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Difficulty Level - Where is my Easy Mode!


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40 minutes ago, FalconGR said:

I am asking this as a genuine question, so hope this is taken in the spirit it is intended - I accept accessibility is important and I don’t have a strong opinion necessarily either way whether difficulty is essential for the souls games, but I am interested in what people think to the point below.
 

In particular, in what sense is the difficulty of a game a barrier to entry that is qualitatively different to e.g. a book that involves complicated language? E.g. a shorter version of War and Peace, modern day versions of Shakespeare or a version of Ulysses in simple language would be more accessible, but I imagine we would all accept those would be very different things from the originals. Why should difficult games, in which the difficulty was an intended part of the experience be treated differently? I am not commenting on whether the difficulty adds anything to souls, just that in principle it could add to the intended experience for some games. 

 

I don't see game difficulty as being analogous to a complete rewrite of a novel. I suppose the argument could be that if a certain level of difficulty is considered a vital part of the experience, how do you ensure everyone experiences that same level of difficulty? People with better reactions for instance will have an easier time than those with slower reactions. I imagine most people calling for an easy mode aren't asking for the challenge to be ripped out, just that can be tweaked to allow them to experience a challenge more suited to them.

 

This is probably slipping into accessibility territory, but I see this as more like the ability to change text size on a Ulysses ebook rather than rewriting the book. You're not drastically changing the experience of reading it, just making it easier to experience it as it is. For another analogy, foreign language movies are intended to be enjoyed in the language they're performed in, which will always offer more nuance than reading a translated version through subtitles. Nobody would argue that subtitles shouldn't be offered though, even though learning the language would give you a better, "purer" experience.

 

I should add that I don't think the games are as difficult as some people assume, and that the biggest requirement of the player is usually patience more than reactions or agility. An easy mode would be pointless for me, personally, but it wouldn't affect me if anyone made use of one. I'd argue that Halo is a better experience on Heroic or Legendary than it is on the lower settings, but nobody's calling for the easier settings to be ripped out there.

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Tangentially related to @petrolgirls point, I think a lot of the difficulty with DS games is how bloody impenetrable they are. There's no real guidance given or even explanation of stats, etc. This, combined with how punishing they feel initially, with long runs back to where you died and previously, long load times, put me off experimentation.

 

I don't think I would have figured out some mechanics in a million years without the aid of the internet. Once you actually learn how the game works and plays, they're not that difficult. I remember dying to the same boss about 20 times and then someone pointed out I was "fat rolling." Once I figured out what that meant and how to fix it, I did the boss first go.

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5 minutes ago, HarryBizzle said:

I'm sorry if it came across as that. I'm not saying these people are bad at video games. I'm talking about the people who do not have any kind of disability but say they're just hard and would like an easy mode, so they can "enjoy the story," or whatever. Making the games easier for these individuals is not what I view as accessibility. Dark Souls games are quite difficult and I don't think making them easy is necessarily the silver bullet to making them more accessible. No doubt, there is a spectrum, however. At what point do you draw the line/should you at all?

 

I have a family member with no gross physical disability but difficulties with comprehension, language and manual dexterity, and modern gaming has been very difficult for them, as we move away from using movesets which are applicable over the course of the game and can be learnt logically via trial and error and into the crapfest of QTEs and insta-fail setpieces.

 

They can play Arkham Asylum through to completion, for example, but can't play Arkham Origins because it's a game where your progress is blocked by inane QTEs which I would argue add nothing to the overall experience.

 

I can't pretend to be an expert. I'd be interested in hearing the views of people who work at Special Effect, who essentially think about accessibility for a living. If they think things would be better if Dark Souls had an easy mode then I would support it entirely.

Sorry for getting my back up there. It's just that there are so many good options other than making games explicitly easier. In terms of drawing a line, we can't pull apart the people who would just like it to be easier and the people with some form of access issue or disability. Often, the people in the further group are in the latter group without even realising! 

 

SE are great (have you been in contact with them re: your family member?) - I think the last thing I saw by one of their staff was arguing against easy modes as a catch-all, but encouraging more tweaks and options (eg turning off QTEs!) while keeping the core game intact, or as intact as possible. Or that might have been someone else!

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I'd normally keep out of serious debates on games but after coming to an impasse (I know he's optional but that ain't me) with Darkeater Midir a while ago I think I want an easy mode. Or at least a chance to summon without the ridiculous amount of HP he acquires if you do.

 

As people like to mention when talking about their Souls experiences, finished 95% of Sekiro as of now, NG+ for both DeS on PS3 and DaS on 360, both without a single summon, but fuck this noise. 

 

Give me options. I may be slightly frustrated atm due to going back to him this morning and again getting my arse handed to me. Subject to change.

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12 minutes ago, amc said:

I'd normally keep out of serious debates on games but after coming to an impasse (I know he's optional but that ain't me) with Darkeater Midir a while ago I think I want an easy mode. Or at least a chance to summon without the ridiculous amount of HP she acquires if you do.

 

As people like to mention when talking about their Souls experiences, finished 95% of Sekiro as of now, NG+ for both DeS on PS3 and DaS on 360, both without a single summon, but fuck this noise. 

 

Give me options. I may be slightly frustrated atm due to going back to him this morning and again getting my arse handed to me. Subject to change.

You’ll do him next go now. It’s always the way.

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1 hour ago, Nick R said:

 

You can flick past pages of a book you find too challenging (or skim over sections you find boring). In a game, if you hit a brick wall, that's it, you have to stop there. (Some games include the option to skip past a section after too many failed attempts, but it's rare.)

 

I mean you can do this if you read a book but what have you got out of the experience if you do? Why not read a book that you don't find boring or impenetrable?

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2 hours ago, petrolgirls said:

By way of an example, I'm currently nearly finished Demon Souls - due to some slightly odd Dex material rebalancing by Bluepoint I'm quite over-levelled, I can one shot pretty much everything bar bosses and even then they only take 7-8 hits. I was looking forward to the Penetrator boss fight in the remake, I remember him being a thrilling fight in the original, but he went down first time last night in well under a minute. I'm effectively playing the game in easy mode now, I'm not required to think very much and as a result it's starting to lose its appeal. I think that's the problem with employing a conventional difficulty slider in Souls games. 

If that's the case, why haven't you chosen a different and less overpowered weapon and get the appeal back? You have some options to tailor the difficultly through your equipment to a degree.

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3 hours ago, petrolgirls said:

Altering the difficulty by, say, substantially reducing the enemies health or limiting their moveset would only serve to trivialise them as a puzzle and, crucially, no longer require your focus. It's that need to maintain concentration that makes Souls games so compelling in my opinion.


I think this is where I have a problem. Some more hidden disabilities make it harden to focus or concentrate. I accept that the need to concentrate makes the game more compelling, but it’s not that linear, it’s more of a spectrum. I wouldn’t want From to change their approach to game design, but what irks me is the argument they shouldn’t even offer options to allow people of varying ability to play the game, even if it has no impact on everyone else. Of course, in reality it may not be practical, but I get annoyed at the anger displayed by the very suggestion of such options. Why should people get so angry at options that literally have no impact on their experience of the game, especially when those very options allow a wider variety of people to experience it. That’s why it comes across as gatekeeping.

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1 hour ago, Gabe said:

If that's the case, why haven't you chosen a different and less overpowered weapon and get the appeal back? You have some options to tailor the difficultly through your equipment to a degree.

 

Sure, that's fair - but I'm right at the end of the game and all my stats have been pumped into Dex so finding a new weapon that scales reasonably with Dex that I like using as much as my Uchi but isn't as overpowered all seems a faff. Besides, your instinct is always to take the path of least resistance, regardless of how much it limits your enjoyment of the game - therein lies the rub when it comes to a difficulty setting. I'm almost certain if I'd had the choice I would have dropped the difficulty when I started playing Souls games, I'm glad I didn't though as I would have only got a fraction of the enjoyment out of them.

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17 minutes ago, Stavi said:


I think this is where I have a problem. Some more hidden disabilities make it harden to focus or concentrate. I accept that the need to concentrate makes the game more compelling, but it’s not that linear, it’s more of a spectrum. I wouldn’t want From to change their approach to game design, but what irks me is the argument they shouldn’t even offer options to allow people of varying ability to play the game, even if it has no impact on everyone else. Of course, in reality it may not be practical, but I get annoyed at the anger displayed by the very suggestion of such options. Why should people get so angry at options that literally have no impact on their experience of the game, especially when those very options allow a wider variety of people to experience it. That’s why it comes across as gatekeeping.

 

That's a well reasoned point. I'm interested in this discussion as my daughter only has the use of one hand but can concentrate with no issue, she hasn't got into Souls games yet but loves a challenge - we've spent hours at a time coopping Broforce for instance, being able to remap controls at the system level has been a literal game changer for her. I can see a clear distinction between accessibility and difficulty in her case but it's fair to point out that the concentration required for Souls games might be the issue in the first place, I hadn't considered that. 

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I just saw on the Elden Ring Website that this is marked for the PS4 and Xbox One.
 

I wondered if this game has been delayed without us knowing as it probably makes more sense that this should be on the new consoles considering they’re both out now and there’s still no real info about the game or when it’s due out.

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Leaks suggested that the game is feature complete and just receiving polish now, which has been delayed by COVID or we would have seen it already. Seems to be coming up to release next year, which I could believe given how long it’s been since Sekiro. So I’m hoping for a PS4/Bone release with a port to new consoles later.

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2 hours ago, Stavi said:


I think this is where I have a problem. Some more hidden disabilities make it harden to focus or concentrate. I accept that the need to concentrate makes the game more compelling, but it’s not that linear, it’s more of a spectrum. I wouldn’t want From to change their approach to game design, but what irks me is the argument they shouldn’t even offer options to allow people of varying ability to play the game, even if it has no impact on everyone else. Of course, in reality it may not be practical, but I get annoyed at the anger displayed by the very suggestion of such options. Why should people get so angry at options that literally have no impact on their experience of the game, especially when those very options allow a wider variety of people to experience it. That’s why it comes across as gatekeeping.

 

 

I havent seen anyone angry at the suggestion of accessibility options.

 

I havent really seen anyone actually angry at the suggestion of easy modes either although there seems to be an awful lot of anger from those they want them when those that dont explain their reasoning for themsleves not wanting them or for FROM not offering them.. 

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The overwhelming response to the idea of an easy mode is dismissive rather than angry, and I think that’s where the elitism label comes from. There’s a definite attitude that if you don’t want to play these games as they are then you’re not understanding the point of them. 
 

I can see why if what you’re looking for is more accessibility for people with disabilities then dismissal when you suggest it could make you angry. I’m more confused as to why people who don’t want to play the games as they are respond to dismissal by being so rude and condescending, but that’s the attitude I read as entitlement. 

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49 minutes ago, Broker said:

Leaks suggested that the game is feature complete and just receiving polish now, which has been delayed by COVID or we would have seen it already. Seems to be coming up to release next year, which I could believe given how long it’s been since Sekiro. So I’m hoping for a PS4/Bone release with a port to new consoles later.


Possibly it’s on for before the end of March then as that keeps it in this financial year.

 

Will be gutted if there’s no next gen version. Really hoping that they’re working on a port now as to get it out on both gens. Not sure my OCD could handle playing an ‘old gen’ version.

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2 hours ago, Mike S said:

 

 

I havent seen anyone angry at the suggestion of accessibility options.

 

I havent really seen anyone actually angry at the suggestion of easy modes either although there seems to be an awful lot of anger from those they want them when those that dont explain their reasoning for themsleves not wanting them or for FROM not offering them.. 

 

To be fair I haven’t seen any anger here, but you really don’t have to look very far to find it. As someone else mentioned earlier in the thread most of the responses have been civil (even if I think some have been missing the points raised). That’s why I choose to spend my time on this forum. However, I have no wish to derail this thread anymore than I already have (sorry!), so will leave it at that.

 

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On 30/12/2020 at 12:57, ChewMagma said:

Yes the Persona 4 Golden sliders are excellent and everyone should up the Exp received one to avoid pointless grinding frustration.

 

Soulsborne games are skill-based though. I don't know if giving people more health or xp would necessarily help them in that regard if they really struggle with them.


It would need to be more than health and EXP; I’d go as far as including damage multipliers (against enemies) and divisors (against yourself). And P4G has toggles for damage given/taken too, hence the comparison. It needn’t be an extreme of enabling god mode and one-shot kills; just something that balances the experience to be more compelling than frustrating. Someone is probably in the middle of posting “The multipliers and divisors exist though - it’s called levelling up and improving gear!” but if it’s about creating an inviting experience then the grind would quickly become offputting.

 

Again, I think that getting an equal experience is more important than god modes and one-shot kills, and if a hypothetical easy mode resulted in less players walking away from the game because they could quickly tune the experience, I don’t see that as a bad thing. I’m not about to claim that it’s what From should be doing with all of their games; I just enjoy the discussion about how to solve the issue of “accessibility”.

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I'm shit at games but have finished every soulsborne with the exception of Sekiro. I think a lot of the difficulty is an illusion, for example the bosses look huge and terrifying but you only actually get hit and take damage from a small part of them, if you happen to be in the wrong place when it attacks with that part. And pretty much everything is telegraphed to the extent that it becomes a test of memory and responding to the correct warning at the correct time. 

Personally I would never use an easy mode because for me the whole spirit of the game is about being rewarded for tough challenges with more lovely environments, lore and fun skirmishes with non-boss enemies. 

Having said that I've got nothing against an easy mode for people who say they want it. Why should someone who wouldn't use it and wouldn't be affected by it object? 

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