to a unique dual boss fight against a Giant Bat and the Carthus Sand Worm, with the ballista being required to ground the Bat and the Worm showing up during the second phase. On that note, the Sand Worm is still technically a boss fight, but the boss health meter has gone unused and there's no boss fog to impede you.
      • The Carthus Catacombs were apparently supposed to be entered from the Undead Settlement after defeating the Curse-Rotted Greatwood, instead of having to go through Farron Keep and defeating the Abyss Watchers. On that note, the Abyss Watchers fight was supposed to be much harder and the path after them instead led straight to the Irythyll bridge. One thing not revealed in the document is that there was supposed to be a boss fight between the Crucifixion Woods and the Abyss Watchers against a being called "the Wolf of the Eclipse".
      • The Deacons of the Deep fight was supposed to have a proper second phase, with Aldritch coming out of the massive coffin in the boss arena and joining in the fight, instead of him being fought later on in the ruins of Anor Londo. This potentially explains why the Deacons ended up as one of the easiest boss fights in the series.
      • The Lothric Castle section was supposed to take place at night, instead of during the weird Darksign Eclipse, which itself was only supposed to show up in the dark Cemetery after the Seal to the final boss was broken. Additionally, the Pilgrim Butterflies were supposed to be winged serpents, tying into the concept from the first game that the Primordial Serpents were incomplete dragons. One of the more dubious claims was that Kaathe was supposed to show up in some way during the Twin Princes boss fight.
    • The reference name for Aldritch in the game files was "Sulyvahn" and implies that the Aldritch and Pontiff Sulyvhan might have once been one entity before they became two different characters.
      • Furthermore, separate to them being originally one character, Pontiff Sulyvhan was at one point referenced as "Black Old King" and meant to be the Final Boss instead of the Soul of Cinder, explaining why he is so significant and causes so much impact in the lore and world of DSIII; he really was meant to be the Big Bad.

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