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Difficulty Level - Where is my Easy Mode!


Qazimod
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Disclaimer: This thread came from a mod decision to separate this discussion from the Elden Ring thread, where FromSoft's reputation for developing challenging games had people speculating over how easy or hard the forthcoming game Elden Ring should be. Despite, you know, barely any details being released about the nature of the game.

 

Now that I've been promoted to the esteemed position of "thread starter of a topic about difficulty in games", I feel obliged to clear up my position - no developer has to program varied difficulties into a game, and so I wouldn't ask for an easy mode in From's next game. However, I enjoy the conversation around accessibility, and I like debating the impossible challenge of how you could even go about giving something like Sekiro an "easy mode" when there are so many systems and balancing acts to consider.

 

Another thing I stressed was that it's important to dispel the preconceptions around what people want when they ask for an easy mode - it's not a request for character invulnerability and one-hit kills, but a request for an equal experience. I'm sure everyone wants the feeling of trying, failing, learning and improving, and ideally a newer player on "easy mode" should try, fail and succeed about as much as a confident player using "normal mode". Alternatively - as I mentioned below - we could hope that From's next offering is more to our liking...

 

Anyway, back to the thread - the context of the below quotes were that @Ry hoped that From's next game would be more forgiving, and that @Broker read this as a demand for an easy mode...

 

On 29/12/2020 at 19:56, Ry said:

Or at least more forgiving. 

 

On 29/12/2020 at 20:23, Broker said:

 “it should have an easy mode”

 

Hmm, that's a leap. ;) 

 

I think rather than asking for something more forgiving, or something akin to an easy mode, the people who struggle with From games would appreciate a new kind of gameplay that resonates with them more. I mean, people lump Sekiro in with the others and yet that's a game which has no stamina, no invasions or co-op, no weapon durability, no equip load burdens, no covenants, no player messages, no bloodstains, no attributes sheet (adjusting vigour, endurance, vitality, strength, skill, etc)... and some of those changes can make the difference between bouncing off a game and enjoying it. The same goes for Bloodborne - equip load is much less important, you have great mobility from the lock-on dashes, builds are more streamlined than Souls, I personally find its parrying much easier to learn, invasions are much more limited... Again, the changes may be trivial to the diehard fans, but for someone like me it's the difference between dismissing one SoulsbornekiroRing game and completing another.

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1 hour ago, Broker said:


Eww. Open world Dark Souls with a bigger map is my dream. I’m pretty sure at this stage they won’t waste their time bowing to the “it should have an easy mode” crowd. There’s literally thousands of games if you want easy third person combat and a world you can navigate with no effort.

 

If I had the patience to learn every enemy attack I would be all for it. 

 

But I don't. Souls games are more games of memory than skill imo. 

 

So no need for the elitist attitude. More difficulty options helps out everyone. 

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1 hour ago, Ry said:

More difficulty options helps out everyone. 

 

I'm inclined to agree with this. Having a more forgiving mode (which could be as simple as a percentage damage reduction and an increase in the parry window) would be absolutely fine in these games. For people who don't want that, you don't need to turn it on.

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It would need to be absolutely designed without it ever being intended, then snuck in at the last minute. I'm not a fan of hard games, but love Dark Souls (and really enjoyed DS3), because they're not really that hard. An easy mode makes designers more ready to make the game harder beyond good design, especially if From start thinking that their games actually are really hard (see the ridiculously hard bosses in the final DLC on 3- an assumption that everyone by that point is highly levelled and ready for a super hard boss).

 

Instead I'd rather they revert back to DS1 difficulty, and save the super hard stuff for NG+ or SL1 players.

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I think insisting that a fundamental design decision of the foundation of a gameplay system and theme so that I can enjoy popular game series a lot of people enjoy but I don't enjoy now is a bit more nuanced than toggling in an "EZ mode" 

 

This boring old argument has been made since 2010 and I'm surprised a decade later it's still surfacing. I think maybe accept FROM make a certain type of experience and go in peace children - there are other games to play. Especially if you want a different experience to souls games - maybe try a dev who doesn't make them ehhhhh

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7 hours ago, Broker said:

It’s not about elitism, it’s about every game not needing to be for every person.

 

You say tomato, I say tomato.

 

7 hours ago, Broker said:

That leads into the main issue, which is that much like the “lazy developers should add this because it would be easy for them” comments you see constantly, there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding of how games work. 

 

I don't think anyone has said this here, actually. But on the other hand, I think one guy modded Sekiro on the PC to take the edge off it and it didn't fundamentally break the game or multiply QA testing by hours. The assumption is that it would even add any significant time is faulty to begin with. Do you really think that adding a Damage % slider would mean each setting would need to be Black Box tested across the entire length of the game? What?

 

7 hours ago, Broker said:

A slider for damage doesn’t resolve the problem of having to figure out where to go next, which is just as big of an obstacle in these games as the enemies, but is easily resolved with a floating marker, but that’s another cost.

 

I don't think that this was brought up either - the comment that kicked all this off was basically down to the learning of all the enemies things.

 

7 hours ago, Broker said:

Almost every game that comes out will tell you where to go and throw enemies at you that pose no challenge and not expect you to learn anything to progress, and I really don’t see why people expect the one popular developer who isn’t doing that to homogenise their design to make it more like everything else, especially when the core appeal of their games and the thing that built them a fan base is the fact they don’t do that. 

 

I see. They should keep doing exactly what they're doing to appeal to their existing fan base, of which you are one of them and everyone else can go play something else? But of course this isn't about elitism. 

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1 minute ago, Lying Cat said:

I think one guy modded Sekiro on the PC to take the edge off


‘That ‘edge’ is very much part of Sekiro and the dulling of it leaves the player with a lesser experience and an experience a long way from the designers intent. 
 

Cheat modes are no fun at all.

 

 

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I’m sure I’ve said this a thousand times before, but I’m terrible at most games as much as I love them, but with much perseverance I’ve completed all the Dark Souls games and Demons Souls.

 

I think it would be a crying shame if they added an easy mode. Part of what makes these games so great is the feeling of accomplishment, no other game series does this as far as I’m concerned.

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1 minute ago, Mike S said:


‘That ‘edge’ is very much part of Sekiro and the dulling of it leaves the player with a lesser experience and an experience a long way from the designers intent. 
 

Cheat modes are no fun at all.

 

 

Sure, but the point was that it would add hundreds of hours to the testing cycle and put an undue financial strain on the developer, and this is patently not the case.

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1 hour ago, Lying Cat said:

 

I see. They should keep doing exactly what they're doing to appeal to their existing fan base, of which you are one of them and everyone else can go play something else? But of course this isn't about elitism


Isn’t it more about not wanting FROM to compromise their approach to game design in order to make it like every other developers? So, yeah, I hope they do keep on doing exactly what they are doing in order to appeal to their fan base. Sekiro shows there is space in that approach for a different experience whilst still remaining true to their style and ethos.

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8 minutes ago, Lying Cat said:

 

Sure, but the point was that it would add hundreds of hours to the testing cycle and put an undue financial strain on the developer, and this is patently not the case.


Oh, right. 
 

I don’t know if you or I are qualified to state that the easy mode version would satisfy FROM without hours of balancing and whatnot though. It may ‘work’ in that it doesn’t crash, etc but whether it ‘works’ is a whole other matter.  But, regardless of the time and cost of implementation, I don’t think it’s needed.

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5 minutes ago, Mike S said:


Isn’t it more about not wanting FROM to compromise their approach to game design in order to make it like every other developers? So, yeah, I hope they do keep on doing exactly what they are doing in order to appeal to their fan base. Sekiro shows their is space in the approach for a different experience whilst still remaining true to their style and ethos.

 

I dunno. From a personal perspective, I enjoyed the Souls games but Sekiro was an order of magnitude too hard for me - so I modded it to make it easier for myself and had a great time whilst still being challenged. While this is subjectively a "lesser experience", there were no changes made to the game which compromised it's direction and vision and these options could easily have been added.

 

Ultimately, I'm not particularly fussed as I play on PC and I can generally just change whatever I like to suit myself (or rather, other people can for me!). I absolutely believe that video games should be more accessible on levels like these, not least because there people who will want to be able to experience From's brilliance even through they may have impairments physically or mentally, and who were not taken account for in the original design document (not me, though, I'm just shit). Mechanical changes can be made to make things more accommodating for such people, which don't involve stripping all the challenge from the game.

 

Just now, Mike S said:


Oh, right. 
 

I don’t know if you or I are qualified to state that the easy mode version would satisfy FROM without hours of balancing and whatnot though. It may ‘work’ in that it doesn’t crash, etc but whether it ‘works’ is a whole other matter. 

 

Lol, you're really upset by this aren't you. What a sulky little post.

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The other thing to remember about the arguments for “easy modes” is that some of the people asking for them are looking for an equivalent experience. They want that feeling of struggling but learning, of being keen to come back from failure, of being motivated to try again. It’s just that the default difficulty is just too close to the point of not wanting to persevere.

 

Imagine that Sekiro had a hypothetical toggle that increased damage output by players and decreased the amount of damage they took from enemies by certain percentages. Imagine watching a video of a struggling player attempting a boss with that toggle switched on, next to a video of a skilled player who doesn’t need said toggle. They both defeat the boss in roughly the same length of time, and die around the same number of times. Would it be fair to say that they get an equal experience?

 

I totally agree that developers are within their right to do whatever they like with their games, but the idea that things like this would “ruin” games is a bit much.

 

PS. I’ve mentioned it before but I love the approach Persona 4 Golden has with its custom difficulty sliders (well... low, medium or high) that allow you to set damage given to enemies, damage taken from enemies, EXP received, money received, and so on. I think that helps to create the “equal experience” I mentioned above...

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1 minute ago, Lying Cat said:

 

 

Lol, you're really upset by this aren't you. What a sulky little post.


‘A sulky little post’, ‘really upset’! Get over yourself, I’m neither really upset by you, nor am I ‘sulky’. 
 

I made a one sentence reply to your slightly hysterical interpretation of the OP’s fair point that FROM make games the way they do and that those who don’t like that can easily find plenty of other games that they may enjoy.

 

You might be happy to add cheat mods to games but that’s really not for me as, oddly enough, I’d feel like I was cheating myself out of an experience. I am pretty terrible at games as a rule and very rarely complete any but have struggled through all of the souls, bloodborne, and Sekiro as the risk v reward mechanics are so well balanced. Some parts took forever and ever but finally overcoming the challenges  has given me some of my most satisfying, exhilarating, and rewarding moments in gaming.

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42 minutes ago, Lying Cat said:

I don't think anyone has said this here, actually. But on the other hand, I think one guy modded Sekiro on the PC to take the edge off it and it didn't fundamentally break the game or multiply QA testing by hours. The assumption is that it would even add any significant time is faulty to begin with. Do you really think that adding a Damage % slider would mean each setting would need to be Black Box tested across the entire length of the game? What?

 

I see. They should keep doing exactly what they're doing to appeal to their existing fan base, of which you are one of them and everyone else can go play something else? But of course this isn't about elitism. 


Damn, what an ignorant post. 
 

Mods aren’t shipped games. If your mod breaks something or causes issues you accept it. There aren’t the same expectations of a mod and the fact that one exists doesn’t mean developers could have implemented the same feature with the same amount of effort, because yes they would need to test the whole game on both modes to check for bugs, rather than sticking together a mod, dumping it on a website and maybe tweaking it later if people have problems. Another entitled gamer point for you sir. 
 

The elitism really is an obsession for people who can’t be arsed with souls games isn’t it. It’s also a deeply entitled attitude, how dare they not spend money and time making things I want. I don’t like a lot of worthy, important musicians but I don’t expect them to switch to doing Metallica covers because I’d prefer it. I don’t enjoy some award winning novels but I don’t demand they illustrate them because I like comics. Not expecting everything to change for you isn’t about elitism, it’s about understanding that every thing doesn’t need to be for every person. 
 

 

28 minutes ago, Opinionated Ham Scarecrow said:

I completed Dark Souls and Sekiro (where's my badge) and couldn't give a shit if they added an easier mode. It's certainly not something I'm about to oddly gatekeep with an essay like wall of rant text.

 

I’m not a Fromsoft employee so I’m not gatekeeping anything, and as always when this comes up there’s not going to be any mandate that forces any developers to add anything they don’t want to, so it really doesn’t matter. As I explained in the text wall, it’s about the costs and associated losses from the overall game. If people don’t want to play it they can just move on with their life instead of petulantly demanding it be changed for them. 

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I think if you look at something like Halo, it shows that it can be done without compromising the game. Heroic is the supposed sweet spot, but personally I love the challenge of Legendary. My son is currently going through the MCC on normal though and having a great time.

 

That inclusivity has allowed him to experience the story and environments that he’s seen me play countless times, while still having fun and if he ever feels the challenge is becoming too easy for him, he can bump it up a notch. And none of that has dampened my experience in any way.

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The thing with FromSoft games is they aren't just about the combat, sure the combat is part of it for a lot of us but the worlds they build and the lore make them fun places to explore and a lot of people would love to explore these worlds if given the opportunity. You could say go and play something else but who else makes worlds like From?


I used to be very much in the "no easy mode" camp but educating myself on accessibility issues I think it's actually really important that games make allowances not just for people who aren't interested in the combat but also people with disabilities that make the game impossible to play and they shouldn't be excluded. From can still make a game that is "meant" to be played on the default settings and I'll still be sat hammering my head against a boss for hours on end because that's how I enjoy playing their games, I don't have to use any of those accessibility settings and how other people play doesn't affect me.

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18 minutes ago, Lying Cat said:

 

Ah, so you're alright, Jack - cool.

 

 

:facepalm:

 

I, and millions of others, yeah but your flippant response dismisses the point I was making.

 

The risk v reward is the element that makes the games what they are. You remove that and the game is just A. N. Other APG. There is magic in the FROM approach that I have not found anywhere else... 

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Just now, Broker said:


Damn, what an ignorant post. 
 

Mods aren’t shipped games. If your mod breaks something or causes issues you accept it. There aren’t the same expectations of a mod and the fact that one exists doesn’t mean developers could have implemented the same feature with the same amount of effort, because yes they would need to test the whole game on both modes to check for bugs, rather than sticking together a mod, dumping it on a website and maybe tweaking it later if people have problems. Another entitled gamer point for you sir. 

 

Yeah, but the point is that it basically just worked out of the gate - it didn't need the hundreds of hours that you cited. I'm pretty sure that a developer could introduce something even more easily, as we're just talking about damage scaling as far as I'm aware.

 

1 minute ago, Broker said:

Another entitled gamer point for you sir. 

 

I'm pretty comfortable being entitled about luxury hobby that publishers are demanding increasing prices for.

 

1 minute ago, Mike S said:

 

 

:facepalm:

 

I, and millions of others, yeah but your flippant response dismisses the point I was making.

 

The risk v reward is the element that makes the games what they are. You remove that and the game is just A. N. Other APG. There is magic in the FROM approach that I have not found anywhere else... 

 

That's great, and I don't think anyone is suggesting that this is taken away from you. You can have this experience - indeed, it should be the default option - but relatively simple stuff such as damage scaling to allow more people to get into stuff is also completely legitimate. I don't even think that the Risk Reward stuff is even central to the games really - for me it's always more been about the art style, atmosphere and the way the narrative is told. The actual mechanisms surrounding the fights aren't that big an appeal for me, which is why I ended up modding Sekiro.

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When I was a kid, Danny Heath said that he'd heard there was a thing called 'dormez-vu' which is when you have 'deja-vu' but you're asleep. 

 

This feels like that. 

 

I know this is a cunty post attempting to shut down discussion but it just made me remember the concept of 'dormez-vu' and I laughed. 

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1 minute ago, Lying Cat said:

That's great, and I don't think anyone is suggesting that this is taken away from you. You can have this experience - indeed, it should be the default option - but relatively simple stuff such as damage scaling to allow more people to get into stuff is also completely legitimate. I don't even think that the Risk Reward stuff is even central to the games really - for me it's always more been about the art style, atmosphere and the way the narrative is told. The actual mechanisms surrounding the fights aren't that big an appeal for me, which is why I ended up modding Sekiro.

 

We'll need to disagree on the risk v reward but, for me, there is nothing more tense and terrifying than pushing into a new area, carrying a shit ton of preciois souls, and not knowing what is round the corner. That whatever beast may be lurking and can one or two shot me and cost me so much through my own greed and/or curiosity  is the essence of the game. Losing a life falling to a basic enemy on the way back to try and recover said souls is gloriously infuriating.

 

Damage reduction or whatever would nullifify the risk to the point that the atmosphere would be compromised. 

 

Anyways, this is all moot as I doubt very much that FROM will be changing their methodology for Elden Ring.

 

I am now inspired to start another Sekiro run so at least something good has come out of this somewhat futile discussion.

 

Happy New Year! 

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I kind of side with @Lying Cat here.

 

I see no harm in adding a difficulty slider to Elden Ring and/or FromSoftware's previous output. Surely we all agree their previous output is loved not just because of the difficulty. It is the complete package or risk/reward, exploring, world building, story telling etc. Adding an Easy Mode does not reduce that experience for me. I'll keep playing on Default because that's what I like. If anyone else plays on Easy on Hard, fair play to them. The person playing on Easy can experience the full game without the punishing aspect, the player on Hard can finetune his/her parries and dodges to perfection.

 

I do not see any loser here at all. What's the problem here?

 

That said, Sekiro bested me. I defeated everybody (including that Hatred cunt) but the last boss. Four phases, really. If I were on PC I'll download a mob just to get past that bullshit.

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