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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

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23 minutes ago, cohen205 said:

 

Doesnt the Hirata Estate have those spear fuckers that you can mikari counter, and i'm sure a lot of the enemies in that area will teach you the basics of the sidestep/jump mechanic. The training is basically there to take on LB.

 

And ok, maybe the game isnt totally about parrying, but i'd say its about 90% of the game. The dodge, and jump evasions are kind of like a rock/paper/scissors effect, where you have to react to either counter, or dodge at a split second. Again, its not easy, and it takes a lot of time to read, and learn these patterns, but surely thats part of the gameplay cycle. See boss - > Shit pants and wonder if you'll ever be able to beat them -> have a few goes and get totally annihilated -> learn moveset and make progress -> take that mother fucker down and feel like a BOSS.

 

LB doesn't have a move you can Miriki counter. It's also trivial to avoid the spear dude or stealth him. Along with every other baddie in the area. There is a disconnect between the level design and the boss design. Dark Souls just constantly reinforced patterns, gaps spacing, don't get too greedy. 

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If I hadn’t found the Nightjar Slash stunlock cheese for Lady Butters I’d still be stuck there. As it is, it just delayed the inevitable brick wall point a ways to GenA.

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6 minutes ago, jonamok said:

If I hadn’t found the Nightjar Slash stunlock cheese for Lady Butters I’d still be stuck there. As it is, it just delayed the inevitable brick wall point a ways to GenA.

 

I think cheesing bosses is a pretty bad idea, full stop. Each boss is an education.

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8 minutes ago, kensei said:

 

LB doesn't have a move you can Miriki counter. It's also trivial to avoid the spear dude or stealth him. Along with every other baddie in the area. There is a disconnect between the level design and the boss design. Dark Souls just constantly reinforced patterns, gaps spacing, don't get too greedy. 

 

LB is a massive early game challenge but this is not unusual. Cleric Beast, Papa G and Capra Demon all come to mind - immensely challenging if you don't cheese or summon. DS3 throws Iudex Gundyr at you before you've even faced a proper enemy! The first three of those all took me at least the same amount of learning as LB. Just because you found her difficult doesn't make her unusually bad game design.

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The only reason I kept going back to Sekiro this last week was to progress other areas. But now all roads lead through that cunt, I’m done.

 

People say that GenA is this game’s O&S moment. And the truth is I’ve never beaten O&S solo, always with Solaire or a player summon. So by that metric I’m permafucked.

 

Artistic vision or not, they fucked this up for many players and made it not fun. Such a needless decision, and probably one of my biggest gaming disappointments.

 

Anyway, while I’m waiting for the easy mode patch :P I’ll be going back to Div 2 and then I’ll make use of my Game Pass sub.

 

Thanks for all the encouragement chaps, but for me the reward, this time, isn’t worth all the shite to get there.

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27 minutes ago, Ravern said:

 

LB is a massive early game challenge but this is not unusual. Cleric Beast, Papa G and Capra Demon all come to mind - immensely challenging if you don't cheese or summon. DS3 throws Iudex Gundyr at you before you've even faced a proper enemy! The first three of those all took me at least the same amount of learning as LB. Just because you found her difficult doesn't make her unusually bad game design.

 

Cleric Beast fell first time and is a standard DS style beast boss. Father Gascoigne is considerably tougher, but the game gives you the possibility of a crutch with the music box that is, crucially reusable everytime you fight him. Gundyr, really? This is the third DS game. And those still have standard DS crutch mechanisms in place. 

 

Someone posted completion rates further up the thread. Gascoigne is way, way ahead of where Lady B is. 

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34 minutes ago, Timmo said:

 

I think cheesing bosses is a pretty bad idea, full stop. Each boss is an education.

 

I have taken every possible opportunity to cheese a boss across 5 From soft games to this point, I'm not about stop now. 

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45 minutes ago, cohen205 said:

But this isnt Dark Souls

 

Yeah it has good design where the grunts teach you the skills to beat the bosses. 

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I fought GenA last night in my second playthrough, and admittedly it was late, and I was already pretty knackered, but I still beat him after fucking up so many times previously due to said tiredness. It eventually clicked again and then I went to bed :lol:

 

The funny thing is, prior to that I had essentially one shot almost all the bosses again up to him (with the exception of Man in Well, Camera in Wall :hmm:) despite being so knackered. It finally hit me at GenA, but I still overcome him, because the reward was going to bed :P

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The Sekiro conversations I've seen have really opened my eyes up to how a lot of people play these games. There's a lot of cheesing bosses, grinding levels to overpower a boss, summoning for help etc. 

 

It kind of pokes holes in the Miyazaki vision line of argument.

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1 hour ago, jonny_rat said:

 

They do want to: there are some really interesting bits that came out from interviews with From staff on working with Activision. They had no idea how to approach play testing (they handed all this over to the US Activision office), and didn't even feel confident about creating the tutorial section in Sekiro: all of that was guided by player data, and it was great. It also includes loads more accessibility/quality of life settings than did DS3.

 

Again, this comes back to the idea that Miyazake and the Souls teams want to make hard games: in every quote about it, he's said that he wants to make games with challenges that players will initially fail, and then pass. Letting players tune the challenge is totally in line with that.

 

I hadn't read about any of that and it's interesting, cheers, but again, their previous ten years of development would suggest that it's not something important enough for them to address. Not only that, despite all their apparent assistance and support from Activision in terms of QoL and the tutorials - Hanbei the Undying seemed like a concession of sorts - they didn't take the opportunity to implement any further difficulty/accessibility settings as you believe they want to. 

 

While you can interpret Miyazaki's comments about rewarding games to fit the idea of relative difficulty levels, they have shown time and again that they want to set a fixed level of challenge and allow players to dictate the difficulty level through the systems within the game. In effect, they've already 'solved' this on an extremely elegant continuum. If players aren't able to meet the fixed level of challenge of Soulsborne games through overlevelling and different builds and summoning, it seems that From are comfortable with that.

 

If, as you suggest, they are very willing but are incapable/ignorant, surely Sekiro would have been the opportunity to address that. But no, they actually went further in the other direction. This is the first time (in the Miyazaki era) that they've simply said 'this is the fixed level of challenge, the key variable is your own ability to learn and execute'.

 

I should also reiterate my previous point that the game is probably too hard for me. I've beaten DoH but OF and the last boss will take a long long time for me to crack, if I ever get there. I do think it's generally 'too hard', even completely ignoring accessibility issues, but I don't see any evidence that From have either compromised or shown willingness to significantly compromise their design philosophy for this game. If anything, they've gone a lot less accessible. 

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40 minutes ago, cohen205 said:

Just think how good you will feel after defeating GenA. I nearly cried :lol:

This is where it's missed the mark for me. In earlier From games I had that feeling, but here, because they've pushed it just a little too far, I've gone beyond that and have started getting bored. With Lady B, Gen A and Guape, I would've been really pleased if they'd ended a phase earlier. It would've felt like a solid achievement.

 

The problem with that extra phase and having to keep repeating the initial phase(s) to get there is that even once I've learned them it's hard to do them reliably. So I repeat that first part over and over, hoping to get to the last part and learn it a bit more, and by the time I can do it I've repeated the first part another 30+ times and am sick of it.

 

My only reaction when I finally do it is thank fuck that's over.

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4 minutes ago, BadgerFarmer said:

This is where it's missed the mark for me. In earlier From games I had that feeling, but here, because they've pushed it just a little too far, I've gone beyond that and have started getting bored. With Lady B, Gen A and Guape, I would've been really pleased if they'd ended a phase earlier. It would've felt like a solid achievement.

 

The problem with that extra phase and having to keep repeating the initial phase(s) to get there is that even once I've learned them it's hard to do them reliably. So I repeat that first part over and over, hoping to get to the last part and learn it a bit more, and by the time I can do it I've repeated the first part another 30+ times and am sick of it.

 

My only reaction when I finally do it is thank fuck that's over.

 

Same. Normally beating a tough boss with all the tension in whether you'll cross the line is euphoric, but with Lady B I was just like 'Thank fuck that's over, so I can go back to stealth killing Samurai' 

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2 minutes ago, Stanshall said:

 

I hadn't read about any of that and it's interesting, cheers, but again, their previous ten years of development would suggest that it's not something important enough for them to address. Not only that, despite all their apparent assistance and support from Activision in terms of QoL and the 'tutorials', they didn't take the opportunity to implement any further difficulty/accessibility settings as you believe they want to. 

  

While you can interpret Miyazaki's comments about rewarding games to fit your own preferred outcome, they have shown time and again that they want to set a fixed level of challenge and allow players to dictate the difficulty level through the systems within the game. In effect, they've already 'solved' this on an extremely elegant continuum. If players aren't able to meet the fixed level of challenge of Soulsborne games through overlevelling and different builds and summoning, it seems that From are comfortable with that.

  

If, as you suggest, they are very willing but are incapable/ignorant, surely Sekiro would have been the opportunity to address that. But no, they actually went further in the other direction. This is the first time (in the Miyazaki era) that they've simply said 'this is the fixed level of challenge, the key variable is your own ability to learn and execute'.

  

I should also reiterate my previous point that the game is probably too hard for me. I've beaten DoH but OF and the last boss will take a long long time for me to crack, if I ever get there. I do think it's generally 'too hard', even completely ignoring accessibility issues, but I don't see any evidence that From have either compromised or shown willingness to significantly compromise their design philosophy for this game. If anything, they've gone a lot less accessible. 

 

And therein lies the fuckup with Sekiro (and I say that as someone who absolutely loves the game). All the steps and lip-service to addressing accessibility and widening participation, and they appear to have gone the other way with it: not by design but by accident. That's at least partially why this debate has blown up in the last two weeks: lots of people have looked at the game, at the design philosophy that seems to have guided the expanded range of options (and don't get accessibility options mixed up with difficulty options here) and the better onboarding, and said "this is great, but it's not achieving your desired aims here." I think I've said elsewhere that I agree that Sekiro removes some of the difficulty compensation options (though nothing in Sekiro is as brutal as the opening hours of Bloodborne, where levelling and multiplayer are both blocked off).

 

The 'time and time' again stuff From's games just seems to be the norm for many Japanese studios that work in quite an isolated way: you might think I'm reading into comments too much, but I think you're making a very big assumption in that they're comfortable with their current audience. Some of what they've said in interviews the last few years has sounded like frustration that their games never really break out of their sales brackets.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, kensei said:

 

Same. Normally beating a tough boss with all the tension in whether you'll cross the line is euphoric, but with Lady B I was just like 'Thank fuck that's over, so I can go back to stealth killing Samurai' 

 

I've heard a few people get excited about Sekiro as a spiritual follow up to Tenchu, who've then been a bit deflated when they found out that it's a game with a souls-ish difficulty curve and combat focus!

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I didn't find Bloodborne particularly hard to be honest. Took down Father Gascoigne first go and the Cleric Beast. Think my max attempts on a boss was 5? Did the end bosses in a oner. 

 

I got wrecked by Lady B.

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1 hour ago, cohen205 said:

I didn't actually use any snap seeds in the LB fight :unsure:

I was given the solitary snap seed by the dying fella near the entrance to LB, but at that point I didn’t have the key to get in the room, so I used it thinking it might magically unlock the door! :facepalm:

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I'm in two minds about whether the fact Sekiro has sparked this debate when none of their previous games did is a) a reflection of the time we're living in or b) a sign they've got the balance off. I think it's probably a bit of both. 

 

I think the relative lack of preview activity, and the late delivery of review code, can be read as a sign that they wanted to keep working on it for as long as possible, and maybe realised they'd perhaps turned a few dials a notch or two too far. It's a game that removes a lot of the safety nets that let players modify difficulty on their own terms (levelling, weapon upgrades, summons) and flexibility to try a different approach (classes, weapons, respecs). That's a big balancing challenge and maybe they just ran out of time, because Activision just don't delay games. Equally, starting you out with one Gourd swig suggests that maybe they *do* want it to be this steep of a learning curve. Basically I have no idea. I think the first patch is going to be fascinating, and very telling.

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Personally, I think this is a brilliant game but it could of been a tiny bit easier and still be rock hard.

 

I recently took a break from this game and started playing Spider-man which is pleasure to Sekiro's pain plus both have a lot of running around rooftops.

 

I don't mind getting stuck on bosses for a few nights when you get the feeling of a breakthru as you beat your wall, but fighting the same boss for 4 nights in a row did make me question where I was investing my gaming time a tad..

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37 minutes ago, jonny_rat said:

 

I've heard a few people get excited about Sekiro as a spiritual follow up to Tenchu, who've then been a bit deflated when they found out that it's a game with a souls-ish difficulty curve and combat focus!

 

I chewed up Souls games and have never done a Tenchu (though I do enjoy Hitman games). That's just been the bit of the game I've found really fun. 

 

@Nate Dogg III I recall a very similar discussion with Dark Souls too. And I got super pissed on my first DS run at all of the blatantly unfair stuff - getting killed by camera or bad clipping was a favourite, so I am aware it might wear off. But this does feel like they've stepped up another gear, and just a touch too much.

 

For all the clever stuff Souls games do, it's worth bearing in mind a lot of the difficulty is just old school health and damage. That's why NG+ is often a jump. It just makes you need to make less mistakes for longer. The punishing heth situation at the start of this does make me wonder about intent too. 

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I love Demon's as a statement of intent. Absolutely wallop you with the Vanguard but if you happen to beat him (or on subsequent playthroughs thinking you're king shit) then you get punched through time and space by the Dragon God. I've never played any game as intriguing and caustically determined to put me in my place. The feeling of slowly figuring out each enemy and nook and cranny and corner and staircase in Boletaria Palace is one of the greatest feelings I've ever had in games.

 

Sekiro often approaches that brilliance in-between bosses and it's a tough, uncompromising, challenging and very rewarding game that you have to figure out and execute. It's just the bosses, for me, which are sometimes a couple of steps high in intensity and challenge, and I miss being able to level myself or my weapons to a more manageable position without simply ruining the reward. I've no idea how that would be possible in this game, though. Tweak the attack power upgrades? Fundamentally, you'd still have to apply the same combat principles, you'd just cut down a little on the attritional elements. As Goemon showed in the superplay vid, though. There are people fully engaged with the combat who are shredding the bosses. 

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15 minutes ago, kensei said:

For all the clever stuff Souls games do, it's worth bearing in mind a lot of the difficulty is just old school health and damage. That's why NG+ is often a jump. It just makes you need to make less mistakes for longer. The punishing heth situation at the start of this does make me wonder about intent too. 

 

I agree with this but what must back this up is the game being systematically rigorous, tight and fair. Dialing up the difficulty on Skyrim, for example, just leads to frustration with the balance and reward of the underling combat system.

 

Another example; RDR2, which I appreciate in many many ways, would be deeply unsatisfying to play with Sekiro's balance between health and enemy damage because the loose controls and basic gunplay would lead to you dying and feeling like it's not your fault.

 

Sekiro is often punishingly difficult and perhaps the curve is too steep. But (and I say this with two bosses to go) you can succeed in the game through mastering its systems as designed.

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25 minutes ago, Nate Dogg III said:

I'm in two minds about whether the fact Sekiro has sparked this debate when none of their previous games did is a) a reflection of the time we're living in or b) a sign they've got the balance off. I think it's probably a bit of both. 

 

I think the relative lack of preview activity, and the late delivery of review code, can be read as a sign that they wanted to keep working on it for as long as possible, and maybe realised they'd perhaps turned a few dials a notch or two too far. It's a game that removes a lot of the safety nets that let players modify difficulty on their own terms (levelling, weapon upgrades, summons) and flexibility to try a different approach (classes, weapons, respecs). That's a big balancing challenge and maybe they just ran out of time, because Activision just don't delay games. Equally, starting you out with one Gourd swig suggests that maybe they *do* want it to be this steep of a learning curve. Basically I have no idea. I think the first patch is going to be fascinating, and very telling.

I think it is a bit off simply because there seems to be some attempt to introduce to the different aspects of the combat early on, with a decent tutorial, the loading screen tips, simple stealth mechanics, the training guy, and the early mini-bosses that mostly force you to focus on one technique. The structure of the game is also geared towards giving you some options, and going off and getting some more health if one of the bosses is becoming too much.

 

But they've perhaps misjudged how difficult the combat is to adjust to, especially the assumption that you'll be pretty good at all aspects of it by the time you reach Lady B. Despite all the tutorials and help I don't think it's that well explained, and surrounding the early mini-bosses with goons was a mistake. It's the complexity of the bosses that will remain the big issue though. I expect changes in the first patch, but there's not much they can do at this stage to make them less complex.

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4 minutes ago, BadgerFarmer said:

It's the complexity of the bosses that will remain the big issue though. I expect changes in the first patch, but there's not much they can do at this stage to make them less complex.

Surely it's just about reducing the damage they do to you, while increasing the damage you do to them? That's why it's so bloody hard.

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2 hours ago, kensei said:

 

No, they need to fix the fucking design and difficulty curve. Firstly, the game encourages you to go to Hirata Estate by putting, a big, angry, red eyed brick wall in your path and hiding the item needed to help with him in Hirata. Second, If Dark Souls didn't want you to be in an area until later, it made normal enemies seriously lethal, not the boss of an area. You can easily get through Hirata Estate, and it's actually quite fun because the stealth gameplay is brilliant. It also bears no relation to the boss you have to deal with. 

 

Third - and this speaks to the 'it' s not Dark Souls" point - the game doesn't just want you to parry. It wants you to dodge when appropriate, and it wants you to jump, when appropriate. Trying to teach you to do all these things at once is a bad idea. But Lady Butterfly does it. And as pointed out, the red perilous attack warning is actually more confusing than just having an attack you can read. 

 

And no Souls game to this point has punished you as heavily for a single mistake - even when upgraded once Le Bitch could knock 70% of my health for a single error, nor gave you so few health items initially. That would make the game hard independent of playstyle. The early game balance is way off. 

 

Your brick wall is another player's breeze though, subject to how they approach things.

 

The Ogre being a good example as I went through him on the second or third attempt (without the Hirata item)  having had no idea that it was considered a significant challenge yet I have really struggled with later bosses that others seem to dismiss relatively easily. I didn't get to LB until a fair bit later in the game as I had missed the key to her door so would likely have found the fight a bit easier than you are. She was tough but I think she could have been left until even more progress had been made by which time she would be even (relatively) easier.

 

I think the difficulty curve is fine but I did need to accept that it starts hard and only gets harder. There are none of the crutches that FROM handed out in the Soulsborne games and that's fine but, on the flipside, it makes the many attempts at bosses easier than ever through the proximity of the bonfires, the number of bonfires, the ability to warp from the start, and the infinite homeward bones. It can be frustrating at times and I'm fairly sure I will reach my skill limit before I complete  the game but, so far, I've persevered and and practiced the various bosses until I can beat them - usually picking up skills that help me in subsequent battles. Unlike Soulsborne the player cannot tank their way through tough the tougher sections, they need to practice and learn, which is a change I quite like.

 

No, it doesn't want you to just parry. I'm not sure what the problem there is? In fact there are a few opponents where not parrying is the easiest way through them. I've even encountered a few that can be played exactly as I would have played them had then been in Dark Souls or Bloodborne which was nice. I'm also baffled by your issue with the red attack warning? All you need to do after it flashes up is watch the animation as you would do in Souls games and react accordingly. I find it quite a handy aid.

 

I don't think I'll ever look back on this with as much fondness as I have for the Soulsborne games as I prefer the more considered exploration of those worlds to the more rapid world traversal and boss rush type game structure of Sekiro. I'm also finding the environments (and enemies/bosses) to be a little samey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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