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This Isn't Hardcore - Difficulty Settings & Pro Leagues


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These are two slightly different topics tenuously linked by the developers desire to cater for the hardcore market and let that inform the direction of the game. 

 

Firstly, the can of worms that is Soulsborne games. I pumped 10 hours into Bloodborne, beat the Cleric Beast and whilst I love the horror environments and gameplay, I did not enjoy grinding for echoes or the lack of a save point close to a boss battle. It became a slog. If you have to learn things like 'invincibility frames' to time your attacks, you've gone too far down  the rabbit hole imo. And I just don't have time to master that type of entertainment at my stage of life. It's impractical and I have better things to do.

 

Obviously there is an audience that gets a huge amount out of this challenge and the game should be catered to them, but if there was an easier difficulty setting which eg. tweaked HP, hit damage, slowed attack patterns. added more save lanterns to prevent back-tracking etc. then there is no doubt the game would appeal to a broader audience. I would enjoy playing through the world of Bloodborne, if I could.

 

People who want to play it at the normal difficulty need not be affected.

 

Secondly, Pro Leagues - Street fighter V and R6 Siege are two popular franchises that have launched with a focus on Pro league players at the detriment to content thay caters for the casual player or single player.

 

Terrorist Hunt never gets fresh content in Siege despite the hefty season pass price. The community is toxic to suggestions which might improve the experience for casual players because they prioritise what works for high level play. For both games the Pro League playerbase is miniscule compared to the normal players, without which the games simply wouldn't exist. 

 

It seems commercial madness SFV still doesn't have a standard Arcade mode, single player content and challenges, recognisable and appealing characters in the season pass rather than bland niche additions.

 

To sum up, I think it's shortsighted for devs to neglect the average gamer audience and I foolishly hope subsequent sequels break this trend. Thoughts?

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Bloodborne does have an easy mode, you just ring one of them bells and some nice chap pops into your game and kicks the bosses ass for you.

 



Or else turns out to be even worse than you and dies in 3 seconds!

 

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Your argument is like saying that Pulp Fuction would be better if it was a 12a so more people could watch it. I'd rather be pretentious than live in a world of nothing but Die Hard 4.

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I don't think you even really need to know about invicibility frames as such, just how important it is to dodge. I agree about the boss death runs though, it should've checkpointed you outside the boss arena.

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4 minutes ago, SozzlyJoe said:

I agree about the boss death runs though, it should've checkpointed you outside the boss arena.

Totally agree. I played Demon Souls and, despite loving the game, I had to stop playing for this reason.

 

The thing is, the game isn't difficult. I mean it's not even in the same league as, say, Halo on Legendary. But it has occasional difficulty spikes that are frequently several minutes away from a save point. Meaning that learning how to overcome that obstacle is only possible by trudging back to the same spot over and over and over again.

 

For a game that's supposed to be about learning through failure it sure as hell made that process a miserable experience for me.

 

I understand that for some players that sense of having something at stake (ie their time) really added to the experience but it didn't for me and I've not gone back to the Soul's series.

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10 minutes ago, sir shrew said:

 

Your equivocations here are utter bollocks.

 

I tackled Gascoigne 6-7 times. What would've been lost if the game had let me retry without grinding Echoes or had an easier difficulty that let me take more damage, and him inflict less? Nothing. The game would still be atmospheric, hostile, challenging. But not punishing.

 

No offence, but Souls players' elitist attitude is insufferable.

 

I tried Blood Starved Beast around about 10-15 times. And that one has a hell of a long run back. I even summoned, and the other player died too. I was just about to sadly give up as the game was not for me, and I just decided to try one more time, without even grinding any more heal potions. And I DID IT! That was the most transcendant moment I have ever had in gaming. (Then I found out he was an optional boss, WTF?!)

 

So in one way, I can see your point. Probably after my third failure, I would have plonked it down to easy mode and continued. As it was I almost gave up on the game. But the fact I eventually succeeded gave me such a rush, I don't see how I could have gotten it any other way.

 

Any concidentally there is currently a thread on NeoGAF about the Souls games (not that much of a coincidence, there is always a thread on GAF about Souls games) showing jiust how unexpectedly high a completion percentage they have.

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1370901

 

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The thing I like about the Souls difficulty is the universal nature of it. Because everybody is forced to play with the same difficulty everyone has the same experience, and through that commonality a certain boss or section of a level develops a general consensus.

 

So take the Capra demon. That bugger is famous because he's really the first boss in Dark Souls to just body you. You're not really expecting him and all of a sudden you're dead. Because you can't change the difficulty everyone gets that experience. And because it's the same experience for everyone it's easier for the Capra Demon to develop that general public opinion. It's the same for Gascoigne, Ornstein and Smough, Izilith etc. 

 

That effect would be significantly diminished if a player could select their difficulty before they start that game. That goes for making it harder or easier.

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I think it's important to distinguish between actual difficulty and grinding, or punishment for failing.

In WoW I remember Serpentshrine cavern was seen as tough, initially. It wasn't really that tough compared to some experiences, but it had the most awful corpse run. It made every encounter feel tense and difficult because you spend more time running back than attempting the boss. 


I think generally Sunwell was the high point of my raiding life in WoW because I don't really recall awful corpse runs, trash grinding* and I think I remember us getting a lot of attempts in and gradually progressing. It felt like that might have been the instance that managed to do away with artificial limiters on progress that only made things take longer to clear because they just took longer. Maybe I'm wrong - it's a long time ago now, but the important thing is the encounters required our A-Games, rather than just 'enough time banging our heads against it'.  

 

* Trash in Sunwell was great. Required a bit more thought, each one felt like a mini boss fight, and there wasn't enough to make it feel grindy.

 

I haven't played bloodborne, but yeah, grinding souls to have another go at a boss or running for ages is shit. But if the boss is mental hard then that's good. I really think easy modes on games can potentially be to their detriment, the temptation to try them, or the struggle to decide which difficulty is for you before you can even play a game once can actually ruin things a bit. I don't like feeling like I'm not challenging myself.  I think they're a necessary evil, sure.

Bloodborne absolutely shouldn't have an easy mode to cater for everyone, variety is the spice of life, and I think it's fun that there games with reputations for being extremely hard. To complain about it having a limited audience is odd, it's hardly like we have an epidemic of difficult games, most are beatable by most people. 

I suppose the difficult thing here is for me, personally, I don't get much time to play games, so I'm not sure I have any patience for a lot of dying. I've been enjoying walking sims because I can just get through them in a sitting or two

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8 minutes ago, sir shrew said:

 

I'm very skeptical about what those stats prove.

 

Shows what percentage of people who played the game beat that boss, simple as that.

 

8 minutes ago, sir shrew said:

 

Excluding less capable or time-committed players should not be a direction for the industry.

 

 

I don't think it is a general direction, Souls games are very much on their own here. Apart from those, I expect the completion of of any major game release these days to be a mere function of time rather than skill.

 

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1 minute ago, dood said:

 

 

Sod off and leave Souls alone. They made them how they wanted to and didn't pander to appeal to more people. Good on them. Fuck making  every game accessible to everyone. 

 

BTW you didn't need to grind to beat Gascoigne, you just had to pay attention and figure out how to play the bloody game. 

 

I think this might be the elitism he was thinking of ;-)

But I can see both your points. It would be possible, yes, to add an easy mode to Souls games for those who wanted it that wouldn't detract from anyone else's experience.

But the fact is, the developers don't want to add it. Souls is what it is, and you take it as it is or leave it. You step up or you ship out. And that's fine. You'll only need to play one of them to figure that out.

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Maybe a more interesting question to ask here, before you start thinking about the exclusivity and high barriers to entry, is what it is about the soulsborne games that have made them go nuclear. Because the next question is: does implementing the changes you've suggested negate those?

 

@Zael mentioned the universality of the experience: that is a great point. These games have developed a social element: back in the DeS and DaS1 days, it was about the pleasure of talking to someone who had also played them and knowing that you've gone through the exact same experiences and challenges, but with your own path and solutions. The releases of games after that became events, even on places like this where cohorts of players went through the games together. Hell, that's even happening now: the DS3 thread is full of people living other people's first run-throughs vicariously. A difficulty slider would affect that, for one thing.

 

Another issue is that they're balanced for one difficulty and one difficulty alone. Skyrim is a great example here: mess with the difficulty sliders too much and you risk destroying your own interest in the game, as you're trying to find the biting point for the difficulty to keep you engaged. It would be a simple job to add an easy mode to a SB game; it would not be an easy job to add one that was also properly balanced, including future patches.

 

It's also interesting that this has turned to bashing accessibility already. Surely we can agree that better accessibility is always something to aim for (in terms of interface design, usability etc) but that there's a difference between accessibility and the design choices of the game. The later SB games especially have some great design: consistent enemy behaviours, the hints from other players, little environmental tells to help you get about, etc.

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I don't mind hard games at all - I've finished Hotline Miami 2 on hard and fuck me, it was - but I found Bloodborne to be an utterly joyless slog. I remember the last time I played it I was walking through a corridor when the wall suddenly exploded and I died. Turns out it was an explosive pot, that an enemy the other side of the wall I couldn't even see shot through to make it detonate and kill me. Fuck that cheap nonsense.

 

For me the best kind of difficulty is something like Yakuza Zero, where yes, you can coast through the simple streetfights after a while but the bosses require you to sit up and pay attention, being challenging without being cheap, and most of all, being entertaining, even when you're on the end of an ass kicking. Mr Shakedown is the perfect example of player empowerment, where the first time it's pretty much a guarantee he will stomp you with little effort. The game doesn't grind to a screeching halt though because you can't beat him, you can continue the story, do side quests, level up, and try to take him on again at any point you feel like. And when you beat his ass and get your money back, that's a damn sight more rewarding than any feeling I got out of any of the soulsborne games.

 

I appreciate what they do, but they ain't for me at all.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Flub said:

ggnx8om.jpg

What a shitpost. 

 

There are a million other games that will enable you to have fun.  You don't like a game, move on.  

 

The homogenisation of mainstream games is pretty crappy and I, for one, am glad that some people don't try to appeal as wide as they can. 

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56 minutes ago, Down by Law said:

I don't mind hard games at all - I've finished Hotline Miami 2 on hard and fuck me, it was - but I found Bloodborne to be an utterly joyless slog. I remember the last time I played it I was walking through a corridor when the wall suddenly exploded and I died. Turns out it was an explosive pot, that an enemy the other side of the wall I couldn't even see shot through to make it detonate and kill me. Fuck that cheap nonsense.

 

For me the best kind of difficulty is something like Yakuza Zero, where yes, you can coast through the simple streetfights after a while but the bosses require you to sit up and pay attention, being challenging without being cheap, and most of all, being entertaining, even when you're on the end of an ass kicking. Mr Shakedown is the perfect example of player empowerment, where the first time it's pretty much a guarantee he will stomp you with little effort. The game doesn't grind to a screeching halt though because you can't beat him, you can continue the story, do side quests, level up, and try to take him on again at any point you feel like. And when you beat his ass and get your money back, that's a damn sight more rewarding than any feeling I got out of any of the soulsborne games.

 

I appreciate what they do, but they ain't for me at all.

 

There are some 'cheap' moments in the Souls series, but I don't see them that way.  For eg, stay the fuck away from explosive barrels, once you've learned that's what they are. These 'cheap' moments are part of a brutally unforgiving adventure.  One that gives me the greatest euphoric feeling when I overcome an obstacle. 

 

Literally no other game gives me the shakes / heart pounding in mouth / adrenaline - it's a bit like when you get a really good close fight in Street Fighter (but hehe, seeing your rage in that thread... no wonder you didn't have patience for Bloodborne! :) ) except times 10000000000. 

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1 hour ago, jonny_rat said:

Maybe a more interesting question to ask here, before you start thinking about the exclusivity and high barriers to entry, is what it is about the soulsborne games that have made them go nuclear. Because the next question is: does implementing the changes you've suggested negate those?

 

@Zael mentioned the universality of the experience: that is a great point. These games have developed a social element: back in the DeS and DaS1 days, it was about the pleasure of talking to someone who had also played them and knowing that you've gone through the exact same experiences and challenges, but with your own path and solutions. The releases of games after that became events, even on places like this where cohorts of players went through the games together. Hell, that's even happening now: the DS3 thread is full of people living other people's first run-throughs vicariously. A difficulty slider would affect that, for one thing.

 

Another issue is that they're balanced for one difficulty and one difficulty alone. Skyrim is a great example here: mess with the difficulty sliders too much and you risk destroying your own interest in the game, as you're trying to find the biting point for the difficulty to keep you engaged. It would be a simple job to add an easy mode to a SB game; it would not be an easy job to add one that was also properly balanced, including future patches.

 

It's also interesting that this has turned to bashing accessibility already. Surely we can agree that better accessibility is always something to aim for (in terms of interface design, usability etc) but that there's a difference between accessibility and the design choices of the game. The later SB games especially have some great design: consistent enemy behaviours, the hints from other players, little environmental tells to help you get about, etc.

Sorry, I should've put 'accessibility' in quotes. 

 

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1 hour ago, Flub said:

ggnx8om.jpg

 

Although I do like that Dark Souls has a fixed difficulty so that everyone who plays it has a consistent challenge to conquer (not that I have yet: last I played it a couple of years ago, I stopped at the Gaping Dragon :unsure:), there is a segment of the fandom that has an snobbish gatekeeping attitude to difficulty as a badge of hardcore honour.

 

git gud

 

http://i.imgur.com/X7shkjo.gifv

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2 hours ago, SozzlyJoe said:

Bloodborne does have an easy mode, you just ring one of them bells and some nice chap pops into your game and kicks the bosses ass for you.

 

 

  Hide contents

 

 


Or else turns out to be even worse than you and dies in 3 seconds!
 

 

 

 


Exactly this. Summons are the easy mode on Soulsborne games. That and grinding, but only fools grind.

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Grinding in souls would t really help you beat a boss, anyway. The differences you make to your damage / health are pretty small. 

 

I almost wish they didn't have the stats, I view them a bit like the shield; they can push new players down  the wrong path / thinking on how they need to approach the game. 

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1 minute ago, dood said:

Grinding in souls would t really help you beat a boss, anyway. The differences you make to your damage / health are pretty small. 

 

I almost wish they didn't have the stats, I view them a bit like the shield; they can push new players down  the wrong path / thinking on how they need to approach the game. 


Not entirely true, a friend of mine that I Share Played Bloodborne with beat most of the middle bosses by brute forcing them. She was overleveld, doing insane damage to bosses like Vicar Amelia and Rom. It is a viable tactic, just not a very rewarding one. 

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39 minutes ago, Nick R said:

 

Although I do like that Dark Souls has a fixed difficulty so that everyone who plays it has a consistent challenge to conquer (not that I have yet: last I played it a couple of years ago, I stopped at the Gaping Dragon :unsure:), there is a segment of the fandom that has an snobbish gatekeeping attitude to difficulty as a badge of hardcore honour.

 

git gud

 

http://i.imgur.com/X7shkjo.gifv

Seriously though, I don't see it as a hardcore badge of honour.  I see it as part of the appeal, part of the game, part of the intended journey and emotions.  PART OF THE ART. 

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