Sekiro: Shadows Git Gud

By Bob Case Posted Saturday Mar 30, 2019

Filed under: Video Games 321 comments

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the new game from developer From Software, the creators of Demon’s Souls, the Dark Souls Series, and Bloodborne. Their games are known for their sometimes punishing difficulty. Sekiro has now been out for eight days, and my divinationsWhich, in this case, are based primarily on how many pictures of crying babies are in the thumbnails of my youtube recommendations. show that the appointed hour has come for the internet to gather together in its places of worship to hold the ceremonial Difficulty Arguments.

Is the game too hard? Not hard enough? Hard in the wrong way? Do those having trouble simply need to “Git Gud”? I suspect that even those of you who haven’t played the game are familiar with the general contours of the discussion. In case you’re not, they go something like this: these games are unusually difficult. They require more tries to defeat their bosses, have less margin for error in their gameplay, and give less assistance to the player in navigating their worlds and mechanics. For some, this makes them unapproachable and unpleasant, while others find the challenge invigorating. Those in the second group often regard the possibility of making the game easier as a compromise of its vision.

I have some sympathy for that argument. In the past I’ve said the Dark Souls‘ difficulty could be considered part of its story. The same is at least partly true in other FromSoft games. One thing they have in common are diagetic resurrection mechanisms. (Apologies – I couldn’t come up with a less clunky phrase.) In most games, you die, and are resurrected, and the player is meant to understand that this happened because it’s a video game and you really shouldn’t think too much about it.

In FromSoft games, however, the resurrection is consistent with the setting. In Dark Souls, you’re “hollow,” (ie, undead), in Bloodborne you resurrect via something called the “Hunter’s Dream,” and in Sekiro your character has been blessed by a demigod-like figure called the “Divine Heir.” In fact, portions of Sekiro‘s story can only be uncovered by dying, not just once but several times. In this context, punishing difficulty is thematically appropriate. They even prepare you for that by giving you a nearly unwinnable boss fight right out of the gate – one that you’re supposed to lose.

Crap. It's Gehrman.
Crap. It's Gehrman.

The disagreements are ubiquitous enough that one can easily find, say, a single publication (in this case, Forbes) advocating both for and against a hypothetical “easy mode.” So we have here a standard-issue on the one hand/but on the other hand argument of the type so eloquently critiqued by Al Swearengen. With that critique in mind, I’ll skip past further explanations of the various hands and go straight to the end: I believe adding an optional, easier difficulty level would add a new audience to Sekiro without subtracting much of anything.

For one thing, adding it would be a relative snap mechanically. Just goosing the damage the player character does, or the amount he can receive, or both, would be an easy fix. There are already mechanics to do so in the game – the “attack power” and “vitality” stats, boosted by items looted from bosses and minibosses. Including an option to start the game with an initial/scaling boost to said stats would be well worth the relatively small amount of development time it would take to make one. It would make the game significantly easier without disrupting its core mechanics, allowing more people to play and enjoy it. What’s more, it would serve as a kind of de facto NG+; players that completed the game on easy would be tempted to immediately restart it on hard.

The typical counterpoint made to this suggestion is to say that an easy mode damages an ephemeral and undefinable “sense of accomplishment” that is vital to these games. I simply don’t buy this argument as stated. The sense of accomplishment a player gets from overcoming an in-game challenge is an immediate and highly personal thing and doesn’t depend on other, less adept players being excluded from it. The “git gud” argument – in both its polite and impolite incarnations – holds that excluding less skillful players is an accidental byproduct of their desire for high difficulty. In fact, I suspect it’s the core: the ability to be conversant in FromSoft games is a privilege that some members of gaming’s self-appointed priestly caste wish to reserve for themselves.

After Sekiro's grappling hook, and the increased verticality and freedom of movement it brings, I predict it'll be hard to go back to previous FromSoft games.
After Sekiro's grappling hook, and the increased verticality and freedom of movement it brings, I predict it'll be hard to go back to previous FromSoft games.

This is not in any way an indictment of those who enjoy hard games. I’m enjoying Sekiro very much – so far, I think that in its own way it’s as good as Bloodborne, and Bloodborne is one of my favorite games ever. But the quality of these games does not rely solely on how hard they are. Instead, the strength of their base design – fair, varied, intuitive in all the right places – is what allows them to be so flexible in their difficulty. Understood in this way, their difficulty is a compliment to the adaptiveness and perseverance of their assumed player. I personally don’t think that compliment is cheapened by paying it to people who have either less free time, less accumulated knowhow with FromSoft games, or less experience with games in general.

There is an additional rhetorical dimension to this debate, which has to do with the term – and the concept – of “old school.” Many who enjoy the challenge of FromSoft games nostalgically link them to a bygone era when games were a little harder and those who made them understood fun a little better. I pine for that bygone age a bit myself, and I believe that the burgeoning, vaguely-defined genre of “Soulslike” could be a way to revive some of the forgotten wisdom of the past. Next week, I’ll go into more detail.



[1] Which, in this case, are based primarily on how many pictures of crying babies are in the thumbnails of my youtube recommendations.

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321 thoughts on “Sekiro: Shadows Git Gud

  1. Jabberwok says:

    I have nothing against adding an easy mode to the game. On the other hand, I think I would be too stubborn to actually use it even though I’m having a lot of trouble with the boss fights.

    1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      If it’s a toggleable thing, I would absolutely use it on about half the bosses.

      There are only so many times I can grind through several massive health bars only to die from a lack of healing items.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Toggle-able, adjustable, fine-grained, and change-able at any time, would be the ideal. So many games give you a single difficulty to change, and only at the start of the game. That doesn’t work because, for example, you could find the difficulty too high on the first dungeon, restart the game, then find out that the dungeon was an anomaly, and the rest of the game is now too easy. The game should be balanced overall, but that’s very hard to do, and different players could have difficulty with different mechanics (boss fights, vs dungeon crawls, etc).

  2. JDMM says:

    In the abstract I’m not against the easy mode but I find the arguments for it always so insulting for lack of a better word
    The gaming community and especially journalists want to take games seriously, to treat them as a serious artform and then when a game shows up that seems to absolutely commit to that sort of seriousness, that trims off near everything and is successful because of that, what happens? There’s a demand that the game throw away it’s structural integrity for the sake of accessibility.
    The call for seriousness inverts, the gaming industry equivalent of Spielberg shouldn’t be making Schindler’s List, he should be making Indiana Jones and only that and also games are only a pathetic imitation that can’t compare to films or literature
    Imagine if people made the demand for the YA version of Pynchon or McCarthy because those books can be inaccessible to the general public, a PG version of Come and See, a comprehensible version of Holy Mountain

    A second note is that much of this seems to be bandwagoning sort of, Dark Souls has lore sure but it’s not like people go, “wow, the lore”. People become invested because of the gameplay and then because of their obsession with Dark Souls read into the lore. To have an easy mode so you can look at the lore is like having a version of jiu-jitsu where everything is slowed down so people can plan out their moves, sure the intricacies of grappling may be interesting but it’s not interesting in of its own complexity, it’s interesting because these people are attempting to choke or break one another (maybe went a bit too insider baseball there, oh well)

    1. Inwoods says:

      Serious covers an enormous amount of ground though. You can have dark art and a serious plot while doubling player’s weapon damage.

      Subjectively, you can have a newb struggle just as much with easy as a veteran does with a harder difficulty and they would both say it was “serious.”

      1. Jabberwok says:

        Yeah, I think this was pretty much the main point of the article.

      2. Scampi says:

        I haven’t much interest in overly hard titles myself, but I understand people’s concern with a work’s integrity (I think).
        If a work is intentionally hard and its artstyle reflects a kind of dark grimness that coincides with the difficulty, it detracts if there is an option to just casually walk through the world, barely hindered by any resistance.
        I think that someone who doesn’t experience the hardship of fighting through such a game doesn’t appreciate the game in the same way as someone does who has put in the effort of fighting their way through it.
        If gaming is an art, I think they have, to take themselves seriously, demand the player spends some effort on them.
        I’m not an adept of classical music, painting or ikebana and thus can’t reliably appreciate a person’s skill at creating them, a composition in its quality or its meaning.
        If the intended experience of a work equates to “going through hell”, I believe it requires this experience (at least?) to be appreciated at all.
        For another example: Playing a hard as hell intended game with an easy option or a story mode would be like fighting an old ox instead of a young bull in the arena. Of course you can do it, but the essential artform (if we want to call it that) requires some difficulty.
        There is no “easy” setting on a composition by Vivaldi or the Mona Lisa (hm…I like how my sentence could refer to compositions created by the Mona Lisa…I’ll leave it like that^^). You can, of course, use a comment on a work or an experienced guide to explain a work to you, but you can’t claim to have understood the work on your own, then, and I think in gaming, the understanding is partly in understanding and defeating the challenges a player has to overcome.

        To be sure: I think it is elitist to lock a game this way to ensure it’s “played as intended”, but I think the developer/artist, in a way reducing their own income intentionally to make their game more appealing to a “skill elite”, are totally entitled to do so.
        If they wanted the accessibility, they’d put it in there.

        1. The Nick says:

          I think the assumption that ‘if the producers wanted the accessibility, they’d put it there’ is a flawed argument because it assumes that gamemakers are these unfailing artists who never make any mistakes.

          Somebody says, “Hey, I have kids but I’d like to enjoy this game. Can I?” and people say, “NO IT WOULD DAMAGE THE VISION!”

          But nobody looks at (say) the new Metal Gear SURVIVE game and say, “What? Take out trashy survival elements, bugs, glitches, and zombies with horns? But what about the developer’s vision?”

          To put it another way, I don’t need the super-hardest difficulty to “understand” that ‘war is hell’ or ‘torture is bad’ if the creators have any sort of vision and I have any sort of critical thinking skills. It’s like somebody entering a bugs-and-excrement chili into the chili contest – I might be the judge, but I don’t need to take a few bites to know that one isn’t winning first place and people saying, “But but but the *vision*,” sort of are missing the point.

          1. Scampi says:

            I think the assumption that ‘if the producers wanted the accessibility, they’d put it there’ is a flawed argument because it assumes that gamemakers are these unfailing artists who never make any mistakes.

            I don’t think I made any argument that gamemakers are unfailing artists, just that, if they want to make teethgrindingly hard games and want to get people to break a sweat playing their games and that’s intentionally reflected in the design, even to the exclusion of large part of the (potential) audience, that’s absolutely fine. I just assume that a game that is intentionally hard and does come without an easy mode is meant to be that way and people who don’t want to play that kind of game are not the target group of the product.
            Also: The people taking out “trashy survival elements, bugs, glitches, and zombies with horns” are usually the devs themselves, aren’t they? Apparently, any bugfixes, changes to a game etc. reflect how they wanted their game to work. If From Software included an easy mode in their next games, it would tell they wanted to expand their audience. The difficulty seems to be a consistent part of their games, though, leading me to believe they don’t want an easy mode.
            Thus I think it’s totally justified to refer to the creator’s vision in this case.

            1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              The problem with the “developer vision” argument is that they’re not making and balancing it for a single player.
              They might want to make a teethgrindingly hard game, but the actual difficulty depends heavily on who actually plays it.

              There are already people who speedran all the bosses in under an hour. Does that make the game too easy? Because clearly these people aren’t finding the game THAT hard.
              On the other hand, plenty of people can barely get past the first bosses. Does that make the game too hard? Because presumably the devs do want you to eventually win, and continue playing the game.

          2. Jabberwok says:

            Also, developers change their minds about stuff like this all the time, based on demand from fans and internal discussion. In my experience, the results of those changes usually turn out to be for the best.

          3. Sartharina says:

            … Why do people always try to reduce the art of videogames into stupid messages/platitudes? That’s not how art works! That’s not how any of this works. Also – some art is just trash, like Metal Gear Survive. And some people don’t appreciate the art of a specific work, and that’s fine (Jackson Pollock paintings don’t do anything for me. But I’ve heard others talk about being impressed when face-to-face with one of his works has on them, and how language can’t convey the effect of the interplay of the colors and scale of the image justice has on them)

      3. RandomInternetComment says:

        Personal relativeness of difficulty is a flawed argument. Very few of us start intrinsically gifted at video games. The reasonable man who struggles at video games would look at a consensus of skilled players telling them there is a higher experience, and that experience cannot happen by dialing it down one notch. Instead, we get these complicated rationalisations there is a nebulous “git gud” conspiracy bent on sneering at noobs.

        The struggle a hypothetical perma easy mode player would experience is not the same struggle the average Dark Souls player would experience. That first struggle is one of never learning from mistakes, tumbling around from game to game with gameplay always remaining a passive experience, either endured or enjoyed but never assimilated as part of a growing whole of personal improvement. The latter struggle implies constant thinking outside of the box, adapt and overcome challenges too tough to power through.

        The discussion gets muddled because of
        1) genuine newbies to video games, who need time and space to get used to video game tropes. But this category is temporary by nature, and real newbies have every other video game out there to sink their teeth in before they tackle games like Dark Souls. Someone who has played and written about video games for years is not a “newbie”, but rather a person who refuses to improve, either by choice or mental block.
        2) hardcore players with extreme abilities, tackling even Dark Souls with ease thanks to sheer mechanical skill. To them, arguments of challenge fall flat. However, they’re a microscopic part of the playerbase.

        For most of the population, Dark Souls is a puzzle game disguising itself as an action RPG. You can’t make the experience of Chess more accessible by turning every pawn into a queen at start. Yes, you still have a game, yes, you could still enjoy that game, and yet you would lose something so primordial to the experience it would hardly make sense.

        Then comes the argument an optional easy mode doesn’t endanger normal difficulty for everyone else. An inherently wrong argument, proven wrong through gaming history. Even single-player games are social, as the collective subconscious determines expectations set for the next games. We have seen video games become easier over time, many of them losing what soul they had in regards to gameplay. That’s the very reason Souls-type games enjoy the cult following they do: they’re pushing back against the idea the existence of controlled, hard gameplay as a gaming niche has no right to exist.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Then comes the argument an optional easy mode doesn’t endanger normal difficulty for everyone else. […] We have seen video games become easier over time

          That’s not an optional difficulty setting – every single player gets the easier game. Non-optional easy modes hurt the experience of players who want to play on a hard mode – which is why easy modes need to be optional, and not forced onto every player.

        2. Bubble181 says:

          ” a person who refuses to improve, either by choice or mental block”

          – wow, arrogant
          /elitist much? That’s like saying everyone who can’t run 100 meters in under 10 seconds simply doesn’t want it enough and just isn’t trying.
          Not everyone has the same skill ceiling or possibilities. Literally no woman has ever done it, no-one over the age of 40 has done it. Let’s just not have them compete. What’s that? Separate competitions based on gender or age? No, that would dilute the respect we’d have to have for Usain Bolt!

          Either you’re really so far gone you think everyone can achieve the same, or you didn’t think that argument through.

          1. RandomInternetCommenter says:

            “That’s like saying everyone who can’t run 100 meters in under 10 seconds simply doesn’t want it enough and just isn’t trying.”

            We’re not talking about speedrunning the game on a level 1 while blindfolded, here. Playing Dark Souls to completion for someone who has been playing video games for years is more akin to running 100 meters in under 2 minutes. Unless you have a crippling disability, you should be able to do it. It’s a deterministic game, a given series of input can get you to the end, and it doesn’t require even average levels of twitch skill.

            It’s highly intellectually dishonest to make such a comparison. Some people have even managed to complete the game using voice controlled controls. Where does an argument on physical limitations come in there?

            Be honest for a moment and accept if you struggle with the game, it’s because you don’t want to win bad enough to put the effort; a level of effort that doesn’t require elite feats of strength, just average brainpower and persistence.

            And not wanting to put the effort is fine for a number of reasons, it’s a game and one doesn’t have to treat it seriously. Arguing in bad faith against the game difficulty’s is asinine, though. Instead of putting effort into mastering something, you’re putting the same level of effort into being bad at something. *And* you’re being hostile to other people as you do it. What do you even get from this, really?

        3. Chiller says:

          No, Jesus, no.
          I’ve been playing all of these games for a long time because I love the combat mechanics but I utterly detest the developer’s insistence of adding extra punishment when you fail (with the bloodstain in Soulsborne or taking away half your unbanked xp/cash in Sekiro – which is also by far the dumbest thing they’ve done so far).
          For that reason I’ve always played them making heavy use of savescumming at the start before I get a handle on the mechanics.
          Despite never really going into the experience “as intended” I’ve gotten rather good at them and also find them superbly enjoyable. But I also wish they would have – at least – a proper save system.

          1. Karma The Alligator says:

            You only lose half your souls on death in Sekiro? That seems an improvement over losing everything… unless you can’t get them back at all?

            But yeah, I agree, the extra punishment isn’t needed. I died, I failed already, I’m gonna have to redo everything since the last bonefire/save, not need to pour salt into the wound by taking what I could use to improve my chances at succeeding the next time.

            I’ve played all three Dark Souls “properly”, and enjoyed them enough to keep playing, but these days I’ve modded them to remove some annoyances and I’m enjoying them even more thanks to this.

            1. GloatingSwine says:

              You lose half your XP and money (they’re separate) and they’re gone forever.

              There is a chance that you will be protected by the Buddha and lose nothing, but dying a lot of times causes that chance to decrease (it can be recovered with a consumable item, but only later on in the game).

              I have died a lot in Sekiro. Sekiro is considerably more difficult than Dark Souls.

            2. Synapse says:

              To put it into clear context, unlike previous souls games there is no straight way to “leveling stat” so to speak with the currency . Your two currencies being Sen and Skill Points. Skill points get spent towards the skill tree and Sen towards items/upgrades.

              Both get halved upon death with a % chance of no loss (called Unseen Aid in game). Importantly you only lose Skill Points xp towards your next point and keep any previous point you have earned. Sen on the other hand will be halved towards 1 Sen and requires more planning to not waste (buy bankable Sen items that aren’t lost upon death, spend before a boss fight but ofc thats not always predictable). On one hand you don’t need to spend nearly as much Sen as you would Souls/Blood Echos overall but Sen cannot be retrieved. I can’t say which you would find more or less punsihing but thats how it works in Sekiro.

    2. armagrodden says:

      I, on the other hand, have always found the counter-arguments to easy mode to be insulting. They’re essentially all based off the idea that, if you don’t meet some arbitrary level and style of gaming “skill” then you don’t deserve to play a game, despite the fact that you’ve paid as much for it as anyone else. I’m not asking every game to be Bejewelled, or to be rated E for everyone. Games can have a variety of artistic styles, storytelling styles, seriousness or humor, moral value, and so on without requiring that they be unplayable to a segment (often a large segment) of your customer base. In response to your Spielberg comparison, I would say anyone who pays $20 for either Schindler’s List or Indiana Jones can watch either of those movies. Schindler’s List is great because of its artistic and storytelling value, not because each chapter of the DVD requires that you write a graduate level essay on the rise of Nazism or the history of World War II in order to unlock the next chapter; and people are able to take it seriously without having to overcome artificial barriers that ensure that only “elite viewers” can complete the movie and sneer at those who have not.

      1. Scampi says:

        Have you ever bought a book or watched a movie in a foreign language, which you could only access by learning the language first? If so: How high was the entry barrier there? How many years of learning before you could handle reading it in about the time it would have taken you in your native tongue?
        There is some entry level for you that doesn’t compare to learning to play a game, I believe.
        I could go out there and buy myself a Japanese version of the Nihon Shoki, but without overcoming the entry barrier of becoming sufficiently fluid in Japanese first, I doubt I’d enjoy the work the same way as other people, despite having paid the same for it.
        A vegan and a muslim could go to a butcher and buy a pound of pork cutlet, but they’d not enjoy it the same as everyone else, because they are just not the target demographic of the product.
        Maybe that’s something people have to get into their heads. Not every product is for everyone, and if you’re not part of the target demographic, maybe look at reviews and decide: “Maybe this one’s not for me.”

        Put another way: You decide whether to buy a product despite not being part of the target demographic. The developer doesn’t decide on who is part of their customer base, and declaring yourself a part of it honestly shouldn’t concern them in the least, I believe. I’m sure they’ll like your money the same as anyone else’s, but you’re the one who decided to throw it at a game you might have known beforehand you wouldn’t like due to its lack of an accessible easy mode for you.

        1. Rack says:

          The difference is there isn’t typically a set of people sneeringly dismissive of translating The Count of Monte Cristo into English, even if a little nuance is inevitably lost along the way.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            You honestly have never encountered the, “Oh, you haven’t read it in the original Finnish?” set of smug literature snobs?

            1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              Yeah, but we also have a translated copy in our bookshelves.

              The snobs might sneer, but we already have what we want, unlike with the FromSoft games :)

            2. anon says:

              You have, of course, never experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.

              1. Karma The Alligator says:

                I thought the best version was the Elcor one.

          2. Scampi says:

            Actually, there is a set of people sneering at reading translations. I have encountered them at the very least for Arab (“The Quran is untranslatable-you have to read it in Arab or you haven’t read it at all.”), Russian (“You can’t read Dostoevsky in any other language, as Russian is the most poetic language of all.”) and Japanese (“Reading a translation of the language misses lots of detail and cultural reference that gets lost if you’re not deep into the culture.”). I’m rather sure they exist for many other languages as well, mostly linguists specializing in the language, but also people who take immense pride in (having learnt) a language and believe it to hold very unique attributes that can’t possibly be conveyed into other languages.

            For specific examples where I even see a point: Have you ever tried to translate a haiku (or other poetry)? For haiku it’s especially pointless imho, as the entire structure doesn’t translate (properly) into most other languages and relies greatly on the way the Japanese language is written.
            A (literal) translation is of course possible, but the artistic merit is (almost?) completely lost in the process.
            I’d argue the same might be the case here, where the difficulty seems to be part of the general concept of From games.

          3. Bloodsquirrel says:

            The more relevant difference is that there aren’t people demanding that no book be published unless the author learns English so that he can provide an English language version, because everybody deserves to be able to read the book.

            1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              Like how Sekiro only has a Japanese language option? Because obviously the devs believed that anyone who couldn’t understand the original vision, just had to learn the language or learn to play without it.

              If a developer wants people to buy and play their games, they need to present them in a way that people can actually use them.

          4. algeh says:

            You clearly are hanging out with a different group of over-enthusiastic anime fans than I used to.

        2. Echo Tango says:

          I’m sure they’ll like your money the same as anyone else’s

          Given the relative ease of putting in a difficulty setting/menu/option, and the fact that it’s not in these games, this appears to not be the case.

    3. Duoae says:

      I can see where you’re coming from but I think, in this instance, drawing a film analogy is about as useful as the ubiquitous internet argument car analogy (which I do really love – seriously, I use car analogies all the time!).

      Due to the inherent difference in experience between games and film, you’re drawing a parallel between the director’s vision and the player’s desire. That doesn’t work. Spielberg chose to make both Indiana Jones and Schindler’s List and kept his vision for both of them. The easy mode and normal mode of a From Software game would both be the developer’s intent and thus vision – they would choose to do them. The difference is that the same concepts can’t be shared within a single piece of art in film whereas in gaming they can.

      The “git gud” argument, as Bob mentions, isn’t about the director’s intent, though. it’s about how the viewer of the movie feels. It’s like a movie with an emotional trigger for a given person who says, they’d really like to enjoy the movie but that one scene really puts them off…. (in fact that happened with GTA V and the torture scene IIRC). Now, if the scene is instrumental to the movie then, yeah, it can’t be cut.. but often many scenes are cut because they’re not instrumental to a given piece of art. Just look at director’s cuts of various movies and many scenes cut for the theatrical release add very little to most movies.

      If you could expand the viewership (and thus rental/ownership) of that movie by a good margin by removing that one scene, wouldn’t it be worth it? Even to the creators of the endeavour?

      [edit] And, to pull the point home – that is exactly what happens with theatrical cuts of films….

      1. Scampi says:

        The easy mode and normal mode of a From Software game would both be the developer’s intent and thus vision

        As you say: They would be the developer’s intent. If From Software decided their games needed an easy mode. But if an easy mode is specifically not part of their vision, isn’t this kind of an agreement by the devs that “git gud” is how they would like their audience to operate?
        I don’t believe expanding the audience is inherently good. If there’s a niche to be served, in this case the niche of people who want to play hard as hell games that offer a challenge and kind of an entry into a “secret club” you might say, expanding the audience would rob the audience of this experience. Also, there is the question why anyone would want to have an easy mode for a game the specific selling point of which appears to be its high difficulty.
        The entire process is only good for the creators if they set out to make a game as popular as possible. Maybe that’s not the mission they set out to accomplish and they wished to serve that niche audience.
        Shamus often talked about (if I remember correctly) how Mass Effect or other franchises lost their original vision to become more popular with the general public. Would ME have been a better franchise if it had maintained its original (assumed) vision? How is this case different, then? I believe in both cases, the original target audience would feel rightly betrayed by a severe change of direction (I belong to none).

        1. Duoae says:

          I’ve not seen any comments from the developers saying that they’re opposed to an easy mode. But I agree with you that the developers would have to put it in the game themselves.

          I dislike the talk of secret clubs and stuff, that’s all on the player’s side of things and is purely about ego. Expanding the audience has no negative impact as long as the game isn’t compromised for it – I.e. altering the mechanisms for those players who are less able and diminishing the game for those who are able to play it as it would have been. However, I can see no way in which an easy mode would do this.

          It would also increase the playerbase for upcoming titles and thus improve the chances of getting funding for those games. I mean, before Demon’s Souls, what was the publishing landscape for those sorts of games? I don’t remember it being very positive.

          To put it very simply, i don’t think that Form Software games are all that difficult. They are obtuse and difficult to learn if you’ve never played one before. Granted, I’ve only played bloodborne and sekiro so my sample set is limited.
          An easy mode (which could be as simple as increasing the number of gourd uses by x2) would go a long way to allowing new players to learn the language of the game without disrupting the hardcore.

          The whole argument of “git gud” is just people lauding over others. When you’re good at something, it’s my opinion that you should use your ability too help others, not deny them like you’re some sort of godling. To look at it another way, git gud is the equivalent of “screw you, im okay”. It speaks to people who are very unhappy with themselves and it’s a very short sighted behaviour as you will undoubtedly be bad at something else.

    4. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Do you feel like guided museum audio tours or Cliff notes insult the seriousness of art galleries or literature? If not, why would an easy or assist mode ruin a game? Another thing to keep in mind, arguing that NO allowances should be made is like being insulted that subtitles exist for foreign films or wheelchair ramps anywhere. The EXTENSIVE difficulty changing modes in Celeste were explicitly intended for both A) anyone who wanted to use them and B) for people with all different kinds of disabilities. For my part, I think games with no allowances at all are pretty hostile in the sense of being ableist, not so much too hard for the plebs or whatever is meant to be the case.

  3. Agammamon says:

    The sense of accomplishment a player gets from overcoming an in-game challenge is an immediate and highly personal thing and doesn’t depend on other, less adept players being excluded from it

    Think of it this way;

    For many of these gamers, yes, even single-player games, it is a competitive experience. When one of these players says ‘I completed game x’ it means there was a skill-floor that that person rose above. If its all the same, if the experience is maintained across players, then anyone who says ‘I completed game x’ has demonstrated a specific level of skill.

    Now lower difficulty. People will say ‘I completed game x’ but on the lower difficulty. That reduces the signalling capability of those who did it on the harder levels. It cheapens their ‘achievement’ from their perspective. Its a less-exclusive club they are part of.

    These are people who consider modding single player games to be ‘cheating’ – despite that that wouldn’t make sense to us as *you* set the rules in an SP game and you can change the rules at any time. But they don’t see you playing the game in isolation. They view it as a series of events where the results are recorded but compared to each other. I run the 100m dash by myself. You run it by yourself. On the one hand, there is no ‘winner’ here because these were two independent actions. But compare run times. Now those individual runs became a race. Or think of high-score comparisons in arcade games. You could ‘compete’ against people you never saw, never would know, the ‘winner’ being the guy with his initials at the top of the list. If you could play the game on an ‘easy mode’ with a score boost you could get your name on that high-scorers list but the people on it who didn’t do that would feel it cheapens their ‘accomplishment’.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      This is true, but adding an easy mode doesn’t really change the accomplishment of completing the game on hard, any more than modding in cheats diminishes the accomplishment of those who play without cheats. If two people run the 100m dash but one of them does it on a motor cycle, the guy who actually ran doesn’t need to feel upset about that, because he knows the value of his own accomplishment. And in fact, the people who care most about this stuff are probably the same people who care about things like achievements, which clearly track what each player completed and on what difficulty.

      The main difference in this case is that the reward for a certain level of skill and subsequent mastery is getting to see the content at all. And there is something to be said for that. However, some games do make a point of telling the player that there is an intended way to play, while still offering crutches for those that need them, and that seems like a decent compromise to me.

      I cheated my way through Quake and Unreal as a kid, and I can tell you that seeing all that content did not carry the sense of accomplishment that it would have for someone who played the whole game without using god mode and noclip. I don’t think the ‘hardcore’ players really have much to lose in this fight…

      1. Thomas says:

        I think it damages the games marketability though. Souls players like that “I’ve played a From Software game” is shorthand for “I’m sexily good at playing children’s card games”, and will drop it into conversation whenever they can.

        If them mentioning that they’ve played a Souls game _didn’t_ instantly convey that they’ve accomplished something noteworthy, they would talk about it less.

        The above is hyperbolic, and not phrased in a way that is very persuasive to anyone who has played these (great) games, but I do think there is an element of truth to it. Completing a From game is exciting to talk about – in the same way winning a battle royale is.

        Theres a history of games which are not as all-encompassingly good as Dark Souls but sold on word of mouth of their difficulty. Cuphead, Super Meatboy, Ninja Gaiden – they’re all well made games, because people who are good at game want to play well-crafted rewarding experiences – but each time their marketing buzz exclusively revolves around them being hard.

        The only way to have an easy mode is to ‘degrade’ the player somehow – making him wear s pink armband, locking the final ending – so that everyone can know that you ‘haven’t won the game properly’ on easy mode.

        1. Jabberwok says:

          That’s probably true, but at this point I think From is recognized enough that they don’t need that extra press buzz. Even with an easy mode, people would still be talking about the difficulty, and of course just talking about the game in general because of who made it (and how good it is, of course).

        2. Duoae says:

          There are a few arguments against this:

          1)The number of players out of the total possible pool of players that might be able to play, and enjoy playing, a From Software game that feel slighted by people managing to complete an easier version of said game (and have the audacity to suggest that the lower level players be punished for it through misogynistic imagery [seriously, is “pink” a bad colour? What is it supposed to represent in your argument? I presume you’re consciously or subconsciously using the ‘feminine’ aspect of the colour we currently attribute it in western society]) is very small. Any such boycott would be greatly offset by the increased revenue.

          As a counter point, why not “glorify” the people who complete harder modes? Why does it have to be a denigration of those who do less well… That’s just cruel.

          2) Hard mode is a bragging right. Why is that no longer the case in this niche segment of games you describe? I think back over the last 30 years of my playing games and people who completed games on hard have always been forthright about it and, since we got achievements, been rewarded for it through platinum trophies and the equivalent.

          3) An easy mode of a From Software game doesn’t mean “easy”. Just reducing the difficulty a bit can drastically widen the audience and not detract from the pro players. I mean, look at Hyper Light Drifter. The easy mode there is one extra health point. Is it really that much easier?! You could also disable achievements (or certain achievements) – ideally, you’d lock achievements to the normal/hard tier of gameplay instead of outright denying players the possibility. Carrot works better than the stick.

          1. Thomas says:

            Both examples are things the games I mentioned actually did. Ninja Gaiden caved and added an easy mode but made you wear a pink armband. I didnt say it was subtle or good.

            1. Duoae says:

              Ah okay, that wasn’t clear from your post. That truly is a horrible way of doing things… Why do people feel the need to put others down because they’re not as good as themselves?

        3. Echo Tango says:

          so that everyone can know that you ‘haven’t won the game properly’ on easy mode

          How specifically lazy are players who enjoy these difficulties? They’ll spend large amounts of time improving skill and overcoming challenges in these games, but then can’t add thirty seconds to conversations with their friends, to note who completed the game on what difficulty? Your argument for denigration of players of easy-modes[1] exemplifies the attitude of many of these players, which is childish, entitled, and braggadocious. That shit right there, is holding back video-games as an artistic medium. Knock it the fuck off.

          [1] The pink armband comment is also pretty troubling, as Duoae mentioned below. It’s trivially easy for two people discussing a game like this, to note what difficulty they were on. Telling people that they get a visible flag in the game as punishment would be met with laughter or disappointment. That type of punishment in real life would be met with slaps in the face.

      2. Asdasd says:

        I think you’re onto something here, which is that this conversation always, always, always comes down to framing.

        Take any ordinary, run of the mill game. Let’s say the original Half Life. Increasing the difficulty from Normal to Hard doesn’t really make the game more interesting in any way. Enemies are more spongey and do more damage. Nobody argues that Hard mode Half Life is the elevated version of the game and Normal is a sorry compromise of Valve’s artistic vision.

        But From Software are trading on what you might call boutique difficulty. The presentation is what gets people’s attention, the double whammy of an uncompromising challenge combined with theming that calls attention to and confirms it (‘difficulty as story’). This is what gets people itchily defensive about the idea of an easy mode. It’s what gets journalists piously writing 3,000 word articles in praise of the difficulty of a game they cheerfully admit they’ll never beat.

        It seems to me that calls for these games – these specific games – to be made easier are like calls for boutique fashion brands to release a product aimed at the lowest price point. In market logic there’s this huge segment of the market they’re leaving untapped. But setting the entry price on their product arbitrarily high is part of what creates its perceived value. In both cases lowering the barrier – difficulty, price – would be to remove the dimension that makes their product stand out. Think Apple and their internal resistance to putting out a plastic iPhone, or the high street/ ‘chav’ culture popularity of Burberry slowly hollowing out the brand’s value over time.

        On the point of crutches, what’s interesting is that From seem to be obsessed with methodically removing them with every game. Dark Souls had shields and unlimited Estus, so From took those away. In Bloodbourne dodge rolling was king, so From introduced a rock, paper, scissors combat system where dodging is only situationally appropriate. I wonder what’s next on the chopping block – I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a game where you’re physically leashed to enemies so that you have to fight toe to toe, tsk tsk player, none of this cowardly backing up away from a boss.

        So their games are getting more difficult over time, but are they becoming concomitantly more or less successful? I’m sure a comprehensive analysis of whether the sales data would make for fascinating reading.

    2. The Nick says:

      This is a terrible analogy because it equivocates somebody running on an easier mode claiming they “won” and that somehow being analogous to somebody on a harder mode losing prestige for their win.

      It would be like if my grade school daughter got a gold medal in her 4th grade Field Day tournament for the running event… and then Usain Bolt threw a fit and spit on on her because now his Gold Medal from the Olympics is now worthless since even children are apparently running in events.

      Simply put – there is a difference between beating a game on easy and on hard. First off, one is easy and the other is hard.

      More importantly, there is no “SEKIRA SHADOWS DIE TWICE POLICE” out there going to people’s homes to independently verify claims of ‘winning the game’. There’s no guy with a badge and a katana knocking on doors and checking memory cards while quizzing you about boss statistics or end game plot points.

      So if some try-hard completionist is worried about his accomplishment being ruined if there’s an easy mode, then I’ve got something he won’t appreciate hearing – I already beat the game. Blindfolded. Oops!

      1. Echo Tango says:

        But it’s so much work to explain the difference between a medal at the olympics and a medal in grade 4! We’d better let Usain Bolt spit on your daughter! :P

        1. Jabberwok says:

          If only we had some sort of codified system in place which could track which players had achieved what in the game…..

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            But that doesn’t align with the developers vision!

    3. Echo Tango says:

      People will say “I completed game x” but on the lower difficulty.

      So what you’re saying is that people can only enjoy difficult games if they don’t have to put in the effort of saying what difficulty setting they were on? I’m pretty sure that players already have conversations like “I beat game X but without healing poitions.” Put another way, this situation can be solved by moving one single quotation mark to the right:

      People will say “I completed game x but on the lower difficulty.

  4. MarcoSnow says:

    Happy to see more content from you on the site, Mr. Case! I’ve had something of a contentious relationship with the Souls games ever since Demon’s Souls, being at once fascinated by their intricate worlds, inspired character and creature designs, deep lore, and commitment to relentless difficulty, yet unable to complete a single one of them in their entirety (Bloodborne being the one I’ve sunk the most time into). As someone who doesn’t have a lot of free time on their hands*, I’d love to see From Software implement more comprehensive difficulty settings in their Souls games in the future, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. At any rate, I look forward to reading your analysis of the Souls-like genre!

    *Generally speaking, I have tremendous respect for games that respect players’ limited free time.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      unable to complete

      That’s what YouTube is for – I still haven’t finished Crypt Of The Necrodancer, because the last character/chapter is a huge spike in difficulty! :D

  5. Warclam says:

    “Bloodborne is one of my favorite games ever.” Uh… what? That doesn’t sound right. Shamus doesn’t—


    Scroll up to the top… “By Bob Case.” Aha! Hey, you’re back! Cool.

    1. Fizban says:

      Same here- didn’t there used to be a portrait icon at the top just for this sort of thing?

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Shamus has experimented with putting the name and/or portrait at the top, bottom, wherever. I think part of the problem is that it’s so rare, that people always assume everything is just written by Shamus (I did, on this very article!). On a larger site with a consistently high number of authors, I think people are more used to checking who’s doing the writing on any given article.

    2. Thomas says:

      “How does Shamus know so much about a new From Software game? Wait, ‘diagetic’ – I know who this is”

      I’m looking forward to this

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Yes: it’s someone who can’t spell “diegetic.”

  6. evilmrhenry says:

    My experience playing the first Dark Souls:

    I got to the first “Real” boss, died in two hits, retried, died in two hits, retried, died in two hits, retried, died in two hits, retried, died in two hits, retried, died in two hits, retried, died in two hits, uninstalled. But the real problem was not one of difficulty; the problem was that each attempt took around 5 minutes to reach the boss, because the game requires you to be cautious, or else you’ll get killed by the normal enemies. (Maybe after I “git gud” I can just run through, but that’s really not an option for a new player.)

    What I would request is not an easy mode, but a boss practice mode. That would allow me to try different strategies, learn the boss patterns, and so on, without a 5 minute slog between each attempt. After I’m confident in my skills I can then fight the boss for real.

    I will say that the non-boss gameplay is actually decent. I liked the emphasis on dangerous enemies, hidden secrets, carefully exploring areas, difficult-to-fight enemies guarding good loot, and so on. It’s just that the bosses are brick walls, and the game doesn’t make it easy to learn how to beat them.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      What I’ve heard about Sekiro, and has also been my experience so far, is that the run-backs to bosses are mostly short and trivial compared to DS; especially since you have more options for traversing the environment quickly and avoiding enemies.

      I never played Dark Souls, but Hollow Knight has some brutal bosses with long travel times between each fight. I found that I actually appreciated these at times, because they gave me a breather, and a chance to decide if I even wanted to bang my head on the same challenge again, or try something else for a while. But that only works because of how non-linear the game is.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        They’re comparatively short, but still annoying to do.

        We can now do them in a third of the time, without having to fight anyone, but they’re still unwelcome interruptions and a major slog when you have to repeat them twenty times.

    2. Will says:

      >the problem was that each attempt took around 5 minutes to reach the boss

      This is simply not true. Every single zone of Sekiro can be run through in 30s to a minute after your initial exploration, sometimes less. Finding the fast path to the boss and checkpoints is half the point of the levels between bosses, but Sekiro goes a step further and gives the player mobility to the point where you never, ever have to engage with regular enemies.

      1. Droid says:

        evilmrhenry was talking about Dark Souls here. Specifically, it must have been one of the two bosses in the Burg. I’m uncertain whether “the upper boss” has the damage potential to two-hit any starting character other than the meme-y one, and I doubt a first-time player would go for that.
        So it was probably Bad Boss and his Good Boys that did Mr. Henry in.

        1. Will says:

          Damnit, sorry, I’m reading too fast and missing which game people are talking about specifically.

          That said, my point still stands for Sekiro.

        2. evilmrhenry says:

          Looking it up, it would have been the Taurus Demon. And, yes, a bit of an exaggeration, but the point remains that the inability to immediately retry or practice bosses makes for a poor learning experience.

    3. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

      This was my experience, too. I also tried going down, rather than up from the starting point. I thought I might learn some useful skills going for the other bell first. Died to a specter that I didn’t have any weapons that could damage it. And then I tried going down the stairs rather than up the stairs to the Taurus demon -and found the guy with the, I think it was a big hammer. And he killed me.

      I fought my way back to the Taurus demon and tried to climb up the first tower so I could do the “jump down for massive damage” trick you use on the first boss of the game (in the undead asylum). Missed. Tried again. Taurus demon smashed me into the walls.

      People keep swearing up and down that as you play the game you get better at it. But I never saw any notable improvement -decided this game clearly wasn’t for me -and shelved it. Moving on.

      I would be marginally interested in a “story mode” of the game (especially now that I’m older and have less time to devote to games), except that I finally did watch a let’s play (the one Dan from Extra Credits did), and was so, ridiculously, underwhelmed with pretty much everything in the story.

      I confess to having no idea what people see in these games other than the difficulty challenge. And more power to them. Not my thing.

  7. Ninety-Three says:

    The typical counterpoint made to this suggestion is to say that an easy mode damages an ephemeral and undefinable “sense of accomplishment” that is vital to these games. I simply don’t buy this argument as stated. The sense of accomplishment a player gets from overcoming an in-game challenge is an immediate and highly personal thing and doesn’t depend on other, less adept players being excluded from it. The “git gud” argument – in both its polite and impolite incarnations – holds that excluding less skillful players is an accidental byproduct of their desire for high difficulty. In fact, I suspect it’s the core: the ability to be conversant in FromSoft games is a privilege that some members of gaming’s self-appointed priestly caste wish to reserve for themselves.

    I know it feels good to impute bad motives onto the people you dislike, but you’re really missing the point if you think the argument is anything close to “I can’t have fun if an easy mode exists”. It’s that the people who play easy mode won’t have fun, or the sense of accomplishment, or whatever we want to call it. They’ll probably still have some fun, because your game has to be downright awful before it is zero fun, but why put out a crippled kinda-fun version of a game when you could just let people play other games? It’d be like trying to edit down a novella-length War and Peace for people without much time on their hands: maybe those people would be better served by reading actual novellas.

    You’re gonna have a tough time with the sense of accomplishment argument, because that is the director’s stance on the issue, and I trust the man who makes the games to understand them better than you.

    I have no intention to make the game more difficult than other titles on purpose! It’s just something required to make this style of game. Ever since Demon’s Souls, I’ve really been pursuing making games that give players a sense of accomplishment by overcoming tremendous odds.

    1. Artanis Niggle says:

      >”the people who play easy mode won’t have fun, or the sense of accomplishment, or whatever we want to call it. ”

      Why do you care whether other people are having fun or not?

      Reminds me of that comic where some kids are playing PS2 or whatever, and the PC guy screams at them to ‘Stop having fun’. Except in reverse.

      1. Kincajou says:

        This xkcd comic? That’s actually quite appropriate here, well remembered!

      2. Ninety-Three says:

        “They should put in an easy mode so I can have fun with it.”
        “Here’s why easy mode wouldn’t be fun.”
        “Why do you care if I have fun?”

    2. Shamus says:

      This entire argument is based on the false idea that we all get satisfaction from the same things. I love mastering game systems, but I HATE slamming my head into a challenge when I don’t know what to do, and I despise it when I have to repeat a bunch of mook-killing to get back to the boss and begin working out what I did wrong.

      Overcoming these kinds of challenges is not at all satisfying for me. I don’t cheer when I finally beat the boss. I usually cuss a few times and say, “Finally. I hope I never have to do THAT bullshit again!” Dying ten times and then just barely winning once does not feel like victory to me.

      Batman allowed me to master the mechanics without murdering me for every mistake. Once I’d gotten good at the game, I was happy to play on the harder difficulties and work on the insane challenge rooms. Now I can get through most fights without taking more than one hit. It feels pretty great. But if the game required that performance out of me on the first playthrough then I’d never have made it through.

      You can argue that adding easy mode would ruin the game for you, but there’s no way you can convince me that it would ruin the game for ME, because I know better. I’ve played it. It was miserable and stressful and frustrating.

      1. Will says:

        >I have to repeat a bunch of mook-killing to get back to the boss and begin working out what I did wrong.

        This hasn’t been true for Souls games since at least Dark Souls 1. Part of the challenge is learning how to run through a level fast. There’s been exceptions (especially Dark Souls 2 which was flat out a bad game), but generally walking back to the boss is a breeze. Sekiro’s run-backs are the shortest by far, to the point they barely exist.

        >I HATE slamming my head into a challenge when I don’t know what to do

        If you’re slamming your head against a challenge in these games then you’re not mastering the system or thinking about it. This is what people forget about Souls games – half of the challenge is knowledge, and the games have gotten better and better at giving players this info. For example, there’s a boss that uses lightning in Sekiro. Right before you fight him, you’ll find an item that reduces the lightning damage you take, plus a scroll that mentions how to counter lightning attacks, plus a FULL SCREEN TUTORIAL on how to counter lightning attacks. Fromsoft wants people to stop, read and think.

        >“Finally. I hope I never have to do THAT bullshit again!”

        You’re not wrong for past games – but Sekiro is special in that once you get a boss down, you get it down perfectly. The first time you beat Genichiro he’s a learning experience. The second time he will never touch you because the parrying pattern is easy to remember. It’s almost more of a rhythm game.

        These games have a thin coating of story and lore. When you lose the learning experience, there’s nothing left.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          1) Clearly you haven’t played Sekiro, because a ton of bosses have their private mook-squad. And even in the later Souls games, doing the whole dodge-run to the boss was just an annoying waste of time, and possibly healing items.

          2) In fact, most of the challenge is execution. Sure, you can do 20% more damage with the right weapon, or by applying some buffs. It helps if you know the bosses attack patterns (which you wont for the first couple of attempts). But ultimately it comes down to blocking, parrying, dodging and hitting at the right time. If you have a hard time with that, there is no real mechanism to compensate for it.

          3) Also calling BS on that, because that was my exact experience for every boss in the game. I never master them, because by the time I learn enough of them to beat them, they’re dead and I move on. Which usually is by the skin of my teeth.

          1. Will says:

            1) Clearly you haven’t played Sekiro, because a ton of bosses have their private mook-squad. And even in the later Souls games, doing the whole dodge-run to the boss was just an annoying waste of time, and possibly healing items.

            I’m on NG+4 with everything done. The only boss with a mook squad is the fat guy in hirata memory, and you get an AI partner to quickly clear out the ads. Every other boss with another mook in there is trivial to sneak and possess, which is the entire point and makes it easier.

            Regarding 2) there’s a reason the game dumps items and prosthetic tools on you. People are just scared to use them. How you learn the patterns is by practicing, but also letting enemies do their combo in the air while you sprint away at first, which is very safe.

            Regarding 3) I’m gonna have to chalk that one up to personal experience, I guess. If you haven’t I encourage you to try NG+ and at least get to Genichiro.

            1. Shas'Ui says:

              The fact that there is New Game+ where it gets harder (My assumption here, based on other posts: haven’t played myself) is what makes this whole situation quite odd: if it can get harder, and still be enjoyable, why couldn’t it scale the other direction? If NG+, NG+2,3,4 is still part of the dev’s vision, why not NG-1? While it wouldn’t be a perfect solution, for all of the reasons mentioned above/below, if they have specific mechanics for “here is how we’ll make it more challenging”, then inverting those should be helpful to those of us who need a bit of help learning.

              To put it another way: imagine if you started the game on NG+4 difficulty: you might still be able to learn the system and operate at that level, but many wouldn’t, even if they could on the traditional difficulty: having it be a bit less challenging allows you to learn, then master harder and harder versions. The only question is how many ranks of NG+ you start at.

              (Again, I’ve not played said games, so my understanding may be fundamentally wrong: apologies if so.)

            2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              So I was a bit combatative in the last comment, sorry about that.

              1) I’m including the mini-bosses here. Most of them are in fact surrounded by, or very close to a group of mooks.
              Even a number of proper bosses (like the snake-eyes pair and the headless monkey) are supported by regular enemies.

              2) You’re ignoring the point here. Knowing the combos doesn’t mean that you can recognize them quick enough, nor that you can dodge or deflect them accurately. And prostetics use a limited resources, and even against the bosses with hard counters rarely get you through more than a single health bar.

              3) If the best solution to a series of hard bosses is “spend fifty hours beating them all, after that they become easy to beat”, then there is a big problem.

        2. Mortuss says:

          >The second time he will never touch you because the parrying pattern is easy to remember.

          I wish I was that kind of a player, Way of tomoe rematch still kills me 20% of time and takes a revive 40%. I think I only beat him the first time because he did so much lightning and that is a thing I could exploit, now I am just trying to sidestep the black blade and hope he doesn’t do the follow up since that hits me everytime :( I don’t even understand how have I managed to get this far into the game, I still cannot deflect for shit.

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            It doesn’t help that bosses have a lot of patterns that look very similar, right until it’s too late to react.

            1. Jabberwok says:

              Yeah, this gets me a lot. And based on where I have to sit, my laptop screen is not huge, so I can’t always see an enemy’s movement as well as someone on a high def flat screen might be able to.

      2. Jabberwok says:

        I have to agree with this in its entirety. Repeating content is pretty much my least favorite thing in all of video games, and I usually avoid boss fights for as long as I can. If a game is more open and sandboxy it’s a bit different, but I’ve never found it fun to fail at the exact same challenges repeatedly.

        I’d say I play games largely for the freedom and sense of exploration they can offer me, and the more I have to repeat something the more both of those things are diminished in my mind. I loved Hollow Knight, and I really enjoy Sekiro so far, but only because I force myself to either slog through or avoid the parts that frustrate me.

        1. tmtvl says:

          Why force yourself to slog through parts you don’t like rather than play a game that you like without slogging through?

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            Because the other parts are fun, and many bossfights are actually quite good. We just don’t want to repeat them twenty times.

          2. Echo Tango says:

            A specific difficult game could be the only game that has the specific lore, world, characters, and story, which you are trying to enjoy.

          3. Syal says:

            Because it’s more fun than slogging through piles of game reviews to try to find a game with no slog in it.

          4. Jabberwok says:

            “Why force yourself to slog through parts you don’t like rather than play a game that you like without slogging through?”

            Because the other parts of Hollow Knight made it my favorite game in years?

      3. Ninety-Three says:

        You can argue that adding easy mode would ruin the game for you, but there’s no way you can convince me that it would ruin the game for ME, because I know better. I’ve played it. It was miserable and stressful and frustrating.

        I covered this: you’ll probably still have some fun, just like a busy man reading the novella-length War and Peace edit will probably get more out of it than he would out of attempting and bouncing off the twelve-hundred page original. But you’ve messed pretty substantially with the authorial intent, and if you think the author had much idea what he was doing, that’s going to introduce flaws. Our hypothetical busy man would probably get more enjoyment out of a story that was meant to be short than one that was edited down with a hacksaw.

        To defend this “actually, difficulty wouldn’t be very satisfying” argument: don’t we all hate damage-scaling difficulty? You invariably end up with one setting where enemies have either enormous or tiny health bars, which either turns fights into tedious slogs, or has enemies dying in one hit and bosses dying before you even get to see their entire moveset. On the player side, too much health risks the player turning into a juggernaut who takes hits on the chin rather than bothering to engage with the “Don’t get hit” mechanics (Shovel Knight, for instance, had a few bossfights where you could just let the boss hit you and trust your giant healthbar to outlast his as you wailed on him: this was not interesting). You could ask for a difficulty setting that’s smarter than “double player health and damage”: maybe reduce enemy spawns, increase parry windows and iframes, change attack patterns and death penalties; but at that point what you’re proposing is no longer “Come on devs, this change would be super easy to make, why don’t you do it?”

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          Shamus also covered this. Just because you won’t have as much fun playing easy mode, doesn’t mean other people will have less fun. You are not the arbiter of other people’s experience, please stop trying to be.

          Also, if the supposed champions of ultra-balanced difficult game design cannot change their game without massively screwing up the balance, then the arguments of “auteur vision” are going to look really sketchy.

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            That’s why I backed myself up with a quote from the literal arbiter of other people’s experience here. The developer seems to agree with me.

            1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

              The developers aren’t the arbiter of people’s experiences either. They just try to deliver a specific one, but they don’t dictate what the actual experience will be.

              1. Ninety-Three says:

                Given that they’re the ones deciding not to include an easy mode, they’re certainly dictating what it won’t be.

            2. shoeboxjeddy says:

              You’re arguing from a presumed authority. Just because the dev has ideas about how people should experience his games, doesn’t mean he’s actually right. Statistically, he’s probably more wrong than right. He’s making a specific type of game for a specific type of player. What might be a bit sad is that he could add say… 100,000 more players with something that wouldn’t “ruin” the experience in his eyes, hypothetically. He’s just been puffed up by his positive press that even trying to do that would be BAD or MORALLY WRONG somehow.

              1. Ninety-Three says:

                Most arguments in favour of easy mode focus on making the game more accessible, while some simply assert that easy mode Dark Souls would totally be fun (and some, as demonstrated above, like to attack the motives of people involved in the discussion without actually arguing their points). If someone would like to make an argument about why Miyazaki is wrong, I’d be happy to evaluate that argument on its merits, but until then I’ve got nothing but authority to go on, and “respected and successful game developer” beats “internet rando” in the authority contest.

      4. cerapa says:

        I don’t know if you’ve actually tried Sekiro, but you might like it more than Dark Souls. I haven’t played very far at all but so far it’s a lot clearer what you’re doing wrong compared to Dark Souls. In Dark Souls I spent a lot of time just bashing my head against bosses without knowing what the hell I was supposed to do, or where I was supposed to dodge. I find myself enjoying Sekiro a lot more since I can actually tell what kind of an attack the opponent is doing and what I should do in response.

      5. RJT says:

        Yep, whenever I have beaten a difficult video game challenge, my primary feeling is looking at the clock and thinking, “Oh god, why did I even waste my time with this? I could have gotten so much laundry done instead.”

        Also, if I am intensely focused on muscle memory and beating a hard boss, that is a complete immersion-killer for me. It’s all about me, me, me. What are my fingers doing? Click the mouse. Tap “E” here. There is no sense of experiencing a story in any way.

        I am never going to play the Souls games for this reason. Well, that, and the massive crowd of elitist fans is also off-putting.

  8. Decius says:

    Don’t make your mechanics opaque and then tell me that your game is hard.

    “Guess when to press the button in this quick-time event” is substantially the same as Dark Souls’ counter mechanic. It’s not in any way consistent between types of enemy, nor does it provide feedback on performance other than a binary die/continue state.

    Forcing players to make decisions without allowing them to know the consequences of those decisions does not make them deep and meaningful. Dark Souls has intentionally obfuscated its character mechanics to create a feeling of disempowerment in the player- they don’t know (initially) what effects their leveling up decisions will have, so they have to guess and hope that they guess well, and no way of knowing if they are doing well or poorly because of their random choice or because they are getting better at the hidden QTE systems.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Yes, in Dark Souls you don’t have a life bar, you die in one hit, every single enemy has bizarre timings that aren’t telegraphed by their animations, you don’t have a way to reduce damage taken from an attack, and you don’t have a highlight of stats that will be increased when you increase different stats AND have a button to give a short explanation about what all that stuff does. [/sarcasm]

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Try parrying havel and then claim you still have a health bar.

        And most enemies do have bizarre timings, because I died loads of times to attacks that by all rights should have failed.

        1. Vinsomer says:

          Parrying Havel is somewhat easy, as his attack animations are quite long. Sure, if you miss, you take a lot of damage. But that’s the point of the parry system – high risk, high reward.

          Besides, there’s no enemy you have to parry. I’m not a big parrier, I prefer to just block or roll. I would think after the nth time getting pancaked by Havel’s tooth, you’d try a different strategy.

          1. Decius says:

            Great. Tell me, what is the logic behind looking at the windup that describes when, and in what direction, you can block or roll?

            Oh, you ‘just learn’ each enemy’s pattern? That’s *exactly* what a blind QTE system is.

            1. Vinsomer says:

              Are you serious?

              You time your parry to just before your opponent strikes you.

              Rolling gives invincibility frames, so yet again it’s about timing rather than direction in DS1. In DS2 onwards, where omni-directional rolling was introduced, you also have to roll in the right direction – sideways to dodge overhead or thrusting attacks, and forwards or backwards to dodge sweeping or sideways attacks.

              Observing what an opponent does and learning timing is just the same as getting to grips with the combat system of any action game. It’s in no way the same as a blind QTE where the game could prompt you to press anything at any moment with no warning or way to predict it. Havel telegraphs every attack. I honestly don’t understand how you could think it’s equivalent unless you literally have never played an action game in your life and have a clear antipathy towards them.

              Again, Dark Souls just isn’t the kind of game that will broadcast every little aspect of its mechanics, story or world to players. Wanting the game to hand-hold you through learning to parry isn’t just wanting an easy mode: it’s wanting a fundamentally different experience, one From have no interest in crafting.

            2. Khwarezm says:

              I’m pretty bad at Dark Souls, but I literally killed Havel first try because his parry opportunities are so obvious, I’m really not trying to be all smug about this since I can tell you I utterly struggled in so much of the game, I died like 50 times to the Bell Gargoyles. I was shocked that I killed him first time and I never even read anything about the guy and his notoriety beforehand.

              Treating this like its a blind QTE system is bullshit, you can learn it very quickly and its intuitive to at least some people when you can get off a parry, the game is punishing but for parrying at least it’s not going out of it’s way to be obtuse.

      2. Decius says:

        When I played, I was regularly stunlocked to death from a single hit, every single enemy had counter timing that was inconsistent from one to another, and the ‘short explanation of what all that stuff does’ is not enough to make an informed choice about which stats to increase and by how much.

        Go ahead, show me a screenshot of where it explains the relationship between equipment, carry capacity, and the type of dodge roll you can perform.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          Or a chart with all the equipment and stat requirements in the rest of the game.
          Or how useful any specific resistance will be.
          Or what bosses you’ll encounter, and what playstyle does or doesn’t work against them. (Have fun beating the butterfly in a knight build)

          1. Vinsomer says:

            You do know there is a summon for Witch Beatrice, who can literally solo the Moonlight Butterfly by herself?
            Or that there is a magic-reduction shield in the nearby Valley of the Drakes, and a smith who can imbue any shield with magic resistance in New Londo Ruins?
            Or that a slow roll is actually better against Moonlight Butterfly because it’s more I-frames on the homing magic attack?

            You have everything you need to beat that boss who is honestly probably the easiest except for Pinwheel.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              “You do know…” no, they don’t. The entire point of their comments is that this information is hidden or mysterious to them. Your brilliant counter response is… even more hidden information that even players familiar with the game might not know? You’re… sort of bad at this discussion thing, aren’t you? The answer to “this game is bad at telling me how to play it, I want to play a game, not write a research essay” isn’t “well how about doing some AWESOME RESEARCH???”

              1. Vinsomer says:

                I mean, these things aren’t hard to find if you explore and pay attention to your surroundings. Especially the Witch Beatrce summon sign. It’s literally at the bottom of the tower you have to enter to face the Moonlight Butterfly boss. If you put the same amount of effort required into your college essays then you wouldn’t be able to pass your first semester.

                I mean, this is exactly the kind of comment that gets ‘git gud’ as a response. Not because the guys complaining about the Moonlight Butterfly of all things don’t deserve to play the game or because they deserve to be sneered at, but because they need to change their state of mind and approach to the game rather than expecting the game to change for them. I honestly do not believe that either of those 2 guys or you lacks the observational or investigational skills to figure this out, or the physical ability to play against such a slow boss. You don’t need to research anything, just pay attention to your surroundings. What you lack is patience. You don’t want to play a game that tests what Dark Souls tests of players. Which is fine, but that begs the question of why you want to play Dark Souls at all.

                There are quite literally several pathways and options available that this complaint ends up being ‘the game should signal everything and I shouldn’t have to think or observe anything’ rather than ‘the game is unreasonably hard’.

                1. Decius says:

                  Let’s start with the meta-knowledge needed to discuss why a slow roll is better.

                  Why do you know that there are invulnerable frames in the ‘roll’ action? It isn’t intuitive, it doesn’t make physical sense, and the only reason it’s a thing at all is because the engine can’t support a proper dodge mechanic that gets out of the way of the attack. There is zero indication of when you are invincible during the move, and there’s no reason for a new player to suspect that it’s an active invulnerability rather than a way to quickly dodge out of the way, until they notice that it works when it shouldn’t.

                  How do you learn when you need magic resistance, rather than one of the other resistances? I’m not even asking for that knowledge /in advance/ of reaching the boss, just let me know which resistance will mitigate a given attack when it hits, rather than make me perform A/B testing when each trial takes 15 minutes or more to attempt and doesn’t even generate directly comparable numbers.

                  1. Vinsomer says:

                    So, let me get this straight:

                    Having i-frames for rolls makes no physical sense,


                    a ‘proper dodge mechanic that gets out of the way of the attack’ is something the game needs.

                    Despite the dodge being the key tool to no-hit speedrunners and notoriously overpowered in DS1.

                    Despite there being many low-stakes fights where you can test this out, like vs a single hollow who won’t be
                    able to punish you with death if you mess up. The roll is already a ‘proper dodge mechanic that gets out of the way of the attack’. You just have to direct it and time it, something it seems you didn’t want to learn to do.

                    The slow roll is generally much worse than a fast one, but in that fight it can keep you behind cover for longer, which makes it better. Most players will think about cover for a magic butterfly casting projectiles.

                    As for when you learn you need magic resistance: well, it’s a magical forest with casting enemies and you can see the narrow walkway which will likely have an aerial boss. It’s not bad for players to assume that they might be facing a magical boss, and if you die to it once (it only has magical attacks), well, you know to change your gear to high magic defense.

                    And, again, compare to Pokemon. Do you think it’s fair that the game doesn’t tell you ‘use this type vs this type’? No. It only tells you when something is super effective, not very effective, or ineffectual, which, when there are 18 types and any pokemon could be any combination of 2 of those types, is a lot less information than DS gives on enemy attacks. The inventory screen (again, I know the UI’s bad, a legitimate problem with these games which I definitely think makes them harder for newbies to understand than they need to be) does highlight the percentage resistances of every shield, ring and piece of armour, as well as every damage type of every weapon.

                    1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                      See, using Pokemon was where your argument falls apart. The instruction manual for the very first game gives you the type chart in full. And the devs still weren’t satisfied with that, so the recent games will just TELL you what the effectiveness of an attack will be on a certain type after you try it one time. And keep that information on screen permanently from then on. Nothing in Dark Souls is even CLOSE to how transparent Pokemon’s base combat is. Of course there are obscure Pokemon mechanics too, but they’ve been making them less obscure intentionally with every successive release.

            2. Decius says:

              Where, exactly, is that information communicated to me?

              1. Vinsomer says:

                I never said the game signposts these things.

                What I said was ‘these things aren’t hard to find if you explore and pay attention to your surroundings’.

                If you didn’t find them, then clearly you didn’t explore or pay attention to your surroundings. An easy mode with more health and damage wouldn’t change that because that’s not about dying from being bad at combat, it’s about the way you play the game.

                The Valley of the Drakes is accessibe before the Moonlight Butterfly boss even if you don’t have the master key. It literally connects to a path before the Darkroot Garden Area.

                The blacksmith isn’t even in a part of New Londo Ruins with hostile enemies. It’s literally just down the elevator from Firelink Shrine and down some steps.

                It’s like Pokemon Black 2 giving you a poison gym leader early in the game, and having an area with magnemite, a steel-type pokemon immune to poison, appear in the wild. The game doesn’t tell you ‘catch a magnemite to beat the Gym!’ It lets players figure it out, which makes it more rewarding.

                In other words, these same design principles of ‘give the player the tools they need, but only if they explore to find them’ is something we see in children’s games. I don’t think that expecting the same in a 16+ game is somehow an unreasonable thing to do.

            3. Karma The Alligator says:

              You do know that summon sign is hidden under some stairs and behind a bush that no-one in their right mind would decide to destroy because there’s no indication that it can be destroyed to see the sign (not to mention seeing those signs require you to be human)? Or that the shield you’re talking about requires: the master key, if you’re early enough, or having gone through Blight town, and then having to dodge a swipe attack that would probably kill you early on? As for the slow roll being better… Just how much experience with the game do you need to know that? Because at that point you shouldn’t need any help.

              1. Vinsomer says:

                The summon sign is partially hidden but still visible without breaking the bushes, and most players would check under the stairs for items anyway. Again, these things are only hard to find if you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings or exploring.

                If you are hollow, well the game tells you that you won’t be able to use summons, so you won’t see summon signs. You want summons, arguably the biggest new player crutch? Stay human.

                You can get to the Undead Dragon sleeping next to the Dragon Crest Shield without going through Blighttown or using the Master Key. The Valley of the Drakes connects to the bonfire down the right-side pathway before entering Darkroot Garden proper.

                Even then, the Moonlight Butterfly is incredibly easy. Slow attacks, plenty of cover, and plenty of time to heal. If you cant beat that boss, then an easy mode with more health and damage won’t help you.

        2. Vinsomer says:

          The UI is bad at explaining that sort of thing, that much is definitely true.

          But it’s not as though players can’t equip something heavy, watch their walk and roll animation change, and then be surprised when they have less mobility. The message is clear – armour is a trade-off between mobility and protection. Again, something players can figure out if they try, but they don’t try because they are used to games spoonfeeding them all the information they need to succeed.

          If you get stunlocked to death, then you aren’t approaching fights well. Even 2 mooks at once can be enough to overwhelm you and you can’t block forever. Again, nowhere in the game is the player encouraged to have a cavalier attitude to fighting multiple enemies and shields are not invincible.

          1. Decius says:

            “nowhere in the game is the player encouraged to have a cavalier attitude to fighting multiple enemies”

            You literally have to fight multiple enemies at once in the intro. You literally have to fight multiple mooks at once to enter any area. Once you are in any area, you literally have to fight multiple enemies at once to move or to stand still.

            How, exactly, does that not encourage you to fight multiple enemies at once, if not by actively telling you to uninstall the game?

            1. Vinsomer says:

              You literally don’t know how to pull enemies or manage threats if this is true.

              You also literally don’t know how to use aggro, kiting, or the environment to your advantage if this is true.

              This makes it sound like you run headfirst into situations, then die, then blame the game as though your lack of caution or foresight is the fault of the developers.

            2. Khwarezm says:

              By having you get punished through enemy mobbing in those early encounters so that encourages you to be careful moving forward so you don’t aggro too many people at once? It was like the most basic thing to notice in those fights that fighting less people was better for your health and encourages you to take cautious tactics through the rest of the game. Ending up fighting three knights at once is almost always a sign that you’ve pushed too hard and should’ve backed up to survey the situation.

      3. Decius says:

        And as for “You die in one hit”: a non-boss does a wind up for a sweep facing away from the player, but executes a vertical attack towards the direction he was facing away from.

        That’s not “Hard by design”. That’s bad design that’s hard to play against.

        1. Khwarezm says:

          That sort of looks like an unintended glitch and I’ve never seen him snap towards the player in such an unnatural way before.

          It’s also quite misleading since Havel is once of the very hardest hitting enemies in the entire game, including bosses, as well as being a unique non-respawning enemy himself, he also can’t be reached until some way into the game. He’s a poor representation.

  9. Grampy_bone says:

    I’m a big Souls fan but I definitely agree there’s no good reason not to have difficulty modes, especially in a game like Sekiro where there are no RPG mechanics to self-balance. There’s plenty of people who would like these games but are scared away by the difficulty. It’s just leaving money on the table.

    1. tmtvl says:

      If a painter decides to paint paintings that aren’t very popular, should he stop painting the things he wants to paint just to earn more money?

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        This is not a painting, it’s a video game.
        It’s not about style, it’s about difficulty.

        1. Khwarezm says:

          I think you full well know that this is a false dichotomy.

      2. Grampy_bone says:

        If your goal is to create art, create art. If your goal is to *sell* art, then yes you need to paint things people want to buy. Duh. No one has a right to an audience.

        I know the modern meme is that profit and creativity are somehow anathema, but that’s ridiculous. All the greatest works of art were either commercial or commissions.

        Fromsoft probably thinks they’ll keep more customers by cultivating their ‘elite hardcore’ reputation. Maybe, maybe not. They’re free to do as they like. My guess is that easier games would sell more.

        1. Khwarezm says:

          “I know the modern meme is that profit and creativity are somehow anathema, but that’s ridiculous. All the greatest works of art were either commercial or commissions.”

          What an insipid outlook, by this rationale the only worth a piece has is related to it’s commercial success, Like its well known that Van Gogh and Vermeer were not financially successful at all in their lifetimes, does that have any repercussions on the quality of their produce? Do the pieces themselves somehow become more worthy and notable because they were sold for vast sums of money long after they die? Would they lose their artistic value if their literal financial value fell too?

          It’s neither here nor there for From anyway since their games seem to sell well enough to keep the company continuing to produce games and keeping the employees out of the unemployment office.

          1. Shamus says:

            You don’t need to call someone else’s outlook “insipid”. You can just give your opinion without making it personal.

      3. Echo Tango says:

        Your hypothetical artist could sell pamphlets which explain their art, to people who aren’t masters of art history, themes, etc.

      4. Decius says:

        He shouldn’t complain when people buy prints of his paintings and then paint over the ugly parts.

  10. galacticplumber says:

    The difficulty is an inextricable part of the atmosphere the game wishes to build. It wants you to feel real adversity. Like a good horror game, it wants you to feel nervous about the other side of sharp turn, or creaking background noise of things moving.

    It presents a world where most everyone is in some manner of hopeless depression, differentiated by coping mechanism, and it wants you to empathize from personal experience about just how bleak things actually are.

    It’s not just about dying uncovering story bits. It’s about the mindstate doing that repeatedly, or being paranoid enough NOT TO invokes.

    Besides these games already have a direct method for the player to demand assistance. Summoning other players dramatically lowers the difficulty of any given encounter without arbitrarily giving all the enemies pool noodle weapons or papercraft armor.

    That’s another thing I like about the difficulty. Swords, maces, and various other similar things HURT as much as they should, and even early game enemies can seriously hurt you if you let them. Most of the difficulty curve isn’t scaling, but how hard it is to avoid getting hit rising as you progress.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      AFAIK, you can’t summon other players in Sekiro. You also can’t grind for power. You can get skill points for more abilities, but improving stats is locked to finding a set number of items throughout the game. Basically, there is no way to give yourself a crutch in this game, in comparison to DS.

      The thing is, these games are so difficult that I think many players could still feel what the difficulty provides even on an easy mode. Sekiro on its default difficulty is going to be straight up impossible for some people.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        Oh I neither know, nor care about, Sekiro. Very different beast to the actual thing I was talking about by all I’ve heard.

        1. Jabberwok says:

          I noticed. Article posted about difficulty in Sekiro, three quarters of everyone still talking about Dark Souls…

          1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

            The article isn’t really about Sekiro, either -that’s just the hook. The article is about the difficulty of the FromSoft games. The issue is that those who have experienced earlier FromSoft games and found them difficult enough to stop playing have no interest in Sekiro, either -seeing as its from the same publisher and advertising the same difficulty.

            Hence, since the target audience for the difficulty system is “people who enjoy the game should allow the game to have easier settings to attract a larger audience,” it makes sense that the larger audience is largely made up of people who played Dark Souls.

            I will note in passing, that while I think there are significant differences -but that at first glance this argument isn’t substantially different from the argument to dumb down/streamline Mass Effect 2 to appeal to a broader audience of 3rd person shooter players, rather than just the RPG crowd of the first game.

            1. Jabberwok says:

              Sure, but the problem is people are bringing in defenses of difficulty that applied to a different game that may not make sense here. They’re bringing up the themes of Dark Souls to defend the difficulty of a completely different game, just on the assumption that it’s the same. It is not.

              1. galacticplumber says:

                As the start of this comment chain I’m just gonna reiterate that, no, I wasn’t talking about Sekiro. I’m on the Dark Souls topic the article used Sekiro to segue into. Others, should they exist, are probably similar.

    2. CrokusYounghand says:

      > The difficulty is an inextricable part of the atmosphere the game wishes to build.

      But difficulty is not a constant. What’s easy for you may be difficult for someone else? Just because it’s called easy mode doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. It’ll still be hard for the newbs, just not impossibly hard.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        And? The game is made such that the difficulty targets that mind state in the majority of people who play. Sequels get quantifiably harder in various ways, because it’s assumed the majority of the base has played previous games.

    3. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      I think the atmosphere was pretty much shot to pieces when I started dodgerolling through the game with nothing but a loincloth and a dragon tooth.

      If people want to sacrifice some atmosphere to make the game playable, let them.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        That’s straight up part of the atmosphere. Did you not notice all but naked people with weapons all over the goddamn place? Actually the most common enemy in the early areas.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          Yes, but they’re not fighting elder gods in the crucible of humanity.

          Point being, the atmosphere can take a few knocks for the sake of playability.

          1. galacticplumber says:

            There’s literally two possible chaps to go in there, you and Sunny Boy, and he probably isn’t coming for one reason or another. There is no dresscode when two isn’t enough to form a pattern.

  11. Bloodsquirrel says:

    The idea that adding an easy mode to the game is as simple as tweaking a few damage numbers doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    They still have to playtest and balance the game mode, and that takes time and resources away from polishing the game’s intended experience. You also have to deal with the game’s intentional obtuseness, which “easy mode” players are also going to want fixed. And, after all of that, it’s not clear that an easy mode really would expand the game’s audience. The developer’s appeal is very specific. It doesn’t replicate the kind of spectacle that most easier brawlers rely on to engage the player. I heavily suspect that, if you gave a From Software game an easy mode, most of the people who tried it would just be bored.

    1. Decius says:

      The proper ‘easy’ mode would be to provide a link to a manual explaining the game, the controls, and the mechanics.

      You know, like a proper tutorial would do.

      1. Axebird says:

        Sekiro has tutorials for every mechanic in the game, and a sparring partner you can practice on with no risk.

        1. Decius says:

          Good to know. Do those tutorials explain the basic game mechanics, or do I have to dig through a wiki to figure out what I didn’t even know to ask?

          1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            It mostly explains the basics, and outright tells you a certain number of boss counters.

            But what does or doesn’t work is also somewhat inconsistent, and some important things (like Dragonrot) aren’t explained very well.

            1. Decius says:

              “Mostly explains the basics”
              Hard pass, then. Players still need to consult outside guides to know about all of the basic mechanics.

            2. Pinkhair says:

              I thought they almost over-explained the dragon rot by the time you can actually do something about it… and it is tied to the character learning about it as well.

              So they have the in-character explanation, then a tutorial, then an explanation when you look at the item you receive.

          2. Khwarezm says:

            It’s very explicit to the point that it was probably intentionally added to deal with old complaints about the Soul’s games obtuseness, it clearly tells you exactly what the inputs are and what situations to use them in and gives you an enemy you can practice against for infinity to to nail down the specific moves before going out into the wild.

            If there are any complaints about Sekiro I really can’t say that being obtuse and not explaining things to the player is one of them, if that was a major deal breaker for you in Souls you might enjoy this game better.

      2. Bloodsquirrel says:

        …and now we’re adding more things that take time and resources to produce.

        1. Decius says:

          Yes. Textures also take time and resources to produce, but not everything works with the Super Hot style.

    2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      Spending time and resources on features is just part of game development though.
      You could also save resources by not providing any translations, or multiple save files, or customizable settings, or most of the interface. But anyone in their right minds would still consider that time well spent.

    3. Echo Tango says:

      They don’t need to spend any resources playtesting easier difficulty, if they just implement a bunch of sliders for everything in the game. Everything could start out as 100%, and a player could slide the damage slider down to 1%, and slide the player-health slider up to 1000%.[1] Adding a difficulty-settings screen like this is a small amount of work, compared to the rest of the effort put into the game. A bonus, is that players who find certain aspects of the game too easy now have the tools to make the game even harder.

      [1] Realistically, the range of numbers for these sliders would need to be play-tested or guessed a little bit. They could let the player type in arbitrary multipliers, if they wanted to sacrifice a little usability in the UI, to remove that effort from development.

  12. Fizban says:

    For games that are meant to be hard, I’m fine with having clearly marked easy modes. A mode which is clearly and explicitly tacked on, not the default, nor the first option in an “easy/hard” setup. Say you go to start a new game of Dark Souls and there’s normal mode and “tell me a story” mode. The latter gives you whatever stat boosts/weakens bosses and lets you quicksave or restart bosses or whatever is convenient to code in, and it doesn’t trigger the same achievements (but ought to still have some milestones and game completion, just tagged for story mode). And such modes should include a reminder that veterans sometimes wanna chill out too.

    Additionally, I could see adding an extra limitation or two for assuaging those who do derive some of their enjoyment from the exclusivity of “hard” games. You could make story mode something that unlocks after a certain amount of time or is patched in, effectively making the “first” version of the game exclusively hard, and then after a month or something the easier mode makes it available to everyone.

    More importantly though, for games that are meant to be hard, I’d say that easy mode should not be initially available on your first new game. Have one in the game, but if your game is meant to work at a certain difficulty level then that should be the first one people play at. You’ve just gotta finesse how you present it so it doesn’t sound condescending, which is going to depend on exactly how the game plays. Say, have the easy/tell me a story mode option appear, but be locked with a message of “unlocks after completing the tutorial/first dungeon/whatever or suffering 5 deaths,” that way the player knows the “easy mode unlocked” message is coming and they’ll have played some amount of normal mode so they know what it’s like.

    1. James Stanfield says:

      just want to chip in that as it’s already been said, a true easy mode would have to encompass far more than just combat. many people are very poor at navigation, or environmental awareness, or need a mini-map to progress; how far do you draw the line before you’re having to develop and balance two games? It might seem simple to just make the player immortal, but low-skilled players can and will struggle in many other non-combat areas as well. Even if you took out ALL of the combat, people would still get stuck in Dark Souls and there comes a limit to how much you could or SHOULD streamline something before it loses all traces of its identity.

      The truth is there’s already plenty of games out there with easy modes – From software games are good but they’re not SO amazing that they need to be made accessible to everybody. The entire point of them is the journey and the difficulty; taking that away I guarantee would just leave you with a horde of people playing on easy who’d beat the game and say “that’s it? what was all the fuss about?” They’re probably the only main AAA series that doesn’t offer a difficulty and is about offering a baseline set of challenges for every player; that’s unique and it shouldn’t be lost in the sea of other titles which do have settings.

      1. Jabberwok says:

        I’m not sure what game we are all talking about anymore, but the deflection timing and boss fights is by far the hardest part of Sekiro so far. And it is in fact, what is causing some veteran Dark Souls players to complain about Sekiro’s difficulty on the Steam forums (and some other players to complain about that complaining).

        You don’t need to ditch all forms of difficulty to have a game that is more able to completed. This game has serious bottlenecks in it gating progress behind very difficult boss fights, and those fights are far from the only thing that’s great about the game. The stealth aspects, for example, are also very good and challenging in a different way; and just as thematically appropriate. The story, art, and characters are also excellent. IMO, that single change that Bob mentioned would give some players the edge they would need to learn the combat system and experience the game in its entirety.

  13. tangomango says:

    Accessibility vs Game Tone is often going to clash, but if I had to choose, I’d rather sacrifice tone in a game to make the game more accessible to play.

    That being said, the difficulty is a big part of games like the Souls series but it’s not the only part the game does nicely, nor is it the only thing that builds the tone of the game. To try and say otherwise would be ignoring all the lore and world-building, level design, sound design, etc. that all add up.

    I don’t think adding accessibility tweaks would even affect the difficulty all that much. I find a lot of the difficulty came from unlearning the desire to rush right in, and learning to stay back and learn enemy positions and patterns first. Learning all the new mechanics and enemy patterns as you come across them, which leads to inevitable deaths when you find something knew, but a sense of accomplishment when you understand how the enemy works.

    The parts of the game that aren’t accessible aren’t linked to those systems, IMO – they’re things like reaction speed and timing. Having to learn the specific i-frames for a dodge roll, or getting precise timing for a parry. Those aren’t difficult in the same way as the other features, they just require fast reflexes once you learn the timing. But for a lot of people, those reflexes aren’t possible (From age, physical problems, etc.)

    I don’t think having the ability to set the number of i-frames for dodging or setting bigger parry windows would affect the tone of the game for most people. You’d still have to pay attention to enemies and learn their patterns. It’d just make the game more accessible for people with slower reactions. (And sure, some people would probably abuse it, but I’d rather have the accessibility)

  14. Kamica says:

    One counter argument to adding in an easy mode I can think of, is the same as why having fast travel in a game is frowned upon by some.

    If you have an easy mode and a hard mode, if you keep being defeated in hard mode, then there’s always the seduction of the easy mode, to go there. Not doing it is like choosing not to use fast travel, you have to purposefully handicap yourself. Which is fine for some people, but others would like to not have the option there, since they give into it.

    Though, for many people, if they do choose a difficulty that’s too easy for them, then they’ll enjoy the game less than they could. I think one of the big reasons why old games were so rewarding, is because you had a stationary, non-compromising challenge in front of you, that you can’t ‘cheat'(change difficulty) your way through, and then overcoming it. Nowadays however, it’s tempting to think “I’ve been beaten by this guy twice now, I guess I’m not as good as I thought, I guess I’m supposed to be on a lower difficulty level”, rather than “gitting gut”.

    I do understand the argument for difficulty settings though. Not everyone is equally skilled, and not being able to ever finish a game would suck. But I also reckon that, if a game bases itself on setting challenges, and having the player overcome them, that difficulty settings might not be desirable.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      I think the main difference for me between these two is that eliminating fast travel may make the game take longer, but not having an easier mode in a game this difficult can actually make it impossible for some.

      And personally, as a huge fast travel hater myself, I would point out that my main gripe is not that it eliminates tedious walking. It’s that it encourages designers to put tedious walking in their game, and then put in a shortcut for players to bypass their bad design. That doesn’t seem to map well onto the difficulty argument to me.

      1. Kamica says:

        Of course every analogy is going to have flaws =P.
        And yea, the fact that it can make a game impossible to finish for some people is indeed a potential problem.

        On the other hand, if people are warned in advance (and because of the From Software games having the reputation they do, it could be argued there is a warning in advance), I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a game dev to choose to go down this path. Not all games are for everyone, and a wider audience does not always make the game better.

        Easy mode in many games can still be impossible for certain people.

        I’m not saying From Soft’s games absolutely MUST NOT have an easy mode. I’m just adding an argument into the pot =P.

    2. galacticplumber says:

      There’s also the fact that if the game has fast travel accessible it will be designed differently for having fast travel. See why everyone hates dark souls 2’s overworld while loving 1’s.

    3. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      I, for one, would gladly be seduced by the promise of more videogame, less wasted time, and finally getting to put the knife in this bastard that I broke my head against for five hours.

      I mean, that argument is kinda treating players like children who don’t know what’s good for them, and who can’t be trusted with choosing their own difficulty setting.

      1. Kamica says:

        But humans are children who don’t know what’s good for them… =P.

        A lot of people will pick the comfortable, short-term rewarding route when presented with it. There are plenty of people who will voluntarily challenge themselves and know how to limit themselves. These are the kinds of people who will do no damage runs or ironman runs in games that don’t have those options.

        But there’s also plenty of people who would enjoy a challenge, but don’t trust themselves enough to actually pick the option they’d most enjoy.

        I mean, I’ll admit, as someone who tends to be more on the cautious side, that I’ve often picked a difficulty lower than ideal for me, so part of this argument is for people like me =P.

        1. Jabberwok says:

          “A lot of people will pick the comfortable, short-term rewarding route when presented with it.”

          There are also people like me, who will refuse to use an ‘easy’ mode and continue to bang their heads against whatever is indicated as the intended experience, regardless of how frustrating or unenjoyable it might be for them.

          I get both sides of this debate, but I think you can add an easy mode and signpost it as such and mostly get the best of both worlds. People who care about the intended experience will do what I do. People who want to just enjoy it in their own way can still pick what they want. It is of course, the prerogative of the designer to design the game, no one can force them to add this. But I don’t think much is really lost.

          I’m thinking back to what a challenge Halo was on legendary back in the day, and how much enjoyment the community got out of that challenge, despite a very trivial easy mode being in the game. Although even that easy mode was painfully difficult for my friend who didn’t play FPSs.

        2. Bubble181 says:

          The reasoning “if there’s an easy way, people will give in!” argument is horribly flawed. It’s *your* responsibility how you play a game. If you can’t find the willpower to select “hard” instead of “easy”, maybe you’re not the target audience?
          I’m somewhat joking, but really, “if there’s an exploit I’m going to use it” doesn’t indicate a problem with the game but with the player. Also, “I can’t resist temptation so these other people just have to suffer” is the reasoning behind “some men can’t control themselves so women have to cover themselves up”. If you can’t resist, avoid temptation – don’t say something tempting shouldn’t be there.

    4. Echo Tango says:

      others would like to not have the option there, since they give into it

      So what you’re saying, is that every player needs to be forced into the same experience, because some players are incapable of self-control? People can skip to the end of any book[1] ever written – how many people are advocating for books to only allow pages to be turned at a specific speed?

      [1] Or films, or music, etc, if you’re playing them at home.

  15. Moridin says:

    I’ve never been particularly interested in any of these games, but saying that they should have an easy mode has always struck me as silly. The developers have a particular vision, and they stuck with it. There’s nothing wrong with making products for niche audience and if the game isn’t your thing, just don’t buy it.

    1. Vinsomer says:


      The games are hard, as they are intended to be.

      If you want a version of Dark Souls that is easy, then you don’t want Dark Souls, you want something else.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        “If you want a version of Halo with colorblind settings, then you DON’T WANT Halo, you want something else!” Does that sound stupid? I think it does. So why is it different when people with limited time, experience, or other issues (such as motor function difficulties) want tweaks that would make the game enjoyable to them?

        1. Vinsomer says:

          There is a difference between someone who wants a game changed because they are disabled, and someone who wants a game changed because it doesn’t match their preference.

          For disabled people, I think an easy mode is especially bad. Because I believe disabled gamers deserve more than watered down versions of the games able-bodied gamers enjoy. If a game is challenging, then its experience, challenge included, should be preserved as best as possible when making it accessible to disabled gamers, which is why the solution will always be on the hardware side, i.e Microsoft’s adaptive controller.

          For non-disabled players, well, mean as it may sound, I don’t care. I don’t care if some guy with a family and a demanding job doesn’t have time to play Dark Souls because that guy is lacking the time it takes to do a lot of things. To me, the argument that this person deserves to have experiences cater to his particular timeframe is weirdly entitled. And I don’t think I have to point out that Halo in black and white or inverted colours is still Halo, whereas Dark Souls that is easy is not Dark Souls. Dark Souls is a game about struggle. Remove the struggle, you remove what it’s about.

          In any case, it is simply the nature of games and art that some people will miss out on experiences. There will be some movies that blind people can’t enjoy, music that deaf people can’t enjoy, etc. That doesn’t mean that musicians and directors shouldn’t try to make the experience they want to make,

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            Your argument is sophistry. Why are the colors NOT important to Halo but the difficulty (such as health bars of specific enemies) is VITAL to Dark Souls? I can actually prove that the difficulty isn’t vital. If I give a new player a New Game + save file with maxed out equipment, the difficulty of all the encounters is dramatically lower. Would you attempt to argue that they were somehow NOT playing the game Dark Souls? If not, why not? The difficulty is changed, and you said it wasn’t Dark Souls without the specific difficulty as presented. Or hell, if you modded the game to make it easier by brute force, is it not a version of Dark Souls still? Trying to argue that the mod made it different is a bad try because then playing the game in a different language is also a different game.

            1. Vinsomer says:

              Colours are important to Halo, but not in a thematic sense.

              As I said elsewhere, there’s a difference between making something accessible to those with disabilities etc., and making something accessible to others preferences. Colourblind modes are an ease of access issue, not a gameplay balance issue.

              And the difficulty really is key to Dark Souls. The story is about a world suffering under the curse of the undead, where those who linger are cursed to eventually lose their minds. It’s a game about progression and overcoming great trials to prove your worthiness. Dark Souls isn’t a game that is incidentally difficult, but one which Miyazaki (the director) himself has frequently described as based around the feeling of accomplishment that only comes from overcoming a great ordeal. Which is why the games difficulty manifests not just in combat, but in the opaque story and unreliable characters, it’s downright hostile levels and myriad of secrets. Difficulty is to Dark Souls like what being scary is to horror games. It’s not the result of a few numbers behind the curtain but the culmination of pretty much every design and artistic decision. If you remove that, you undercut so much of what the game is about that you really can’t be said to be playing the same game at all. And yes, whenever you mod a game so thoroughly you risk completely destroying what that game is trying to express. It’s fine if that’s what you want to do: it’s your game and nobody can stop you. You want to mod Dark Souls to make it a cakewalk, that’s on you. You are free to ruin or improve your own experience as you see fit. That is different to wanting the devs to implement such a low difficulty themselves. And you can’t really say you ‘beat’ the game, or that your playthrough was the intended experience, and you also can’t say that you didn’t miss anything by doing so when the experience of overcoming challenge is the biggest selling point of the entire genre of souls-likes. At that point, you may as well just watch a let’s play.

              I mean, why would anyone want to play an easy version of a game whose most prominent feature is its difficulty? Isn’t that far closer to wanting to play a version of Outlast or Silent Hill that isn’t tense or scary than wanting a colourblind Halo?

              If you give a new player maxed out gear on NG+, well, other than NG+ enemies being a lot tougher, you really wouldn’t see them do that well. NG+ is actually harder because of this, as well as the soft cap to level bonuses. If you play NG+, especially on DS2 (which adds numerous black phantoms), you really wouldn’t make this argument.

        2. Khwarezm says:

          Allow me to offer a counterpoint, the original release of Blade Runner was notorious for studio interference that, among other things, added a superfluous narration from Harrison Ford so that the specifics of the plot would be more understandable, this was done in the name of accessibility and concerns that the film wouldn’t appeal to a large enough audience if they weren’t hand-held a bit more.

          The theatrical cut of the movie is also widely considered to be worst, especially by fans of the movie, Ridley Scott completely recut the movie twice once in 1992 and then again in 2007, both versions have been lauded as much superior to the theatrical cut and Scott himself has stated that he is much happier with them and considers them to be much closer to his true vision for the movie.

          The recuts make the film harder to understand overall, but like I said most people find them to be the superior experience and Harrison Ford in particular has said that he heavily opposed the addition of the narration, later removed, at all in the original release. There are various other films with similar stories.

          Is Ridley Scott and the other people behind Blade Runner ‘doing it wrong’ with being so adamant about creating their definitive version of the movie to more fully deliver on their artistic vision, even if it makes it more difficult for the average consumer? Is it really much different from the creators of the Souls game having a specific artistic vision that they attempt to deliver on that by necessity makes the product much more unappealing to the average person because of it’s use of difficulty to achieve those ends?

  16. Caledfwlch says:

    My take on the problem is that From games are rarely challenging, but they are punishing. As in, the level of each individual challenge is not that high, but the difficulty of the overall experience is still high because of the high cost of mistake. Imagine a From game with saveloads. Every time you die, you just load the closest savefile (which is right at the beginning of the fight). That would drop the game difficulty dramatically.

    I very like the basics of PC gaming, that does exactly that — individual challenges are very difficult, but you can just retry them forever without any punishment, until you get them. I feel really awesome beating an impossibly hard stage in Super Meat Boy, or maybe an end-game boss in Baldur’s gate. These situations look incredibly intimidating, they contain a lot of individual elements, they feel like a great challenge. Such things are impossible in From-style games, because 99% of players would just drop the game, loudly complaining about the game being unfair (and they will be right). In Dark Souls challenges, I feel like a dummy instead. It feels really awkward, slow, dumb. Every time I die to a boss, I feel bad — “The boss is not even that intimidating, his moves are telegraphed, how could I die to that”? Every time I overcome a boss, I barely feel satisfaction — “Well, it’s not a big deal, I finally stopped being horrible at the game”. I don’t think I’ll ever get into any From game, and the success of that style on the market really intimidates me.

    1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      Quicksaving in a Fromsoft game would be such a relief.

      Hell, just saving whenever you enter a boss arena, and when you finish a boss stage would save so much frustration.

      1. Mattias42 says:

        Quick saves & quick loads would completely change the tone and feel of the average From game, though. As well as ruin how careful from is with justifying your re-spawning in the lore, story and world-building.

        You might as well add a healing spell to Halo. Sure, it would be very helpful and its in plenty of other games, but your still completely breaking that central design of ‘hard to heal health, fast charging shield’ the rest of the combat and game are all designed around.

        Of course, you could go the Undertale route, and have the saving/loading be tracked and acknowledged, but that’s still a very different feel and type of meta thing compared with the far more classical themes of being cursed with flawed immortality

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          Yes, but I don’t actually like the feel of their boss encounters, because they become frustrating, boring, and generally infuriating pretty quickly.
          It’s a feature, not a bug.

    2. Christopher says:

      I guess this is just a different culture between PCs and consoles, but I find the ability to constantly quicksave/reload to be a pretty weird way to balance a game. It’s like the cheats they add to old emulated games where you can just rewind until before you got decked and do it again. Like I appreciate having it if your games bugs out all the time a la Elder Scrolls, but how do you even balance a game if you can save at every interval of a boss’ health bar.

      Personally I’d like a continue option if you die in a boss arena for Souls so you don’t have to take a commute back, but that’s about it.

      1. Caledfwlch says:

        You balance the game by allowing the player to pick a challenge for himself. Players who find the game easy will progress faster to the later parts of the game, where bosses will wreck their shit. Players who find the game hard will walk around the early areas more, attempting the challenge, doing basic quests and maybe grinding a bit. That ensures, that everyone who plays the game will have an acceptable level of challenge for themselves. There are still a lot of gamedesign moves to properly enforce that style, for example “Skilled play must allow a radically faster progress, so that skilled players would get to the appropriate level of challenge fast”, but it’s all details.

  17. CrokusYounghand says:

    Just FYI Bob, those Forbes links are not really published by Forbes. Any URL on under ”/sites” directory is basically a blog post, albeit with the supposed authenticity of Forbes brand attached to it. And we wonder why the post-truth era began.

    Also, where are your videos man :)? Didn’t you have some in pipeline?

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Isn’t being hosted on a tacit approval of anyone who publishes there? I’m assuming that if somebody posted something they objected with stronly, they’d take it down.

      1. CrokusYounghand says:

        I doubt they (the people who manage Forbes) have strong opinions about gaming one way or the other. Probably, it’s just a way to get the kids to be interested in Forbes. Get’em while they’re young, you know…

  18. CrokusYounghand says:

    A simple solution to this problem would be to give an alternative starting character with appropriate buffs to make the game simpler, only with a caveat that the character should be visually unappealing and you can’t equip any cosmetic items on that character (for whatever lore related reasons).

    So, you either play a simpler game with an ugly looking character or play the harder game with a character that looks the way you want them to look.

    1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      That seems unlikely to work to me. If people care about how their characters look, you’re punishing them for not making the game punishing and frustrating enough. If they don’t care, then they don’t care.

      Just give people easy mode.

      1. Mattias42 says:

        Demon’s Souls kinda had that with the Noble class that started with some pretty crazy gear. Like, the only class that starts with regenerating mana and an attack spell crazy.

        Sorta the same with Pyromancer, who in Dark Souls one started with decent armor, decent weapon, and the only magic in the game that’s upgrade based instead of stat based.

        Of course, those are both the classes that got nerfed into oblivion when the good players used them to break the games over their knees, be it for very public level one runs, or worse, griefing the PvP.

        So… yeah, a ‘noob’ class is a pretty decent solution, actually. But it’s one that has its own problems, too.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          I’m fine with a noob class (the diehards will choose Deprived anyway), just not with punishing players for choosing it :)

  19. Gautsu says:

    Gamers are such assholes. “I don’t want this so you shouldn’t have this.” Anything that adds the ability for someone else to enjoy a game without hurting your own enjoyment can never hurt. I played the original Dark Souls when it first released after hearing the praise Demon’s Souls received. I thought it played like shit and returned it rather quickly. Several years later my gaming tastes had changed enough that I have played through Dark Souls Remastered, DS 2 SotFS, DS 3 and the DLC, Lords of the Fallen, the Surge, and am currently playing both Ni-Oh and Salt and Sanctuary. In no way, shape, or form would any of the time I spent both enjoying and beating my head into a wall be affected in any way by you being able to play an easier version of any of these. At all. Mass Effect and the Witcher 3 both had difficulty settings. In both of these cases the games were so good that I went back to beat them on max difficulty. Doing that in no way makes a worse player because my mother had to play through on easy to finish.

    Some of the best memories I have from video games as a child were playing the old SSI gold box AD&D games with my dad. They all had difficulty settings and some cheats built in (being able to give your party max stats at character creation). One of us would map while the other person played and as a result my dad was able to share his love of fantasy, role playing, and storytelling with me. Beating the last fight in Pools of Darkness was a pain in the ass as you had three huge battles in a row, without your best gear, as you were stuck in Limbo. It still is a hard fight on normal (thanks GOG). And then when you finish it, you get access to an extra “challenge dungeon” where the difficulty is automatically set to very hard and the first fight is harder than the one you just finished (for D&D fans roughly 20 ish beholders from 1st edition after your parties spell casting ability has been nullified). Beating this with my dad was probably the pinnacle of childhood difficulty in video games.

    I love the soulsbourne’s genre risk vs reward factor. I love the aesthetic , the quite frequent Berserk references, and the game play. I would love to be able to share that experience with my son, like my dad did Pools of Darkness’s Dave’s Challenge with me. But my son has special needs and isn’t able to react at the same level as every one else. He might not ever be able to. An easy mode might not make him able to play through a game like this, but it would definitely be a first step towards inclusivity for everyone.

  20. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Speaking purely in terms of anecdotes and my own personal experiences when I first played Dark Souls I bounced off it superhard. I got through the asylum but I’m pretty sure I didn’t beat Taurus Demon, not because Taurus is particularly difficult, from the perspective of time I’d go so far as to say that it’s still effectively a training boss meant to repeat the lesson of the Asylum Demon (for me: roll a lot and stab/slash from behind). It was because after the first two tries I hated the idea of having to run through the area again.

    Then I got DS2 in Humble Monthly and I figured it was time to give the game another try, I’m not sure what changed but this time I’ve found the game exciting and addicting. I’ve found that “sense of accomplishment” that everyone who praised the game was talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I get frustrated easily and my playthrough of a soulslike tend to go through stages:
    -honeymoon period: when I play the game for a bunch of hours every following day
    -frustration stage: when I drop the game for sometimes a couple weeks, sometimes months
    -completion stage: when I come back to the game but play it in small batches, possibly an hour or even just half, typically bouncing off a boss, and eventually beat it then keep progressing until I find a spot (typically another boss) that I bounce off of and come back to the game for an hour or half every day. Repeat until the game is beaten.

    I think a big part of it for me is that I did not actually know what Dark Souls was when I first played it, and then I kept putting it away because I still felt the echo of my first experience. Learning that the difficulty was intentional made me embrace the feeling, it wasn’t that I sucked at games, it was that this was something meant to challenge me. It wasn’t that the devs were stupid and didn’t think their game through, they thought it through and this was the intended experience. I’ve mentioned a couple times in the comments on this page that I’m a grinder, as in, I enjoy having a game I can grind in over a long period getting ever closer to my goal, and while you can grind in Dark Souls to improve your stats I think the mind set I’ve achieved with these games is that I perceive them as a kind of “grindy game” where the real grind isn’t the stats but my skill.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I can absolutely see people who don’t want to interact with the system, like I said, I bounced off it hard. I can see people who think that spending hours or days on a boss is just a waste of time where they could be playing something else. It is literally the question of if you find the sense of achievement rewarding.

    Now as for “easy mode”, I’m all for it. I’d love for more people to be able to explore these games, experience the setting, learn the story, see the sights but some years ago my personal outlook has shifted from “playing easy for the story” to “playing on default for the intended experience” and I think I’d stick to that even with these games.

    1. Distec says:

      I have no interest in the Soulsborne series and mostly admire it from afar, but my brother is super into them. He had a pretty similar experience to yours. Getting rekt by respawning skeletons in DS1 put him off the game super quick, and he would wonder out loud who was masochistic enough to get off on this kind of pain. But he “heard the calling” for DS2 when it came around a few years later. Some distance and further reading in the time since had reframed his approach towards these games, and he is now a hardcore zealot for From Software. I got a real kick out of him detailing the bosses he was currently wiping on, mulling over, sleeping on, and then assumedly defeating judging by the “I just beat XXXX!!!” texts I’d eventually get.

      We’ve discussed the sentiments of articles like this a fair bit. He told me that while he would always try to play on the intended difficulty, he knows he would have been likely to bump it down to Easy on a few sections if he had been given the chance. While he’d still enjoy the games, he also feels he would have been “robbed” of his experienced triumphs had the developer given him the option to do so. Dark Souls didn’t come to him; he had to come back to it.

      I know his mentality is not shared by others (including me). But then there are plenty of other games in other genres I love that he would consider too hard or difficult to get into just the same. I’m happy that products like this can find an audience, even though they’re not for me and couldn’t even get me if they wanted to. And that’s probably why I have a few quibbles with proponents of an Easy mode in these games. It’s not that the arguments are invalid – I actually find most of them to be technically reasonable. But they do seem a tad insistent. These games do expect you to meet them on their terms, and I find it easy enough to walk away from them without feeling burned. I actually rather respect it, and so does the audience judging by their success.

  21. Grimwear says:

    I mean this gets covered over and over again and while I haven’t personally played Sekiro I have played the Souls games and the idea put forward of buffing the player doesn’t work. Or rather you would need to buff the player to such a degree that the entire leveling system is pointless. The entire basis of these games and boss fights revolves around noticing the pattern then blocking/dodging, then hitting them. It doesn’t matter how much health you have or how much damage you can deal. If you cannot avoid a boss attack pattern coming at you then you can’t hit them in turn and you will die. The difference between no health and hard capped health in a lot of Souls games is only around 4-5 hits depending on the boss. If people can’t deal with the boss patterns then those boosts mean nothing. Want to try and tank it and spam attacks? It won’t work because the boss will hit you in turn, stagger you, and then just kill you since you’ll never recover. Boosting stats won’t help. It simply provides a buffer to ideally make you able to back off, recover health, and try again. Also even boosting damage doesn’t help as much as you hope since most damage comes from finding better weapons and upgrading. If you start a game with hard capped strength and a starter weapon your damage is still garbage since the weapon scaling is poor. So then we need to start the player with maxed out stats (since stats aren’t as important as we’d like them to be) AND a great weapon so they can actually do tons of damage in these fights.

    For people who truly need an easy mode this measure won’t help them. They’ll still be throwing themselves at a wall. This isn’t like a shooter where you can easily reduce the damage the player takes or an rts where you just change the values of units. Even if you reduce the stats of bosses it won’t help matters because if you can’t dodge or block their attacks then you will literally just get combo’d to death. The only way to make a feasible easy mode would be to slow down their attack patterns/stop them from using their most damaging attacks and by that point you aren’t even fighting the same boss.

    I’m saying this next sentence not to be snarky or elitist but 100% genuine. Rather than an easy mode it would be more beneficial to give these players god mode where they just don’t take any damage at all.

    1. Syal says:

      and by that point you aren’t even fighting the same boss.

      That’s not a downside, it’s replay value. It means higher difficulties will still hold surprises.

      1. Grimwear says:

        And for some people that’s 100% fine. Some people won’t care if say The Twin Princes no longer do their light sword attack or Bed of Chaos does her 1 shot firestorm. They don’t care about facing that boss and are instead playing for the story or the atmosphere or whatever other possible reasons. But some people will want to fight the boss as intended. They want the “full” experience only with them taking less damage involved. Are we supposed to tell the second group to “git gud then” and play on the regular difficulty instead? And if we do end up slowing their attack patterns we gimp them if they go to the higher difficulty because all their muscle memory and boss recognition are set at a lower speed (here’s looking at you Dark Souls 2 when you reused the Smelter Demon in the dlc with the exact same attacks but changed his timings which just infuriated me because I had to fight my own established muscle memory and made the fight 5 times harder).

        And this brings us back to the difficulty of easy mode for this type of game where the difficulty isn’t from stats or damage values so much as it’s from the boss patterns themselves. There is no easy fix to make a proper easy mode without upsetting the players asking for it because at the end of the day you still need to know those patterns. So someone plays on easy (either reduced boss values or removed attacks) and ends up getting killed 5-10 times instead of 10-20. Is that number still too high? It will be for some people. Maybe they’ll want an easier mode. But there’s not much you can do. They’re going into a fight blind and need to learn the attacks and phases to get through you can’t brute force a lot of the bosses. It would be more beneficial to just have a wiki open before the fog wall listing all the bosses attacks and a video so they can watch it and see what they’re about to face.

        1. Syal says:

          But some people will want to fight the boss as intended.

          Makes me think of that Simpsons quote. “I want all my groceries in one bag. But I don’t want the bag to be heavy!” Yes, if they want to fight the boss as intended, they need to play on the intended difficulty.

          Slowing down attack patterns or removing the most dangerous attacks shouldn’t gimp players as long as the original timing still works in easy mode. Look at top-down shooters. Crimzon Clover removes bullets on easy mode, Raiden 3 slows them down. If you pull off hard mode dodges in easy mode you’ll come out fine.

    2. Daimbert says:

      Why are you presuming that the issue is that they can’t figure out the bosses pattern as opposed to, for various reasons, them not being able to execute it consistently? As you point out, all that those increases do is essentially make it so that it takes more hits to kill them, which gives them the time to back off and recover. So there are two things that this can do to make it easier for players:

      1) Give them more time to study and thus to notice those patterns if they have a harder time seeing them than other people without incurring annoying deaths, resurrections, and time spent fighting their way back to the boss.

      2) Give them more survivability so that if they miss the timing more often than others once they know the pattern they aren’t constantly stuck dying. This avoids it being the case that they know the pattern but are having trouble executing it, and getting angry at others who tell them that they just need to learn the pattern that they’ve already learned.

      1. Grimwear says:

        I’m not saying the issue is that they can’t figure out the boss patterns but rather that the fix which is given (give more health/more damage) doesn’t help since you’re dying because of those patterns. Health is just there to tell you when you lose. Of course having more health gives them more time to learn I’m not debating that but a lot of bosses kill you in 2-3 hits. And not hit, back off, heal, hit. But rather 2-3 hit combos that take you from 100-0. Heck some bosses like Midir can deal enough damage to 1 shot you with max health. How much health do we need to give someone then to be able to survive 2 hits? Or do we instead make it so that Midir does 50% damage? 10%?

        When it comes to dealing with health you only need enough to be able to take a round of hits and be able to back off which sounds great on paper but the reality is much different. Health in these games is greatly overvalued. When you’re getting hit for half your health bar with a single hit how much do you need to give someone for a proper buffer? Well you max at around 1300 so do we give them 5000? We nearly quadrupled their health but only made it so that instead of dying in 2 hits they die in 7. Which looks great since 7>2 but that’s only 5 more hits. That’s such a small number in the grand scheme of things. It really isn’t helping as much as it should.

        I maintain that literally just giving god mode to people who need it most is more beneficial than messing around with stat values especially since stat values are garbage to begin with. Literally 40-50% of all total stat values are trash. Once you reach the hard caps at 50/60 there is no reason to improve any higher. Dark Souls 3 Vigor 0-50 gets you about 1300hp. 51-99 gets you an additional 103 health. So the grand reality is that instead of dying in 2 hits you die in 3. I leveled strength from 60-70 and only had my damage increase by about 4 points of damage so from around 702-706 (spoilers those extra points of damage didn’t help me ever). Just pumping not actual health but STATS as is recommended may provide these players a buffer early game but that’s where the easiest bosses are. And when they reach the mid-late game bosses where their stats will be even with everyone else they’re right back where they started and probably even more frustrated. There’s no good way to implement this easy mode because the building blocks put in by FromSoftware make it impossible. They’d need to remake the entire stat system to make these buffs worthwhile the whole way through and if that failed they’d need to reduce boss damage too and if that failed because AGAIN while having a greater buffer is great that isn’t what’s killing you it’s the attacks themselves they’d need to make a separate boss version who’s either less aggressive, doesn’t do the real hard hitting attacks, or just attacks slower and now you’ve made way more work.

        Some games like the Total War series or shooters can do easy artificial difficulty changes. Change values. But that doesn’t work for this type of game. And that’s all while ignoring how the integrated co-op/pvp system would work with this. Do we just have easy mode players unable to participate in online stuff? Do we lock them to their own servers? What if an easy mode player wants to play with their friend who has a character and plays on normal?

        1. Sabrdance (Matthew H) says:

          “God Mode” is, in fact, how I finally beat Dark Forces and Jedi Knight as a kid. Doing so allowed me to get some idea of how to play the games, and I was able to beat the next generation of FPS/3PS games (HALO, Jedi Outcast, a whole slew of them) without God Mode.

          I would actually be super interested in a “God Mode” for Dark Souls, even if it meant I couldn’t get any of the achievements (though were I making the decision, I would allow story achievements to trigger -for data collection purposes if nothing else).

          Absent that, though, I’d think the two best solutions would be: 1.) allow a save closer to the boss. 2.) Lower the difficulty of *getting* to the boss, and give the player another cycle of the boss’s patterns.

          I never felt I got much beyond button-mashing with the Taurus demon. I was dying too quickly to figure out if rolling was just a bad idea, or if I’d gotten the timing wrong. I was dying too quickly to figure out if I was hung up on the level geometry, or if the Taurus demon was just blocking my way. I was constantly dying so quickly I had no idea why I was dying, or what the Taurus demon had done that killed me.

          Allowing the save closer to the boss would at least mean that the moves were fresh in my mind when I got there, and the much rapider repeats of the fight would make it more likely I would see the same moves and could start to figure out if my problem was timing or strategy. If we can’t make the save closer, then at least making each trip to the boss give me 2 runs at the pattern, rather than 1, and also not make me spend all my time fighting the mooks and using up health flasks (which would also help me get a few more looks at the boss pattern) would make it more likely I’d figure it out.

        2. Daimbert says:

          The problem with simply giving them god mode is that that really would move away from the intended experience, which is for people to fail repeatedly but use those failures to learn those patterns and then succeed. And again for many if not most of those who want an easy mode the problem isn’t that they can’t or don’t want to learn those patterns, but that for various reasons it’s harder for them to learn and/or execute those patterns, and they’d like more forgiveness or less annoying death penalties so that they aren’t in the situation where they know what to do but any little mistake — that they make more often than others — ends that attack and thus their chance to advance.

          Players who don’t want to learn the patterns are players that you can reasonably say are not the intended audience of the game (which probably lets me out). But those who want to learn the patterns and HAVE learned the patterns but can’t pass because the game is too unforgiving are precisely the sort of players who would benefit from an easy mode that simply let them live longer and be able to make more mistakes, which can be done through stats.

    3. Jabberwok says:

      I want to point out that Sekiro does not have a levelling system in the same sense as Dark Souls, and you always use the same weapon, so weapon damage scaling isn’t really an issue. There are upgrades for health and damage, but they are limited in number, and you can’t grind for them.

      What more health would do for players is give them a larger window of time to learn an attack pattern before dying. They will obviously still need to learn the game, but changing the stats will let them learn it without killing them a hundred times first. And a player without the reflexes or as many years of experience in video games, or without massive amounts of free time is going to find that extremely valuable.

      It could also give them a buffer that doesn’t demand absolute perfection. Say you’ve learned a boss’s pattern, so you whittle his health down; but you’re not exactly the greatest player ever, and you make a mistake. On normal difficulty, that one mistake could kill you and set you back to the start of the fight, versus allowing you to continue on. Someone with bad coordination or slow reaction times is going to make more mistakes regardless of whether they’ve learned the system properly. For some players, that could mean throwing themselves at a fight they already know how to win but keep losing time and again, versus an inherently more skilled player who may have been able to move on much earlier than that. Giving them that extra health to absorb those mistakes could make a huge difference.

      1. Grimwear says:

        I openly admit I don’t know much about Sekiro. I’ve watched maybe 1/10th of a run through total. And I still agree that health giving a better buffer means a higher likelihood of success. I have no idea how much damage you take on average from attacks from a boss. I did see someone get grabbed by the ogre and that took off about 75%. So again how much health do you need to in order to survive that encounter? If you double their health pool then they die in 3 grabs instead of 2. That’s 1 more grab for DOUBLING you health pool. That’s not much at all. Is that really providing such an amazing bonus? I don’t have a good number but realistically how much health should they get buffed by in order to have an easy mode? 5x? 10x? I legitimately don’t know because the number doesn’t matter what does is the number of hits.

        1. Jabberwok says:

          I have no idea, but it is still possible no matter how it’s done. It could even be a matter of nerfing enemy damage. Regardless, it depends on how you think of it. Being able to take one extra hit doesn’t sound like much, but in a game that kills you as fast as this one, that one extra hit could double your lifespan in practice.

          1. Grimwear says:

            My main argument is just that boosting those stats, unless done to some ridiculous extreme, doesn’t help. Double your health pool? You die in 3 grabs instead of 2. Half all enemy damage instead? Die in 3 grabs instead of 2. Nerfing damage/increasing health are interchangeable. All they do is increase the number of hits you can take. And for some people that’s enough. But for the people who are having the real difficulty and dying 20 or 30 times to a boss that health doesn’t help. Remember when Shamus talked about that boss in Warframe that was 1 shotting him? Doubling the health pool or armor didn’t help anything. Eventually he had to rush in and fight it straight on because the health didn’t matter as much as the pattern the boss was using. The patterns are the major wall people need to come to grips with. If you want me to climb a mountain and I can’t climb it, I don’t care if I have an hour or a year I won’t be able to climb that mountain. The root of the problem that leads to all these deaths is the boss patterns. And if you’re hitting that wall the only good option is to change those patterns to make it easier which then involves a lot more work than just changing some damage values.

            1. Shamus says:

              As someone who can’t enjoy Dark Souls, this seems pretty accurate and matches my experience.

              More health might enable me to live a little longer and allow me to make a few more pattern observations before I’m sent back to do another corpse run. I’d learn more on each run and that would be appreciated. Maybe I’d figure the boss out in 5 tries instead of 15. That would make the game LESS miserable for me, but it really wouldn’t make it enjoyable.

              You could fix this by giving the player 10x health or something crazy, but then they’ll just tank their way through the fight and you no longer have the proper feedback for teaching the player. The goal is to figure out how to hit the boss without getting hit back, and if taking 10 hits is “good enough” to beat it, then how do you signal to the player that they need to improve. Also, this would make the jump from “easy” mode to “normal” feel INSANE. What is the designer supposed to do? Have ten difficulty levels?

              Personally, my problem isn’t that the bosses kill you quickly, it’s the high retry cost. A five minute corpse run is a killjoy for me. In my perfect world, dying to the boss would drop me back at the start of the fight, with both of us at full health, with no time-wasting YOU DIED message or loading screen. I could then focus on the boss without constantly being distracted with corpse runs. I’d want to practice until I could beat the boss FOR REAL, not just squeak by with a sliver of health. I want to master the task and get the timing down, not just brute-force my way through.

              But those corpse runs are, for whatever reason, important to the people who actually enjoy these games. I don’t get it, but FromSoftware is probably smart to cater to their core fans rather than people who aren’t their fans.

              Still, fixing the game for me would be less about making it easier and more about making it less frustrating to fail, and that’s not as easy as scaling numbers.

              1. Jabberwok says:

                There are no corpse runs in Sekiro, and distances from spawn to boss fight are much shorter.

                1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

                  There are still spawn-to-boss runs, and a lot more bosses.
                  And the runs are shorter, but still take a minute or so, which is far too long.

              2. Grimwear says:

                Corpse runs have always been inconsistent. Dark Souls 1 you can get some bonfires right next to a boss but for say the lords you literally have to run through an entire area (Crystal Caves, Lost Izalith, etc.) just to get a retry. DS2 is largely the same though I think it’s just a bad souls game all round. 3 can ALSO be super inconsistent but for the most part I feel they were able to do most of what they wanted. In theory the “shortcuts” you unlock are supposed to make the run back easier while also tying into the level design and atmosphere. In reality…it doesn’t really work. You mostly just end up spending a lot of time on really long and boring elevator rides. Not much peak fun to be had there. Bonfire placement is just so weird. For example a bonfire spawns in DS3 in every boss room once they’re dead. So you killed Dragonslayer Armor and a bonfire spawns. So you rest, go to move on, and 20 feet further forward…another bonfire. Why is it there? For God’s sake just remove that bonfire and put it in front of the next boss room so I don’t have to take a 30 second elevator ride when I die!

              3. Paul Spooner says:

                Right. In this case easy-mode wouldn’t be “do 10x damage” but instead would be something more like quicksave anywhere and enter training mode anywhere where you take no damage, and do no damage, but can see when you would have recieved or dealt damage, so you can practice with no penalty for failure. Then, when you’ve practiced sufficiently, you can re-load in normal mode and try the fight “for real”.

                1. Grimwear says:

                  I really like this idea. I know that Dark Souls 1 had a mod (or maybe it was possible to set up in dsfix?) that let you set up quick saves so you could try bosses over and over. I don’t think it would be the greatest to have in boss fights since you could then save scum through them but they could do something like I believe was present in Shadow of the Colossus where you could access the list of bosses through the main menu to practice them without having to play through the entire game just to try again. Heck add a time attack mode while you’re at it to see how fast you can kill each boss. It wouldn’t solve the problem of not being able to deal with the patterns but it does give the best chance of being able to learn them. The only downside is that this would take more time to implement than a simple save system since you’d have to input a character each time with stat allocations and what weapons/spells you want with upgrades.

                  While it would be nice to have I personally feel FromSoftware would just refuse because it would detract from their vision of the game with death/rebirth being intricately linked to their story. It is nice seeing that some companies are making changes though. The Resident Evil 2 remake lets you play with checkpoints and retries if you want rather than forcing you to use the typewriter saves.

              4. Higher Peanut says:

                I have the same issue with retry costs to challenges. They break up the flow of trying the challenge and I feel like it’s a waste of time I could be spending actually playing the game. When I tried Dark Souls learning boss patterns wasn’t hard, but required so much unnecessary slog if you got hit with a new attack. It just feels so strange to see corpse runs praised while so much vitriol was thrown at unskippable boss cut-scenes over the years they all but disappeared.

                I thought maybe I bounced off “Souls-like” games because 1 was such a terrible port but I don’t know if it’s worth the time to try another if they kept up the cut-scene before boss route.

              5. Asdasd says:

                For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed Dark Souls, but I don’t think the corpse runs were integral to the experience. They were just busywork between boss attempts. If the game had instant retry respawns or a practice mode the game would lose something but I can’t put my finger on exactly what and I don’t think it would be worse; in fact I have a sneaking suspicion that I would prefer it.

                The fact that the game makes concessions by offering shortcuts to the boss is already proof that there’s no virtue in design to making the player redo the whole area just for the privilege of another boss attempt. I see no reason why if you’re prepared to remove 90% of the penalty for failure that moving to 99% would be unconscionable.

                I think Higher Peanut’s point about the unskippable pre-boss cutscene is highly relevant. What is a corpse run but a cutscene-like null snippet of gameplay that you have to twiddle the sticks through?

                The same principle applies to all those indie retro revival games that removed the inconvenience of death but not the old school level of challenge, so there were no lives, no game overs and no being sent all the way back to the start of the level when you died. Your Shovel Knights, your VVVVVVs, your Meat Boys, even your I Wanna Be The Xs. Something is lost in the transition to high penalty for failure to low penalty for failure. But it turns out it’s not integral to the experience, and actually, it’s far less likely to make you throw your controller down in disgust and go do something else.

              6. Chiller says:

                Same here. I guess the main reason I keep coming to this site is how Shamus’s experiences match mine so well.
                If you asked me what the the best fight in Bloodborne was I would have to say Lady Maria, even if it’s not necessarily a personal favorite, because the lantern is RIGHT OUTSIDE THE DOOR.

              7. Clareo Nex says:

                Corpse runs are part of the boss in several ways.

                First, you risk taking damage from all the enemies between you and the boss, meaning your mastery of the level can compensate for your lack of mastery of the boss or vice-versa. Second, the run back is tense due to the added stakes: as long as you haven’t yet died during the run back, you have a substantial cache of souls on the other side of the boss door, and on the other side of the boss run, especially if you alleviate the risk of damage by killing the enemies again. Third, a greater boss run adds to the stakes on the boss: the fact you don’t want to replay a 2-5 minute section increases the player’s motivation to not get hit by the boss, meaning e.g. you’re incentivized to learn by observation and thinking, instead of mindlessly throwing yourself at the boss until you learn by preverbal stimulus-response.

                (Aside: much frustration comes from feeling entitled to 5-second boss runs and not adjusting risk-taking behavior in response to the run being longer than that.)

                Most of this can be resolved by importing state saves from console emulators, but preventing the player from continuing their game from a state save. Retry the boss as many times as you like with near-zero retry period and zero stakes. However, the player will eventually have to beat the boss for real, with real stakes.

                1. Higher Peanut says:

                  Except neither of the first two points are usually valid, at least when I played. The run back is trivial drudge work, it’s why I likened them to an unskippable cutscene. There’s nothing there in terms of game play because I was never getting hit and the boss is balanced around full resources anyway. The souls lost don’t add tension. I don’t need them to complete the game and I can just go farm some more later. I’m not going to carry anything I can’t afford to lose into an unseen boss in a game known for needing multiple runs to learn patterns.

                  As for the 3rd point I don’t need motivation not to fail the boss or to learn the patterns properly. I’m playing the game, that’s why I’m here in the first place; to learn and engage with the bosses and pattern mechanics. You don’t need to punish learning with a time-out when I already want to take the time to watch, observe and think. Players are already disincentivised throwing themselves at bosses, not only because failure itself is already a disincentive but you flat out can’t beat these kinds of bosses without learning at least something. (Except the Taurus demon, who can jump off the ledge never to return.) Thinking about it more a time out makes me want to learn less. If I found some degenerate cheese strategy for bosses I’m not going to give it up because every “what if I do this instead?” results in punishment.

                  This also says nothing of those who don’t just want to complete a boss but master it. Every time you need to test and record how much damage something does, where something lands or how to perform an AI manipulation you have to waste the time getting back to that point.

                  I agree with limited save states being a good idea to solve this kind of problem. It lets people like me practice and explore boss quirks without throwing away an audience who feels the best when they are risking something. If I remember correctly a bunch of older games have community rom-hacks and save states just for practicing difficult sections and tricks that would otherwise take a long time to get to or retry.

            2. Jabberwok says:

              I think we already kind of talked about this, but I think there are two root problems. One of them is the patterns, but the other is straight up reaction time (which includes things like mental focus, controller muscle memory, even input lag and frame dropping on less than ideal equipment). Your comparison assumes that this is binary, that if someone knows how to do something, they will always do it correctly, but that’s just not the case. In Sekiro, I know the trainer’s attack pattern, but I still mess up the timing on the deflections all the time. Same goes for some of the basic guards. And mistakes in the game obviously compound the difficulty, because health is a limited resource. Losing it means either being more likely to die in the next fight, or setting yourself back by resting, resetting all of the enemies.

              Heck, I’ve been reading music for over 20 years, but at my limited skill level, if you asked me to play a Charlie Parker solo I’ve read a hundred times before without making a single mistake, it could take me all day to get through it. If I allowed myself one or two mistakes without having to restart, it might take only a small fraction of that time. I know how to read the music just fine, but reliably executing it in time brings in a whole other skill set.

              1. Grimwear says:

                I personally consider reaction times being a part of boss patterns since a bout consists of boss attacks, you react, then if ideal attack yourself. When talking about this I’m not saying it’s binary. I’m not a perfect Souls player. I’ll take hits like everyone. Some will take more and some less. If people need more health then there are ways to get more. You can farm souls for levels, you can equip rings for health, use an ember, or even summon a friend (though this may make it harder). Health is there to account for mistakes I’m not saying they need to be perfect all the time.

                But I am saying for people who really need of an easy mode increasing health doesn’t help them. For these people the amount of health you would need to give them to get through the boss fights is so ridiculously high that it’s just not feasible. To bring back the mountain comparison some people can free solo it, some need some climbing gear, some people may need guidance from more experienced climbers guiding them through, and some people need more safety points. All varying amounts of help/health. But some people are old, or overweight, have health problems or arthritis. It doesn’t matter what you give them they cannot pull themselves up the mountain. The only way they’ll get to the top is by either fixing these problems or building them an elevator which just takes them to the top (god mode). That’s why I said rather than stat boosts just literally give them god mode.

                You’re talking about situations where one or two extra health hits could make a difference in which case great! Go farm that extra health, get a ring or some equivalent. Even without that health there’s still a 30-70% chance of success each time you face him. Eventually you’ll get through since you know when you should react but just can’t get that roll/block off all the time. Easy mode with health values will help those people sure, maybe even push those numbers up to 50-90%. But they aren’t the ones who really need easy mode. We’re talking about the 0-15% players who just can’t get there and giving them more health won’t provide as much benefit since they don’t know what to do with it. They cannot grasp the boss patterns at all. “Here’s all the best climbing equipment in the world go forth!” …ok, but I don’t know how to belay, or climb, any of the handholds, or even how to properly put on my harness, your equipment is useless to me.

                1. Jabberwok says:


                  Okay, I will point out again that you cannot farm extra health in Sekiro. This is why using this DS argument doesn’t work here. Because Souls players who weren’t great could gain the advantage they needed by grinding experience like an ARPG. You cannot do that at all in the game I am talking about. Each section of the game allows you only the intended amount of health and damage, based on a limited set of upgrades. You gain skill and gadgets, but you don’t equip new gear or level up. Running back through an area a hundred times before a boss fight will never give you more health to deal with that boss.

                  Yes, some players will still find the game impossible forever. But for many, it’s the edge of a few extra hits that they need in a fight for them to learn those patterns without quitting in frustration or simply never having the time to play the game. I know because I probably fall into that category, despite decades of playing video games.

                  1. Grimwear says:

                    I will point out again that I haven’t played and have barely watched any Sekiro. I do understand it’s different but I can’t offer anything about it as I haven’t played it and my knowledge is lacking. I’m simply commenting on how for most FromSoftware games that I’ve played just adding more health won’t help because the primary problem isn’t health, it’s boss patterns. And from the limited amount I’ve seen in Sekiro the bosses work roughly the same though you now also have to deal with a parry bar? In fact from what you’ve said Sekiro seems worse because you don’t get extra help from farming/items. Someone below commented most bosses take 50-80% of your health or outright kill you with combos so it’s the same situation as Souls games only without any way to make yourself stronger or give yourself extra wiggle room.

                    So again, how will doubling or quadrupling your health really help? For players like yourself who are competent but make mistakes here and there it would help quite a bit because you just need a little bit more survivability in order to succeed. But again, for people who are in DIRE NEED of an easy mode, who literally cannot progress through the game because the patterns are so far beyond them, just adding health won’t help them.

                    1. Jabberwok says:

                      What I’m saying is that you already pointed out that having extra health could be helpful by saying that you could just farm it. And if this were Dark Souls, I would say that’s enough. I don’t usually feel that games which let you expand your power level need an easy mode. But since there is no equivalent to doing that, another method would be helpful to some people.

                      You are talking about players who just one hundred percent cannot play the game. I’m not talking about those players. I have friends without the experience to look forward while walking in an FPS long enough to find the door out of a room. I know people who can’t be bothered to learn even basic platforming. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about the people who might be able to access the game if it had an easy mode. Maybe they don’t play many timing-based games but are great at stealth games. Maybe they don’t like repeating content as much as some people. Maybe they actually don’t have the time to invest at this point in their lives. It’s all of the same reasons that one would consider putting an easy mode in any game. It’s obviously not for the people who can’t play the game at all. It’s for the people who can’t play the game on the normal difficulty.

                      This is about time investment, and everything that comes with it. Dying to a single combo means reinvesting all time spent up to that one mistake. Double health means dying to two combos, which cuts the time spent per attempt in half. And in fact, even an attack that takes 90 percent of your health versus 100 percent means two attacks to kill you instead of one, which is still doubling survivability for only a 10 percent health increase.

                      Sure, we can say maybe it won’t help everyone, or maybe it won’t help enough people. But that’s true of all difficulty settings. They’re designed for the people they WILL help. Even if some people still can’t beat the game on easy, I don’t think that’s sufficient reason to say that it shouldn’t exist at all.

                    2. Grimwear says:

                      I’m replying to me but this is actually for Jabberwok but for some weird reason his response is the only one my browser doesn’t show a reply option for.

                      I feel you’re missing the point of my argument.

                      1) Yes, having extra health would help people on the cusp who get a hit or two away from winning when they die. The further you go down that line the less health helps you.

                      2) Having double health or dying in 2 hits instead of 1 in no way, shape, or form means that they are doubling their survivability. There’s way too much randomness in order to make that claim. If a boss starts a 4 hit combo and you die on hit 2, then surprise you’re still dead to that combo since you’ll be hit by 3 and 4. Also fights themselves are hectic and crazy. Death is generally the result of a mistake which you are unable to recover from that happens suddenly. You aren’t consistently losing health throughout a fight. Panic rolling is a great example. I can fight a boss for 5 minutes without taking a hit but if I mess up I can die in a single rotation. If my health is doubled that doesn’t suddenly mean that I can fight him for 10 minutes. It just doesn’t work like that which is another reason I’ve said repeatedly that health is overvalued. It’s understanding and reacting to boss patterns, NOT how big your health bar is that keeps you alive longer in a fight. Now AGAIN, health will keep you alive longer of course but learning the patterns and the fight will keep you alive 99% more effectively than health. Health is only a limited buffer for when you make a mistake. It’s not there to actually keep you alive for winning.

                      3) I’m not arguing against easy mode. I’m arguing against people who say it’s an easy fix by just buffing stats or adding numbers. This isn’t artificial difficulty where they just make you take more damage/boss less damage etc. You DO take a lot of damage and in some cases bosses take LITTLE damage but that’s not the issue with difficulty. It’s the patterns. If you can’t do the patterns you cannot progress. It doesn’t matter how much extra health you give people. I used the worst players as an obvious example but of course there are many players at varying levels of skill but the further you go down the more they need an easy mode that isn’t just artificial stat buffing because the more they need easy mode the less health or damage increases help them. This means for a proper easy mode that is more accessible to people FromSoft needs to actually dedicate time and effort into rebalancing the game around it. It’s not a simple fix. I’m arguing against people who say that you barely need to take development time away from the game in order to implement an easy mode. I’m simply saying that it’s a complex issue and as I said way up above this isn’t even accounting for how you’d tie in the integrated online aspects.

                    3. Daimbert says:

                      But again, for people who are in DIRE NEED of an easy mode, who literally cannot progress through the game because the patterns are so far beyond them, just adding health won’t help them.

                      But above, didn’t you reply to my comment that you were presuming that the people who desperately wanted an easy mode were people who couldn’t learn the patterns that that WASN’T what you were doing, and yet you continue to claim that the main issue is about players who can’t learn the patterns? How do you know that most of the people who want an easy mode can’t learn the patterns as opposed to being people who either can’t execute them as quickly and accurately as others can once they learn them or need more observation time to learn them?

                      (As an aside, this comment chain has hit the levels limit which is why everyone has to reply to your comment to reply to anything after it).

                    4. Jabberwok says:

                      Yeah, so this is definitely the bottom of the argument, because we’re maybe just interested in addressing different things at this point? What I’m interested in addressing is the question, “Is it okay for games like Sekiro to have different difficulty levels?” How we go about making that is not really interesting to me, especially since —

                      — The main argument I see against adding a lower difficulty in these games that holds any amount of water is that it would take development resources from the studio that should be spent elsewhere. And if this were a small indie team saying they lack the time and personnel for something like that, I would believe them. But From is a successful AAA developer with numerous mainstream releases behind them. Whatever they would need to invest into adding a new difficulty mode would probably have no noticeable impact on the release windows of future titles, and might not even involve the same personnel who would be working on those other projects. I’m not saying I will be mad at them if they don’t do it (I don’t care), just saying that the reasons not to do it don’t seem that impressive compared to the potential boon for some players.

                      However, I do still think stat buffs can make a big difference. They exist for a reason. Yes, in the example you gave, assuming the player is incapable of parrying any attack in a combo, and that all the attacks are lethal, it would make no difference. But that’s a lot of assumptions. I’m just talking about the difference between dying to a single mistake, and losing a large percentage of health to a single mistake. What if I know how to parry the combo, I just get the timing off on one strike? What if it isn’t a combo, just a single attack? Not dying immediately could mean a host of opportunities for the player: being able to use recovery items, change strategies or equipment, find better ground, see past the first attack of the boss’s pattern before dying, etc. All things that could result in more opportunities to learn the fight without having to retread ground each time; valuable to anyone who doesn’t have time to start over ten times in the same play session to try and memorize the patterns. It certainly would’ve helped me not die to poison in Sekiro yesterday while trying to scroll through inventory to use an antidote. Which would’ve given me the chance to back away from the boss and try something different.

                      I can’t count the number of times in many games where I was a few seconds from killing a boss and low on health when I died. Even a small buff would have gotten me through the fight. To pull up a recent example, one extra health point has saved me numerous times in Hollow Knight from another hour of repeating the same boss fight. Same for Hyper Light Drifter. NG+ in that game lowers your health and does not allow you to upgrade it, and it makes a huge difference in the difficulty, because you can no longer make any mistakes at all. The first mini-boss in Sekiro has killed me several times now when absorbing one more hit could have given me time to land the killing blow. I watched the Crate&Crowbar people throwing themselves at the same boss over and over again in Bloodborne, frequently just needing a few extra seconds to win the fight.

                      Yes, in all of those cases, the fight could be won eventually without any extra advantage. It’s that _eventually_ that is the problem. If a boss has a single powerful attack that normally kills in one hit, and I don’t know the timing of it, that means I get to practice that timing once for every fight. If I’m playing a Souls game, that means at least a few minutes of doing other stuff between each and every attempt to block that hit. Give me a tiny sliver of extra health, and all of the sudden that attack is not an instant kill. Now I have an opportunity to back up, heal, and get another chance to practice the timing without being interrupted. That is double the opportunities to practice a parry for almost the same amount of time, because of a minor stat change. Way more than double if the player has a stock of healing items to get them back to full health. I still think that would be valuable to some players. Those who can’t do it at all will never learn, but those who just need practice for a bit less time and energy invested would benefit from a change like that.

            3. Echo Tango says:

              The devs could also slow the game down as a difficulty setting. Celeste has this as one of it’s settings, for example. This isn’t trivial[1] to put into a game, but is very cheap compared to re-balancing all of the boss fights for different difficulties.

              [1] You have to make sure your game simulation can run with different time-scales. If you started with integers and ticks everywhere instead of floats, this will be a lot of work, but many physics engines / animation tools / etc already start with this type of thing built in. So it’s at least possible, if you build your game assuming time/speed is one more number that can be tweaked.

              1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

                That would be a great way to lower the difficulty, if they could pull it off.

        2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          It depends on how many health buff items you managed to gather, but in my experience most bosses can take off 50-80% of your health with a single hit. And most bosses use a lot of multi-hit combo’s, so a full combo will pretty much always kill you.

          Posture is a bit more varied, but a full combo without deflects will probably fill up most or all of your posture bar.

  22. Chris says:

    Ninja gaiden black did it right with difficulty. You could only pick normal or hard at the start. But if you died enough times it would ask if you wanted to play on easy mode, you would have to click accept 3 times and you would have to wear a pink ribbon on your character. Also it was called ninja dog mode. So you could still play the game on easy mode, but it made it clear it wasnt what you were supposed to do. And once you beat it it would be a lot easier to beat normal because you then know the pacing of the game (save points, item placement, enemy patterns, etc.). It might seem a bit childish to bully someone for picking easy mode, but the game is about playing a ninja that fights dangerous ninjas and demons that can only survive because of his training, not playing some super human that can cleave everyone in half.

    What annoys me more about “git gud” is that you cannot critique a game without everyone telling you to get good. I dont like dark souls, its movement is clunky, the hitboxes are terrible, and the animations feel like I move through jelly. But instead of people saying “yeah but I like that part” they just say its me being bad. Every time you try to say something about it you have to preface it with “I understand its part of the charm, I beat ornstein and smaugh, but I really think that ,,,,” and hope someone engages in your comment instead of just going ad hominem.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      A text box that says “This is not the intended way to play the game, and could ruin the experience. Do you want to continue?” still communicates the intended way to play the game, without insulting the player.

  23. Skyler Evans says:

    Being a ways into Sekiro now, and having played through most of the souls / boodborne series, I just want to say that while I am not one to prescribe onto others what is “difficult” or “rewarding” for them, I don’t think Sekiro would benefit from having another difficulty mode. There’s something very tightly focused about this being “the intended experience, it is what it is, meet it on our terms”. The addition of stealth and traversal mechanics mean that the game has more to it than just combat, and I don’t think simply buffing numbers would help matters at all. There IS a balance between the systems, and I don’t think it’s a game that needs to be for everyone. And that’s okay.

    I love Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. My wife hates it. I’ve watched it with a number of friends. There’s a particular subset of music / gamer culture knowledge that I’ve found makes people either fall in love with that movie or find it completely unintelligible and spastic. That movie speaks to a particular group of people in a really concentrated way, and I don’t think it would benefit from having a slowed-down version with less jump-cuts and weird effects for older crowds that aren’t in the target demographic. Similarly, I know people who have complained about Dunkirk for having hardly any dialogue and being “boring”, but I found it incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking.

    Dark Souls / Bloodborne / Sekiro are much the same way, I feel. They’re INTENDED to be a specific way, and not everyone needs to enjoy them. Adding an easy mode would take time away from development of the intended experience, if it were considered and balanced at all. If it weren’t, then the players going through an unbalanced “easy mode” would get a diminished experience. That sounds like posturing, but I’m honestly not interested in defended my “skill” at getting through the games. But they WERE difficult for me, and I enjoyed getting past that. I would not have had NEARLY as much fun with the games if I beat the bosses on the first tries, or if I felt like regular enemies weren’t a threat, or if I never had my heart stop when I hear dogs barking and realize I have no estus flasks left and low health and need to sprint away RIGHT NOW or else I lose the souls I’ve been saving…

    The intended experience may not be for everyone and that’s fine. It’s not a skill thing, but a matter of preferences. But I think it IS an intended experience, and I’m fine with the developer sticking to their vision.

    1. Thanatos Crows says:

      The anecdote about dogs really sparks some memories. From games tend to have emergent narratives that differ from player to player, especially in Dark Souls where there are multiple valid play styles. Still there are many common threads, that resonate between players, and most of them seem to come from the respect the game demands. You know the risks, you are slightly paranoid and you have no idea how long you need to keep going with your resources. You fail, you adapt. But once the game issues a challenge, it means you either go on to face it, or back down knowing that you’ll have to take the trek back and you might not be any better off next time. I simply loved the fog gates in DkS1 telling me to come at it, and not always being sure if this one was going to have a boss behind it.

      I think there is a definitive reason why people instantly recognize the theme or Ornstein & Smough, which doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the track or any unfairness on the side of the boss. It however is a point where many players feel they’ve figured out the game and are caught off guard when their bread and butter doesn’t cut it in that specific scenario.

      My problem with easy modes and people who want it in Souls games is that it would either change very little or enable just stonewalling yourself through every problem, which then robs the easy player of their sense of accomplishement. In DkS1 there are certain combination of spells and equipment that can make you nigh invulnerable as long as you controll the flow of battle. But the thing is you’ve had to discover atleast the idea of a combo like that, and then implement it in a way that works for you. Just as people wouldn’t play a close quarters bowman in d&d unless they either knew exactly what they’re doing or for shits and giggles, preparation and strategy are what makes or breaks your Souls experiences. If you could play d&d with an archer that could tank and slit throats just fine and had no personality outside of your head, I highly doubt you’d find the experience fun or rewarding. But if they’d earned godly loot that let them break the supposed rules a bit, then…

      Too bad I can’t speak of Sekiro, as I have neither the time or the money at the moment, and am saving myself for the eventual honeymoon. From the little I do know though, Sekiro doesn’t allow for the same kind of customization as Souls games do, and maybe requires better reflexes (or maybe just different pattern recognition) but offers increased mobility and such. It may lend itself to a more easily adjusted difficulty, as your options are limited and therefore making the right actions easier to perform might do the trick. But then we’re back at the question; can you take the central themes out of a work and leave the plot or astheitics and still call it the same? What happens to the artistic value? Starship Troopers the book and the movie are two very different works, and just as From games need to be challenging in their way to be experienced “properly” having the foreknowledge that let’s you understand ST the movie is satire is, I would say, pretty essential.

    2. Droid says:

      or if I never had my heart stop when I hear dogs barking and realize I […] need to sprint away RIGHT NOW

      Joke’s on you, the dogs can teleport.

      For those not in the know, I don’t mean this as a joke or a metaphor for “they’re really fast”, I mean they can literally change their position from any point to any other point instantly as long as they’re aggroed to a player and said player is close enough to the position they want to TP to. The game tries to mask this by doing it our of your LoS, but sometimes fails, and when it does, things get really wrong really fast.

  24. Daimbert says:

    The sense of accomplishment a player gets from overcoming an in-game challenge is an immediate and highly personal thing and doesn’t depend on other, less adept players being excluded from it. The “git gud” argument – in both its polite and impolite incarnations – holds that excluding less skillful players is an accidental byproduct of their desire for high difficulty. In fact, I suspect it’s the core: the ability to be conversant in FromSoft games is a privilege that some members of gaming’s self-appointed priestly caste wish to reserve for themselves.

    I don’t think that’s really the argument, or at least not the one that’s most commonly advanced (there may be an undercurrent of this, but it’s not the main argument used). The main argument, it seems to me, is generally that in these games in some sense failing is important, either because it gives a sense that the world is about constant failure until, through practice, one finally manages to overcome it, or that the point is to fail until you learn the specifics of dealing with that boss through observation and practice. So the calls for an easy mode are accused of really being calls to avoid failure, and the game is designed around failing and so what they’re asking for is to change the game into something that it’s not supposed to be by taking away a key component, and one that makes it unique. Essentially, they’re trying to avoid failure in a game where failure is a key component of the game.

    Of course, that argument doesn’t accurately represent those calling for an easy mode either, because difficulty is subjective. There’s a fine line between encouraging failure and frustrating failure, and that line is different for each person. Someone with more dexterity might be able to exploit the pattern once learned better than someone who has less dexterity, leaving the latter frustrated and unsympathetic to the argument because no one claims that being more dextrous is the point of the game. Someone whose boss repetitions end up being 10% of their total gaming time is likely to be far less frustrated at having to retry that and learn the mechanics than someone where it’s 90% of their total gaming time (because they have less of it). So difficulty levels can be used to provide that great experience to more people, and don’t have to be means for people to avoid that experience.

  25. The Rocketeer says:

    One thing they have in common are diagetic resurrection mechanisms.

    “Diegetic” is the word. It’s “di+egesis,” not “dia+gesis.”

    For what it’s worth, I finished Sekiro tonight. I though it was fantastic, and I’m honestly amazed that the developer of Souls managed to make a game with such a feeling of fluidity, excellent stealth, and frequently acrobatic traversal and combat. Not to mention completely rejiggering their whole combat system and nailing it. I think from Demon’s Souls all the way to Dark Souls III, it was fair to say that From was an iterative sort of developer that liked to fiddle with the margins of a strong, consistent core; it’s a pleasant shock to see them step well outside that comfort zone and knock it right out of the park.


    In fact, I suspect it’s the core: the ability to be conversant in FromSoft games is a privilege that some members of gaming’s self-appointed priestly caste wish to reserve for themselves.

    *sigh* Nietzsche wept.

  26. Kdansky says:

    The one thing that Sekiro does extremely well is to make you feel like a bad-ass ninja. Not the character, the player. If it wasn’t difficult to get there, it would not work. I can tell whether it’s smoke and mirrors or my own skill, and I don’t feel the same about them.

    The same was true for Dark Souls: The difficulty made every corner feel threatening and memorable, and if you remove it, the game loses a large portion of its character.

    Yes, more people would be able to play it, but they would think it’s a mediocre game, because they are only getting half the experience. It’s like rewriting Terry Pratchett into simple English: You still get the plot, but you miss out on the great use of language, and you get a far lesser experience from it all. There is the big risk that people would pick the easy mode and miss out. So instead of 100 people loving it, you have 50 people loving it, and 150 people playing it but not liking it very much. You’ve increased your reach at the cost of quality.

    So basically you’ve pulled an Activision.

    That said, this is not a clear Yes/No: This is just the trade-off that people like to ignore when it comes to adding an easy difficulty.

    The only way I see adding a difficulty setting would be to put it into an “accessibility options” menu, which very clearly states that these settings are for disabled people and not recommended for the full enjoyment, just like Celeste did.

    1. Daerian says:

      Celeste is very good about that and it’s options are also good as thematic fit for the game, I love it.

      Adding something like that in Soulsborne in offline (with turning off achievements for playthough when activated and deactivating when going online) might be best way to go about easy mode.

  27. Cinnamon Noir says:

    The funniest thing to me about all this is that different people can have very different ideas about what is and isn’t difficult. I have a friend who’s played and finished every Souls game, but who tells me that he doesn’t play platformers like Rayman because he’s “not good at them”. On the other hand, I grew up with platformers and find fast-paced action games like Dark Souls extremely frustrating. While I don’t particularly like “git gud” arguments, I have some sympathy for the advocates of high difficulty because there are lots of games out there and I think the variety in challenge between different games is part of what makes games special.

    However, much of this talk is completely academic as far as I can see. People have been debating ideas for implementing an “easy mode” in Souls games for more than five years at this point, and From Soft has never taken even a tentative step in this direction. My opinion is that Hidetaka Miyazaki has a bit of a mischievous streak and actually quite enjoys making games that cause the player a great deal of frustration. I’m not saying there aren’t sound design reasons for games to make you fail occasionally, but every Souls game I’ve played overdoes this, with only Demon’s Souls coming close to what I would call “fair”. Regardless of the reason, the developers have had ample opportunity to change their games’ difficulty and they haven’t; I think it’s safe to say at this point that they’re committed to unavoidable high difficulty.

  28. John says:

    There’s nothing wrong with having an easy mode. There’s nothing wrong with not having an easy mode. There’s nothing wrong with making a game accessible to more people and nothing wrong with making a game that’s only ever going to have a limited appeal. There should be all kinds of games and, honestly, I feel like there are all kinds of games and it’s fine that some of them aren’t for me. It may or may not be a good business decision for From Software to not put an easy mode in their games. I have no way of knowing. But I don’t see how it hurts anyone for them to not put an easy mode in their games.

    That said, the “git gud” mentality is awful. It’s rude, dismissive, and utterly lacking in empathy. If someone plays a game and doesn’t like it, who are you to tell them that it’s because there’s something wrong with them?

    1. Zaxares says:

      That’s pretty much everything I wanted to say, yep. If the vision of From Software is to create ultra-hard games that only a select few will ever be able to complete (similar to games like Cat Mario or I Wanna Be The Guy), then by all means, go for it! Of course, the realistic consequence of this is that you may get a much smaller playerbase as a result (I, for one, know that the Dark Souls games and its progeny will only bring me misery and so I stay far away from them. I’m happy with my decision, as the most fun I have with games lies in deep, story-driven RPGs that I can mod the hell out of so that by the end of the game my character is an invincible god of destruction), and you, as the developer, have to be keenly aware about making the trade-off between profitability and artistic vision. There is definitely going to be a market for such games; the only question is whether or not you can keep afloat making those kinds of games alone.

      To that end, I believe that having a wide array of difficulty settings is the best compromise. Players are free to choose whichever difficulty makes their game the most fun, and don’t give a damn about what somebody else is doing in their game. (Obviously, this only applies to single-player games.)

      The trouble comes, as Bob points out in his article and with which I agree, is that you have a subset of players who feel that any attempt to make the game easier and more accessible to a wider group of players somehow cheapens their own achievement. This argument has never made any sense to me; what does it matter to your experience/accomplishment how somebody else completed their game? That’s a bit like saying if you had two guys running a marathon, but one guy sprints it while the other guy just walks the entire distance, that the guy who sprinted’s accomplishment is somehow negated just because both men “finished the marathon”. You still have the knowledge and satisfaction of knowing that you completed it the hard way. Nobody can ever take that away from you. So yes, I believe Bob is right. The real problem is elitists who basically want to protect their position as part of a chosen few by making sure that as few people as possible can get to where they are.

      1. Ander says:

        The comparison to I Wanna Be the Guy is nice because kaizo platformers are a more extreme example of the argument against bothering with an easy mode (though I Wanna Be the Guy has difficulty settings, none of them are meant to make the game easy in a broadly accessible way).
        Easy mode is out of scope for the project. Every feature made is a feature to be tested. His Honor Btongue may be right that the audience appeal would be broader. He may be right that there is part of the audience that derives pleasure from the knowledge that the game isn’t accessible and that there is no valid reason to cater to this (presumably undesirable) feeling of exclusivity. But if an easy mode tuned to the dev-desired experience is not seen by them to be worth the time or, as some would argue , is impossible, then it’s not a feature I can expect the devs to implement. Same goes for making a kaizo experience enjoyable by the majority of the Mario platformer fanbase. If it’s out if scope, it’s out of scope.
        Maybe that’s where the argument is, though. It is or isn’t worth the time, which of course will beg the question: what should be used to judge “worth”? For kaizo creators, worth isn’t primarily in the money or market appeal. Should it be so for From Software?

      2. Daerian says:

        “The real problem is elitists who basically want to protect their position as part of a chosen few by making sure that as few people as possible can get to where they are.”

        I don’t really get why people who want their niche product stay niche and not be compromised in name of broad market appeal are being called “elitists”. Adding easy mode is just first step and it will not end there, we can see examples of that everywhere in this industry.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

          They’re called elitists because they want “their” product to stay niche, instead of letting everyone else enjoy it too.

          1. Daerian says:

            This is not being elitist, this is wanting your niche product stay they way it is as you said. Everybody can enjoy niche product if they want, it’s just that they should be part of niche. If the product is changed for broader appeal, it is no longer niche, destroying what previous fans loved in it.

            In another words, we have situation where people not being DS fans or people speaking in name of “not DS fans” are telling DS fans they should stopped having fun the way they want, because others want their toys changed and then these other people MIGHT like DS when changed.

            1. Zaxares says:

              There is a fine line between wanting your product to stay niche and then taking a certain delight in watching people fail to complete what you’ve done though. When I talk about elitists, that’s what I mean, the players who basically insist that the only reason you can’t beat it is because you suck and just need to “git gud”. It’s different from players who specifically enjoy niche games or high difficulties. (Usually, the way I tell the difference is if the niche player in question is willing to share advice/tips on how to rise to the challenge, or in formulating alternate ways to beat the challenge. In a RPG, for example, it may be finding out what’s the party composition or build the player is bringing, and then using their knowhow, try to devise a strategy that would work for that player. To use another example, in a fighting game, if somebody says “I can’t beat M.Bison as Zangief!”, your answer should not be “Just play Ryu or Ken, you scrub!”)

    2. Daerian says:

      Fully agree. This is what I thin, except I think if the game build it’s appeal on specific niche, it should stay loyal to that niche and not add easy mode later.

      And “git gud” mentality should die in fire, spoken as a Soulsborne fan. You cannot even discuss anything negative about these games without first having to prove you are good at them…

  29. Preciousgollum says:

    Easy games with no thought needed are boring.

    Hard games that are borderline impossible in sections are frustrating.

    Somewhere between these two extremes, a good game can be had.

    I’m reminded of recently playing Far Cry 1 on the PC on the hardest difficulty (realistic). It was tough stuff. I had to adapt to it, and then keep re-adapting when the game changed its pace, and understand its stealth mechanics. It took ageeees of careful play to get through. I just got the flow of this difficult game…

    And then everything changed and I am now stuck on a scripted turret section that isn’t fun. At all.

    Far Cry 1 has a reputation for being a very difficult game, so I knew what I was getting into, but the way the the rules changed in forcing a scripted turret section in MISSION 17! is what really put me off. I cannot get out the Vehicle, I cannot hide, and they don’t even give you enough rockets to solve the problems in front and behind. Far Cry is usually open world and therefore has a couple of different ways of approaching a problem. But that disappears with scripted on-rails sections.

    I cannot alter the difficulty for that section, because Far Cry doesn’t allow it. So I’ve had to replay the game on one step difficulty below ‘Realistic’. Which is muuuuuch easier overall because enemies have less visual range and slightly slower shooting speeds, meaning that I can win first in a firefight if I’m quick enough. Less ridiculously careful planning – more auto-piloting on my part.

    Older FPS games hardest difficulties (and games inspired by old FPS) to be honest used to be above everything expected, and ridiculously tough – in some cases having different rules and challenges. Doom’s Nightmare mode. Anything above ‘Normal’ on Serious Sam. Painkiller – I found out had missing levels near the end, and a missing mechanic because you weren’t supposed to complete it ‘Very Hard’ the first time).

    Having beaten Dark Souls etc, it usually gives you the tools to win its challenges. An element of Dark Souls is that it can be more intimidating than difficult, and it is the intimidation that causes mistakes to be made.

    You might die in a Dark Souls, but at least you aren’t bored. Boredom is what leads to Hollowing – not death.

    Having a single difficulty is not a problem if it is well designed. Dark Souls is built knowing that you have the Internet to solve problems.

    What I’m more concerned about are games that have multiple difficulties that are poorly explained; everybody loses out by a game either being too hard UN-INTENTIONALLY (or as an after thought) or too easy because people feel the need to play ‘Normal’ first.

  30. Lino says:

    Although I plan on trying Sekiro, because it really looks fun, I really hate the Souls games. See, to me, they’re not difficult – just designed to kill and frustrate first-time players. And their biggest sin – to me – is the fact that that difficulty even translates in to bad gamefeel – the games are so hell-bent on having enemies telegraph their attacks (because a lot of them are one-shot kills) and on having your character’s hits be as pronounced as possible (because we can’t just have you be faster than the enemies), that it just looks like drunk people fighting. And I don’t consider these games difficult, because they’re using the cheapest possible ways to kill players, i.e. bullet-sponge (sword-sponge?) enemies that deal massive amounts of damage. Once you master their patterns and the games’ obtuse systems, they’re more than trivial (though I admit, I never had the patience to get to that part).
    To me, a much better example of difficult games are titles like Starcraft, DoTA, and the Devil May Cry and Barman Arkham series. The first two examples are obvious – easy mechanics that are extremely difficult to master. While the latter two games may seem strange at first, I actually think they’re a masterful way to implement difficulty. In the Arkham games, you can beat the game without the need to be particularly competent at the fighting system. However, mastering it and achieving a high combo is very difficult, and when you factor in some of the more insane challenges, you really need to be on your toes. The DMC series take things even further – it has some of the meatiest combat in the industry, and while you don’t need to get a good combo score, the system itself makes you want to get better. And if you are insolent enough to think you’ve mastered the game’s challenges, there are multiple difficulty modes – one of which significantly increases enemy and boss HP while having you die in only one hit.
    And, unlike the Souls series, none of these games sacrifice gamefeel in order to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something great.
    But then again, that’s just the way I see things. My best friend (a Dark Souls fanatic) have argued about this in the past, and this is something we can never see eye-to-eye on. However, there is one argument he’s never been able to beat: if you watch a Let’s Play or a stream for one of the Souls games and take a shot whenever the person says “This part/boss/enemy is so annoying/frustrating/sucks!” I guarantee, you’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning within the first 20 minutes! However, can you say the same thing about Devil May Cry or Arkham?

    1. Daerian says:

      Looking at your examples I think I might know where your problem with Souls might be – these games are defensive combat systems, build around being safe and defensively avoiding damage, while waiting for openings. Some people love it, some hate it, but this is very rare and unique thing in action (and action RPG) genre. DMC is on the other hand build around offensive combat system, where you are constantly on the move and offence, using your offence as defensive tool (and I love both btw.).

      You might want to try Bloodborne, it is build on very similar idea of offence being defensive tool.

      I should probably also add that you don’t get killed in one hit in these games, unless you have taken damage before – you can get killed in one “combo”, but you can easily stop them.

      1. Ander says:

        The faster, more aggressive pace of spectacle fighters is why I sought out Bloodborne but haven’t had a desire to play the Souls games. My Souls fan friend assures me I’m missing something. Eh.

      2. Lino says:

        Bloodborne kinda looks like my cup of tea – along with the God of War remake and Horizon, they’ve made me consider buying a PS4. But I just can’t justify buying a whole console for just three games :/

      3. Christopher says:

        I don’t see this brought up a lot, but it’s an interesting part to the games. The big differences between Souls action and say DMC action means that while overlap definitely exists, it’s entirely possible for a person to prefer something reactive, stat-boosty and stamina/animation priority focused where you plan ahead as opposed to a speedy brawler. With the streamers I’ve watched, it’s pretty often one or the other that appeals to them. I was fascinated when God of War 2018 released and one of the ones I follow that couldn’t give a toss about Bayonetta was now happily playing the latest God of War because it was more soulsied up this time.

        1. Lino says:

          Thing is, my favourite game of all time – Severance: Blade of Darkness, has a stamina-based system, and is more defense-based. Granted, it doesn’t have RPG elements, but it’s widely regarded as a progenitor of Dark Souls. So, there definitely can be a defensive, stamina-based fighting system that I could like – it just isn’t Dark Souls.

          1. Christopher says:

            Ooh, that’s an interesting one. I don’t think I’ve heard of it before, but it sure shares at least superficial similarities with Dark Souls.

    2. Preciousgollum says:

      It could also be said of more realistic First Person shooter games… that they’re designed to kill you over and over again. But that’s just a part of the scenario.

      If you think about a lot the older Tom Clancy games, they had easy, normal, hard etc but even ‘easy’ would be difficult and require some more complex understanding of the subject matter.

      Really, there probably wasn’t a lot of difference between older Tom Clancy games at different difficulty levels because the baseline of the game was already quite tough (due to the subject matter).

      Having gone from playing Far Cry and other games on tougher difficulty levels and going back to a Call of Duty game (in the form of Infinite Warfare), I immediately realised how boring a fast regenerating health system can be – Even on Veteran mode (which I always play CoD on since CoD 2), and how much a Call of Duty game relies on setpiece design that kind of feels old now. I used to think that health packs and Non-regenerating health/shields was terrible – but I’m beginning to change my mind again.

      Shoot, get shot at, duck behind cover, regen health, shoot, repeat… that’s the ‘safe’ way to play CoD and your brain can end up on auto-pilot.

      In the pursuit of avoiding the claims of ‘wasting people’s time’, newer games focus more on giving you ways to carry on past making mistakes, but then you realise that playing games is inherently a waste of time… so why worry about repeating sections that you failed?

      So why are people afraid of ‘time-wasting’? The belief in a game wasting somebody’s time when they die is very subjective. This is different from older games that were very difficult through what might have amounted to poor game design in the first place.

  31. Daerian says:

    There are few arguments against easy mode in From Soft games. These are strongly intertwined too. I’m not even going into artistic integrity and intertwined vision of difficulty and world building, that in my opinion are also extremely important. I will be talking prosaic market appeal here.

    First one is marketing issue. These games are niche product, made for specific type of players. They somehow succeed far more than usually such products do and became part of mainstream gaming culture. This caused other people to want them to became more accessible, so they can play these games too – but these features don’t add anything (and even take out some things) for core audience. Is it good risking core market for chance of getting some more players? I would argue that in case of From Soft games, it is not worth it, as these games still require specific mindset of player and easy mode will not change that, but can lead to alienating core group. Easy mode *will* decrease the strength of “badge of honor” of finishing the game and fracture player base unity.

    Second, why should niche product be made more accessible? Not all products are supposed to be for everyone, so there is no reason to demand this product be available for players who cannot deal with difficulty. I don’t play racing games or rhythm games because I’m not good at them and don’t find enjoyment in them, but I don’t demand from their creators to decrease centrifugal force or slow game to the crawl because I should be able to enjoy them. So why everyone think game made for this specific niche of players should cater to them too?

    Third, adding easy mode is not as easy as many people seem to think. It will require far more than just tweaking some numbers, not to mention all the testing etc. This on the other hand will require decreasing scope of the game, even if it will be one or two arenas/levels, as resources for development are not infinite. So why would someone who likes these games now want mode that adds nothing for im, but will take potential things away? This again goes against wishes of core audience in attempt of pleasing people outside that circle, that might get interested in game.

    Fourth, for Souls – how do you deal with multiplayer aspects? There must be parity in multiplayer, so when someone from Normal mode invades, will all monsters suddenly get buffed to Normal level of power? (this can be ignored for Sekiro)

    And the final, fifth argument, that I see talked far too infrequently – easy mode is just first step. Making concessions here won’t end at easy mode, as there will be more demands to follow. Which will lead for that niche product stopping being something niche and for that group of players. Which is why people enjoying these games now don’t want for such proccesss to start.

    And if you think this is hyperbole and such thing wouldn’t happen, just play DMC series. While DMC5 is probably highest refinement of game systems (and I love it), it’s Normal (Demon Hunter) mode is certainly easier than Easy (Human) mode of DMC 3 and 4. This is a cost of niche product (spectacle fighters are not mainstream games) going for more mainsream market appeal.

  32. VelourFog says:

    honestly cannot believe some would try and decide for others what they are allowed to enjoy

    I had a great time in the first Dark Souls, because I turned cheating on and gave myself a billion souls and levelled everything up to max

    Then I strolled about and enjoyed the world and the story without worrying about the awful combat.


    1. tmtvl says:

      That’s like a rich college kid lighting a fancy cigar with a £1,000 note in front of working middle class people. “Oh hey, you worked so hard to get where you’re at? Watch me take a dump all over that.”

      1. DerJungerLudendorff says:

        Because obviously modding your game is the same as obnoxiously rubbing real life privelige in the face of the downtrodden.

        Do flip off.

      2. VelourFog says:

        lots of terrible metaphors in here but this might be the worst

        how does what i do when i am playing my single-player game involve or in any way impact anyone but myself?

        i eagerly await your response

  33. Carlos García says:

    – Waaaaah, games are too easy nowadays, so much hand holding. Devs are cowards who in their greed to get the biggest audience renounce to challenge.
    – We’re making this game meant to be very challenging and we’ll not compromise on that.
    – WAAAAAAAAH the game is too hard and there is no easy mode. WAAAAAAH how can they expect to get the biggest audience for their bucks?!

    Glad to see at least Shamus offers the valid arguments on the difficulty: the frustration of corpse runs and the lack of hints to be able to do some guessing about what the boss will do for a chance to do some first try strategizing. Now I’m curious about perhaps buying one of these games (I’ve not felt interested by reasons different than combat difficulty). I think very hard bosses is fine, but there should be some hint to give you the chance to think out the right strategy for the first fight. Perhaps does it work to be very cautious and hold back, goading the bosses into attacks, just testing the edge of reach to test and explore their reach, rhythm and then choose attack windows and evades or blocks? Or even that fails to be informative?

    1. galacticplumber says:

      Summon people, then have let them act as decoys. Also makes the boss easier.

    2. Thanatos Crows says:

      Dark Souls combat is like drilling combat sports with a beginner/figuring out how to train against something. It’s telegraphed and slow enough for you to make mistakes and still get an in. All enemies have their effective ranges and act appropriately, so they can be goaded into playing on the field you excell at. This ofcourse doesn’t mean they don’t try to close distance, but that if you agressively stay at the edge of their range it’s more likely to see slow long reaching attacks than in their face and so on.
      It’s also very punishing of thoughtless fighting, as enemies have attacks of varying tempo (I always get irritated when so called Souls masters whine about some enemy delaying their strike. Always the same strike. Always the exact same amount of time. It’s their own damn fault for not paying attention and just mashing roll whenever an attack starts.)
      So knowledge is power. If you’re sure you’re going to kill/stunlock an enemy before they can land their attack then excellent use of opportunity. However, first encounters with enemies (which are often introduced in easy settings with little outside complications) should probably be taken more carefully, just to scout out how many attacks it’s safe to land, when and from where.

  34. tmtvl says:

    From Soft games need an easy mode like Mass Effect needs a “skip cutscenes” mode. If you’re gonna play that, why even bother? There are games that would be happy to pander to your particular needs, why bother forcing others to do the same?

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      I don’t think you understand the very clearly made point that different people enjoy games in different ways. Just because to you something is not enjoyable it doesn’t means others won’t find it. I can’t find any enjoyment on something like, say, Team Fortress 2, and that game is super popular. I don’t go around thinking “People who play this must be insane!”, I simply realize they enjoy something I don’t.

  35. DeadlyDark says:

    Well. Do FS even want to increase their audience even further, though? They are already 4th most played game on Steam, don’t think they ever can top that.

  36. Jaedar says:

    I think it should be noted that previous fromsoft games had pseudo easy modes available. Having trouble with a boss? Summon another player (or an npc) to help you. Having trouble in general? Spend some time to grind out some levels. Or just summon people throughout the entire level.

    In my opinion, this is plenty (although ‘grind levels’ is a bad excuse in general, it tends to be done pretty quickly. It’s not like a jrpg where you spend hours doing it) but it should be noted sekiro doesn’t really have it. There’s no optional summons to make bosses easier, and grinding experience/gold just gives you more tools, most of which are fairly useless against the hard enemies/bosses anyway.

    So while I would say that the soulsborne games already have an easy mode, sekiro could use one.

    1. Hal says:

      It’s not a flawless option, though. Summoning assistance happens randomly, and also opens you up to PvP, griefing, etc. In Bloodborne, you also spent a limited resource to do so.

      For some players, that limited concession might be enough, or even too much, but for some of us it wasn’t really the kind of help we were looking for.

  37. Teltnuag says:

    I find it helps to see what happens when you apply the arguments to another game. Should Amnesia have a Bright-Lights-Invulnerable mode for people who have heard many people enjoy Amnesia and it’s a great horror game, but gosh, they just can’t see very well and don’t like when the monster shows up? I would certainly say no, because it would be a fundamentally different game being played (never mind the argument of whether a walking simulator is a game at all at that point).

    People who want easy modes for these games aren’t really looking for them to easier — they are looking for a different game entirely. And that’s fine. Not every game is for every person.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      The cost of adding an additional lighting mode and invulnerability would be trivial compared to the effort of making the game in the first place. Games used to put in cheats for free, proof of how easy it is to implement.

      Also, the fact that people ask for easy modes in games means that they do actually in fact, want to play those games. There are many reasons to want to play a specific game, without some pieces of it. They may want to enjoy the narrative of Amnesia, without constantly feeling like they’re having a heart-attack, or without dying to monsters repeatedly.

  38. evileeyore says:

    Message to the games journos: Get Gud or Learn To Code.

    In all seriousness, I think Shamus is missing something fairly fundamental. Because at his his core (Hi Shamus!) he’s an inclusive person. It’s right here in this statement:

    In fact, I suspect it’s the core: the ability to be conversant in FromSoft games is a privilege that some members of gaming’s self-appointed priestly caste wish to reserve for themselves.

    The implicit idea that there is something wrong with wanting this. There isn’t.

    I’m an inclusive sort as well, however I admit, there is a certain enjoyment that comes with knowing there are systems that I have mastered that others cannot or will not (for whatever reason, I’ve often suspected that it’s down to temperament and native talent, there are plenty of systems that I will smash my face against forever and never come to even a novice’s capacity to implement, such is life).

    As Shamus says (Hi Shamus!) “This entire argument is based on the false idea that we all get satisfaction from the same things.” Why take away something I (and others) enjoy just to increase your enjoyment, when there are plenty of games out there you do in fact enjoy (which I don’t because, ‘systems’)?

    Note: I’m in the “Man, I hate these Dark Soulsian games” camp. But so what? I also hate tons of other games y’all find deeply enjoyable (Doom/Halo, FIFA, Farmville, Dating Sims, etc), why would I try to take them away from you or change them (such that you’d enjoy them less or not at all) so I too could enjoy them? I’m just happy we all have games we can like.

    1. Droid says:

      Bob Case wrote this article. Other than that, I tend to agree with you. Like others, though, I also despise the ‘git gud’ mentality, be it serious or as a meme, especially since the game does give the community powerful tools to help each other. They just seem to enjoy the griefing tools just as much or more, so it’s natural that part of the game would show itself again in how its players treat newbies in forums / similar.

      1. evileeyore says:

        “Bob Case wrote this article.”
        Woah! I didn’t even notice.

        “Like others, though, I also despise the ‘git gud’ mentality, be it serious or as a meme, especially since the game does give the community powerful tools to help each other. They just seem to enjoy the griefing tools just as much or more…”
        I have no idea about that. The people I follow who are into those games are the sort that are helpful to nebs. ‘Get Gud’ comes out for a select group, and no they aren’t newbs, they’re “professionals” who decry gamers as entitled crybabies with one headline and then demand ‘an easy mode’ in the next.

  39. Hal says:

    I only played Bloodborne, and only for a while, so take my comments with that in mind.

    Part of what makes the system frustrating for me is the “do it again, stupid” nature of it. When you fail (i.e. die) you are sent back to try again; all of your experience/currency is zeroed out, the monsters respawning, and any unsaved work is undone. Which means you might throw yourself against the same challenge over and over without making any progress whatsoever; for those of us with limited gaming time, that can seem like a complete waste.

    Thus, perhaps one of the simplest ways to make the game more forgiving would be to let the players keep their XP/currency after dying. You could then continue to level up, even if you’re struggling and stuck; presumably, the problem might resolve itself after a while because you can out level the content.

    1. Daerian says:

      This is pretty much implemented in in-game mechanics of Sacrifice Ring, especially in DS2 where you can repair it.

      1. Preciousgollum says:

        Dark Souls wouldn’t make sense if you didn’t drop Souls when you die, since all other creatures in the world do. To drop souls is proof that you are no more special than any of the other enemies around you.

        Unlike the later Elder Scrolls iterations (which have terribly boring gameplay and poor balancing in terms of ‘gamefeel’), in Dark Souls you aren’t the chosen one.

        So I used to love Elder Scrolls Oblivion until I realised all the issues in it. And as a result I was reuctantly interested in Skyrim (Many more hours were played by other family members on my account). One of the biggest problems of Skyrim that I cannot solve is ‘What difficulty ‘feels’ right?’ They all feel off in some way or another, and then you realise that the combat is a bit boring and the level scaling means that the world doesn’t feel ‘alive’. Conversely, for The Witcher 2, which has a ‘Dark Souls’ style dodge-combat system, Geralt takes less hits, but the enemies take many more and can become a grind (still beat it but there were some silly boss fights). I thought The Witcher 1 handled difficulty choices better because it made it clear that Hard was the mode where Critical Hits were allowed on the player, and so was seemingly more ‘balanced’ as RPG combat. So, ‘Normal’ was presumably shielding you from disadvantages given by the ‘randomness’ of the combat system, but not changing much else. Kid gloves were off.
        What is actually the best/most balanced Skyrim/Fallout 3/4 difficulty? I don’t think it is the default one, since Morrowind was more difficult at the start on its default setting.

    2. Christopher says:

      I’ve been watching Useless Podcast lately, a let’s play channel for some ex-Insomniac devs that worked on the Ratchet games(which also didn’t have a difficulty setting until further into the series). One thing they did is the kinda subtle difficulty tuning that Resident Evil 4 is known for doing ( if you do poorly and die a lot, less enemies might spawn or the time you gotta beat in a race is reduced etc ). But besides that, they also let you keep all the currency you collected each trip through an area. It wasn’t entirely player beneficial, ammo didn’t restock so you had to replenish what you used each time. But in general, if you came out on top of the equation, sooner or later you could afford a stronger weapon or better armor. Just keep losing, you’ll win eventually.

      Souls kinda flies in the face of all that, and it would’ve been fun to see their take on it if their let’s plays were recorded after those games arrived.

  40. GM says:

    What do people have with the saying git gud?

    1. Philadelphus says:

      Spelling. It’s “Get good, you flawed ignorant.”

  41. Preciousgollum says:

    We could go back to talking about a time where ‘Japanese Normal’ was at times easier than Western Normal, which basically means that games which arrived in the west were made more difficult because that was the perception. That’s why Metal Gear Solid 3 has ‘European Extreme’ as well as regular Extreme. I don’t know who made these decisions exactly, but it shows that Japan had a history of avoiding difficult games when it came to mainstream, but somebody thought games needed to be more difficult in the west.

    Dark Souls is sort of like a rejection of that idea. Dark Souls is ‘Japanese Hard’, meaning that it isn’t as hard as some western expectations of what a Hard mode is.

    Dark Souls doesn’t have a difficulty level selection because that would mean having to balance the expectations of multiple people who pick that difficulty. How easy should ‘easy’ be? Wouldn’t you feel bad if you could not beat ‘Easy’?

    If you had ‘Normal’ and ‘Hard’… that would encourage even more arguments and lead to the same problem.

    Dark Soul’s design makes it difficult to add an ‘Easy mode’ because its stats and some gameplay elements are based on MMO concepts. As people here have said, how would the multiplayer work? People would farm easy mode, and then deliver their items to their Normal mode character. Else they’d have to be on separate servers, without ‘Jolly Co-Operation’.

    If it was based around damage, then would you make it easier or harder by 25%? Could you toggle this in options?

    Why not just put spells in the game that have the same effect? (which is sort of what they did) At least this keeps the theme in line with the gameplay.

  42. Christopher says:

    Sweet, I’m always happy to have another Bob article. That’s a great Sunday treat.

    Personally I think it’s hard to argue against an easy mode. It might be intrinsic to a learning experience to meet failure, but everyone starts at different levels of skill. I tend to play games on normal because that’s “the intended experience”. But there have been cases where I went down to easy instead and then worked my way up to the harder modes. That goes for games that are hardcore as shit, like the Devil May Cry games. Devil May Cry 3 was ruined for me in its original release because they gave us a harder difficulty as our default over here. What a prank, lads. On the other hand, I played Devil May Cry 4 on human(the easiest) mode, breezing through it and remembering very little about it. Never caring to replay it on anything harder, either, because the game had already made me run back through the same levels in the first playthrough with no strong emotional investment to keep it there. Only with DMC5 I finally played one on the default difficulty and found it to be perfectly fine tuned. I died here and there, but only the first big boss and the final bosses really gave me a hard time, and I thought that was perfectly fair. And easily overcome with the ability to respawn with full health then and there, which I could’ve abused throughout the game but saved for the final boss for my own feeling of accomplishment. It’s important to get a difficulty curve appropriate to your skills. That’s why Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Rising Revengeance have secret harder difficulties you can unlock right from the start for the more skilled players, and why even Dark Souls 2 had the option to raise the difficulty in-game with the Covenant of Champions. It’s not just about letting more players in, it’s about making sure skilled returnees don’t get bored on an initial playthrough.

    Where was I going with this? Right, I think it’s hard to argue that an easy mode would make Souls worse. If you are of a low skill level, a kid, a person with a disability that makes it hard for you, then I can’t imagine myelf in real life grabbing them by the lapels and tell them to suck it up until they get it. That’s a dick move. I can’t read the blog post by Burford in the first Forbes article and not agree that he should get to have an easy mode in his video game inbetween bursts of pain. Even on a personal level for myself, I’d appreciate the ability to remap the buttons at the very least.

    Having said that, I do think the argument annoys me when brought up by people who aren’t suffering from any disability. It comes up every bloody time a new Souls game comes out, it’s the main coverage of the games in the press, and it’s very tired. When Chris did an Errant Signal on the games a good long time ago, I think he separated it into five little bits of content and like three of them were about the difficulty. Some of the most unique, classy, well thought out, succesful niche products out there and that’s the play they get. From Software manage to bring essentially old beat ’em ups with classic video game levels and boss fights into a 3d space, cover them in an engrossing atmosphere and interesting lore, a generally down to earth minimalistic design compared to lots of fantasy, stellar character designs and the occasional legendary NPC, a unique combat system and gameplay loop that largely rewards patience and planning and stat management as much as reflexes. They’ve got grand level designs, a large variety of enemy types, a tone unique to them. It’s way more popular than basically any other new niche title I can think of, with lots of other devs trying their hand at making their own(whether that’s Hollow Knight, Death’s Gambit, Salt & Sanctuary or Lords of the Fallen). And what’s the thing people keep making videos and writing articles about for a decade? Sodding easy mode. If nothing else, you should support From adding one just so people could write thinkpieces about something other than that for a change.

    The conversation always goes the same route, too. “Why don’t these baby boy elitists let everyone enjoy their game/Why don’t you git gud” is a refrain I’ve heard one too many times. Shitposters going “git gud” is infuriating, but unless you do have a disability making them physically impossible for you to best, I do think you should also respect the devs when they make this basically new genre because it’s something weird and unique they wanted very much to make because nobody were making it, and respect the audience that’s already into it because it’s all they’ve wanted. That’s more respectable than coming into somebody’s party and demanding they put on music you prefer and changing all the decorations.

    End of the day, rather than recommend cheatengine or waiting for From to maybe eventually add an easy mode, if you do think you would enjoy a game like this but think it soulds too punishing then I recommend the steps you can take that are out there to ease you into it. I love gamey third person action RPGs and brawlers wiith strong action systems and the specific type of lowkey moody fantasy that Dark Souls is at its best in my opinion, but for years I never tried one because they sounded terrible frustrating. I hated that you could lose the experience gained, that a death at a boss’ hand would send you back to the start of the stage. I still hate running to a boss after a loss. I’m impatient and I’m not a very skilled player.

    So what I did was spoil myself. I looked at people playing Souls for the first time, stumbling into traps head first. I watched a 50 year old grandpa with a bad back and a 15-year old kid both beath the game. I watched let’s plays, guides and tutorial videos from helpful members of the community, like EpicNameBro, who from the amount of props he gets probably singlehandedly brought thousands of players to the games. With the book smarts I’d accumulated, I sat next to a friend and walked him through the systems of Dark Souls 1, occasionally playing some Cool Anime Music on my laptop or encouraging him in a tough spot.

    And then finally I played Dark Souls 1 myself, and I had a really good time. And since then, I’ve managed to get into these games without a lot of prep work – although I still watch a lot of let’s plays and streams of them just because I love doing that. I’m currently trying (and failing) to avoid watching much Sekiro until I get my hands on it.

    From Soft’s games aren’t gonna be for everyone regardless of how easy they make them, and while you can argue more people would be into them, they’re already a hugely successful and renowned series of games. If they do add an easy mode, then whatever. I think it would be wonderful for the cases where an accessibility issue is preventing you from beating it, and while the games might lose some mystique and that singular challenge for everyone to throw themselves at, I don’t think that’s a very big loss compared to letting a wheelchair bound dude play a fun game for easily.

    But a lack of patience is not a disability. And that’s what these games demand more than anything else, persistence. In terms of execution, they’re much simpler than a Devil May Cry, than a Bayonetta. You can style in a Souls game, but ultimately it’s more important that you know an enemy’s weakness or positioning than it is that you know any kind of integral combat manouvers. Mashing R1, that about does it for several of these games, maybe hit the parry button with the right timing if you’re really slick. It isn’t much.

    I feel like if I could stumble my way through most of all of these games (Fume Knight remains in his boss room still), then that’s something almost everyone can do with the right patience and guidance. The patience bit is on you. But if you need guidance, and you don’t have a friend around who knows the game, then just go to youtube. Watch Epicnamebro’s Sekiro videos, where he walks you through areas and systems and interesting translation nuggets. That’s what worked for me. For all the talk of shitposters and a bad online community, there are stellar members of the fanbase that do their best to help others get into it. I think that’s more constructive than asking for an easy mode on twitter.

  43. Daerian says:

    I think I will leave it here:

    Dark Souls 2 was black sheep of the family and worst game in the franchise, but it had best way of adjusting difficulty though game mechanics alone. However, other titles still have it, even if not as good.

    Easy mode is inherently build into Dark Souls.

  44. N/A says:

    I think the best way I saw the ‘Git Gud’ mindset described was by someone pointing out that most of them are very much looking for fellow fans – but, crucially, they’re looking for fellow fans in the sense of people who enjoy the games for what they are.

    The kind of extremely rules-driven, difficult but scrupulously fair combat system that FromSoft games offer is actually still pretty thin on the ground, even today with many games trying to imitate the SoulsBorne formula. Back when it first came out it was incredibly niche, and therefore very valuable to the sort of people to whom that niche appeals.

    The flipside of that is that among people to whom the formula does not appeal, there’s often an expectation that the game should cater to them. You can trace this back to fighting games with terms like ‘scrub’, a term for a player who decries certain tactics as ‘cheap’ and therefore expects them to be banned from the game, rather than fully experiencing the game by learning how to deal with them.

    That’s where ‘git gud’ comes from. It’s a rote response to complaints that come from a place of not wanting to understand the game, and therefore serves to forestall long, fruitless arguments with every Tom, Dick and Harry who want the games to be something they’re not, and THEREFORE keeps community feedback on the games focused on what they’re supposed to be. That’s important, remember, because the kind of experience they offer is rare.

    In essence, it’s gatekeeping. But gatekeeping isn’t an axiomatically bad thing; every good community has to have SOME rules to maintain a coherent identity, and in practice it doesn’t necessarily make for an elitist mindset – we’re talking about a community that churns out essays on how to beat bosses, and will will pore through video replays to advise people who are bad at the game but want to get better. Because that’s the key point, “want to get better.” The snappy lingo is “git gud,” but the RULE is more, “BE WILLING to git gud.”

    To summarise – you are essentially correct when you say that the sense of accomplishment derived from overcoming a challenge is highly personalised… And the appeal of FromSoft games is in large part defined by catering to that personal niche of people who desire an experience that is highly challenging in a particular way. In that sense, yes, adding an easy mode WOULD damage the game.

  45. A mouse says:

    This is admittedly a tangential aside to the discussion at hand, but I can’t help but notice that both sides of the difficulty debate tend to share the same (generally unstated) assumption: that games are fundamentally about winning–beating a boss, getting to the next area, reaching the end credits, etc. The endorphin rush that comes from overcoming the obstacle. By extension, any form of interaction with the game that does not work towards success or mastery is deemed time wasted.

    For me, “difficult games” are fascinating precisely because they offer a chance to challenge this assumption. I’ve accepted the fact that I will never make it past a certain cliff-face in Getting Over It, and I’m stuck on a boss in Dark Souls 3 that, realistically, I may never beat. The games have presented me a challenge that I cannot overcome, and the unplayed content beyond these barriers will forever remain in my mind hypothetical, distant, inaccessible. That’s an experience that no other artistic medium can provide. Rather than trying to avoid it, I wish more games would lean into failure as a valid form of play in and of itself, not just as a necessary prerequisite for the catharsis of a presupposed victory. I don’t want every game to make me feel empowered and successful, and I don’t think a game being “unapproachable and unpleasant”–or even impossible–is necessarily a flaw.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      I can still say I play for victory when playing any soulslike. The important difference is that I want to feel like I made the victory happen, that the default assumption ISN’T that I win. I want fights, not PUNCHING BAGS.

  46. Christopher says:

    Bit of an aside, but I thought I should grab the chance while Sekiro is actually on topic on this blog: Didn’t you write an article or two a long time ago about sword combat (maybe light sabers?) and health bars, Shamus? Having some sort of clashing mechanic or whatever as a more true to life version of swordplay rather than whacking at each others shins while the health bar ticks down? ‘Cause that’s one of the first things I though of when I saw Sekiro’s posture system, where you gotta look for openings and get in cheap shots to get an enemy off balance and keep them from regaining their footing, until an opening presents itself and you take either all of their health away or a huge part of it in a single strike.

    Edit: aaah, it was this ancient scroll from ’06

  47. Dreadjaws says:

    There is an additional rhetorical dimension to this debate, which has to do with the term – and the concept – of “old school.” Many who enjoy the challenge of FromSoft games nostalgically link them to a bygone era when games were a little harder and those who made them understood fun a little better

    I keep hearing this argument, and I despise it. There seems to be this ingrained belief that games before used to be made for “real gamers” and that now they’re being dumbed down for the masses, from people who are apparently entirely unable to realize that:
    Games being made more accessible has had the side effect of making gaming more proliferate, which is good for the business, the fans and the industry in general. It has pushed the industry in several different advances: new technology, new genres, new ideas, more kinds of gamers, etc. Remember when playing videogames made you a weirdo? Now it’s 100% normal. Stop thinking that’s a bad thing.
    The technology back then wasn’t advanced enough to make long games. Making them harder was the only way to make them last. It wasn’t done out of a desire for challenge, it was done as a necessity, as people would not be willing to pay MSRP prices for extremely short experiences. As speed runs constantly prove, when you know an old game well enough, you can be done with it in minutes (without any glitch use). Imagine if a game was like that from the start. Would you have paid full price for Super Mario Bros. if you could finish the game in 5 minutes without having played it before? Of course not. Ergo, difficulty was introduced.
    The “difficulty” these people yearn for is not of the same variety we have today. Difficulty back then was mostly artificial. Solving stages didn’t really require as much skill as it required memory. You could just watch a video playthrough of a stage, memorize all the enemies and obstacles and pass it on your own. Nowadays games have more variety: enemies that learn from your actions and don’t have a set walking pattern, varied scenery that requires careful premeditation in order to advance rather than just repeating what you made in a previous stage. Random obstacles, stuff that actually tests skill rather than memory. Back then we had much less and so there was not much to compare. It might have seemed amazing at the time, but it was because it was all we had.
    These people were younger when those games were made. They had more free time and very little responsibilities. They could spend each full afternoon for a whole week playing Contra and by the time they were finished they’d know every nook and cranny. But now gamers are of all ages, and many of them just don’t have the time. If you have to maintain a family and you’re not a freaking billionaire you might only get a few minutes of playtime every day, and you certainly don’t want to wast them playing the same 5 minutes over and over in order to “git gud”.
    Current standards muddle the definition of “difficulty” Playing as a child gave you a lot of experience with gaming that makes everything easier by practice these days, so your assessment of what’s really difficult might be muddled by your extensive experience, which new gamers won’t have. Starting to play a game with current standards (analog controls, fully 3D environments, several different actions, etc.) is much different from what it was back then. Compare the controls for, say, Metal Gear in the NES (Move, attack, secondary attack, menu, pause) with today’s Metal Gear Solid 5 (Move, aim weapon, shoot, change stance, contextual action, reload, dive, sprint, move camera, equip primary weapon, equip secondary weapon, equip item, equip throwable item, radio, switch perspective, binoculars, zoom, first person view, menu, pause, and those are just the basics). Sure, picking up a game like that is simple to you, because you’ve spent years seeing controls slowly growing and becoming more complex. You’ve lived with it, getting easily accustomed to it one change at a time. But for new players this is overwhelming. What’s easy for you from the get go is really hard for others who just don’t have your kind of experience.

    I feel this whole deal comes from the issue of these people not realizing that not everyone has had the same possibilities and priorities that they had. To me, a game like Uncharted 4 is super easy, but for my father, who’s only now really getting into gaming after retiring (previously he only ocassionally played racing games and the ocassional Fifa), it’s way harder. He constantly struggles with remembering the controls, something I can do in a couple of minutes. But of course, I’ve been playing since games had 1 button and 1 stick. Difficulty is, in many cases, a matter of perspective.

    1. Jabberwok says:

      “You’ve lived with it, getting easily accustomed to it one change at a time. But for new players this is overwhelming. What’s easy for you from the get go is really hard for others who just don’t have your kind of experience.”

      What really drove this home for me was trying to play a coop FPS with my friend for the first time. It wasn’t even a matter of mastering aiming and timing. It was trying to get her to look in the same direction she was moving.

  48. What I would love to see is some kind of adaptive difficulty.

    Not quite something that is always figuring you out and adapting, but perhaps use the first couple of levels as a “test,” and set the difficulty at that point, gradually scaling up from there.

    I think most people can agree that the “perfect difficulty,” is the difficulty that is in that sweet spot between challenging, and beyond what you think is actually capable for you to do. In a perfect world, difficulty options allow us to chose these at the start, but it’s usually almost impossible on a new game to figure out how hard “hard,” actually is before playing a bit of it.

    With the way Fromsoft likes to do this in-world, something like the Drake Sword could be created. A weapon that you choose early on which makes the game easier, but perhaps has drawbacks only to those who want to really push themselves.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      In a perfect world, difficulty options allow us to chose these at the start

      In a perfect world, you could change the difficulty at any time, and for specific mechanics (speed of game simulation, enemy health, player damage, etc), so that you could have all of the game be exactly to the challenge-level you want.

    2. GM says:

      so like Oblivion where difficulty is enemies level with you?

  49. Deadpool says:

    These conversations are always difficult… The problem I have is this divorcing if difficulty from the game. Like there’s the game in one side and the difficulty setting in the other. And that may be true for SOME games but not all.

    LA Noire had a feature that let you just skip the combat and focus on detective work and dialogue and whatnot. And it was great. Because the detective work and dialogue was the fun bits. There was no mode that let you skip all the detective work and chatting bits so you could focus on the shooting because then you’re no longer playing LA Noire.

    Dragon Age has a role playing mode where the fights are piss easy so players can just focus on the story and kissing pretty boys. And that’s also great because, again, that’s the point. A mode without any dialogue wouldn’t be Dragon Age.

    FromSoft have a carved a niche for themselves. And one of the things they’re good at is making games laser focused on a thing. Every inch of their games work together towards a common goal, towards eliciting a feeling or a mood or a reaction. The whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The Gesamtkuntzwerk if you want to get all fancy about it.

    That means every part of it is “the point.” The difficulty IS “the point.” The challenge, the beating your head against a wall, the frustration… It’s the point.

    You can’t have an “easy Sekiro” because it doesn’t exist. It can’t. The difficulty is an intrinsic part of what makes Sekiro, Sekiro. It is part of its Gesamtkuntzwerk. “Easy Sekiro” is another game, like “action LA Noire” is another game or “strategy-free XCOM.”

    It’s not exactly gatekeeping* to say that not all games are for everyone. They shouldn’t HAVE to be.

    *: It isn’t gatekeeping from ME. I know there are plenty of gatekeeping jackasses saying “keep the bibs away from my game.” I’m just saying, I’m not that guy. I’d love for all of you to enjoy Sekiro the way I have. But actually Sekiro…

  50. Guest says:

    They’ve already got the mechanics in game to do it. New Game+ mostly just adds a damage buff to enemies. HxC souls fans still play those, they don’t whinge about how it’s not the “real experience”. It’s just gatekeeping.

    I want difficulty modes in these games, because an easy mode would be nice for players who are struggling with it-and Dark Souls 1 for instance, is terrible at teaching you how best to play it, giving players who are struggling, or have disabilities, an extra 50% or so mistakes they can make in a fight might just gives them the chance to learn from it. The worst Souls bosses hit massive damage that can all too easily 1hko you, often leading you to need to stay perpetually on full health. That’s basically how Nioh works, except that game will 1 hit you on full health too, because it’s poorly balanced. Giving those players an extra chance to get into the series is a good thing.

    Plus, it immediately opens up the question of a hard mode, and I would love to see a hard mode for Souls games. Dark Souls 2 has Scholar of The First Sin, which kind of is, but it’s not just a difficulty slider, it’s different enemy placements etc. I loved the excessive challenge of SOTFS, even if it was just the option to play on NG+ from the start, I’d still enjoy a hard mode. Plus, it’d be really convenient for people starting alts who’ve already mastered the game.

  51. Gautsu says:

    There really are only 2 valid points I could see for being against an easy mode in these type of games:
    1) the dev team is small enough that programming one or finding a solution for one would be cost prohibitive

    2)your game is always online and the multiplayer would be affected.

    Since 2 seems to apply to none of these games, 1 would be the main objection.

    Maybe Mr. Case was wrong in thinking that a straight stat boost might be able to be enough to make an easy mode? Some of the people arguing against seem to be falling back on that argument. What could be done instead.

    Why not iterate on something Sekiro has already done, with the resurrection mechanic? What if in this hypothetical easy mode resurrection gave you full health rather than half? Or you had 5 versus 3? Either could give a player more time to learn level layouts and boss patterns.

    What about hitting the numbers a different way? Reduce boss damage so player’s can learn the patterns with a buffer before going on to normal? Increase estus recovery uses or amounts for easy. Speed health recovery up. Lock player’s into offline mode for this so PvP is unaffected. Shit keep bosses the same but don’t respawn a level when bonfires are used until a player teleports/travels. Yes this hypothetical player will not be as good potentially but they will be able to experience it. And none of this would ever affect you or how you play the game. And lastly, art is not objective, but subjective. How I experience art is on me not the creators. These games aren’t hanging on a wall in a museum, they are being sold. If I wanted to but a copy to wipe my ass with, why should the devs care anymore than if I wanted to cheat or play at an easier level than they intended me to?

    1. Daerian says:

      If I wanted to but a copy to wipe my ass with, why should the devs care anymore than if I wanted to cheat or play at an easier level than they intended me to?

      You might be surprised, but most artists care about their work. Pretty sure many of them would prefer to go hungry than sell you their art to “wipe ass with”.

      1. Gautsu says:

        Let’s just agree to disagree on this subject. I believe our viewpoints are wildly different

  52. TLN says:

    I’m not even someone who has spent all that much time with these games. but being able to toggle easy mode at will would, in my opinion devalue the whole experience. From Software has a very clear design philosophy where you are supposed to overcome challenges by trying again until you become better at the game. It is the core of their game and not just a “git gud” argument, to remove that is to make it into an entirely different game.

  53. SPCTRE says:

    But the quality of these games does not rely solely on how hard they are. Instead, the strength of their base design – fair, varied, intuitive in all the right places – is what allows them to be so flexible in their difficulty. Understood in this way, their difficulty is a compliment to the adaptiveness and perseverance of their assumed player.

    That is a valid point – especially regarding perseverance. Games of the (if you pardon my French) Sekiroulsborne subgenre are not defined by their “skill” requirements – which are wildly overstated by some of the proponents of “Git Gud” -, but by a design that rewards players for perseverance/persistence.

    Quoting Ian Hamilton from a Twitter thread:

    As Hidetaka Miyazaki said in an interview their goal is not to make games for people who have a high skill level, their goal is to make games for people who enjoy the feeling of success through persistence, which is a fundamentally different thing

    It’s an important distinction, it means that if someone enjoys the feeling of success through persistence but can’t succeed to matter how much they persist, that’s directly against the designers’ vision.

  54. Mortuss says:

    Hoo boy this comment section is stacked.

    I think the two sides can never really understand each other. I remember when I first tried DS1 and put it down, I could not understand why they would not put an easy mode in so more people could play. Now that I have finished multiple fromsoft games multiple times, I don’t understand why people would want an easy mode.

    I think that people don’t understand how dying over and over and the harsh punishments you get for it (involving corpse runs, loss of XP and items) are integral to the experience the same way jumping is to platformers. I think the experience I now have when replaying DS3 would not be the same if the game had and easy mode, because it is not only the feeling that I have mastered something, but the feeling of just crushing through something that frustrated me in the past. That would feel very different if the learning curve was more gradient.

    If I played on easy, died a few times and learned something, then played on medium and learned something new and then played on hard and learned everything, then played on hard again and again and again, I would not feel the “I have come so far” compared to when I had to die 60 times playing on hard from the start. Since the obstacle was not that steep, I would not feel so accomplished for overcoming it, even though my eventual mastery of the system is the same in both scenarios.

    I think this is a validation thing. Games are all designed experiences. The game could be done in a way that getting to the same mastery would not feel as hard, but then how do you know it was hard? If the journey was not this painful, what have you overcome?

    I think this is the experience that From wants to provide with their games, and giving an easy mode would not provide that experience. And if you are not interested in that kind of experience, why are you interested in fromsoft games? If the main point of the game is to overcome a challenge, why would you want to play it with lesser challenge?

    Games doesn’t have to be for everyone, trying to make one game for everyone is something AAA industry seems to by trying of late and I don’t think many gamers are very happy with that…

  55. PPX14 says:

    I’ve played many games on the hardest difficulty and appreciated the resulting struggle. The lower difficulties’ existence in these cases is either irrelevant because I enjoy the challenge set by the top level difficulty, or it makes me wonder if I’d be having more fun if I’d chosen one of the easier ones – in which case had there been no option I’d be wondering if I was even enjoying the game or just doing it for completion’s sake. Sometimes they allow me to pass a level that I’ve been stuck on for hours, and then play the rest of the game on the highest difficulty again. Sometimes yes I do wonder which one is the proper mode? But then they could easily just call the intended mode “Intended” difficulty. I believe that is what Normal is. And so Dark Souls would be the game on which you could select: Very Easy, Easy, and Normal, instead of Easy Normal Hard.

  56. LCF says:

    Ave Imperator Gitus Gudus!
    – Path of Exile’s core idea.

  57. Matt says:

    In fact, I suspect it’s the core [of the git gud argument]: the ability to be conversant in FromSoft games is a privilege that some members of gaming’s self-appointed priestly caste wish to reserve for themselves.

    I suspect that this is the root of the issue, though I would not necessarily call it a privilege. This seems to me a classic case of social signalling and signals are only useful when they are hard to fake. Someone who can credibly claim to have beaten one of these games broadcasts a message that they are a certain type of gamer that can be distinguished from others. Presumably that gives them a sort of status, even if it is just in the gamer community, because otherwise they would not try to defend it.

    If an Easy Mode is added, the signal becomes worthless because far more people will be able to credibly claim that they have beaten the game. In theory, you could just add “I’ve beaten the latest Souls game on Normal or Hard,” but this is a harder claim to test. Easy and Hard modes are usually more or less identical, difficulty notwithstanding.

    In the broader context of nerd hobbies, I’m interested in how this argument reflects an attempt to gatekeep perceived poseurs and profiteers that have infiltrated other formerly niche interests. Being conversant in D&D, comic books, and fantasy literature were also formerly credible signals that have decayed in the 2000s thanks to “geek-chic.” For the record, I’m not applying any moral weight to either group, I just think it’s fascinating.

  58. DHW says:

    Why does every game have to cater to every person? Why isn’t it okay to say “welp, this game is super hard, I guess it’s not for me” and play one of the other thousands of high-quality games that exist? Like a lot of people here I get incredibly frustrated when I have to fight a boss with obtuse mechanics and when I lose progress from dying. So I don’t play games like that. And people who like that sort of thing have that option. Everyone wins!

    There are people who are so frustrated and bored by walking simulators that they can’t make themselves play them. Does that mean that the makers of Gone Home need to add a hard mode where there are zombies, swords, and a boss with one-hit attacks who must be defeated before you find the next discarded note about your sister coming out as a lesbian? After all, every game needs to be for everyone.

    Also: The argument that this would somehow be simple should be retired. There is no “why don’t they just” in AAA game development. Every part of it is insanely hard and takes forever to design, implement, and test. Yes, even that part.

    1. Droid says:

      Dark Souls has super-fun environments to explore, and the thing I probably loved most about them was finding a new, useful shortcut after I dared press on into unknown territory with none of my estus remaining. Thankfully, I had enough gaming time back when I first played it to repeatedly bash my head against the bosses that were gatekeeping all the fun areas to explore. It wasn’t a moment of triumph for me when I finally won, I was just glad this stupid waste of time was over now (in addition to the fact there were usually still boss moves that I could not deal with by the time I beat them; meaning the one time I won just felt like RNG took pity and threw in a bunch of easy moves for me).
      Playing the game was overall still worth it in the end because the exploration was just so much fun, but back when I had not reliable enough internet to summon anyone, not the reaction time to fight the bosses well and just barely enough patience to get them done in the end, I would have done much for an option to just leave out the part of the game that, honestly, is not that central to Dark Souls being a game at all. It would definitely be a very different game without the bosses, but definitely one I would have enjoyed more in the end.

    2. PPX14 says:

      I don’t think anyone (sensible) says this – I think the point is that Soulsborne games offer much more than just high difficulty so a lot of people fancy playing it if it weren’t so difficult. A lushly detailed dark fantasy environment with environmental storytelling etc etc. I.e. there is a demand. Similarly Cuphead has such cool animation that there are plenty of people who would fancy playing it at a lower difficulty. Whereas some difficult games with fewer dimensions like say Deadcore or Supermeatboy probably don’t have anyone clambering for an Easy mode because Hard-Mode-Platformer is pretty much all that those game are (and not to their detriment) (I haven’t played any of meatboy so might be a bad example).

  59. Turner Shanks says:

    I believe Sekiro (from my understanding given I’ve yet to play it) would benefit from multiple difficulties and I’m of the opinion that Dark/Demons Souls and Bloodborne would be better not having the feature. I feel it relevant to share my viewpoint as to why:
    Prior games already had multiple methods to manipulate your difficulty without explicitly telling the game you needed it to go easy on you. Summoning allies is an option, covenants exist which reduce invasion frequency, punish your invaders, and/or make it easier to find cooperative allies (these covenants typically were the easiest or first to be found as well), additionally the game hands out items with some level of frequency which allow you to return to the last safe point with all your items intact and in some of the games even items that can be consumed to allow you to die without losing anything at all.
    Clever use of these features (or deliberate choice not to use them) enables you to tailor the difficulty to your liking without ever having to feel like you’re running counter to the overbearingly merciless world the games are set in. In fact it can add extra satisfaction to ‘playing on easy’ by giving a feeling that you’re overcoming the world using what it’s given you or even locking some stories behind things that make the game easier.
    Now I do want to preempt a piece of criticism and agree that the games could and should signpost these better, not everything in the games is completely left to the player to figure out and there’s no reason that such a critical avenue to accessibility should be as hidden as it currently is. I think that the solution isn’t to add difficulty settings which could damage the online community (if you can solo a boss on ‘easy’ and thus play there then there’s a decreased demand for cooperative helpers on ‘normal’, decreased targets for invaders, etc.) but instead to better highlight, increase the number of, or ease access to the features which allow the player to decrease their difficulty while still playing the same game as and with everyone else.

    That last point is why I believe Sekiro would be unharmed by difficulty selection as to my (admittedly incomplete) understanding the game lacks the online functionality of its forebears and (in some cases consequentially) is missing many of the features to allow the player to reduce their difficulty without harming the perception of the game world as an intensely mortal one.

  60. WaterRabbit says:

    I just want to point out that there really isn’t a need for different levels of difficulty in these types of games. I suspect that most of the people that complain about the difficulty haven’t really tried the games.

    The design of these games allow the player to choose their level of difficulty without an arbitrary difficulty slider. Yes, there is a certain level of base skill needed, but beyond that, there a multiple ways of making the game more or less difficult built into the game play in a seamless fashion.

    It is an elegant design and instead of just jumping on the too easy/too hard difficulty bandwagon, you should actually take the time to analyze the game design.

  61. shoeboxjeddy says:

    If other things were like From Games and how people act about them:

    5 year old wants to learn to play baseball: Sorry, an adult man or woman has to throw a pitch at 200 MPH at you. That’s the INTENDED EXPERIENCE of baseball and it would ruin the game completely if we altered the rules or materials for you, even temporarily. No, you can’t even learn with different rules and graduate to the other ones, I refuse to ALLOW you to do that. If you don’t like it, the sport of baseball is NOT FOR YOU.

    10 year old wants to learn basketball: The hoop has to be 10 feet high. It would not be acceptable for you to practice on a hoop that is as high above you as a 10 foot high hoop is over a 6 foot tall person. We cannot budge on this CRUCIAL aspect of the game. Also, you have to play with 5 vs 5. You can’t learn in 1 on 1 and then learn the team aspects later.

    Colorblind adult wanting to play any game: Sorry, the colorblind option you’re asking for would ruin the experience for you. I don’t actually know or care what your experience is, but to my (the developer’s) eyes, colorblind colors look strange and ugly in context. I want the game to look good, so I refuse to put those more ugly colors on there!

    1. Christopher says:

      If you wanna argue with dumbass metaphors then it’s more like someone going over to a couple teams playing basketball going

      “HEY GUYS

      Your uniforms look great and boy is this stage pretty. I love the storied history of these teams, so I figured I’d play! Can I join a team?”


      2 hours later

      “Man your game is hard, why don’t you change this rule and this rule? It’d accomodate way more people. Can’t you lower the hoops a little? And run a bit slower so I can catch up please, I’m not really in shape. And it’s frustrating that this one player on the other team is so much better at this than me, can I skip him? Please bring out a softer ball for me, it can’t run you that much money. I don’t see why this would be a bother to you.”

      “Entitled” gets thrown around a lot by people who are explicitly coming to something asking it to change for them. And not something everpresent that encompasses all games, but a specific experience that’s carved out a small, if popular, niche for itself. Like what are you doing? If you do want to practice, if you do want to learn, then there are a ton of online resources and in-game features that can lend you a hand. I think pretty few people picked up Souls and went “Oh easy peasy, what’s this pushover shit?” They got helped through by friends, messages in the environment left by either the devs or other players, cheesy tactics, summoning systems, videos, guides, various RPG elements, grinding and good old practice.

      I don’t personally mind if an easy mode get added, but it’s not a failure of From Soft that they haven’t made a game to appeal to as wide an audience as absolutely possible. Everyone complaining about this does not have a disability, and they’re not kids games. They get T or M ratings, depending. That people respond to a demand for an easy mode the way they do isn’t weird to me at all. Like whatever, we all complain about games here all the time. But I don’t publish another article every time Overwatch gets an update about how I wished it was third person and melee-focused and maybe a 2d fighting game so I could enjoy all the sweet-looking character designs and Blizzard polish. I don’t ask retro PC RPG makers to stop using that isometric perspective and mouse controls and make something that I’d prefer more as a console player. I don’t ask Bioware to stop making shit bosses( that much) every time they release a game, I just play Dark Souls and Devil May Cry 5 instead. I don’t ask every roguelike to let me save my game.

      1. shoeboxjeddy says:

        You’re mixing a lot of metaphors there. An easy mode does not change anyone’s single player experience (who does not use it), so the idea of ruining an already ongoing team based game is a bad one. It could theoretically change the multiplayer experience, but the obvious answer there is that Easy mode characters don’t get to access the vs. mode. Or Easy can only play against Easy, that kind of thing. Asking for the game mechanics or genre to be changed is not at all on the same page as “I want to die less often and see more of the game.” And it’s pretty hilarious that a person who wants to play the famous and popular game that everyone likes to talk about without being cruelly destroyed into component atoms every few seconds for their unpardonable crime of… having bad reflexes or low game playing literacy is “entitled” by your description. Yes, what horrible people they are for wanting to participate. Probably they should treat this entertainment project like a new occupation and invest 40 to 50 hours to even get to the starting point of a practiced player. That’s a reasonable thing to enforce on someone. Much more reasonable than to consider the WIDELY adopted industry standard of different levels of difficulty that players can self select from. No, the latter would be CRAZY.

        1. evileeyore says:

          They can participate, exactly like everyone else: By getting good or smashing their face on the wall until they quit.

          If a quadriplegic can beat it, what’s your excuse? Disabled quadriplegic shows why Sekiro doesn’t need an easy mode

        2. Christopher says:

          You were the one doing the dumb sports metaphors in the first place. That’s what annoyed me into answering.

          I think that when you buy a certain product of a certain type, you’re signing up for what that experience entails. Some games are made to be relaxing, chill games like Donut County. Some are made to hit the widest possible audience as hard as possible like Spider-Man, with an accessible and movielike experience. Some games are strongly focused on combat gameplay and reward mastery greatly, but will ease you in through simpler difficulties and options, like Devil May Cry 5. I love all of these games for different reasons. And then some games are made to be challenges to be overcome through perseverance and patience, like Dark Souls. It’s baked into every part of the game.

          If you can just pick up the game, play it no problem, persevere on your own, that’s fine. I spent a lot of hours watching let’s play and reading guides, but I definitely oversteered, and would probably have made it through with less of that. I watched lots of let’s plays because I already do that, I think it’s fun. You don’t have to turn it into a new life project just to play an action RPG. Me and my buddy played it while we were studying. The old guy I watched let’s play it had a day job and a family, but he still took an hour or two every week and that’s that.

          But if someone does find it too difficult, I’m saying there’s lots of helpful people and resources out there already. Rather than going on about easy modes for a decade, you can come to the game on its terms, using that communal co-operation to get through it. One of the unique aspects of Souls is the seamless multiplayer and messages, its encouragement of players getting together to beat the odds, both in-game and out of it. It’s meant to be a positive experience, you know. You either get through it on your own and feel like it’s your own accomplishment after self-improvement, discovery and clever thinking, you get through with tricks and cheese and feel like you get one over on the game, or you co-operate and feel like you’re having a good communal experience, with players helping each other out to beat the game.

          And if you’re on the PC, and a majority of these games are on the PC, then you could even join the cheat engine club and go invincible through the frustrating parts of the game giving you a hard time. People do that quite often. Like whatever, who cares as long as you’re not going online and fighting other people while they can’t do anything to you.

          These reasons are why I do find it entitled to come to a specific experience and go “No, make it more for me, please”. Some devs are all about that interaction and responding to fan requests. The Souls devs, quite evidently, are not, and I think that six games in it’s getting to be a very tired discussion. You know what the experience is, and whether you want in or not, and there’s already all these ways to ease you into it.

          I wanna reiterate, I don’t mind an easy mode. It’d be something I didn’t touch or care about and affected me only in minor ways, like a reduced player count for the multiplayer I specifically was a part of. Overall, they’re probably a good thing if even one pained disabled person can have an easier time. The flip comments are just frustrating to me, because people have been playing them for years, and veterans have done lots to help newcomers. Souls games aren’t some sadistic master that only the lets the hardcorest players into its cool club for cool kids, and it feels like it’s painting a picture of the series that I don’t recognize at all from my own experiences with it.

          Sorry if I got a bit abrasive at you over a quick joke. It just got under my skin.

      2. CrokusYounghand says:

        Your analogy of a basket ball game would only be applicable in a multi-player game. If some one is playing basket ball on their own with lowered hoop and softer ball, why does it bother you? Why should people not ask companies to add a softer ball in their product inventory too, as long as the normal balls keep getting manufactured?

        Single player games used to support cheats and mods for a reason. That’s why games are different from movies- they are interactive. Not just in the obvious gameplay way, but also on a meta level. If a game designer wanted to create carefully curated experience which there is only one right way of experiencing, they should have stuck with art pieces in fancy museums. Only instead of gatekeeping those who do not have enough free time to fight the same boss 20 times, they would be gatekeeping those who do not have enough disposable money to go to those high-class museums.

        1. evileeyore says:

          “Single player games used to support cheats and mods for a reason.”
          And they still do.

          But riddle me this, if you go to a restaurant reknowned for every dish being very spicy, would you loudly proclaim they need to make a non-spicy dish to be accessible to those who don’t like spicy food?

          Should Hot Ones start serving mild hot wings so those with weak paletes can partake? Should Gordon Ramsey be nice so emotionally fragile chefs can make it on MasterChef??

          1. CrokusYounghand says:

            No, because creating a spicy and a non-spicy dish ends up creating two dishes. Adding an Easy mode to an existing game doesn’t create a completely separate game.

            The developers don’t even have to balance it. They can put a warning saying “BEWARE! This is not the intended way of playing this game. Choosing this difficulty mode might completely destroy the game experience. Only use this if extremely necessary.”

            How would that make the game worse?

            1. evileeyore says:

              “No, because creating a spicy and a non-spicy dish ends up creating two dishes. Adding an Easy mode to an existing game doesn’t create a completely separate game.”
              Actually it does. It creates two separate play experiences. Just like demanding (and receiving) a non-spicy dish at a Spicy restaurant doesn’t create a new restaurant, it just creates a different dining experience.

              “How would that make the game worse?”
              I’ll repeat what has been said before, repeatedly: For many the game is enjoyable because it has a difficulty curve that is brutal and gives those who master it a sense of accomplishment and belonging into a select crowd.

              Opening that up reduces and removes that.

            2. Deadpool says:

              In the analogy the dish is the game mode (non spicy = easy, spicy =normal) and the restaurant is the game. The restaurant can certainly NOT put spices on meal if they want.

              But I disagree that the game wouldn’t be different. Sekiro, and in fact most FromSoft games nowadays, are carefully crafted. The tone, the mood, the setting, the sound, the graphics and even the difficulty work together to create a unique experience. Change any of these factors and the experience is different. You’ve changed the game.

              This theoretical “easy Sekiro” is an inherently different game from actual Sekiro.

          2. PPX14 says:

            Isn’t it more knowing that there is a restaurant renowned for having great flavours and also the food being very spicy, and then thinking it would be nice if they did some of the same dishes but without so much chilli? And suggesting it? Or are people actually going to the devs and loudly proclaiming that they should do an Easy mode? (I honestly don’t know, but surely the point of all of this debate is the concept in general and not what some loudmouths have been shouting at people, there will always be annoying people who behave poorly)

            And for the Chef thing, yes! :D Why is it that there seems to be this masochism over being a chef? Why not just hire sufficient people or allow enough time for preparation or have good enough ventilation so that chefs don’t have to work in difficult conditions. It’s not a coal-mine in the 1800s, or a soup kitchen to prevent mass starvation, or the NHS (lol), it’s just a place for people to eat nice food! (Yeah I know you said Masterchef specifically so maybe his anger is the point of the show – had no idea Ramsay did it (presumably in the US?,). That would ruin it, I like the calm of John Torode and Gregg Wallace haha)

  62. Granucci says:

    Repeatedly failing while learning how to overcome a previously unbeatable boss or area is deeply ingrained in the games From makes. So, I think adding an easy mode without altering the intended experience of the game would still be frustrating to a lot of people.

    I don’t know their design process, but I would guess that most bosses are expected in Sekiro (and most FromSoft games since Demon Souls) to take between 5 – 20 attempts (based on my experience with all the bosses). Maybe an easier mid game boss takes 5 or so attempts and a really hard end game boss could take up to 20+ attempts.

    Their design philosophy involves learning attack patterns and triumphantly defeating once challenging bosses after numerous attempts. So, I would expect that an easy mode (or hard mode) for Sekiro would make it so that ALL players of any skill or ability level would “only” need take between 5-20 attempts. Realistically, I don’t think that would make the game that much more appealing to people who are turned off by the game’s formula.

    It might open the door for people who have the skill to play on normal or hard, but dislike the repetition, length and punishment of the learning process to get through it much easier. It would allow them to get through the game, but they might miss out on what the designers are going for.

    Really, I would argue like what the Extra Credits video on Dark Souls 2 does, that the game has a LOT of built in options to mitigate difficulty. If the Souls Series and Bloodborne are works of art, there are thousands of docents and cliff notes etc. online who can help people understand the best way to appreciate and interact with the art.

    Those games in particular have a lot of ways to reduce difficulty: leveling up, summoning, kindling bonfires, using a greatshield, using magic, min-maxing etc. There are strategies and guides to mitigate the challenge for low skill players, to the extent that I really don’t think those games need an easy mode, because a huge variety of player options enable (I would argue) just about any player to tackle the challenges.

    Sekiro, on the other hand, I think has a stronger argument for including an easier difficulty. There are far fewer options to mitigate difficulty naturally in the game. That said I still think repeated death while learning boss pattern is so integral to how FromSoft has been designing their games that an easier mode will still not be all that appealing for most people.

    And, while I don’t think an easy mode would lessen my enjoyment of any of the souls games or Sekiro, personally, I do enjoy that I essentially beat the best developers could throw at me, and an easy mode does mean others who only play it can’t share that particular satisfaction. For instance, most of the bosses I was able to beat in less than 5 attempts and a few around 10 -15 attempts.

    However, the final story boss took me upwards of 40 attempts. Does that mean the game is too hard? Had I failed to learn something essential? Did the boss have some design flaw? Was that the intended experience?

    Quite frankly, it could be all of them, but there is a unique satisfaction I find in getting through their singular experience that I don’t find in other games with difficulty selectors.

    Still, I won’t try to make the argument that experience should come at the expense of more playing the game, but I also won’t say that From should be obligated to include a difficulty selector if that’s not the kind of experience they want to make out of respect for their vision (presuming they have one).

    Lastly, I can’t speak specifically for Sekiro, but I do think part of From’s philosophy is to encourage anyone to conquer the unique challenges of their games even if they don’t think they can. Given the plethora of guides and resources online, I really think most people in the FromSoft player community are wanting to help more people overcome the same challenges as them, rather than excluding them.

  63. evileeyore says:

    “Or are people actually going to the devs and loudly proclaiming that they should do an Easy mode?”
    Did you not read Bob’s article up there? Yes, game journos are crying about accessibility* because there is no ‘easy mode’ on this game. Because they can’t spend the time to master the systems to be able to play the game to be able to have a good idea of what the game is about and thus write good critiques about it… and they know they’ll be called out for their inability to to “play the game”. Just look up “game critic can’t play game” in google and you’ll see the scathing results of the past decade pile up.

    “Yeah I know you said Masterchef specifically so maybe his anger is the point of the show”
    From what I gather†, yes it is. However he also has a long running MasterChef Junior where he has teen chefs competing and I suspect he has to tone down the anger and f-bombs.

    * Funny how they only cry “accessibility” when it’s a game that’s hard to play, not a game that doesn’t cater to the color blind, or quadriplegics, or people with actual accessibility issues.

    † I say ‘gather’ because I don’t like MasterChef and consider Ramsey an abuse asshole and that isn’t something I enjoy watching (at least on the show, in other settings I’ve seen him seems a decent fellow). But I know people who do like the show and they like specifically to see Gordon flip out on people.

  64. Brian N. says:

    For some perspective on the supposed inaccessibility of the From Souls formula, quadriplegics can beat these games, Darksydephil beat Dark Souls (most quadriplegics are better gamers than Darksydephil, including the ones who don’t play games). Streamers (not of the quadriplegic variety) have completed runs of Bloodborne including Old Hunters and every Chalice Dungeon at least once without leveling up using the ‘joke’ build. The intended tradeoff of the joke build is that the player’s initial stats are awful but easily reconfigured into any build from that baseline and the early levels have lower costs. Taking the worst possible start, throwing away every potential advantage and fully embracing every drawback it can still be done. Complaining about accessibility is a red herring to disguise obvious and selfish motives. The people doing the complaining tend to be the kind of people who play games on a treadmill, i.e. reviewers. They’re not streamers mining the game for content, they’re not ordinary gamers looking to engage the game on its terms, they’re to play the game just the once, write the review, and move on. This creates a peculiar attitude and interest vis a vis any given game on their plate. It’s work, not play. Time spent playing game X is time spent not writing reviews or articles about X, time spent writing those articles in turn is not time spent playing Y for review and articles about Y, and so on. Every game is just prep-work for the writing, which in turn is only to be given as much attention as is allowable before the next thing. It’s why they were keen to embrace short games, walking sims, games with patronizing skip options, write poorly articulated screeds about how boss fights are the devil and so on. The desire is for an industry which produces products that are easier to write about, because writing about them is their job.

    As for our author’s claim that it can be done with little effect, well, I disagree. The idea that to change difficulty is just a change in some stats has resulted in the proliferation of trash like Skyrim’s Legendary difficulty, instead of more interesting concepts of difficulty as explored in Devil May Cry, DOOM, Goldeneye, Ninja Gaiden Black, Perfect Dark, STALKER, Fallout: New Vegas, Metro, Sim City, System Shock and others. Difficulty, like so many other mechanical concepts, is so under-explored, and the vocabulary used to discuss it so stunted, that the laziest and most obvious solution is the most common one, when it’s offered at all.

  65. Cybron says:

    I’ve never met anyone who’s afraid that an easy mode will damage their sense of accomplishment, but I know people who are afraid an easy mode will damage ‘normal’ mode. Let’s say they implement an easy mode by using the simple damage numbers fix. Adjusting the numbers is simple and easy, but it’s a low effort hack. You can see this in a lot of games – the devs build the easy mode first, then implement bigger numbers to make a hard mode. This is, for me at least, pretty unsatisfying.

    If most people end up playing the game in easy mode, who is now the primary audience of their game? Who are the game designers going to design around? Series that are designed around the advanced player, instead of the entry level player, are rare. The incentives to cater to the entry level player are obvious. The fear is that if you start down that path, you end up with an entirely different experience, built around easy mode, with harder difficulties being the afterthought.

  66. GM says:

    What is dark?
    But an excuse for light
    What is rot?
    But an excuse for ripe

    Without darkness
    Would stars be admired?
    Without a burn
    Would man discover fire

    Without shadow
    Could you find the light source
    Without hunger
    Could you serve a main course

    What is dark?
    But an excuse for light
    What is death?
    But an excuse for life

    From Should Your Boyfriend Play on YouTube.

  67. Johnny Cage says:

    Hmm… I don’t like this game, but would like it better if it were different = Suggestion. Constructive.

    Hmm… I don’t like this game, and the developer should have made it the way I like = Entitlement. Nonconstructive.

    Video games are an art form like any other entertainment experience. The creators have a certain experience they’re trying to get across. The creators are also trying to make money (usually).

    From has been making money with the Souls games. They’ve been gathering popularity. So they are succeeding in both getting the experience they want out there, and making money. You would be wrong to say they are failing.

    Now, could they maybe succeed more, if they just implemented difficulty sliders/easy mode? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. Impossible to say at this point, as those games didn’t have that.

    You’re not entitled to any of the experience. From is not entitled to any of your money. Feel free to offer feedback, but at the end of the day it’s their call. Sure, fallout 4 could have added checkboxes to allow quicksaving and fast travel in survival mode. They didn’t. I wish they had. But I’d be a total asshole to go around accusing them of leaving those options out because they are trying to exclude certain people.

    People trying to make this about… some kind of ism… are just reaching, in my opinion. There are also some concerns about easy vs hard mode in the souls games in the way the multiplayer works, meaning the game world would have had 1/2 the players available with online, assuming an even 50/50 split between normal/hard mode. A more empty multiplayer experience would have KILLED dark souls for me, I would never have gotten interested in any of the games if I didn’t get hooked in with the multiplayer stuff.

    People want to make every single thing a moral issue, and that’s absurd.

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