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Team Ninja Explains Why Wo Long Has Only One Difficulty Level, Says It’s Not an Easy Game

Sentenza

Member
Gatekeeping in videogames is very important as it is an effective deterrent for keeping (fuckin) normies who were too lazy to learn the game, out of these games and ruining them.
As far as I'm concerned gatekeeping is fucking irrelevant.

I don't like difficulty selection in general, incidentally. And I don't like it for what it does for ME, not for what it does for others.
I'm not sure why game designers keep asking me to "pick a difficulty" upfront without any real explanation of what each difficulty level entails.
Will the increased/diminished difficulty come with different rules? Will it involve more sophisticated enemy behavior or more challenging puzzles? Or will it be a case of stat bloat where arbitrary numbers are added and subtracted with impact on the game's flow?
What if I like a decent/moderate challenge but I'm not into HP bloat as a way to achieve it? What if I pick "Hard mode" and it turns out to be over-tuned and annoying in a way that makes the game less enjoyable? What if on the other hand I pick "normal" and it turns out to be something tuned for the average mentally challenged Polygon game expert? Etc.

I'm much more comfortable with the FEW but precious games that tell me "Here's the game, it works according to these rules and it's the same for everyone, we put our effort in making the the experience as balanced as possible across the board, make the best of it".
And if turns out to be too difficult/unforgiving for me in a way I can't enjoy (an example here would be Cuphead, as far as I'm concerned) eh, I'll drop it. I don't feel entitled to the right of finishing a game just because I bought it.
 
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AV

We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
Same old arguments going round in circles.

They could add an "easy" mode that is still not easy enough for many people, and they'll still not like the game and still complain about how it's "only difficult for the sake of it" online. Or it'll be too easy because they're overcompensating, and normal will still be too hard for those folks. Enemies with 30% less health or whatever aren't going to make people automatically good at killing them.

Not worth it. Just release the game balanced around the difficulty you design by hand, and let people actually get good at the game if they want to beat this very specific one rather than one of the million other games on earth they could be playing.
 

Fredrik

Gold Member
Well they better making it fun then. I frequently drop hard games if I feel like they want me to waste my life to ”git gud”. Elden Ring is one of few hard games I truly enjoy, and that is because the openess makes it possible to level up by exploring rather than killing the same group of enemies over and over. Me buying Demon’s Souls, twice, was such a waste of money, and time. To make it easier I just end up doing that stupid grinding at key location where I can get easy souls, and as it is I’ve dropped it, again, because I just don’t have fun playing it.
 
Fair enough.

But what if the default difficulty level a dev makes is too easy for gamers with good skills? There's no harder mode for them to try.
It's the other way around.
Anyone can always increase the difficulty by setting themselves specific goals. Don't use item/ armor XYZ, no death/hit runs, play without using the powerful attack button, run and gun in a stealth game, allow yourself only certain time limits... whatever. Good players should not require the dev to provide handholding how to make it hard enough!
Average to bad players like me either really can't or just don't want to get good and aim at casually enjoying games. Which some games following the idiotic souls formula, which is basically a resurrection of limited design possibilities and capabilities of 80s games, don't allow. So this did already not interest me from the trailers so far and my interest level just dropped to nothing.
I just want the participation trophy and don't need to prove myself in gaming above limit as if that matters at all. If I am that good at something I'd rather be fighter pilot or whatever than just gamer, wasting my elite skills on entertainment. One point of gaming should be to allow average people to be secret agents, pro footballers, heroes... everything too hard and or too risky in real life.
All the hate towards bad journalists and their lack of skills is embarrassing elitist BS since the average gamer plays much more like them than headshot headshot perfect run crybabies that get angry if anyone isn't as good as them or enjoys or wants to enjoy their game differently.
 

Sentenza

Member
All the hate towards bad journalists and their lack of skills is embarrassing elitist BS since the average gamer plays much more like them than headshot headshot perfect run crybabies that get angry if anyone isn't as good as them or enjoys or wants to enjoy their game differently.
This could sound almost reasonable IF what was expected from them was to be incredibly skillful, rather than barely competent in their alleged area of expertise above a threshold of decency.

I'm far from considering myself a skilled player, let alone a pro. Not even sure if I'd paint myself as "above average" in most games.
So no, it's not about expecting the perfect headshot with cyborg-like reaction time out of every bullet.

it's about witnessing this shit...




...and wondering "How can this field be your job?"

Especially since it doesn't get much better where theoretical expertise is involved. I remember this being pointed by a friend even years ago when it came to reviews.
"Here's my review as a RPG expert and as a person who never played an Ultima, Fallout or Baldur's Gate. All I'm familiar with is Final Fantasy VII".
Imagine a movie critic who had no idea of what the fuck Citizen Kane is. He would be laughed out of the door.
 
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bender

What time is it?
All the hate towards bad journalists and their lack of skills is embarrassing elitist BS since the average gamer plays much more like them than headshot headshot perfect run crybabies that get angry if anyone isn't as good as them or enjoys or wants to enjoy their game differently.

I'm not great at games but I do appreciate the Souls design principle of one difficulty level because the games are usually meticulously designed around a singular challenge level. And if that challenge level is too much for you, they mostly give you the option of co-op.
 
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Cyberpunkd

Gold Member
Since when do developers have to justify the difficulty of their games?
Since the time when instead of saying ‘this game is too difficult for me, no problem, I can play something else’ people post things online like ‘omg, I have a right to enjoy this game, the developer should make sure everyone can’.
 

Lasha

Member
if i ask a roomful of people, of different ages & physiques, to, one by one, transfer a full case of copy paper from one end of the room to the other, is that presenting everyone with an equal challenge? because, even with the ability to use a hand truck or a dolly, it's gonna be much harder for some than for others, if not impossible...

'git gud' is fine, if that's the developer's choice. but pretending it keeps 'the challenge the same'? c'mon, now...


You are presenting everybody in the room with the equal challenge. That some people aren't able to complete the challenge doesn't change that.
 

RoadHazard

Gold Member
I dont play action games much anymore, but when I was playing tons of gaming every night when I was younger, I'd almost always set the game on Hard mode before I even played my first game. I liked playing games at harder difficulties back then.

But never did I think "Oh shit, there's going to be some gamers out there who play on Easy and Normal, now I feel like shit other gamers might beat the game faster than I do. These gamers are ruining the essence of the game".

Who cares if other gamers play on different difficulty levels. And that goes for gamers playing either lower or harder difficulty settings.

That's not the point at all, I don't give a shit if other people finish the game faster. If the developers put difficulty modes in there that's fine, they obviously don't think the challenge is an essential part of the experience. But if they don't put difficulty modes in there because they DO think the challenge is essential (this game, all Souls games, etc) people shouldn't bitch about how the game doesn't respect their time or whatever. This is the game the developers wanted to make, go play something else if you don't like that there's no baby mode.
 
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Drew1440

Member
I do prefer having multiple difficulty levels in games, gives me an excuse to replay again especially if it's tried to multiple achievements/unlocks.
Although New Game+ is a good alternative.
 

bender

What time is it?
"Here's my review as a RPG expert and as a person who never played an Ultima, Fallout or Baldur's Gate. All I'm familiar with is Final Fantasy VII".
Imagine a movie critic who had no idea of what the fuck Citizen Kane is. He would be laughed out of the door.

As a counter, gaming is getting to be a pretty old medium and games coverage in a lot of areas skews to younger workforce. I'm not going to be overly critical of anyone's lack of experience considering games are far harder to consume than a movie for a bunch of reasons so that comparison is a little flimsy. A fresh perspective can also be valuable.

The Doom and Cuphead videos always crack me up though.
 

Lasha

Member
I do prefer having multiple difficulty levels in games, gives me an excuse to replay again especially if it's tried to multiple achievements/unlocks.
Although New Game+ is a good alternative.


The games have difficulty. You replay with different weapons or try to win without getting hit.
 
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RoadHazard

Gold Member
As far as I'm concerned gatekeeping is fucking irrelevant.

I don't like difficulty selection in general, incidentally. And I don't like it for what it does for ME, not for what it does for others.
I'm not sure why game designers keep asking me to "pick a difficulty" upfront without any real explanation of what each difficulty level entails.
Will the increased/diminished difficulty come with different rules? Will it involve more sophisticated enemy behavior or more challenging puzzles? Or will it be a case of stat bloat where arbitrary numbers are added and subtracted with impact on the game's flow?
What if I like a decent/moderate challenge but I'm not into HP bloat as a way to achieve it? What if I pick "Hard mode" and it turns out to be over-tuned and annoying in a way that makes the game less enjoyable? What if on the other hand I pick "normal" and it turns out to be something tuned for the average mentally challenged Polygon game expert? Etc.

I'm much more comfortable with the FEW but precious games that tell me "Here's the game, it works according to these rules and it's the same for everyone, we put our effort in making the the experience as balanced as possible across the board, make the best of it".
And if turns out to be too difficult/unforgiving for me in a way I can't enjoy (an example here would be Cuphead, as far as I'm concerned) eh, I'll drop it. I don't feel entitled to the right of finishing a game just because I bought it.

Yep, which is why I always google what difficulty I should start on if I want a decent but fair challenge. Doesn't really work for brand new games of course, but for older games you can always find the answer. And yes, I also prefer when there isn't any choice at all, but simply the one difficulty that the developers have fine-tuned the game around.
 
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CC-Tron

Neo Member
Some do.

The assumption is any game with only one difficulty level is designed to be hard. So if they beat the game, they can brag they did it on the dev's original terms, while nobody beat the game on an easier mode. Because when they think other gamers have fun on Easy or Normal mode, it's kills their fun as they are playing at Hard.

It's a similar mentality to ecosystem/cross plat gamers. When a game is on their platform, it's a form of winning. When a game is ported to another platform and some random dude 5000 km away plays the game on another hunk of metal and plastic, there's a part of their brain that red flags that as a demoralizer and suddenly their fun factor drops when the very game they are playing is still on their hardware to play like nothing happened. Nobody took away their game (or difficulty level). All the devs are doing is adding options for others, and somehow that kills them inside.
It's a disease. They need help.
 

zcaa0g

Member
I always prefer to play a game on easy and blast right through it. If the game is shit, I never play it again and waste less time.

If the game is good, I will come back to it at some point and play it again at a much higher difficulty level. A good way to have replay value and prevent a backlog.
 
Games in the past are far harder then any souls games and there like. I've played very obscure games for decades and there always harder then these games. Although; I think for me difficultly and challenge are to different thinks, and as I've gotten older its not that important to me anymore. If you like Challenging games here are Some I'd recommend:
Mega Seed - PS1
Enclave - Xbox
Magatama - Xbox
The Immortal - NES
Target Renegade -NES
OZ - PS2
PN03 - NGC
Nightcaster - Xbox
Otogi - xbox
Ninja Gaiden 3 - NES
Mega Man 2 - NES

*Returnal is harder then any souls game hands down. :pie_roffles:
 
Im a fan of options, as there is no drawback in having the option to choose for myself. There has never been a single game where selectable game difficulty was somehow a disadvantage or reduced the games fun for me. It can be an issue the other way around. I don't give a shit about internet points for being able to beat a hard game. I guess I did when I was younger.
 

Saber

Member
This type of discussion is becoming super repetitive at this point. Devs will decide what’s right for their game, you either you like what they make or you don’t.

Don't worry, you will see that again when either Elden Ring DLC launches or when Ronin launches.
 

Fredrik

Gold Member
Im a fan of options, as there is no drawback in having the option to choose for myself. There has never been a single game where selectable game difficulty was somehow a disadvantage or reduced the games fun for me. It can be an issue the other way around. I don't give a shit about internet points for being able to beat a hard game. I guess I did when I was younger.
Yeah this is me as well. I did the git gud thing back in the 80s and could sit for hours and memorize things on a pixel level if needed. Now when I’m older I just don’t have time for that. If I can play more than 2 hours in one day it’s an unusual day. Once all the kids has moved out I’ll have more time but then I guess my own body will add a new level of difficulty to everything. My hope is that the game developers will age too and never stop playtesting their own games, that should keep the difficulty in check.
 

Rykan

Member
Unified difficulty is the best, so that people are talking about the same game instead of constantly asking "what difficulty are you playing on" type of redundant question
Ah yes that's right, because "What difficulty are you playing on?" is a question that comes up in every single video game discussion.
Oh wait. No it doesn't.

There's no actual, valid argument for not having multiple difficulty levels in these games. Their previous games, like Ninja Gaiden, had up to 5 difficulty levels. The only reason they aren't adding them is because they want it to be part of the "souls like" genre which means that the only justification for not doing it is because "Well souls game don't have them" and the only reason souls games don't have them is because, quote:"We want everyone to join the discussion at that level"

It's for PR purposes. It's always been for PR purposes. Make the game hard with no difficulty select so that the "HaRdCoRE" will sing its praises and that strategy is working out fantastic for them.

Since the time when instead of saying ‘this game is too difficult for me, no problem, I can play something else’ people post things online like ‘omg, I have a right to enjoy this game, the developer should make sure everyone can’.
How dare people criticize design decisions that fill no real purpose.
This could sound almost reasonable IF what was expected from them was to be incredibly skillful, rather than barely competent in their alleged area of expertise above a threshold of decency.
I keep hearing these tales about video game journalists being bad at video games and yet, unsurprisingly, you post the same two examples that have been posted countless times. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people working in video game journalism and yet evidence for supposedly "Terrible video game journalists" rarely exceed these two videos. Nearly every single high profile souls like game is met with glowing reception from the press. High praise for every Souls game. Elden Ring. Sekiro. Nioh. Yet somehow, this narrative that video game journalists can't handle or disapprove of hard games keeps getting brought up. Why?

As far as I'm concerned gatekeeping is fucking irrelevant.

I don't like difficulty selection in general, incidentally. And I don't like it for what it does for ME, not for what it does for others.
I'm not sure why game designers keep asking me to "pick a difficulty" upfront without any real explanation of what each difficulty level entails.
Will the increased/diminished difficulty come with different rules? Will it involve more sophisticated enemy behavior or more challenging puzzles? Or will it be a case of stat bloat where arbitrary numbers are added and subtracted with impact on the game's flow?
What if I like a decent/moderate challenge but I'm not into HP bloat as a way to achieve it? What if I pick "Hard mode" and it turns out to be over-tuned and annoying in a way that makes the game less enjoyable? What if on the other hand I pick "normal" and it turns out to be something tuned for the average mentally challenged Polygon game expert? Etc.
You make some really good points about difficulty levels and how we select them. You're right: We generally don't have a lot of information about the difficulty level that we select. Normal? What does "Normal" difficulty mean? How does that impact the game? Agree with you on that across the board. Having said that, most modern games allow you to adjust the difficulty setting mid play through so you generally get a pretty good feel what difficulty is right for you.
I'm much more comfortable with the FEW but precious games that tell me "Here's the game, it works according to these rules and it's the same for everyone, we put our effort in making the the experience as balanced as possible across the board, make the best of it".
And if turns out to be too difficult/unforgiving for me in a way I can't enjoy (an example here would be Cuphead, as far as I'm concerned) eh, I'll drop it. I don't feel entitled to the right of finishing a game just because I bought it.
But Souls Like games aren't better balanced across the board, and adding difficulty levels doesn't really take that much effort at all. That's why it's the standard in nearly every single game. Saying you can just drop a game if you don't like it is easy to say when it's a cheap indie game such as the one in your example. It's a little different when you're spending 60$ - 70$ on it.

Sure, there's all sorts of reasons as to why someone won't like a game or why it's not for them, but "difficulty" is a pretty crappy reason because it's so easy to rectify.
 
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Winter John

Member
It's good that devs are now telling people their game is going to be hard. I watched the trailer. I read what the dev guy said. My reaction was, I can't be fucked. I can't do it again. I had the same reaction when Sekiro came out so soon after Bloodborne. I watched the trailers and knew it wasn't for me. It was no big deal.
 

Edgelord79

Gold Member
Will buy it and will suck at it.

Will get infuriated. Will stop playing after a few hours.

Would buy again in the hopes that this time it will be different.
 
I wish every game had one difficulty level. I don't care if its Kirby-level easy, Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy or anything in-between. Make the game, the game.

There's so many people making games, no game needs to be for everyone. If you don't want resistance in your game, don't play Bloodborne or Sekiro. If you're looking for a challenging experience, probably pick something other than the newest Yoshi game.
 

Lasha

Member
Yeah this is me as well. I did the git gud thing back in the 80s and could sit for hours and memorize things on a pixel level if needed. Now when I’m older I just don’t have time for that. If I can play more than 2 hours in one day it’s an unusual day. Once all the kids has moved out I’ll have more time but then I guess my own body will add a new level of difficulty to everything. My hope is that the game developers will age too and never stop playtesting their own games, that should keep the difficulty in check.

The "difficulty setting" in souls games is something you choose for yourself. A skilled player can complete the game naked without ever being hit. You can devise a build that allows you to cheese past mechanics through character enhancement and levelling up. Both are valid ways of solving the same challenge. The bar for beating souls games isn't particularly high. One difficulty with many ways to tackle it makes more sense than something like God of War's bizarre higher difficulties that just make you weaker and enemies have more life.
 

avin

Member
I'd guess part of the issue is maintaining the suspension of disbelief some - many? - people seek when they play games. Having difficulty be tunable makes it clearer that it's just a game. It makes it harder to buy the illusion.

avin
 
I have no issue with developers making a game the way they want to make it. If I don't like their choice, I am free to not purchase that game.

There are plenty of games with difficulty options available for people that don't want to spend the time learning and mastering a game's mechanics. Many will even basically play themselves saving you even more time and effort.
 
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