We are less than a month out from the release of Elden Ring. Some are already planning to take off from work to play it. Others are planning to take off from the internet to avoid what will likely be another round of game difficulty discourse. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki has broached the subject in a new interview, saying that while he didn’t set out to make Elden Ring easier as some might have hoped, he thinks more people will finish it than past FromSoftware games.
Asked about game difficulty and accessibility over on the PlayStation Blog, Miyazaki tried to set the record straight on what the Dark Souls games are really about before diving into why he hopes Elden Ring won’t stress players out as much as his past games.
“I feel like our approach to these games, not just Elden Ring, is to design them to encourage the player to overcome adversity,” he said. “We don’t try to force difficulty or make things hard for the sake of it. We want players to use their cunning, study the game, memorise what’s happening, and learn from their mistakes.”
The game director went on:
We don’t want players to feel like the game is unfairly punishing, but rather that there’s a chance to win a difficult encounter and make progress. We understand that Souls-like games are regularly associated with impossible levels of difficulty with high barriers to entry. But we try to design the games to make the cycle of repeatedly trying to overcome these challenges enjoyable in itself. So we hope that with Elden Ring and the new options it provides, it will be a success in that respect.
Those new options, as hinted at in previous interviews, include more opportunities for stealthily sneaking around and bypassing enemies and bosses, as well as going and exploring a different part of the open world after getting stuck somewhere. Miyazaki also reiterated that multiplayer summonings will be much more accessible this time around, giving players more chances to call for backup to help them through particularly difficult moments.
“In Elden Ring, we have not intentionally tried to lower the game’s difficulty, but I think more players will finish it this time,” Miyazaki said.
He continued elsewhere in the interview:
In general, I’d like new players to feel unpressured and that they can approach the game at their pace. I don’t want to enforce any playstyle or particular route because I’d like them to experience that sense of freedom. And I realise that while we offer games with a high level of challenge, we design them in a way that feels fulfilling to overcome. But I don’t want new players to worry or stress about that difficulty too much.
Players have been debating whether the Souls games should have difficulty settings for years, and while the games industry overall has started trending toward making games more accessible in all sorts of ways, FromSoftware has lagged behind. While it’s not clear exactly yet what the full suite of Elden Rings accessibility and customisation options will be, it sounds like the open world nature of the game itself might go a long way toward meeting different kinds of players where they are, even if it still occasionally finds ways to kill them en masse.