Dark Souls 2 is making a few changes under the new leadership, like reduced tedium and a clearer story. That's not all the team has in store, though, as game director Yui Tanimura says it will also allow more freedom of movement than the previous game. You can even wander into later points in the game, if you can manage to survive.
"Freedom of exploration is something we want to prioritize for Dark Souls 2, even more so than Dark Souls 1," Tanimura told Digital Spy. "In Dark Souls 1, you were able to travel to several areas, but hopefully for Dark Souls 2, there you have more freedom to explore throughout the game.
"We realize in Dark Souls 1 there were some certain orders, like ringing the bells or going to Anor Londo, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In Dark Souls 2, we're hoping we can provide more freedom so things don't have to necessarily be done in a certain order. We're hoping that if the player tries hard enough, or are willing enough, they could even start halfway through the game, depending on how willing or how brave they are."
He said this is possible because progression depends on the player, and the path to the end will be "unique for all players." If you decide you want to skip some of the smaller monsters, you can. It's your funeral.