Demon Soul and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki has confirmed in an interview with EDGE that he will not be returning to direct Dark Souls II, and in fact has very little involvement with the project.
“I will not be involved in the actual development of Dark Souls II,” he says matter-of-factly. “I want to clarify that I will be a supervisor, not the actual director or producer.” Says Miyazaki.
Miyazaki has said in past interviews that he created the concept for the Souls games from personal experiences as a child where he would read English fantasy books, but couldn't understand everything, so it was left up to his imagination. He wanted to to create the same feeling in his games, by not making it clear exactly what was required to do, or lay out the story through cut scenes that hold your hand. For this reason, the departure of Miyazaki from the series is concerning for hardcore Souls fans. Miyazaki himself is also sad that he's not involved.
“I’m not one to restrict the potential that Dark Souls has by insisting that only I can work on the titles,” he stresses. “I want new expressions. It’s true that I’m sad about not being involved in the development of Dark Souls II, because I’ve worked on Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls’ development for the past five years. I really love those two titles; however, maybe this is the time to have new inspiration, so I’m fine about that. I’m looking forward to playing Dark Souls II not as part of the development team, but with a little bit of distance. Everybody knows what the core of Dark Souls is – the dev team does, the fans do, the media does – and that will never change. I [wouldn’t] really care for Dark Souls VIII to come out. That’s not the point. It’s more, ‘What do the fans want?’ We want to stay true to what they expect.”
The decision to replace Miyazaki seems to be ultimately Namco Bandai's, as they wanted some fresh ideas to continue to evolve the franchise. The directorial reigns have been handed over to Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura, who previously worked on From Software's Japan only mech game Another Century.
While it's always a bit troubling when someone takes over a popular game franchise, it's clear that the reason for the change is due to Miyazaki working on a brand new IP for the company, something that he's not ready to talk about just yet.