How A Sekiro Easy Mode Could Work

How A Sekiro Easy Mode Could Work

It’s a ritual whenever a new Souls game comes out. People starting getting wrecked by the bosses, they take to social media or their preferred forum, and a divide emerges. On one side, a legion of fans crying “harder daddy” and praising FromSoftware for their brutal treatment. On the other, gamers left out by the series’ punishing difficulty, questioning whether fairer options couldn’t be implemented.

All of it hinges on a key question: At what point does a game’s difficulty start to unfairly impede upon its accessibility? Better yet, what would a Sekiro easy mode look like that doesn’t compromise its creative vision?

Answering that question is a little trickier than it first seems. By default, easy modes tend to focus on minimising the impact of a mistake, rather than helping players avoid one in the first place. Typically, that flows through in two ways: Extra damage (or weaker enemies) for the player to make fights go faster, and increased resistance/armour to lessen the blow of combat.

Fundamentally, both of these approaches wouldn’t work for Sekiro.

Like Bloodborne and every Souls game before it, the dance of Sekiro‘s combat is the true reward. Nailing a boss battle perfectly isn’t so much a test of wills or endurance, even though it seems like it for anyone who’s exhausted themselves for days trying to beat Lady Buttterfly or Knight Artorias. It’s more like performance art, or even learning a piece of music.

You take it slowly, learning every note and chord one at a time, until you come to understand the full flow of the music. Time is not of the essence, because the ultimate goal is to have everything in sync so as to not disrupt the harmony of the music. Once you can reliably hit the notes in the correct order – dodge, deflect, jump, Mikiri counter – then, you can focus on speed.

It’s not that dissimilar from how veterans recommend fans learn new boss fights. Deflect as much as possible, observe the attack patterns, the variations that occur up close and at distance, and gradually start to feel the flow that the designers want you to be in.

So if we assume that the rhythm of Sekiro is what should be honoured most, as opposed to the principle of just brutal, punishing difficulty, then we have a base from which an easy mode could be built.

How A Sekiro Easy Mode Could WorkImage: Steam (Sunset On Mars)

To make this work, we need some base principles. Firstly, it’s safe to reason that all easy modes exist to facilitate a player’s progress through a game. Secondly, if we’ve decided that the underlying appeal of Sekiro isn’t the mechanical act of beating a boss per se, but the choreography of that fight – the perfect dodges, deflections, the dance in and out of range – then the idea of a Sekiro easy mode starts to take shape.

The object isn’t to reduce the health of a boss, or reward the player for the little damage they’re able to do. It’s teaching the player the flow of the fight, the same way you might progress through a song in Guitar Hero or Rock Band. It’s not the act of landing a jab or a blow on an opponent that makes Sekiro special – it’s the art of avoiding enemy attacks.

One way you could introduce players to this is by, at least at the beginning, slowing down the moment of impact to allow for players to nail the correct inputs. Most games with some form of tutorial already use this principle, at least in the first few minutes or levels, and an idea for a Sekiro easy mode could build upon this.

As the fight starts out, the game could offer maybe a half second to 3/4 second window for the player to nail the first few dodges, blocks or jumps. It would be up to the player how they choose to respond in those instances: much of the joy lies in the flexibility of how people proceed, especially as not every player fights bosses in the same order.

Once more damage is dealt – and there would be no reduction or increase in damage dealt or received – the timing window would gradually recede. By the second stage of most boss fights, the timing input could be narrowed by half to perhaps a quarter or tenth of a second. And all of this is in addition to the attacks that the game already telegraphs, through the unblockable glyphs, audio cues and animations.

By the end of the fight, there should be no timing window at all. If the whole objective is to teach players the rhythm of movement, rather than simply progressing through a fight, then players should have that rhythm down pat by the end of the fight. Precisely when that assistance runs out would need to be adjusted on a boss by boss basis, and it’s something that (theoretically) would be more generous in fights at the start of the game.

Another option could also be to remove the window entirely from certain fights until progress has been made elsewhere, offering an implicit hint to users that they while they can fight a boss right now (like the Chained Ogre), they probably shouldn’t.

How A Sekiro Easy Mode Could Work

Every Souls game has always kickstarted a discussion around easy modes, and where that line between accessibility and creative vision lies. It’s a debate that’s especially contentious with Dark Souls, because the game’s difficulty is part of its charm – and a huge source of pride for its fans. On one hand, nobody wants FromSoftware to sacrifice their unique creative vision, especially given the indelible mark it has left the gaming industry. And it’s also true that, for some people, Souls games are completely inaccessible. Players with disabilities or other physical ailments can find themselves left out of the Souls universe entirely.

So having a conversation about a potential middle ground doesn’t hurt. It’s a natural part of gaming discourse, but it’s also incumbent on us to have that discussion in a more nuanced, healthier way. And for Souls, that starts by having a better understanding of what the spirit of a game is actually about, and how that spirit could be conveyed to an even greater audience without losing what makes it so great in the first place.

FromSoftware might even be more partial to this than you think. The fact that players could summon help in Dark Souls and Bloodborne shows their partiality to the idea of players getting some kind of assistance. It was part of a broader system that was borne out of players being able to invade each other’s worlds, but it was a tacit acknowledgement that getting help was entirely OK.

Sekiro is still a wonderful game as is. And the game doesn’t “need” an easy mode like some suggest, partially because games are not required to service every segment of the gaming market. Development doesn’t work that way, and as everyone should be well aware, making games is infinitely harder than anyone ever expects.

But an easy mode in Sekiro can work. It just starts with asking better questions, questions about why we really keep butting our heads against a seemingly insurmountable wall for hours, days, weeks on end, and how the spirit of that can be communicated to more people.


  • gee there is a lot mention about this topic. I suck at the game but bloody love it. I feel that intense pleasure when i finally progress past a point that I once thought was impossible.

    I also dont have a huge amount of time to game… maybe 5 to 10 per week. 0 on a bad week, 15 ish on a great week. To play a game like this properly takes so so much time that means I cant finish it for months on end. That makes the game so much harder.,….. to the point of immense frustration. This is why i would like an easier mode. Just start everyone at the same difficulty, dont even tell them they can make it easier, just have the option in the menu.

    If you hate this, just dont change it, it shouldn’t mean anything to you.

    • the problem with adding other difficulties is that it inherently alters gameplay. sure you can just screw with the numbers but, that’s the lazy option. you either make enemies drop too quickly or they become hulks with way too much damage you need to sink into them. the other option is to alter the ai but, invites other problems.

      something that always stuck out to me was in Dark Souls 3. Dark Eater Midir. he was amazing but, it wasn’t just being hard to kill. the boss music and his fighting style synced together like a waltz. you literally danced a dance of death with him. other bosses have a similar thing. that means a lot of work and complete change of approach to boss battle design if you want to change the fighting style to be easier without thowing off the atmosphere.

      At the end of the day though, if you really think the game is too hard there’s probably a trainer(software) out there to help out by now adding that easy mode number stuff. anything else requires a lot of redesign and an entirely new approach unless the developers want to be lazy.

  • I think people need to realise, some games are not meant for everyone.

    If you have trouble playing games like sekiro then it is not the game for you. Clearly you are not enjoying the game so don’t force it and then whine about it and give negative review.

    It’s like making a friend that hates jrpg to play a jrpg, he will still hate it and stop playing.

    • Came here to say exactly this. These kind of games definitely cater for a niche audience. If it is too hard move on to the next game. Don’t try and water down an awesome game. Just my thoughts any way.

    • Yep. It’s like complaining about FIFA because you don’t like soccer because it’s too hard to score goals. If you don’t like the fundamental nature of a game, then just play something else.

      The fact that you think the game is too hard does not mean there is a defect with the game or yourself, it just means you and the game just aren’t suited to each other.

      • Sure, but the conversation doesn’t have to be that simplified either. There’s a more nuanced discussion around difficulty, and what Sekiro is trying to achieve, and a lot of the discourse is still very much stuck on “it shouldn’t change / the game doesn’t lose anything by having difficulty options”. I think there’s a better chat to be had.

        • I call bull on “these games aren’t made for everyone”. An easy mode wouldn’t effect anyones enjoyment. It’d just allow a wider range of people to enjoy it. (Example someone that’d just like to experience the story)
          Nintendo does this perfectly. There’s some crazy easy settings in most of they’re games. I’ve never used them, probably never will, but it’s nice to see them there.

          • Oh yeah, because that’s just like experiencing a game first hand. 😛
            Just watch it is not a good enough reason for no easy mode.

          • oh but playing a simplified watered down version is? no! it’s a curated experience, some movies are hard to watch and show things I can’t watch, I don’t demand that they edit them for me.

          • This response, this is what i dont understand. why do you care if there are difficulty options? They create the games to be played on hard, hard should always be the standard setting. But if someone wants it to be easier (because lets face it, we are not all good at video games) why cant it at least be a option? it doesn’t affect you at all. They dont need to alter the game either, just some hit points and health etc.

            They make bloody amazing games that offer so much but so many people miss out on them because of the difficulty.

          • I think some games should have an easy mode, but I have to stand by my point that, not all games should have them, nor should all games cater to everyone. Games like dark souls are meant to encourage a feeling of hopelessness and despair. Its in the world building, the lore, the enemy design. To make it easy would go against all that. Not to mention, I feel like Sekiro would be incredibly short and hollow if you take away the challenge.

          • I guess at the end of the day it is all about the “producers” creative vision for the game and how they want it to turn out. If it caters to millions that is great but if it only caters to a margin of players well that is a bummer but that is how they envisioned the game.

          • It depends on the type of games I guess? The story in soulsborne game has always been not that engaging in the way that you need lower difficulty for the story unlike games like God of War since narrative is a major part of the game.

            If they do have a lower difficulty of Sekiro, the game becomes rather…. bland. Imagine one hitting every single enemy and never dies in a game called Sekiro: Shadows die twice which they actually put a lot of mechanics into the punishment side of the game that your allies will get Dragon Rot and you actually gain “second life” through idols/damage.

            Making an easy mode literally removes one of the core mechanics of the game so I don’t see how that benefits anyone. In fact reviewers/content creators will breeze through the game and says “Sekiro is a disappointing game from From Software” and talk about how easy it is to run through the game and how the story is not engaging, completely ignoring the fact that the mechanics revolves around “Die Twice”.

          • all interesting valid points that still don’t matter if they have an easy mode. By the way, its doesn’t have to be super easy mode, just not, we are going to make you cry mode.

          • @wonderingaimlessly that’s my point with this. It doesn’t need to be easy, just easier. At the moment these games are basically 1 mistake = death. All it would need is 2 mistakes = death, or even 1.5 mistakes = death (ie, that 1 shot kill does 66% of its damage) and its a far friendlier experience to those simply not capable of playing a brutally difficult game.

            You don’t need to change it so healing is trivial, or mobs are 1 shot, or anything turning it into a boring event, just allow granularity so different levels of skill can enjoy the game equally.

            And to them, that new easier option is still going to be as tough as the existing base level is to those that play it now, so they can still get the same experience.

            Personally, if a game isn’t able to be designed that way, its a poorly built game. The game already has a NG+ mode, so what changes were made to allow that? And why cant those same adjustments go the other way? Clearly they didn’t rebuild all the encounters just to add NG+.

        • Yes there is a better chat to be had. One that has been completely ignored and explains why an ‘Easy mode’ or difficulty settings in general are irrelevant to these particular games. One we can thank the very talented creative minds at From Software for changing the way we play games.

          Since games have existed, Players have always equated dying with difficulty. Die frequently and game is hard, never die and game is easy. If a player continues dying they will assume the game is hard and will naturally look at changing the difficulty.

          From Software games flip the dynamics of dying in game. Rather than dying being bound to difficulty, dying is tied to progression. You are expected to die, a lot, and it is normal, that is how the game is played, dying is not the end simply a new start. A subtle but huge paradigm shift in gaming, like shield recharge in Halo or over the shoulder view in RE4…. but there is a problem. How do you convey this meaning to a consumer base who have been pre-programmed with half a century of gaming to associate dying with game over, defeat, losing… difficulty. You take difficulty out of the equation, you make difficulty irrelevant. Bizarre as it sounds, instead of dying making the game hard, dying makes the game fun. The more you play, the more you will die and the more you will enjoy it. Even more bizarrely, it works really well, so well its influence has changed a generation of games.

          So the argument that the game should have an ‘Easy Mode’ does not exist. From software has changed the model, removing difficulty from the equation. Dying does not make the game hard, dying makes the game fun, dying is progression.

          • Absolute rubbish. That is only one argument, not all of them. What you’re doing is basically justifying discrimination.

            The argument for an ‘Easy Mode’ exists for a simple reason. Not everyone has the same level of skill. To dismiss that so casually is discrimination, whether you realise it or not.

            blakeavon made a good point with Division 2 a few weeks ago. Basically, the menu screens have a graphical shimmer that causes issues with epileptics. Quite rightly, he suggested they have an option to remove it. Seems perfectly fair, its a change that lets someone with a health issue enjoy the game. A shortcoming he cant fix means he cant enjoy the game. Where that’s repairable, it should be. That’s the modern way with games – inclusion, not exclusion.

            So why is that not OK with souls type games? An easy mode doesn’t need to be a glorified tutorial, it only needs to make the challenge bearable to lesser skilled players. Suck it up shouldn’t be an excuse, that’s just justifying a form of discrimination.

          • Who are you arguing with? None of the points you made have any anything to do with my reply. My reply describes the aspects of dying in game and how From Software changes our relationship with it and how it relates to difficulty. At no point do I say the game is intended for certain people, nor I do say players should ‘Suck It Up’. Why not think a little before rushing to to make an unwarranted, defamatory reply that only harms your own credibility.

          • Your reply dismisses players limitations when you claim theres no argument for an easy mode. There is, and to ignore them is a form of discrimination. Not an illegal one, but one none the less.

            I get your point about them changing the relationship from one of difficulty to progress, but as soon as the game fails to create a way to get past blockers, and actually progress, the point becomes moot. By its nature, those deaths align with difficulty. With these games, that point is often very early in the game.

            When someone cant get past them, what do they do? That change from difficulty to progress becomes meaningless when it amounts to the same thing. You say theres no argument for an easy mode, which is tantamount to telling them to move on, or more colloquially, suck it up. So yes, you are saying that, whether you meant to or not.

            People aren’t asking for a game with no difficulty, we’re saying they could be less difficult. People that want to play on a Normal mode can do so, theres nothing stopping them, but for others that don’t share that same level of enjoyment from dieing over and over, why cant they have an out? To say theres no argument for that is dismissive, discriminatory, and saying the game isn’t intended for them. Again, whether you mean it or not, that’s what you’re representing.

            If these souls games aren’t able to do that (and clearly they can, because they all seem to have a NG+ mode) then they’re designed badly. Theres another argument for an easy mode – if they can put an NG+ mode in, why cant they go the other way?

            For the record, I’m been gaming since the 1980’s. I’ve played so many games its not funny, and gone the full gamut from simple to nigh on impossible. MMO’s designed for group play I was soloing, because I liked that challenge at the time, while other games I just want to experience the events without that challenge.

            I just want the option, why is that so wrong?

          • I’ll try to simplify my point to stop you muddying the water with incorrect interpretations of my reply and calls for ‘I want this.. I want that’ under the guise you are helping others.

            * Dying in game is equal opportunity, every gets to experience it. No one is excluded.
            * Dying is progress. You both learn and improve your character and skill over time which allows you to get past ‘blockers’ as you say. I would call them experiences.
            * Some may progress faster than others. This does not diminish the fun.
            * The ‘enjoyment’ aspect of games is different for everyone and difficulty is not a tangibly defined quantity.

            I didn’t make the game, why not be direct and up front with your argument? You’re saying From Software makes games that discriminate against a group of players.

          • The more I read your comments the more bizarre they seem. You keep throwing around the word discrimination like its meaningless. Like there is some magical wall stopping some people playing the game and its extremely offensive. Your argument devolves into this pseudo social cause, like easy mode is a human right, that not having it is discrimination and exclusionary and developers must have it. Really, this is the argument?

    • Being bad at a game is not really synonymous with disliking it or the game not being for you. Big difference between hating jrpgs and the game being too hard.

      At the end of the day the inclusion of easy modes don’t affect us. They just give more people the opportunity to enjoy the game and, who knows, maybe one day they’ll get good and play the game proper.

      • Being bad can be improved but some games are just not enjoyable for certain people.

        I personally dislike fighting games because it somehow doesn’t click into my style of games. To me playing fighting game is hard because I don’t “get” the game, not to mention playing a game that I don’t “get” while getting trashed by AI definitely soured the experience and I think what I just said is myself whining at how bad I am at fighting games.

        Same goes to undertale, I hate that game so much I refunded it on steam. I don’t get why people liked that game but I accepted they like it and just play other games instead.

        I feel if the game is not enjoyable for you doesn’t give make them entitled to make the developer change their game just for them. If the game is made easier, it would somehow undermine what defines the game.

        If soulsbourne had easy mode, it would not be what it is today.

        • Of course each person’s opinion is their own. But how does an easy mode change any soulsborn games legacy?
          Most from fans would huff at it, while going for the original difficulty. While others may play it that way and enjoy it.
          Unless it effected the multiplayer (an easy only mode for multiplayer is an easy remedy for this) who cares.

          • Well tell me a reason for having an Easy mode in Sekiro.

            Story? Almost non existent and not engaging.
            Combat? Already easy mode, combat will be a breeze.
            Mechanics? Down the drain because you will never need to revive or get dragon rot.

            I don’t see anyway it could improve the experience at all, except making everything easy so that they can finish the game and then brag the game is too easy.

          • I think an easy mode would change a Soulsborne because a significant part of those games is coming across an enemy, place, scenario and going “Oh shit. What are you? How are you going to kill me? And how am I going to defeat you?”

            If an easy mode makes the game literally easy then the player asks none of those questions because the player could mindlessly mash the attack button and win. And without those questions I believe you wouldn’t have a game worth playing.

          • The thrills of encountering new enemy, the challenge of every encounter and the moment when your dodge iframe fails is what makes it great. I think many people don’t understand that.

    • What about the people who are enjoying the game, who are getting the souls experience but just can’t push up that one level higher.
      I have around 50 hours of playtime in dark souls, which is a lot for me based on my amount of free time to game. I have really enjoy what I have played but hit a block with O&S that I couldn’t get past. I know many other people like this.
      Having options to make it a bit easier, if that be additional health, slightly longer telegraphing of attacks or make the window for being about to parry increased it might be enough to push through.
      Everybody is talking about an easy mode meaning all difficulty is lost, but as per the article by Alex it is more complex than that.

      • I know how people are struggling with the game, personally I am struggling as well because the game is hard but it doesn’t stop me from making progress albeit taking a bit more time but that is the fun of it.

        The problem why people are having trouble with this game is because everyone thinks they are soulsborne veteran and try to play the game that way but in fact the game requires you to guard and parry 80% of the time and only dodge for certain moves/boss.

        I mentioned it a lot of times in this article that the difficulty is part of the game, removing/altering the difficulty will inevitably make the game lose it’s charm.

        Soulsborne battles are hard with extreme punishment while Sekiro battles are very hard with low level punishment. It is balanced in it’s own way and changing small parts of it will tip the balance and destroys it.

        I think many people doesn’t know they can do free battle with the guy in the temple to practice combat as well. Not to mention you can practice battle with any enemy as long you run back to the idol to rest after your first death. I do that whenever I enter a new area with new enemy so that I can learn their pattern.

        While typing this I just realised why people are having so much trouble with this game, you cannot summon help like soulsborne games which is the equivalent of “easy mode” for soulsborne games.

  • I enjoyed the game before I returned it. I just couldn’t deal with needing to kill the same 7 mobs in the first section over and over just to get some skill points. Combat was fun, and I enjoyed the grapple hook. Just too much repetition for me.

  • From Software games became popular because it filled a niche. Just because you feel left out doesn’t make it fair to ruin it for other people. Suck it up, there are plenty of other games out there.

    When i think of all the games I used to love that imo have been ruined in the name of accessibility and wide market appeal (WoW, Dragon Age, Total War games to name a few) I have so much respect for From Software.

    • Adding an easy mode, while leaving the standard difficult untouched, in no way ruins the game experience for people who want to play it as it was intended. The only two ways this could ruin the game for fans would be if a) the player drew pleasure or pride from being able to finish a game that not everyone can or b) if the player got stuck and didn’t have the self control to avoid flicking over to easy, thereby depriving themselves of the experience they wanted.

      The first is measuring self worth against the performance of others in a video game to boast superiority. The second is a lack of self control. Both are not particularly good reasons.

      Saying “these games are not for you” is presumptuous, too. What if someone was a fan of Japanese historical fantasy, and the art direction, story, themes etc. appealed to them but they didn’t have the time in their daily life to “get good” to the level the game currently requires.

      I will say that the articles inference that differently abled people are precluded from enjoying the game “as is” is a bit of a flimsy statement. I saw a video of a quadriplegic person defeating the corrupted monk in a stunning display of skill, no cheese.

      Personally, I am still pushing through. I got stuck on a certain battle on the top of a castle, and have now decided to leave that for later and instead have headed into the depths. It’s punishigly hard but I’m enjoying it for now, and no, having an easy mode wouldn’t ruin the experience for me, because I wouldn’t select it… at least not yet. I’m enjoying the reward of persistence. And if I got to the point where I decided that the time investment wasn’t worth it, yet I still wanted to experience the end of the story, then I’d like to think that it was nobody else’s business if I did opt for easy for my own enjoyment. It would be better than leaving upwards of 40 hours of invested time unfinished.

    • I think the point being made by a lot of people is that, despite the fact that Soulsborne excelled in its niche by being fair but unforgiving and sometimes obtuse in its gameplay, doesn’t mean it can’t now start to appeal to people outside that niche by offering an optional, more forgiving way to play.

      WoW, Dragon Age – these games sacrificed things their fans enjoyed to become more accessible – there’s no reason that it always has to be a tradeoff of one or the other. Did DMC5 ruin itself by having an optional auto-combo system? No, because the purists said, “No, I don’t want that” when it was offered at the start of the game, and to my knowledge, the game is being universally praised by purists and newcomers alike. It’s just a matter of finding the right way to implement it.

  • Realistically, most of the difficulty in the game is the same as the souls games…it’s the control scheme. I find that applies more to these games than most others that might take 30 mins to adjust to the controls.

    Once you get used to how the game controls, how your character moves based on your inputs suddenly combat becomes a lot easier. Dark souls 1 is a good example – second half of the game is easier than the first half because you’ve adjusted to how the game works. Stop at that point and go re-play the first half and you breeze through with the same equipment.

    Sekiro is different to the souls controls in that you dodge sometimes, hit parry more often and have to jump sometimes. There’s also some of the combo attacks mixed in…and all of this happens on a pretty tight time frame.

    That means in Sekiro especially you’ll struggle until the controls become muscle memory and you can react fast enough to use the appropriate counter for what the enemy is doing.

    Personally I’m still getting there with the controls…often hitting incorrect buttons still and dodging when I wanted to jump etc. I’m not that far into it yet, will get there.

    • Pretty spot on with that summary. I do believe once those movements and inputs become second nature that game itself does get easier. It also helps to “research” Boss and enemy patterns and movements and then it all just clicks.

    • I was over the moon when I discovered Sekiro had rebindable controls and I could finally put the attack button on square, as the gods intended.

  • Honestly the game is fine for an easy mode just being less damage done to you on a hit. Reducing the amount of damage a boss (or enemy) does to you lets you stay in the fight for longer and get used to their moves and how to counter them. It’s especially important for the multiphase bosses because there’s nothing that frustrates me more than having to repeat and potentially lose in earlier phases just so I can (maybe) learn a little more about a later phase. I want more of a chance to learn the later phases.

    As I’ve been playing I’ve found myself comparing it to my Furi experience. (Another game about duels) I’ve beaten both modes and I felt that it struck a good balance between giving you a mode to learn in and then essentially saying, “Ok, we’re going to use real swords now”.

  • I am pretty sure the game starts in “easy mode” as halfway in, the game gives you a “buff” to increase difficulty.the Bell demon

  • Cant say I have strong feelings about it either way.
    The difficulty of the Souls games is appealing to me but I admit that it annoys me when I have to put the game down when I’m really enjoying it, all because of a number of factors.
    Nothing worse than having a few more hours of playtime but knowing you’ve crashed up against more than just the difficulty wall.
    (And yet on the other hand the whole getting up the next day to absolutely crush the wall like it was nothing is a completely insane reward on its own)

    Nioh was like that for me, such broad difficulties between bosses and mobs alike meant you went from sword God to punching bag in the space of one bloody corridor.

  • I personally don’t like the idea of an easy mode in FROMSOFT games. They are known not only for their difficulty, but more importantly the need to practice and accept the mechanics of the game (maybe for more than a few hours) in order to get better at it.
    This is a decision by the designers, it’s how the game is supposed to be.
    I have never encountered any part of a FROM game which can’t be beaten with persistence and respect for the systems given to the player. Once it ‘clicks’ it’s a similarly ecstatic feeling to beating a hard boss. An easy mode would just rob players of that tension and release.

    In regards to Sekiro, if you play it like Dark Souls or Bloodborne, you are gonna have a miserable time. Fact.
    It’s completely different in terms of rhythm and flow.

    The developer should not have to pander to people who don’t put in the work required, in my opinion.

    Incidentally, I’m very slowly working my way through sekiro and I’m certainly not good at it, but I’m learning important lessons with each area, each kill, each boss.

  • IMHO, there’s no easy mode because an integral part of the game is not the game itself but the feeling of accomplishment you get after finally achieving victory over a something that’s held you back for so long. If the game just gives you an easy mode to breeze through, then the experience and sense of accomplishment and pride in your own improvement is drastically diminished. It’s a tough-love thing; the devs and the game want you to succeed but, like a good parent, they want you to work for it and learn the value hard work, trial and error, and adapting to new challenges. Look at it like this: after putting in a hard day’s/week’s/etc. work at your job/school/uni/sport/hobby, don’t you feel more pride in yourself and your work than if you had just taken the easy route, gotten to the end as fast as you could, and done a shite job?

    • That said, easy mode would be removing the faulty cheat detection that bans you from the network without reason. It’s stops being fun when you play for Souls for 90 hours only to be banned from playing with others.

  • If you don’t like someone’s art dont pull out your paint brush and shit on it. If you can’t play sekiro or struggle so much so you think it should be redesigned good luck doing ANYTHING difficult in life. If you don’t have the willpower or time that’s a YOU problem. Easy modes in these games are a shit idea because even if we don’t select it we always know its there when we are struggling, which eats away at the idea there’s nothing you can do but TRY to beat x y z.

    • Well this isn’t at all a good reason! Either you choose to struggle with the hard difficulty of a game, or you don’t! The idea that an option undermines your choice … doesn’t that really mean that you never wanted to play on hard in the first place?

      What’s most surprising in this thread is just how little the actual content of the article – you know, the thing we’re all commenting on? – is spoken of. It’s a decent proposal I think (thanks Alex), as is the idea of @stormo of infinite resurrections.

      And if anyone comes back with the ‘it’s a piece of art, leave it as it is’ argument – I’m waiting to hear how you should only really see Picasso’s work in the sunlight that it was painted in.

      I’m also struck by the number of people on this thread who are actively *denigrating* Fromsoft’s games because their story would be shit without the difficulty … what? If I want to wrestle with a piece of very fast and unpredictable industrial machinery for leisure, that’s on me. But the stories of all Soulsborne games are fantastic, and they really matter.

      I realise I’m well beyond replying to your post now @janedoe. But what you said seems emblematic of the really quite odd and reductive accounts of the value of the very game that we’re all here because we like and admire!

      • Either you choose to struggle with a hard game or you don’t. These games are designed around their difficulty, they’re sold on their difficult and they are loved for their difficulty.

        No, the option for an easy mode undermining my choice doesn’t mean I always wanted to play on easy mode. It doesn’t mean I’d switch to easy mode either, knowing its there ruins the idea that you have no easy way out of situation.

        About the only thing you’ve said that isn’t complete shit is the stories of fromsoft games are great, they are.

        The problem with this article and yourself is you’re addressing a YOU problem that Miyazaki and 95% of the fan base don’t have. I don’t care if someone doesn’t enjoy Sekiro because its too hard, nor does the team of people you’re praising for their stories. If you find the game inaccesible, you’re not entitled to redesigning core principles and mechanics of the game to suit your needs. There’s people who have physical disabilities beating these games. They arent even hard. If you don’t have the time or patience to play Sekiro don’t play it. If you feel like you’re missing out then you’ll take it upon yourself to see what you’re missing out on. Fuck accommodating every tom dick and harry for everything.

  • Oh man this thread got big.
    The point of these games is to learn through failure. If someone like myself with a family and limited free time can pick up the game and get past Genichiro (disclaimer: I’m not that great at games), then I don’t see why it should change.
    I gave up on previous Souls games for things that annoyed me like distant save points and lack of progression. I couldn’t even get to the first boss in Demon’s Soul. Now that’s not the game’s fault. That’s mine. Sekiro has so many quality of life improvements over previous titles that an easy mode almost wouldn’t make sense. I second the notion that if you’re not having fun while dying, then perhaps the game isn’t for you.

  • This isn’t the first time I’ve heard people describe the joy of Sekiro in terms of rhythm and music. It’s kind of funny how little translation there is between the two forms of play when the learning principles are so similar and there is a near identical concept across both: zone/pocket. That was a pleasant article to read.

    I think one of the very few reasons I haven’t completely walked away from videogames is the expectation that difficulty settings will once again become ubiquitous and I will die from laughter that there is one less gate for people to keep. So please, greater accessibility, more modes, etc.

    • No ones gate keeping anything, its more or less the core design of these games and a minority of people who probably never play them want an easy mode. Go and ruin something else.

      • Calling for the status quo to remain is a form of gatekeeping. Much like telling people to get out of our hobby. Thing is, I don’t want you to leave, I want more people to come in and enjoy the things that I used to enjoy. Then hopefully they’ll shift towards the owner-creator side of the industry so that their mouths aren’t unexpectedly stacked full with disc-shits.

        But yeah, the key point is it will be nice when there are fewer gates for people to keep.

        • Calling for a key mechanic and principal to be removed from a game series to suit what you want removes the magic for many who enjoy it. Majority of fromsoft fans don’t want an easy mode and fromsoft don’t want to do an easy mode. You’re upsetting more people than you’re making happy for what you want. Gaming is incredibly accessible and cheap, there’s something for everyone. Not everything can be for everyone. Throw your gate keeping term around like its your sword all you want, nothing is changing here 🙂

          • Balance is the key “mechanic” we’re discussing. Adding a mode that tweaks balance for accessibility removes nothing. The folk who are upset by that need to take a deep breath, step back, and examine why the prospect or sharing their joy and accomplishment elicits that response.

            The souls series has been taking steps towards accessibility since Demon’s, there is no bulwark here.

          • Oh I didn’t realize that! I guess something like infinite ressurections or half damage taken isn’t really going to mess with the structure of the game. Maybe they could add in a slow down mechanic so people can get the deflect timing down. It’d be really cool to see fromsoft stop gate keeping their creations from people who can’t get the hang of them. I really do want to share the joy of the games I like, even if it structurally removes the core integral parts.

            How far are you into Sekiro?

          • That’s pretty much what I said, hey? A rebalanced easy mode, separate from vanilla, would be cool and have no impact on the vanilla mode.

            The thing that you miss, again and again, is that FromSoftware aren’t the dipshits walking around sardonically spouting “git gud”, in desperate need of an easy mode for empathy, and bullishly trying to push people out – that’s their fans.

            Apart from that, we appear to agree.

          • I’m joking. The only thing I agree on is “git gud” is retarded. Its not fromsoft fans, its fromsoft and Miyazaki and the fans. Maybe put some time into the game.

          • @janedoe

            No need, some champ has already built a framerate slider for PC that instantly makes the game more accessible. And it’s hilarious, and optional, and nothing was lost but so much was gained.

    • Most games have difficulty modes just because there’s a handful that don’t means you would walk away from video games, wowwww.

  • I remember playing ninja gaiden sigma on ps3. after dying so many times, the game gives you an easy option with a humiliating cut scene. after i finished the game on easy mode, i played it again on normal then on hard.
    currently im pushing forward with sekiro but it is more stressful than enjoyable. i didnt have this experience with bloodbourne or dark souls 1,2,3

  • The Soulsborkiro are about patience, pattern and rhythm and reward you emotionally for learning from your mistakes. If you die to a boss > 15-20 times, you’re not learning from your mistakes and you’re failing to pick up on the very obvious patterns that should have been learnt by that time. It’s not that the game is hard or difficult, it’s that you’re not learning, probably because you’ve been babied so long by games.

    Let’s not talk about hitboxes tho fuck FromSoft.

    • it’s that you’re not learning Ever feel like you’re close to making a reflective revelation? Your sentiment applies so readily to this thread that it’s uncanny.

  • I don’t see how offering an “easy mode” or an “accessibility mode” would lessen the experience for anyone else wanting to play “normally”.

    What’s the downside with allowing more people to play a game?
    Just because “easy mode” is there does not mean you have to play that mode.

    Ideally, allowing an “easy mode” would potentially help those struggling with the game to be able to practice more and potentially progress to the standard difficulty, while also allowing for people with say disabilities the opportunity to try and make some headway with the game.

    Saying that “if this game is too difficult, then it’s not the game for you” is a very broad statement that discredits a lot of peoples experiences.

    What is the downside of allowing more people the opportunity to play?

    • If you DO think it’s too difficult then no, it’s not for you. People shouldn’t be badgered into toning down their art because x amount of people find it challenging.

      • Badgered into, no, but making something more accessible in the future (or from the get go), yeah, why not? Again, what’s wrong with letting more people enjoy your game?

        I’m all for the difficulty of From games. I’ve never had any issues with it personally, and I know a lot of people wear it as a badge of pride when they complete their games, but what is so fundamentally wrong with offering more people the opportunity to play and enjoy a game that is so well loved?

        Offering assistance in some form or another for those who are struggling isn’t a bad thing?

        Again, it doesn’t have to be an easy mode as in “you do more damage, enemies do less damage, and enemies aren’t as smart”. Something as simple as increasing time to react, decreasing enemy agro range and so forth is one way to make it easier for those who do need help.

        The easy answer is to say “get gud”, or “this game isn’t for you”, but that’s not necessarily the right answer.

        Also, Dark Souls had a semi form of easy mode with the Way of White / Way of Blue / Warriors of Sunlight covenants, and even a hard mode with the Company of Champions, so it isn’t unrealistic to potentially offer something like this again in the future as an example of how to better implement differing difficulties.

  • Using different colours for the counter icons depending on if it’s going to be a thrust or swipe would make things a lot easier. Animating those icons to show when you should be hitting the button would make the fights a thousand times easier to navigate. Increasing the amount of time you have to punish bosses after successfully blocking them would also help. Movie style one enemy attacks at a time AI similar to Arkham Asylum’s rules of engagement would drastically decrease the difficulty.

    Those are rather simple changes but they eliminate the core problem causing players to struggle with Sekiro—you need to know the specifics every significant fight and the only way to learn them is to go into those fights already having a great grasp of the combat system.
    These changes keep the player actively engaged with the game, learning the combat system and general timing is still important and rewarding, but takes away that overwhelming layer where you have to combine that knowledge with new stuff you’re learning on the fly. I mean at the end of the day dying too much isn’t the problem, it’s about not being able to keep your head above water long enough to make any actual progress in a fight.

    All that said I think people need to just suck it up and accept that it’s ok to not want to play Sekiro. Where the main Souls games are these really flexible niche challenges and Bloodborne is the sort of mainstream evolution of that concept Sekiro is the niche within the niche. Dark Souls achieves customisation through a wide range of playstyle options while Sekiro achieves customisation by putting a very specific playstyle through slightly different lenses.
    That concept is fundamentally opposed to mainstream acceptance. Not in some elitist ‘we’re better than mainstream gamers because we play hard games’ sense but in the ‘cricket games don’t appeal to people who don’t like cricket games’ sense. I’d have a lot of fun with it but Katamari doesn’t need an insane difficulty mode and gore options.

    • On a side note bringing disabilities into the ego driven Souls difficulty debate feels sleazy. There are so many disabilities out there with such a wide range of impacts but for the majority of people with disabilities easy mode is taking the ball out of their hands and throwing it for them. It doesn’t make anything about the game more accessible it just wins on their behalf in a solo game that’s all about earning your victory.
      Easy mode is so low on the priorities list when it comes to accessibility. Being able to remap controls is so important yet it’s constantly overlooked. Colour blind modes are still case by case. My girlfriend loves Just Dance on the Switch but even in a game that’s design revolves around mobility that ‘feature’ seems to be an accident due to the hardware not being able to tell that she uses a wheelchair. I’m struggling to think of a single game with subtitles for the deaf and that’s such a basic thing to do.
      I love UI scaling and customisation as a feature but people with vision issues actually need it and they rarely get it. Imagine the frustration of having to switch in and out of magnification mode while playing knowing full well that the developers could have included a large text option in the time it takes to make coffee.

      Microsoft made a massive leap with their XBOX Adaptive Controller and their attitudes towards accessibility features on the XBOX One but if we actually care about people with disabilities being included we have to make sure that developers follow that example rather than just adding modes that are easier from an able bodied perspective but still retain all the accessibility hurdles hard modes do.

  • The game owes you NOTHING, if you don’t like it, don’t play it. Alot of games have easy mode, this one doesn’t. It’s a niche game for a niche market and thats ok. Not every game is for or should be for everybody.

    People say it shows that the game doesnt respect people… I say it shows it DOES, it believes that you CAN beat it. “Oh but I don’t have the time for that” … then don’t play it….

    I don’t have 1000 hours to play everything in rdr2, so I didn’t. I hate how massive open world games are so I don’t play them… they arn’t for me

    • …if you don’t like it, don’t play it.Not being antagonistic at all, but what happens if you DO like it, but CAN’T play it? Again, not a question to start an argument, literally just want other peoples thoughts.

      • Life isn’t fair. The thing ppl are missing here, is that hard games with little to no hand-holding is part of the FromSoft brand. Adding an easy mode would damage that brand by pissing off its chosen demographic. It isn’t fair to you but it is perfectly fair to the ppl the game was designed for.

  • It took me 30 hours to reach any sort of competency in this game. Your level of patience is the difficulty slider.

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