The Arguments For And Against A Dark Souls Easy Mode

The Arguments For And Against A Dark Souls Easy Mode

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The Arguments For And Against A Dark Souls Easy Mode

“The Story of Fumito Ueda” by game no ryuugi (translated by Shmuplations)

Though we haven’t heard a lick about The Last Guardian since Sony re-premiered the game for PlayStation 4 at E3 last year, it’s presumably still in development. Presumably. Whatever happens with Fumito Ueda’s latest game, however, he remains one of gaming’s most interesting designers. Schmuplations recently translated a lengthy interview with Ueda, walking through his early days as a student and what eventually got him into video games. (Did you know he used to ditch school and go on 36-hour motorcycle rides? I’m not sure I’ll do anything nearly as cool as that.)

I see. After you quit WARP, and you were deciding your next move, why did you choose SCE?

Ueda: Well, it was probably all down to PaRappa the Rapper. That and I.Q.: Intelligent Qube. They were a big inspiration to me. PaRappa, especially, was huge. The first time I saw it was at the Tokyo Game Show, I believe. It looked so much higher quality than the 3D rendering movies I was making. It was 3D, but the way they used the paper cutouts… I remember I went back to the game show a second time, just to see it again.

What was so inspiring to you about it?

Ueda: I think it was the influence of Rodney Alan Greenblat, the artist. That was the first thing that jumped out at me, that you had this modern artist doing graphics for a video game. I also loved the game’s style, of course. It seemed to draw a line between itself and what had previously been called “video games.” It really felt like something new, and I think that was what impressed me the most.

The Arguments For And Against A Dark Souls Easy Mode

“On Dark Souls And Easy Modes” by Cameron Kunzelman

If there’s a new Dark Souls game, there’s a new round of arguments about whether it should accommodate players turned off by the difficulty. Cameron Kunzelman, in favour of adjustable difficulty modes, thoughtfully walks through the arguments against the idea by a bunch of other critics. Not long ago, I’d have been on their side, but the more I’ve played these games and the more I’ve studied their storytelling, I’m inclined to think they’re leaving behind an audience that could appreciate the world, lore and characters. Of course, it’s up to the developer to say “no, thanks”, and I suspect From Software will keep on trucking, but it’s an interesting thought experiment. (Please try to keep the comments civil on this topic!)

Entangled in this first idea is a second uncomplicated assumption about what ‘easy mode’ might be. I don’t think that many people who advocate for an easy mode in the Souls franchise believes that they will get the exact same experience as the ‘normal mode’ playing easy mode. I don’t think that many people have illusions about how they would be treated by community if they said that they played in easy mode. I don’t think that the game would be the same in most ways. It seems that everyone I quoted at the top of this piece believes that some kind of point would be lost by shaving the difficulty of the game down in any way, but as someone who would like this mode, I see it in a different way.

The kind of experience I would like to have with Dark Souls is one where I am able to walk around the space of the game without having to be hyperfocused on the world killing me. I would like to be able to defeat bosses without slamming into them over and over again. I would like to be able to gather items and read their descriptions. I don’t want massive rebalancing across all enemies and objects across the world. In Smith’s article I cited and linked above, he offers some ways that he thinks an easy mode would be too hard to structure mechanically, and Franklin does a similar thing in his video. However, they are both thinking big and systemically rather than in the microactions that might chance how people interact with the game.

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  • Ehhh…I would lean toward the “No, don’t make an easy mode” camp. I don’t play the games (tried it once and was too much like masochism for me), but there’s obviously a decent-sized section of the community that enjoy the high level of difficulty and I feel that adding an easy mode to it would take away from that.

    • Co-op is a good substitute for easy mode and is available foralmost every area and boss for dark souls 3 anyway.

    • I don’t understand the whole “adding something optional I don’t like is taking away from my experience” mentality that a lot of people have. If you don’t want an easy mode, then if it comes, don’t play it.

  • If you guys could put “Worth Reading:” in the title, that’d be awesome. Thanks 🙂

  • There is no game called “Beige Souls.” Lowering the difficulty would take away the fear and dread and anxiety that makes this game such a twisted pleasure. It took a long time for me to love Souls and I now consider the series the greatest thing I have ever experienced in gaming. It is so special to me I can’t express my love for it enough. Easy mode is watching someone like Epicnamebro doing his walkthroughs, which are fun and filled with lore.

  • I’m for easy and medium modes for the soul series. Not only for more general accessibility but as a demonstration of how poor the souls combat really is. It’s not does not require much imagination to realise how boring souls combat would be on medium difficulty.

    Why is it games like ninja Gaiden, Bungies Halos, F.E.A.R, Left For Dead 1 and 2, Half Life series all have still excellent combat on medium difficulty ? Because they have far superior general principles of combat compared to the souls series or blood-borne.

    If the soul series had medium difficulty it would perfectly expose how lacking in good/fun general principles the combat really is.

    the souls/ Bloodborne has AI that really is bad. A near endless series of suicidal/kamikaze heavy attacks that leaves all enemies exposed to an easy/open hit or kill. There is no self preservation, no subtlety, no intelligence and no diversity of real attack principle attack patterns -nearly across all enemies.
    it’s sacrificing AI at the altar of tension. Some more thoughtful gamers reject tension as the highest combat principal, because AI is.

    • Umm only one of them is a melee orientated game and ds3 ai functions pretty similarly to it. Have you even played ds3? They’ll use different attacks based on location (near the edge of a cliff and certain mobs will try and push you off) and the number of enemies you’ve aggro’d. Pull 2 or 3 mobs and one will rush whilst others will try to flank you (not so much the earlier mobs but certainly later on in the game – this is like ninja gaiden). Try to estus and certain mobs will charge you. Get low on hp\stam some will apply unrelenting pressure. Attack to many times in a row and they’ll parry you. Not to forget that the human opponents for the most part have pretty good ai. The first you encounter that aren’t an invasion are the exiles in the swamp just before farron hall bonfire.

      The ai certainly could improve but i’d argue it’s as good as any of those games, better in a lot of respects. Darksouls excels at punishing mistakes you make and visually it has some of the best cues of when shit is gonna hurt.

    • A near endless series of suicidal/kamikaze heavy attacks that leaves all enemies exposed to an easy/open hit or kill. There is no self preservation, no subtlety, no intelligence and no diversity of real attack principle attack patterns -nearly across all enemies.

      To me that’s the whole point of the souls games. They have specific patterns and move sets for a reason. That’s what makes the souls games. It’s all about finding the right pattern, or finding your groove. Each section requires you to memorize each enemies movements and move sets. They don’t deviate from that because you’re meant to learn to navigate around them/through them. If they made an easy mode, it would completely miss the point and gameplay of Dark Souls.

      If people want smart AI, then souls is probably not the game for them.

    • That is precisely why soulsborne difficulty is not the huge thing people can make it out to be. You are bound by the same rules as the enemies, and they are not all the smartest. Once you face them a few times, you can come up with a system to defeat them easily. There are no other games quite like it, and that’s why I have to strongly disagree with your comparisons.

      I tried to get into dark souls 1 a few times, and I was of a similar opinion, however I decided to give it another go on a whim one day, and it clicked. I got it. It was a moment of clarity and understanding and my opinion changed. it is to this day the single best game I have ever played.

      It is, like anything, not for everyone though. If this is the case it is better not to waste time on it, or try to change it, rather find something that you enjoy to play.

  • Yes there should be a easy mode to please the mainstream audience because $$ > developers vision. This is the reason why mainstream has killed AAA gaming for me.

  • The kind of experience I would like to have with Dark Souls is one where I am able to walk around the space of the game without having to be hyperfocused on the world killing me.

    Play Dear Esther?? I don’t understand this – that makes darksouls what it is, it’s a driving point of the series. The world is deadly. To take that away would remove the soul of the game…

    I would like to be able to defeat bosses without slamming into them over and over again.
    Summon someone? I couldn’t believe just how much easier some of the bosses were with a few summons on my second character (playing a sorcerer from the deprived base class without using a shield so it’s gonna be weak as piss early on).

    I would like to be able to gather items and read their descriptions.

    Huh, you can do this – heck i do this when i get back to the shrine or find a new bonfire. Are they implying you should be able to as soon as you pick them up?

    I really, really hope they don’t cave – surely dark souls makes more than enough money for FROM software. Don’t let greed ruin it like it has for other games (wow for example – multiple difficulties killed raiding for me – my reward was the new bosses not loot, facerolling through easy mode in 1 week instead of 2 months killed any sense of progression).

  • I haven’t played any of the Dark Souls games but I did play through Bloodborne, and I honestly didn’t find it all that difficult.

    • They’re not difficult – half the battle with Dark Souls 1 & 2 is the feeling of wading through molasses the entire time.

  • Dark Souls already has an easy mode, it’s called summoning.
    There are literally videos out there of the host doing absolutely nothing during boss fights.

  • I mentioned it in a comment the other day – if you could steamroll enemies and take on 10 enemies at a time, you would complete the game in couple of hours. its about patience, and learning. The idea of a an easy mode is a direct contradiction to the spirit of the game. Why have weapon upgrade mechanics? Why have stat progression? These are the mechanics that make the game easier, it is a fundamental part of the whole thing. If someone is not getting that, the reality is that these games are not for you. If you want to save your game just before a boss, or worse even during a boss fight it trivialises the whole thing. Rather just read a walk through. There is no “story” in the traditional sense. It’s not a narrative driven game.

    Dumbing it down in name of accessibility undermines everything that the game is. “Accessibility” Is a blight on game design. You can not possibly please everyone, and I for one am glad that the developers decided against doing this.

  • I couldn’t care less if they added an easy mode. As someone who plays for the atmosphere and basically understands little of the plot, if more people could give it a go it would only be a good thing for sales etc.
    But at the same time I don’t think it would necessarily make a good game if easy as it could be blown thru fairly quickly.

    • Agreed, see my post below. This is the first time i’ve played dark souls 2 and I think the whole OMG SO HARD is so overblown. A lot of the mechanics, and useful information is hidden, but that does not make the game hard. It just makes it harder to figure out.

  • Screw easy mode. There is no valid reason to dilute the game. Difficulty settings are an archaic concept. Play the game as it is intended.

  • No, Dark Souls does not need an easy mode. Not every game has to be accessible and playable by everyone. If you don’t want to learn how to play and beat a game that is punishing yet fair then go play something easier, you’re not part of the target audience.

  • Dark Souls already is easy. The hardest Soulsborne battle is developing the patience to tackle it. It’s incredibly accessible with intuitive, easy to learn controls. If you get killed constantly, it’s because you’re impatient and/or poor timing. That’s not FromSoft’s fault, that’s modern gaming’s fault for babying you.

  • I just started my first ever dark souls game a week ago with Dark Souls 2 on PC. I have to say it doesn’t need an easy mode because once you get a grasp on combat, tactics, and reading NPC movements, the game isn’t hard. I’ve beaten a fair few bosses on my first attempt.

    There are a few bosses that take a few attempts (i’m looking at you smelter demon), but most are straight forward. I killed scorpion lady, Corpse Demon giant thing, Jumping around Old Sinner guy, Old Iron King and the Spider Boss on my first attempt. Took me about 6 goes before I killed the gargoyles, 3 for the double dragon riders and around 20 for the Pursuer the first time.

    That’s without having used any guides and walkthroughs.

    Once you learn combat in dark souls, and are paranoid that every corner might have traps, it’s easy.

    I’ve nearly beaten Dark Souls 2 after a week of play, and this is after being a dumbarse, joining the covenant of champions right at the start not knowing what it did, and playing through as part of the covenant up to No Man’s Wharf.

  • I figured i’d give my 2c as someone who’s newer to the series.

    I have finished all Dark Souls games (minus DS2 DLC because cbstuffed) and Bloodbourne and an easy mode is not necessary.

    I grew up playing Prince of Persia, Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania and those games were difficult when you’re just a kid/teenager trying to finish it, over and over. Dark Souls is one of the few games that requires mastery in timing, patience, balancing your stats.

    The bosses from the series deserve special mention, not only for being (on average) pretty difficult but that it’s what gives you that rush of adrenaline, fighting them for maybe an hour getting your timing down and eventually killing them.

    I can’t really think of a game that gives a similar experience =)

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