How hard is it?

What difficulty is everyone playing at these days?

Once upon a time, when games had way more replay-ability, I started every game at the same difficulty – normal. Yep. Just vanilla difficulty.

Then the PS3 came out and brought trophies with it, and the vast majority of trophies are difficulty related. So started to take a peak at some of those harder difficulties. And I won’t lie, some of them are a test of one’s patience, more so than one’s actual skill level. Games like Uncharted. I love the games. Basically the equivalent of playing Indiana Jones. But when you start to work on the Crushing difficulty level trophy – man, that’s just bullshit. The real problem with difficulty increases is it never changes the stuff that makes the higher difficulty more interesting, it just makes it ostensibly “harder”.

I guess what I’d want from a higher difficulty is more along the lines of smarter enemies or randomized patterns and spawn points. That has more to do with how good you are as a player and your ability to react to new situations. Not just waiting for the inevitable spawn from specific places so you can plan for every attack.

But in reality – harder difficulties just means you take more damage, and do less.

That’s not hard. Well, it is. It’s harder in the sense that you die a ridiculous amount of times before being able to clear a specific area. Your enemies almost never miss, and your shots do so little that you’re blowing through your ammo before you can clear have of the area.

I could go on and list the sheer number of games where this is the case.

Don’t get me started on the God of War 1/2/3 “Challenge of the Gods/Titans/Olympus” trophies. If I was a lesser man, I’d have a lot of broken controllers. It’d be like the Terminator, except instead of mountains of cyborg skulls, broken PS3 controllers.

Off of the top of my head, I think I’d have a harder time thinking of a list of games where this isn’t the case.

There must be a middle ground.

To a lesser extent, games like The Witcher 3, are an example. Doubt not that the enemies damage output is higher, and input much lower, but in a game like that – or the Souls series, once you’re able to fully grasp the mechanics of combat, the extra work it takes doesn’t make the difficulty increase to Dead March all that difficult. Granted – I still die, a lot. But it isn’t nearly as frustrating as your typical max level difficulty.

I hope with the PS4/Xbox One becoming the standard generation and games like No Man’s Sky on the forefront, this concept allow for some more insightful changes.

There isn’t any good alternative. Playing games on easy, even normal, you breeze through. You cut swathes through enemies, traverse levels with impunity.

This is how I feel playing on normal:

That to me, isn’t fun. I want something to challenge me. I want something that takes a few extra hours to burn through and make the (large) money I dropped on it a worth while investment. As games shorten it becomes that much harder to justify the purchase.

The Order 1886. From what I’ve heard and read, five to eight hours of play time. Assuming that’s a playthrough on normal, the extension on a hard difficulty is another two or three hours, that’s a tough sell at 69.99$. And I’d pre-ordered it too. But it went back. When it hits the 20$ bin, that’s when I’ll be grabbing it.

That’s my ask of the industry today. And, I know I ask a lot. Like I always say, we vote with our dollars. I’m fortunate people also read this blog, so I get a second say.

If there’s something you guys want me to post about, let me know and I will do my best to get some relevant topics to the reads. Whether it’s reviews or specific topics.

– The Ego


2 thoughts on “How hard is it?

  1. Because of my limited time for gaming, I’ve actually started moving towards games like Super Meat Boy – difficult, quick to play, and quick to die – and roguelikes like NetHack, Pixel Dungeon, and FTL – good to play a few minutes of here or there, and where the death/new game cycle is both frequent and refreshing. I’ve actually found that I enjoy them more than the few recent AAA titles I’ve played…although Dark Souls is still crouched in the corner of my Steam library, taunting me…

    So yeah, I’ve been trending towards higher difficulty games, by situation if not by choice. But to quote Dwarf Fortress: Losing is Fun!

    • I totally agree. I’ve found, and this is as recent as the last week or so, that games like Evolve offer a decent amount of challenge (because it’s based on situational difficulty rather than an imposed set of specific rules intended to increase “difficulty”). And like you said, those types of games are fun, challenging and most importantly – don’t take several hours to complete a set of goals. I like that I can be put to the test, win or lose, and decide to either continue, see if I can hold the status or fare better, or simply turn it off and move on to something else.

      And yea, Dark Souls is haunting my game shelves as well. Along with Witcher 3.

      Thanks for commenting and following already. If there is anything you want me to discuss, or have questions, let me know!

      P.S – C’thulu fhtagn.

      – The Ego

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