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Do you ever think you're just too bloody damn good at games?


Jamie John
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Click-baiting thread title aside, there have been a few times over the last year where I've found myself completing a game, or an area in a game, more quickly than I feel like the game wanted me to, and not finding the game, or that particular section within the game, as satisfying or fulfilling as it is perhaps designed to be.

 

A good example of this was Returnal, which I played back in the spring: I played that game for 25 hours and I'd wager that a good three quarters of that was spent getting to, then dying against, the boss at the end of the third level (Nemesis). Once I'd eventually killed it, however, I went on from there, on the same run, to complete the game, killing the subsequent three or four end of level bosses on my first try. Now, I really liked Returnal overall, but after finishing it without too much fuss, I can't say I experienced the life-changing sense of enlightenment and zen that others have gone through from completing this game. Instead, I just felt a bit hollow - I was expecting a bit more.

 

This was even more pronounced in Deathloop, which I played a couple of months ago. I've moaned about this elsewhere, but the focus all the way through this game is to get into a position where, on the final run, you can take out all eight of the visionaries (i.e. bosses) in the same loop. You spend your time learning what these visionaries spend their day doing, where they go, who and what they interact with, etc., so you can set up traps and engineer things in such a way that you can take out two or three in one go, or kill one of them remotely, while you're in a different area, because you know they'll be in a particular place at a particular time, and so on. I did all this over the course of my playtime with the game, finally getting into a position where I was ready to attempt the final loop, thinking it would take me several attempts to perfect, that it would be a tense, drawn-out but ultimately fulfilling affair that would at last show me why this game has had such praise heaped upon it. Instead, I completed this final run on my first try. It was boring. I killed four of the eight visionaries by sniping them from across the map, or shooting them in the back of the head with a shotgun, then ran away to the next area, ignoring all the guards who didn't have a hope in hell of catching me. When the ending came, abruptly, and very unsatisfactorily, it was a proper Alan Partridge shrug moment and I immediately sold the game on.

 

All of this sounds like a massive humble brag, but I'm not intending it to be. Instead, I think I'm just trying to highlight the difficulty devs must have in maintaining an even level of challenge across the length of a game, especially longer ones, where it's easier to become over-powered by the end. The lazy option, which many games take (Halo Infinite being a recent example), is to just turn everything up to 11: the number of enemies on screen at once, the amount of damage they deal, the hits they take before dying. This is what leads to massive difficulty spikes, or teeth-gnashingly frustrating final bosses. Games which manage to get it right and keep the challenge to satisfaction ratio equal from the first moment to the last are rarer, but much more satisfying to eventually overcome.

 

What games did you find easier than you were expecting them to be?

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I have a weird tangent of this: people cited Sekiro as one of the hardest of the FromSofts - I managed to complete it the once (beating ISS), and I was fine with Bloodborne and the DS sequels... but bizarrely I loathe DS1. So I'd look at the comments about how hard Sekiro was, and I'd feel foolish because I have a harder time with a game from 2011 that laid the foundations for a lot of the other games that I was fine with.

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To a degree. I've been a completionist/achievement hunter for years and some of those 100%'s have been fairly to very challenging. 

 

Proudest achievements are probably Halo reach/ODST/4 LASO solo runs, as well as doing all of them on legendary under 3 hours other than CE and H2. 

 

Other ones to note that I'm proud of:

 

The original Evil Within one hit mode 

106%ing Crash Bandicoot 4. Over 130 hours to get all platinum relics and perfect run/no death gems. 

Dead Space 2 Hardcore mode. 

Cuphead Expert mode

 

There's more but they are the only ones that come to me right now. I don't lord it over other people though or anything, I just live on TrueAchievements and continue to complete things and try to help others do so. On the flip side I'm WOEFUL at anything DS wise, DMC, any fighting stuff like that. 

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If I really enjoy a game and the design begs for speedrunning I will put my hat in the ring. 

 

Had a few world records for a while in RE2 Remake. Granted they were NG+ records on console, so not quite the pantheon of PC pros speedrunning Hardcore, but it still gave me a sense of being somewhat good at the game. 

 

Same for Super Meat Boy. I managed to have several WR times on levels, for 360, PS4, Switch and PC. The 360 were my proudest as back in 2010 we were still routing the game. Was incredible fun! 

 

Aside from that, I love From Soft games, Rogue Likes/Lites for this very reason. They ask you to pretty much get good, and that feeling of meeting that requirement is belta belta! 

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4 minutes ago, Varsity said:

 106%ing Crash Bandicoot 4. Over 130 hours to get all platinum relics and perfect run/no death gems. 

 

You deserve more than a platinum trophy for this. This should qualify for being knighted. Absolutely savage completion requirements in that game, and I tip my hat!

 

What a bloody good game too! 

 

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As an aside I don't think I can play on anything less than hard. I think if I were to go regular/ story mode I'd think I was cheating myself of the experience. Suffice to say I get fucked off with games because they are too hard (or unfair) and never finish the buggers.

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No. I do think some games are aimed at people who aren't "as good at" their genre than me, and vice-versa, but I definitely don't think of myself as being too good at games.

 

Also, I don't really mind games targetting a different skill level to my own, but I do get annoyed at games which have a low difficulty but try to bolster their challenge by sticking in expanded enemy healthbars in place of interesting level/enemy design, making higher difficulties/boss fights attritional rather than engaging. Halo Infinite's campaign is an egregious example of this, sticking out all the more by comparison with the classic Halo games' strengths. Either challenge me or don't!

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What @bradigor said. I never play on anything other than normal, and although that’s usually a nice level of challenge it does seem to vary a lot (finding Halo Infinite on normal bloody hard in some places).

 

Ultimately I have a very low frustration threshold, whereas a lot of people here seem to relish the pain. 

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50 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

image.png.fa9e5d701f8d7c84ca5e01e3fde0e52c.png

 

A good example of this was Returnal, which I played back in the spring: I played that game for 25 hours and I'd wager that a good three quarters of that was spent getting to, then dying against, the boss at the end of the third level (Nemesis). Once I'd eventually killed it, however, I went on from there, on the same run, to complete the game, killing the subsequent three or four end of level bosses on my first try.


That is very impressive. Especially considering that there are only two bosses to go after the third one.

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ZX Spectrum/Amiga/SNES/N64 me thought he was great at games.

 

Xbox360/PS2 onwards me realised he was shit at games.

 

Online leaderboards and play are a right wake up call.

 

I did though have the fastest lap for a while on the first course of Wave Race in the CVG pink pages where you sent in your record times - honour system too but I did have the time I claimed, I could hit those waves perfectly.

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I'm useless at games, play everything on easy and sometimes still struggle with that (though usually more to do with having awkward/awful controls). It does mean I'm locked-out of some games I like the look of due to difficulty - though this is primarily Souls-likes, and I really don't like those games anyway. But, for example, I liked what I played of The Surge, but I just wasn't good enough to progress despite putting quite a bit of time into it, ditto Mortal Shell seemed decent. I did somehow get through Lords of the Fallen, which I really liked, but it probably took me double the time of anybody else.

 

I suppose my toughest challenges were Mass Effect 2 & 3 on Legendary, which aren't that hard outside of a handful of difficulty spikes.

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28 minutes ago, Strafe said:


That is very impressive. Especially considering that there are only two bosses to go after the third one.

 

I was thinking about this as I was writing it. What's the boss at the end of the snowy area? Couldn't remember for the life of me. Kept on getting confused with the snowy bit in Metroid Prime.

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4 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

 

I was thinking about this as I was writing it. What's the boss at the end of the snowy area? Couldn't remember for the life of me. Kept on getting confused with the snowy bit in Metroid Prime.


There isn’t one.

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I had a similar-ish experience with Returnal whereby I spent about 25 hours getting to the end of biome 3 and then pretty much blew through the rest of the game in a single run. I don't think it's because I was too good at the game though, I think I just got a bit lucky with the weapons and upgrades.

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