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Ok masters and disasters, what's you view on game difficulty?

What should devs do about game difficulty?

  • Studio can make the overall game as easy or hard as they want. Their game, their choice

    Votes: 135 66.8%
  • Studio should make many difficulty levels. But harder ones get more content or "the good ending"

    Votes: 19 9.4%
  • Studio should make many difficulty levels. And all levels get the same content and endings

    Votes: 42 20.8%
  • Other

    Votes: 6 3.0%

  • Total voters
It seems like a lot of times endless difficulty settings dilute the gameplay experience. Look at Uncharted 4, you can breeze through it on the easy/normal difficulties basically doing whatever, you don't have to master any of the mechanics. You don't need to ever use stealth and you can swing around with the grapple hook like an idiot. It doesn't seem to matter. You crank it up to the hardest difficulty and all of a sudden swinging around just isn't viable. Not like you just need to get good at it. Or use it at the right times. You just don't do it because if you do you're dead. So you play the world's most boring cover shooter at a snail's pace just to get through it. There's zero satisfaction getting through that game at any difficulty level for me.

So I don't necessarily feel like difficulty settings need to go so that people git gud. I just prefer there is a canonical difficulty where the game ramps up at a good pace and encourages mastery of its mechanics. There's still a lot of room there for easy and hard games. Sometimes difficulty options even do help with progression of mechanics with the right game design. Look at Guitar Hero, you go through one of the lower difficulties, get good at all the songs, and then step it up to the next difficulty, rinse and repeat until you're crushing solos hitting every note on expert mode. But that doesn't exist with a game like Uncharted 4. Nobody booted up the easiest difficulty. Failed, kept working at it... finally beat it, and then progressed to the next difficulty, and then repeated it up through Crushing or whatever they call it. If any poor soul on this earth did actually play through it at every difficulty it was probably to indulge their OCD sensibilities. I'd wager that not a single person on this Earth did so as a satisfying way of developing their skills in the game.

Back in the day you didn't have 'accessibility options'. You had cheat codes. I liked the old branding better.

And take this dude for instance.... born with one arm, plays Rocket League by mashing the controller into his face, and he could embarrass literally anyone on this board in a 1v1:

Nobody even hooked the guy up with that Xbox accessibility controller. Can't argue with his results but having a couple of buttons accessible with his feet, toggle ballcam at the very least would be more efficient.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for games having 'accessibility options' where appropriate, but it kind of makes you wonder how much of it is necessary. Things like color-blindness settings and whatnot are great. But I'm not sure it needs to be an industry-wide mandate. Maybe for the EAs and Ubis of the world but for a small indie team let them put their effort into what they think will be good, not force them to dump their limited resources into making their work accessible.

People act like the 'git gud' crowd is way more unreasonable than it is. Outside of silly egregious examples when exactly have they lashed out? I'm thinking like... Mario Kart shipping with a default option that kept you from turning off the road. In a racing game. Ya know... whose main point is going fast on a track without going off the road. Or when Super Mario added a thing where if you died a couple of times the game would literally play itself for you. In a game that isn't very hard to begin with. Or at least it's certainly much easier than the original Super Mario... which little kids loved. Do kids have too many microplastics clogging up their brains nowadays to find enjoyment in facing a challenge and then overcoming it?

Aside from that it's usually people demanding easier difficulties even when that is contrary to the point of the game. So yeah, if you're into Soulsborne (and I'm not, I keep meaning to try, probably didn't help that I started with Bloodborne and got disinterested thanks to my PCMR FPS snobbery) like... of course you're going to resent people droning on and on about changing the thing that you like to something they like. I see no reason to cheer for a new Ghosts n Goblins having an easy mode. Being difficult was always a part of its identity. They want to trade on nostalgia and then ignore the people who actually have nostalgia for the franchise in favor of chasing every last sale. Do they really think fucking Ghosts n Goblins is really gonna resonate with people who didn't play the old games just because they put an easy setting in?
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Indie games can do what they want but in general every game should be able to be completed by the purchaser in my opinion. Achievements, best endings can be locked out but I think someone buying a game should get an enjoyable experience even if they lack skills. If a 70 year old buys Dark Souls the game should have a way of accommodating his abilities; that doesn’t mean the true experience can’t be delivered to the core gamer just have an assisted mode.


That's a different argument in some ways.

The question would be should developers make their game with the intent of having mass appeal and therfore shifting as many units as possible?

I feel like that would stifle creativity as devs and publishers just chase the newest trend and anyone not doing so is looked at like "Well I guess those guys dont want to make tons of money."

Are games art or just a consumer product? I think probably there is room for both?
Well, they’re both.

Your point isn’t something I disagree with in principle. I don’t believe creativity and vision should be conceded to broader market viability, I just don’t see how affording difficulty options necessitates that. It’s not like they will need to fundamentally redesign their mechanics and destroy the integrity of core game design.

If we are to use an example (and as you noted FROM’s wares are typically the center of this debate), would buffering health and making the parry window a bit more lenient in Sekiro compromise vision if its optional? To me it’s the same as claiming that giving the hearing impaired glasses so they can read subtitles in a movie theatre is compromising the creative vision of the filmmaker, or impeding the enjoyment of those not requiring it. It isn’t. It’s simply accomodating those who are insufficiently equipped to enjoy the experience. In other words, it’s a net gain that presents detriment to no one. Perhaps a bit of inconvenience to the developers, but again, as this is a matter of rebalancing and not a reinvention, a nuisance.

And again, to their prerogative in their craft if they choose not to do so.....I have no right to dictate what they do with their creation, but that doesn‘t mean I understand it.
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Neo Member
I play games for the story, kinda like interactive novels. If I have the option, I play on Easy. I just want the experience with nothing protracting me from it. Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising were exceptions to this, and I've played DS1 and Bloodbourne.


Gold Member
I used to be a "the studio should chase their vision" kind of guy, but after meeting many gamers who love the hobby but for whatever reason can't play the truly difficult games, sometimes due to disabilities, I started thinking they should always have some kind of range of difficulty.

Selfishly, I don't like really difficult games. I work a lot, a whole lot, I'm literally working on a project right now posting as some processes run on some systems and waiting for a developer in Bangladesh or some fucking place to get back to me. I don't have the kind of time and energy I had when I was a teenager to master games and push through brutal difficulty settings. I would have purchased many games over the past five or so years if they had just offered lower difficulty levels. But at the same time I am not trying to pressure developers. If the game is really hard then fine, I don't have to play it. But as with my opening - maybe they should have easier settings for people with like fucked up hands or some shit.


The nicest person on this forum
I play games for the story, kinda like interactive novels. If I have the option, I play on Easy. I just want the experience with nothing protracting me from it. Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising were exceptions to this, and I've played DS1 and Bloodbourne.
Games like Souls series are not exactly story heavy games, most of the time you spending fighting with barely any story and if the difficulty was cake walk then I would imagine you would be pretty bored because you don’t have to try hard to get through each encounters and boss fights.
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The more options the better IMO. I'm not going to demand a studio make a game harder or easier to cater to my wants. Companies wanting to target a specific demo in terms of skill understand there's a good possibility they'll lose some buyers, but sometimes it's not all about the cash (surprisingly).

For me personally, I tend to play games on regular or even easy (assuming I can get the same ending options) just so I can blast thru them because my backlog is to large at this point. The only ones I go for hard/hardcore are Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and Total War.


If it's a story based game, I really wish there would be a 'bitchout' option for people (like me) that loves a good story and limited difficulty. I used to enjoy having to 'get gud' but now I BARELY have time to play anything let alone have time to try to get good at a game...etc...bla bla.
Chose "Other":

On the freedom-of-the-artist-hand: Every Dev should choose for themselves.
On the I-am-a-consumer-hand: I mostly play in "Normal" mode, but would love to see as many games as possible with options to customize the experience to your likings.


Gold Member
Some games i like being super hard like divinity 2 and they are billions or puzzle games.

Other games i want to play on easy just to get through it.


I love what The Ascent is doing with its approach to difficulty levels. Because 99% of the time changing the difficulty simply rebalances the damage and HP between you and the enemies, either the enemies are tough as hell and take you down with just a few shots, or vice versa, they can barely touch you while you decimate them in no time. And make no mistakes, The Ascent does exactly the same, but with a twist - on normal difficulty everything is, well, normal, just as the developer intended, but switching to hard makes the enemies really tough, just as you would thought, but now there's fewer of them, meaning you have more space for more tactical approach, to figure out how to take them down. Same thing when you switch to easy mode - the enemies aren't really hard politely speaking (unless they greatly exceed your level), but there's just sooo many of them now, so you have this total mayhem going on screen with all the guns blazing. So as an end result, it doesn't really matter if you play on easy, normal or hard, because either way you're having fun, as oppose of being bored on easy or frustrated on hard, like it's happening in the vast majority of the games. I wish more games would incorporate such approach to the difficulty level.


Well obviously, it's their choice how they want to design the game. It's their game.

But if you're asking about my preference, then I'd rather have multiple difficulty levels. If a game is too hard, I just won't play it. I don't have the time or interest in "getting gud." I want games that provide an experience that is "just right" for my level of skill and the challenge I'm seeking. If it's too high (or low), I want to be able to adjust that, or else the game is not an enjoyable experience for me.
It all depends on the game for me. If the purpose of the game is to be challenging, then force me to be challenged. If you're trying to tell a story, then playing on Normal is fine for me. I know that beating a game like Returnal would not have felt as good if I had turned the difficulty down after dying in Biome 2 for the umpteenth time in a row.


Games should be as hard or as easy as the developer intends.

I am terrible....TERRIBLE....at 2D platformers, but I don't expect developers to water down their vision to cater for me.


I'm typically a normal difficulty person, I'm a good game and I know I can handle more but my time is just so limited.. these days I just want a solid challenge and regular progression.
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