Tell Us Dammit

We want you to tell us stuff - like are games too easy these days? I'm sure we've asked you this question, but in the wake of this piece we're asking you again!

In my humble opinion game difficulty is a balance, different for each title. In the afore mentioned piece, Kirk Hamilton claimed that Assassin's Creed's combat was too easy, and that second playthroughs of the game would benefit from increased difficulty in that area. I'm not so sure - the appeal of Assassin's Creed, for me, is the change of pace. It's a game I can saunter through, a game I can casually explore. Red Dead Redemption evokes similar vibes for me.

There are games I think should be difficult - Dark Souls for example, a game that depends on learning techniques and applying them. Metal Gear Solid, for me, falls into this category.

But that's enough from me - what do you guys think?


Comments

    While I thoroughly enjoy a challenge, I hate frustration. I think a lot of games are too easy now, but I do still die from time to time in modern video games, proving there is a level of difficulty.

    There is a fair bit of hand holding in video games but often I don't mind it. I would prefer to enjoy the experience of a game over a weekend than spend the weekend endlessly trying just to get through it.

    I'm pretty low on gaming time these days so being able to breeze through a game quickly can be a dream at times!

    I don't mind a challenge though, as long as it's not a frustrating challenge. I want to be compelled to work my way through a game and discover its mysteries, Demon's Souls was like that.

    Older games were more difficult but usually from control or technology issues.
    If you want a hard game, go for Demon Souls.
    I think some people mistake enjoyable, accessible games as easy.
    There are still challenges but difficulty spikes have been smoothed and tutorials and lead-by-oportunity gameplay mean players have an idea of how to face a challenge.
    Also, in the earlier article, he quoted two challenging games he enjoyed and only one series he found too easy.

    Also, once I've played through a game I usually have little motivation for running through on a harder difficulty.

    I play games for story, and to enjoy the relaxation of not being stressed about them.

    I work fifty odd hours a week in a, in my opinion, pretty stressful job and have a hobby where I consistantly competing and being judged on my performance.

    I normally have my difficulty set to easy... because I want to enjoy myself, and I'd like to be able to finish a game once in a while.

      I agree 100%. Everything you said is pertinent to me also.

      Pretty much this, although my job is not stressful.

      I play most games on easy because I enjoy playing games, not games playing me. However, one of my favourite games of the last year was Super Meat Boy, because while difficult there was no punishment. Its difficulty was entertaining.

      +1

      I'll start on regular difficulty and if it's pissing me off too much I'll drop back down to easy.

      There was a time in my life when I had the hours to grind through a game but not any more!

    I prefer games that aren't too easy, but aren't too hard either. Besides, don't most games have an option to change the difficulty?

    I don't think games today are too easy. Most games today come with the ability to change the difficulty so for those who really want more of a challenge, or perhaps less, they have that option available to them.

    With the games that don't have the option to adjust difficulty they are normally set at the right difficulty for the experience the developers want the gamer to have with that game.

    I think what's easy, or makes them seem easy, is the option of saving. Not that it's a bad thing, but remember back in the day, 3 lives, no saves?
    Wait, that sucked.

    Nothing beats the sense of accomplishment getting through a game on hardcore difficulty. I'm loving my 4 player co-op campaign of gears of war on hardcore at the moment, instead of rushing on easier difficulty we have to be strategic - "OK, this time when we take the grappling hook down the wire, when we land everyone run for cover and I'll grab the boomer... etc etc"

    While I do like a good challenge, I'm not one of those gamers that are like "ZOMG THIS GAME BE TOO EAZY FOR DA LIKES OF MEE, WTF ARE THE DEVELOPERS THINKING LOLLZZ".

    I try to finish every game that I play so it's no good if a game's difficulty leads to frustration. I like how in modern games we've pretty much gotten rid of the concept of 'lives' (Mario being one of the few exceptions), and the abundance of checkpoints is also a plus. Super Meat Boy is a good example - brutal difficulty, yet you have unlimited lives so it's never too frustrating. Xenoblade also is good in that you can never get a game over, so you keep all of your progress even if you get beaten by a boss or fall off a cliff.

    Yo Mark, I think you forgot to put in the link to the "article in question" :P

    As for the topic, I think that generally games seem to err on the side of caution a little too much. Sure, not every game needs to be a Battletoads or Guitar Hero Expert mode, but it would be nice if more of them skewed towards that end of the scale. Or even just had a section there high-level challenges were an option for those who wish to take them on.

    Star Fox 64 3D seems to cater for this. For the most part, it's the same old Lylat Wars we've already played to death, which had an Expert Mode that upped the challenge quite significantly, while still leaving the game more than playable for less-skilled players. But now the new one has Score Attack mode, and the asking price for the gold medals in there will make most people who aced Expert Mode break a sweat (and possibly their 3DS) trying to nut them out. Which I think is great.

      Battletoads! Yes that game was gold

      Battletoads, that game was gold

    I don't have the time or patience to play games that are unnecessarily difficulty, and part if this is because so few games encourage smart playing. They just ramp up the damage, give the enemy AI more accuracy and more hit points or spam tons of grenades. The game isn't harder, it's just a frustrating mess with no order to it.

    People talk about "Nintendo Hard", and that's from back in the days when games were very simple and you have to practice jumping a certain way, avoiding patterns of enemies, knowing where to be, etc.

    Modern games aren't as simple so getting an AI to do anything is far more convoluted. Anyone can make an AI capable of sniping you perfectly with a pea shooter from 5km away - or not. But that's what it boils down to. Very few games make "easy" AI act in a stupid or ineffective way compared to "difficult" AI.

    So when the primary difference between hard and easy is how often I have to look at a death/loading screen but doesn't otherwise fundamentally effect the gameplay, then I'd rather play an easy game.

    Games today aren't exactly less difficult in terms of gameplay, they just approach difficulty a different way. The main thing that makes them easier to complete is checkpoints and autosaves - you screw up an area, you might have to replay a few minutes instead of the entire game. You get more attempts in a shorter period of time. This started with quicksaves/quickloads on the PC and became common by around the 5th/6th generation of consoles.

      I largely agree: scaling damage numbers and health drop frequency is such a cheap, cop-out kind of difficulty.

      At least in Halo, the enemies ranked up, worked together better, and had bigger guns, too.

    'Difficult' is relative. 'Too difficult' especially so.

    I think it comes down to WHY you are playing the games. I like seeing gameplay innovation, tweaking, experimentation... and my other main focus is story.

    Challenge doesn't really factor into it so much, so I prefer my games to be completed with a minimum of fuss.

    Some of the battles in Final Fantasy XIII were brutal, but they had an extraordinarily forgiving checkpoint system that allowed/encouraged the gamer to experiment and hone their skills. Mirror's Edge also falls into this category. They don't frustrate me.

    Games that have unforgiving (or no) checkpoint systems that require me to replay vast sections of previously cleared gameplay do frustrate me.

      Also any company that puts an unskippable cut-scene before a boss fight needs to be shot on the spot.

        And then forced to relive the moment over and over again, without the option to skip any part of it, until they find a way out of it :p

    i love playing games on the hardest difficulty available that being said i do agree with James Mac in that i work the same amount of hours and sometimes i like to just veg in front of the box or at the barracks (net cafe in canberra coz i dont have a computer)generally in those moments i dont change to easy but just go play mind numbing games like COD because for me its far less intense than playing hardcore gears or anything interesting...kind of like laser tag vs paintball. laser tag i goof paintball i get into it

      that being said even though i do like them set on hard, it always takes me longer to finish a game compared to most people. i die alot in some games but thats part of the fun if there isent a punishment system for doing something wrong or straight up failing its less entertaining and far less rewarding. i really enjoy games that make me go back to the start of a level because i did something stupid or plainly because the strategy implemented was flawed. sometimes it makes me sad though. maybe im just a glutton for punishment

    Too easy? Hardly. Space Marine on hard was hard, and Halo Reach on Heroic (nevermind Legendary!) was quite difficult! I think maybe Kirk's problem with Assassin's Creed is not difficulty, but monotony. When you have such a long game as AC, and every single fight is literally as easy as "Hold trigger, hit X at obvious moment", the experience dulls dramatically. One of the missions I enjoyed in Brotherhood was the festival/party/orgy where you had to kill the Banker. Lots of trying different strategies to get to him; I spent a pleasant half hour working on that. Other missions were good, too, but the game dragged on; too much travel and repetitive, basic quests can leave players cold.

      I agree with this, eventually in AC I just felt no need to do stealth when I can just run into a group of 6+ guards and kill them all (Which actually put me off half way though number 2 and I haven't played any since then so my point mayi not be vald).

      Whereas in games like Deus Ex and Metal Gear Solid you are rewarded for being stealthy. AC doesn't need to be harder maybe it just needs something to penalize you from being caught.

        I agree with this somewhat.

        Artificial difficulty through enemy health/damage/accuracy etc is only frustrating, not enjoyable.

        Better AI, extra/secondary objectives tend to be a lot more fun.

        AC as a good example, was incredibly easy to just counter-move thriough the entire game (and you could do it for 3/4 of AC2) but brotherhood actually put in secondary conditions as a difficulty that could be very challenging without it having anything to do with super enemies.

        Another example at the opposite end of the spectrum would be a game like Call of duty where the enemies all seem to have been given 6 month sniper courses when you crank the difficulty to veteran.

        in short, making enemies better = frustrating, making you plan/play better = good.

    I don't find games to be too easy, but I do find many of them infuriating in how they want to hold my hand the whole way or bombard me with tutorials. This isn't driving -- I don't need to know ALL the rules before I pick up the controller. This is playing. We learn as we play. So rather than constantly stopping the game to tell me what to do, just design it in such a way that I can figure it out for myself -- it's far more rewarding and interesting that way.

    But another thing: do games even need to be hard? While I'll admit that some of the most rewarding gaming experiences I'd had have involved some rather tough challenges and puzzles, I have had just as much fun experiencing the fascinating worlds and stories of much easier games. I think that as long as a game is balanced and there isn't any dissonance between the difficulty and what the game is trying to do, then whether a game is hard enough shouldn't really be an issue.

    The Real Question is are video games CRUNCHY enough? :P

      Answer: no. Needs more granola.

      This. I hate it when a game thinks it needs to hold my hand all the way through the game. This is what was so irritating about Lego Star Wars III. Every time I walked up to a lever, a little "X" button image appeared, as if it thought I had forgotten what button to press since pulling that other lever on the other side of the room. Why add this now? None of the other Lego games ever had this?

        To be fair, that game was developed for under fives to enjoy too. The fact that many adults enjoyed it too notwithstanding.

          Yeah, that is a fair point, but as I pointed out, Lego Star Wars I, Lego Star Wars II, Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Batman and Lego Indiana Jones 2 didn't have it. (Not sure about Lego Harry Potter, I never played it).
          Plus, I'm pretty sure five year olds would be able to pick up on the controls pretty quickly, it's the older folks that need the hand-holding :P (jk)

          The argument could be made that children are faster learners than adults and are more willing to experiment, which *should* mean less need for tutorials. It's part of the fun of being a kid, just pushing whatever buttons to see what works and then going with it! Man, I'm 23 and I don't have the concentration required to sit through most in-game tutorials. Would love to see how a 5 year old goes, lol.

    Too easy? Hardly. Space Marine on hard was  hard, and Halo Reach on Heroic (nevermind Legendary!) was quite difficult! I think maybe Kirk's problem with Assassin's Creed is not difficulty, but monotony. When you have such a long game as AC, and every single fight is literally as easy as "Hold trigger, hit X at obvious moment", the experience dulls dramatically. One of the missions I enjoyed in Brotherhood was the festival/party/orgy where you had to kill the Banker. I tried heaps of different strategies and routes to get to him; I spent a pleasant half hour working on that. Other missions were good, too, but the game dragged on; too much travel and repetitive, basic quests can leave players cold. 

    I'd be extremely pleased if AC pushed a little more toward Splinter Cell and away from Prince of Persia; those escape and chase sequences are nice, but the stealth could really stand to be more like the first Assassin's Creed. 

      So apparently when iPhone says "Your comment has failed to be published", it means "Your comment has been published". Murrrrr.

    A game is too easy if it feels like my involvement isn't necessary for things to keep moving. A game is too hard if it feels like my involvement is what is keeping things from progressing.

    I like hard games for the challenge that they present. That doesn't mean that every game I play must be difficult. I enjoyed Gears of War 3 without finding it that difficult because the type of entertainment I was looking for from it is different from the type of entertainment I am looking forward to in Dark Souls.

    You don't watch Dude Where's My Car expecting something like Primer, but that doesn't stop it from being enjoyable just because it's dumb.

    I welcome games that are genuinely difficult but I don't demand that all games should be.

    There's a big difference between a game that's frustrating and a game that's difficult.

    Dark Souls was a difficult game where when I died I thought to myself "OK this is what I did wrong" and I really enjoy doing that. It makes you look at how you play and in the end makes you play better.

    On the inverse I have found that one point in Space Marine is very frustrating (it seems like a great game). I swear I'm doing it right and the best that I can but I never pass it which has sadly turned me off the game.

    As I've got busier I prefer my games to be a touch easier, as I don't have the time to repeat a section a dozen times just because I keep dying now.

    What I really want is all games to have intelligent game design (they're getting there).
    -RPG's that go back to 5 seconds before a boss fight if you die, you don't lose progress.
    -Games that quick save after, not before cutscenes, so if you die it isn't as frustrating to repeat.

    What I really hope for are games with dynamic difficulty (like SiN Episodes). So if there is a scene that you keep dying in, the game temporily lowers difficulty to allow you to pass, but then may raise again as you start not being challenged later.

    It really depends on the game.

    For me personally, I thoroughly love the likes of Batman and Assassin's Creed mainly for the combat. Not because of the difficulty, but because of how awesome it looks and feels. Does it bother me that in Assassin's Creed I just wait for a Counter Attack / chain kill opportunity? Nope.

    Then again, let's take Monster Hunter. Combat isn't flashy, game is difficult, yet I love that one as well.

    It just comes down to the game in question.

    (Has Dark Souls sitting in his bag, just waiting for knock-off time)

      +1. AC1's counter-kill was totally overpowered and let you take a dozen guys on at once - but sitting there with your weapon up waiting for someone to move, all the while going 'YEAH?!?!? WHO'S NEXT???' made you feel like a TOTAL badass.

      I've finished Demon's Souls once, and loved every minute of it - waiting to finish work to go pick up Dark Souls and I'm insanely excited. My MHFU save has around 300 hours in it so far, and that game is pretty brutal too.

      It totally depends on the game - I'm down for dying again and again in Dark/Demon's Souls, and fighting a Tigrex in MHFU for 40 minutes only to fail at the very last. Then again, sometimes I want to sit down and play something that doesn't require reflexes, or sometimes problem solving.

      The other wildcard is the person playing - difficulty totally depends on the person, what games they like and how patient they are. There's also the measure of their skill.

    Agree with, well, everyone. I play games for fun and stress relief so I don't appreciate getting frustrated.

    A good example of difficulty levels that comes to mind is Halo Reach; on the lower levels it's easy enough for newbies to enjoy, but at legendary it's quite difficult but rarely frustrating- if you die it's your own fault and you just need to come up with some new way of getting through the situation, every battle can be done, it's not cheap insta-kills or anything. I was immensely proud of myself for doing Solo Legendary, felt good man.

    For me, I feel that boss battles get weakened too much if you choose lower skill levels. A boss battle SHOULD be hard, regardless of if you have chosen the "please dont hurt me" skill level. AND STOP MAKING BOSS BATTLES MINI GAMES. Too many games devolve into a "hit this button.......now" type game, which is fine for kids games, but not action block busters.

    I play most games these days on the level up from Hard. So I'd say YES, games these days are too easy.

    I also think the industry needs to change their perception of difficulty ratings.

    The "HARD" for most games these days should really be the "NORMAL". Meaning, the options should be...

    CASUAL
    NORMAL
    HARD
    etc...

    Consoles these days can be coded so they're smart enough to understand your gaming habits. Players should be able to specify their preferred difficulty setting, so when a game loads, the console specifies the preferred difficulty of the player. And the player can then go to options and change that difficulty if they so choose.

    I also (also also) think all games should allow the player to reduce the difficulty mid-game, much like Call of Duty, Gears of War and many other AAA-titles offer these days.

    fyi I haven't proofed this

    You know what really grinds my gears?

    Scaleable enemies in RPGs.
    If I'm getting more powerful, why are they still the same challenge?
    It makes it feel like I'm getting nowhere.

    And if I clear out an area, why does it refill with bad guys afterwards?

      If they didn't restock the areas with enemies, how would you grind? ¯\(°_o)/¯

      Also, it's probably a pain for the developers to store in your save file all the enemies that you have killed. So when you enter a level, the easiest thing to do is to just load the creatures that the designer has placed there, regardless of whether you have killed them or not.

        Really?
        I'd have thought the enemies were seperate artifacts added to a level.
        It seems more like a check sum kind of problem.
        Has subject been here earlier?
        a)load enemies
        b)don't load enemies

          Oh yeah, the creatures would be separate entities. But I imagine that there is a file that says that this particular creature is placed in this spot in this level. And they would just load that up for each level or area as you get there.

          And sure, you could just use logic to determine if the player had been in that area before, and then just not load the enemies. But I think this presents other issues, like the inability to grind. Also, if the player manages to bypass an area, or sneak through without fighting anyone, they might lose the chance to get that combat experience.

          Maybe they could just spawn a couple of random enemies if the area has been passed. So the player can grind, but it isn't a chore to move through those areas later.

          But, in the end, it comes down to the design. If the player gets frustrated, then that is something the designer should be investigating (although they may decide that it isn't a problem).

    I guess it depends on your definition of what makes a game difficult. There are plenty of games that are easy to play (just shoot all the things) but are hard to finish just because those things require lots of shots to kill them and there's not much ammo available. Other games are hard to play because they require split-second timing and infintite persistence/patience (eg Super Meat Boy or Trials HD). Other games are hard to play because they require you to develop a range of strategies and techniques (RTS, puzzle games).

    Me, I love the challenge of a good strategy game, but find the brute-force difficulty of combat games very frustrating.

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