I don't want to pull random stats out of my ass but I think it's fair to say that the vast majority of AAA titles have made impressive strides for accessibility and inclusivity the last few years, with the best recent example being TLoU2 and its impressive suite of seemingly endless customization options of parts of the gameplay that we were never allowed to tinker with before. I think that's a wonderful thing and I in no way belong to the group of gamers who long for the "good old days" of outdated NES-style difficulty. Personally, I'm a competitive person when it comes to gaming. I like overcoming a tough challenge and get easily bored in games where I'm always in control and don't get destroyed or overwhelmed by the occasional challenging boss and the like. However, this does not mean I treat gamers who opt for the easiest possible difficulty like they don't deserve to be a part of this hobby and community.
With all that said, the new Elden Ring trailer recently dropped and the same old tired debate of difficulty options in From games has to come up yet again. Let's face it. While difficulty options are great for people who want games to be made easier, they're usually not as great for people looking for a legitimate challenge. This sounds counter-intuitive but bear with me. In my personal experience, games are always designed around the normal difficulty and normal difficulty in seventh-gen onwards is easy-mode for people like me. Just pick hard mode then, right? Not really, because hard mode only makes most modern games "technically" harder. Enemies will have bigger health bars, your character will receive more damage, maybe you'll be spotted from further away in a stealth situation, etc. However, the streamlined systems that are usually designed for normal difficulty are still in place. The AI is just as dumb as before but now you'll need to hit the bad guy 15 times instead of 7 in order to win. It may be "harder" but really, it's just more tedious and grind-oriented. I could go further in-depth with examples of this but I don't want to bore people with any more subpar writing than I need to in order to get my point across. I think this is something most people here get.
The point is that FromSoft games and their design philosophy are designed specifically for people like me. You can't put an easy mode in the average From title without also dumbing down the mechanics and turning it into a game that it's not. There is one argument that Souls fans use which is that the difficulty selection is "organic" but I'm not sure I even agree with that either. It's technically true, you basically break a lot of these games if you wish, but you still need to do it through trial and error and at least come to understand its base mechanics. It's not the same as ticking a "give me god mode" box, which is what a lot of people are actually asking for. Is it so selfish that I want to have this one franchise that caters so strongly and specifically to my needs knowing full well that the devs won't place any unnecessary hours in features that not only do I not want but just the temptation of having them there would probably have an impact on my experience? Is it bad that I don't want From titles to turn into franchises that try to please the most people possible at the expense of the niche experience it provides? I would like to reiterate that I don't throw this type of criticism at other mainstream titles. Most games nowadays, I begrudgingly tolerate their difficulty, knowing that I'm in the minority of people who enjoy video games this way and I simply try to find positives elsewhere. Most people don't want to repeat the same boss fight over and over and I get that. FromSoft games I actually love. In a way, they're my "safe space". They offer the type of experience that I usually have to look for in small indie titles.
So my question is this: In an environment where most major AAA studios find themselves in an arms race to create the most accessible games possible and willingly so. In an environment where you have so many choices to pick from that specifically cater to your needs, what's the point of pushing FromSoft in this direction unwillingly?
Looking forward to reading and answering your replies. I do recognize that many people on my side of this argument tend to hold a lot of, let's say, "unsavory" opinions about games in general and also tend to be pretty reactionary.
- When games have multiple difficulty levels, should the Normal/Standard difficulty offer the “optimal” experience?
- Are blanket buffs to enemy HP and DMG to create difficulty modes *always* bad and boring? Consider this a lukewarm defense i’d like your input on!
- Another discussion about Easy mode
More about Gaming NewsPost: "I think it’s fine if there exists just one AAA franchise that doesn’t place focus on accessibility." specifically for the game Gaming News. Other useful information about this game:
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