Like a badly written plotline in a B-Grade Netflix series, the subject of video game difficulty has once again reared its ugly head, turning the gaming community into a battlefield of bad takes and even worse discrimination against certain groups. It’s been a wild time, to say the least.
From games like the upcoming Psychonauts 2 that will give players the option to play with invincibility to the infamous Soulsborne series that gave rise to a new genre defined by the epic challenge and sometimes overwhelming difficulty, there are die-hard fans on each side of the spectrum claiming that their way is superior.
But is there a right way? Is there one universal language when it comes to video game difficulty? When there is such a large variety of gamers from all walks of life joining in on the fun and getting familiar with their favorite hobby. It’s easy to see why it’s such a passionate subject for some.
I personally enjoy playing most of my favorite games in the hardest setting since that’s the way I get the most enjoyment so today, I wanted to give my thoughts on the subject and share what I think overall. It goes without saying that these are simply my opinions and should not be treated as fact. So, without further ado, here’s what I think of Video game difficulty.
VIDEO GAME DIFFICULTY
The Soulsborne Series
With Elden Ring finally being revealed to the world, it’s firmly put From Software and the Soulsborne franchise on the radar once more. But for every fan that’s excited at the opportunity to explore a new world and take on the infamous challenge this genre presents to the player, there are others that question the sanity of those willing to suffer through the often frustrating task of completing these games.
You see, the majority of the souls-like genre is designed to be a tough but fair game to complete, stacking overwhelming odds against the player and simultaneously giving you the proper tools to conquer these hurdles. There’s a steep learning curve for new players to overcome but when does that sense of difficulty stop being fun and start being significant a barrier for entry?
The problem arises when a certain few that enjoy From Software hold their accomplishment high over the heads of those that couldn’t complete it. Yes, the frustration and sometimes overwhelming odds can be off-putting, but those that are willing to power through don’t hold any kind of elite status over other gamers. It just means that you enjoyed it enough that you played all the way to the end. Something that we all want from the games we play.
For my personal gaming tastes, I think that casual games have their place but more often than not I would prefer not to run around like an invincible demi-god and instead prefer it when the game is asking me to play to the best of m ability to overcome the challenge in front of me. The rush of danger is addictive, to say the least.
The same theory applies to multiplayer games. They remain one of the most popular genres on the planet, with titles such as Fortnite steamrolling the competition’s earnings every single year since its release. Looting, shooting, and emoting have become an entire generation’s favorite pass time but what truly sets this battle royale apart is the Building and Editing.
Those mechanics take time and practice to get familiar with and it can be enough to turn a lot of people away, but when you analyze how many people are still playing to this day and the countless still joining in on the action, it’s clear that these kinds of tough learning curves just aren’t that big of a deterrent for most gamers and, the truth is, you’ll come across them no matter what multiplayer game you choose to call your home. Players make the personal choice to push forward and learn what needs to be learned to understand and enjoy the game completely.
And, with skill gaps increasing every day, it’s easy to see the prestige that veteran players tend to believe in but it’s not long ago that they were in similar positions. In my opinion, they’re just like everybody else, playing the games that they love because it’s what they enjoy. What level of skill they intend to reach is completely up to them.
Difficulty in video games is a completely personal experience and we all choose the experiences that we enjoy. The gaming community as a whole is extremely broad and there’s no longer one stereotype to think about when describing the average gamer. People from all walks of life are attempting to enjoy the same pass time and, as you can imagine, a wide variety of interests need to be catered to.
There are many people out there that look for a more challenging experience when playing video games like the one provided by the Soulsborne series and various multiplayer games that are on the market, just as much as people look for a more casual experience in games like Animal Crossing or even mobile games.
I, personally welcome a tougher challenge and will choose the harder option for almost every game I play. I do enjoy casual experiences every now and then but those aren’t the experiences that I remember the most and often talk about. I guess I’m addicted to the struggle.
At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you how you prefer to play your games. Want to take things at a leisurely pace? That’s entirely your prerogative to do so? Want a challenging experience that will test your abilities and game knowledge? You’re entitled to that as well. No matter which side of the coin you choose it does not invalidate or demean the choice of other players and, as a community, it’s up to us to respect each other’s choice and focus on ourselves and how we like to enjoy our games.
What difficulty do you like to play your games on? What do you think of the controversy surrounding difficulty and the choices that developers make in game design today? Let me know in the comments section below.