Home Editorial Gaming theory: difficult does not equal challenging

It’s common opinion that games are becoming easier as time goes on. If we compare games to how the world’s changing, it’s easy to understand why. We’re no longer in the age where a cheap death meant another quarter leeched from the funds of an unsuspecting child, and appealing only to a hardcore audience is limiting to your sales. But is that all there is to it? Are games getting easier across the board just so everybody can enjoy them?

For example, in Super Mario Galaxy 2, there’s a level that’s an exact copy of one featured in Super Mario 64. Aside from game-specific mechanics, everything’s in the same place as fourteen years ago. The catch is, having played both, I can confirm that the the SMG version is easier to get through. How could the difficulty change inthe same level? Simple; The newer version isn’t easier, it’s just fairer and easier to control, and I perceive it as being easier. Now, I know that games becoming easier is a real thing, so let’s look at two recent games that set out with the specific goal in mind to be controller-bitingly hard. In one corner, From Software’s Dark Souls. In the other, Subset Games’ Faster Than Light.

Dark Souls: Hard isn’t challenging

Ah, Dark Souls. There are so many things right and wrong with this game I could do an entire series on this game alone, but that’s not our purpose right now. Anybody you ask will gladly tell you that Dark Souls is indeed really really hard. The question is why. Unfortunately, that’s not really one of the game’s strong points, because its difficulty is completely artificial. If you’ve played the game yourself, think back. How many of your deaths were due to traps that you could only see once they’d already insta-killed you? How often did you get one-shotted by untelegraphed boss attacks, or the game not processing your input properly?

With unfair design and glitchy mechanics working against you, most times its purely the game’s fault you die, or at least you perceive it that way. Not only that, but the agonising runs back to your corpse and the extreme punishment you’re given if you do fail only work to make the experience more and more frustrating. You’ll get annoyed and try to do everything as fast as possible, which leads to you forgetting a trap, dying instantly, and losing all your stuff. Look me in the eye and say that never happened to you. Oh Sen’s Funhouse, never shall you be forgiven. Anyhow. That’s not true difficulty, that’s just lazy design to stretch playtime.

Sure, all games have a learning curve, but Dark Souls leaves you completely alone to actually learn. Many descriptions are vague at best and leave you to guess what something actually does. Does Pyromancy scale with Intelligence? What the hell does Poise do? Are upgrades really that important, and where do I get the materials required for it? Not only does the game not explain anything to you, it relies on you not knowing it.

Imagine playing Magic the Gathering with a friend who will only explain things like Reach and Deathtouch to you once your Serra Angel has already blocked his Deadly Recluse. That is not good design. If you know what you’re doing, the game becomes trivial without any further input on your part. Hell, some people even beat the game naked. When I went into it, I had a basic idea of what stats I wanted to have and which upgrades were important, nothing else. I breezed through without any problems whatsoever. Well, except for Sen’s Fucking Fortress, but that’s a point of lazily replacing good level design with instadeath traps. Is the game difficult? Certainly. Is it challenging? Well, compare to the dictionary definition of (to) challenge and find the answer for yourself.

FTL: Fair isn’t easy

Like Dark Souls, FTL has a reputation of being really, really hard. Unlike Dark Souls, I find it deserving of the description. The devs said that they were aiming for a 90% probability of failure, which they definitely managed to implement. However, you never get mad about it. You’ll have had fun despite making a pretty explosion being the only notable thing about your run. It’s the same principle as Dark Souls, yet one will leave you annoyed at best while the other makes your force yourself to quit. How can there be such a difference?

I know you could raise the argument that Dark Souls and FTL are mechanically different, and that’s technically true. However, what makes them difficult is exactly the same. The difference is that FTL is completely open with the player. You are here, you want to get there before those guys find and kill you, they will probably manage to destroy you. Godspeed. Not only that, but the learning curve is over very quickly. By the second run, you’ll already be familiar with all the game’s concepts and how to use them. Unlike Dark Souls, the game isn’t trying to hide anything from you. This gun costs this much energy, charges for that long and wrecks thus much face.

This doesn’t mean that the game lacks any challenge or exploration, it simply removes the artificial difficulty of not knowing the game and allows your true skill to shine. Even when (not if) things go southward, death is often a long process and the game never makes any illusions. In Dark Souls, you set out to succeed and feel like the game punishes you if you fail. In FTL however, you know from the start that you’ll only be able to do your best and that there is no guarantee of success no matter your skill. Once you’ve climbed the brief learning curve, a lot depends solely on the game’s RNG. While it may seem odd to mention the game limiting your success as a flaw of Dark Souls, keep in mind that there is a difference in mechanics here. Dark Souls seems to make success purely dependent on skill, while FTL embraces its RNG. In effect, I think this works to disarm its infuriating potential. Sure you died, but the RNG didn’t really give you a choice, so whatever. Nobody could influence  that, so you can just blame it on bad luck and walk away satisfied.

Compare to Sen’s Fortress in Dark Souls… yeah. Fuck Sen, whoever he is.

19 replies to this post
  1. — In Dark Souls, you set out to succeed and feel like the game punishes you if you fail. In FTL however, you know from the start that you’ll only be able to do your best and that there is no guarantee of success no matter your skill. —

    This paragraph is actually demonstrating the opposite of your claim. DS punishes you for failing, but every death is explicitly the player’s failure; there is always something you could have done to avoid it. This is the essence of challenge: “to arouse or stimulate especially by presenting with difficulties”.

    Dying to a random roll of a dice does not stimulate a player to get better, getting killed repeatedly by things you could have beaten does. It says “if you were better you would not have died” so you either stop playing or you get better.

    Claiming that DS doesn’t give you the information you need is missing the point completely; getting that information is a huge part of the challenge. Your comparison to not knowing the rules of MtG is not at all the same. Should DS provide you with a map of the entire game, with all of the traps marked? Detailed descriptions of the damage, speed, attack patterns and weaknesses of every monster and boss?

    Learning where the traps are, the layout of the map, the moveset and weaknesses of enemies, the characteristics of each weapon, the upgrades… this is the game! You want to strip it down to some basic hand-eye coordination exercise?

    And while it’s true that sometimes almost the only way to get some of this information is by dying; that is why the challenge of DS is considered extreme, and it is by very conscious design, not lazyness. It gives the game an intensity and atmosphere like nothing else and the fact that the game is so extreme and still acclaimed as a classic of it’s generation is testament to the brilliance of the design.

    I love FTL and it’s a very relaxing, atmospheric way to spend half an hour or so. But I never think about it’s mechanics when I’m not playing it, trying to work out the best way to do something or grinding my teeth over a failure. It is difficult but it doesn’t inspire you to master it. Dark Souls pushes you to master it, brutally punishes you for not being good enough, almost encourages you to walk away and give up completely. What other definition of “challenge” is there?

    • Yeah, I always thought that that paragraph could’ve been worded differently. Let me think of another way to get my point across clearly.

      I should probably remove the mention of RNG from there, because FTL depends just as much on skill. However, the point is that FTL gives you a clear goal AND tells you that it’ll be pretty much impossible, but it helps you on your way as much as it can.

      Dark Souls, in comparison, makes it all look like a piece of cake. Let’s just compare what happens upon death. In FTL, you get a final piece of text, a score, and options what to do next. In Dark Souls, you quietly fade out, being reset to the bonfire, possibly losing thousands of souls as well as humanity (at least one if you were human). It punishes you for a death in a way that feels really overblown. I know you’ll only use those sentences ahead as ammo against me, but why can’t you keep your soft humanity? Your souls? Why do they disappear after a second death? I can get behind the game being built around exploration by death, even though that’s a bullshit concept for people too lazy for proper balancing, but then why is death so punishing? Because of all the drawbacks dying has, it feels like you’re getting punished as if you’d managed to die in Kirby’s Epic Yarn or something. If death is to be expected, why do you lose humanity, souls, and have to run back for ten minutes?

      I know that Dark Souls is mostly exploration, in the way that babies are mostly cleaning up crap, but you have absolutely no indication as to whether an area is meant for your level. Since it’s all so exorbitantly difficult, you can just write it off onto the game being hard and continue on your merry way into the… place where Nito is, at level 20. Not only that, but the game often literally sends you the wrong way! If you have, I believe, rung the upper bell, the NPC at Firelink who seems to be a guide will tell you to check out New Lando. I don’t recall exactly who or what level is below the water because I haven’t been there yet though, so maybe I’m wrong and just that awesome for beating up S+O first. Is it just me or do they really hit like absolute pussies even on a basically non-armoured DEX character who isn’t even blocking?

      The point is, picking up Dark Souls is like not knowing anything about Magic, getting handed a deck, and then being expected to win a tournament. I don’t want to argue with most of the traps except the douchiest of them all, if only because you can literally predict 90% of them by thinking of what would be the most asshole thing to be around the next corner where you can’t see it. I swear, this is 90% accurate. Proper rolls, upgrades, stats, even parries, all those things are vital to your success, yet the game gives not a mention of it. Watch a newbie playthrough and tell me the following isn’t true: They are having a lot of difficulties progressing due to eating hits they shouldn’t and not doing any damage because they don’t know about upgrades and might even invest in the wrong weapons and stats.

      You actually just called Dark Souls a classic, brilliant game, did you? Oooh boy, at least now my laughing organs are warmed up. Anyway. Death being so punishing yet unavoidable doesn’t build atmosphere, nor intensity nor challenge. It is only showing that the devs’ idea of human interaction seems to feature booting a disabled child out of her wheelchair and then kicking her in the face a few times five on one as a perfectly normal greeting.

      Not only that, but why it’s easy to die is completely artificial and inconsistent in and of itself. Let’s say you’re facing a big dude with enough room to maneuver and no adds. Since no human being is perfect, with every tenth swing or so, you misread his movements (I personally always misjudge the big knights’ shield bashes in Anor Lando as hidden swings) and get hit. In a fair game, you could probably kill him before that happens, and even if, you can probably get up, maybe even have enough time to heal, and then finish the fight. In Dark Souls, most things have so exorbitantly much health even with good weapons that it’s near unavoidable to screw up a dodge and get oneshotted for it. Asking for skill is perfectly fine challenging. Asking for perfection, especially with as much reset time as Dark Souls, is dickfaggotry.

      Funny, because it wouldn’t actually be too hard to make Dark Souls fair. For instance, increase drop rates, at least on Titanite, so that the player will become curious and be able to upgrade when the game clearly demands it. If you die in human form, drop a humanity at that point (since, you know, all humans drop humanity) in order to make getting to a certain point, like a boss, as a human, such as to summon people, less stupid. Humanity is limited especially early on, and shortcuts which feature little or no chance of dying are very hard to find at most locations. Or, hell, allow people to summon others even when hollow! There’s literally no reason why you’d have to be human to summon others, since they do all the online stuff even if you are hollow, and think about it. When do you summon others? When you’re having difficulty getting past something, likely a boss. When do you admit having difficulty getting past something? When you died a hundred times in a row and have used up all your humanity! The game is literally making itself harder if you retry after doing poorly! Bad design.

      Also, get rid of the fucking fluctuations in difficulty. You’ve probably visited Anor Lando. The facade might be one of the most deadly places in all of Dark Souls, but once you get inside and especially once you get access to the giant blacksmith to ascend your weapons, the thing becomes a fucking joke. As mentioned, S+O are the biggest of all, and yes I know about dark Anor Lando, just so you know. In fact, the facade is such bullshit that I quit and made a tankier character more suited for it. Then though I remembered that I do have functioning reproductive systems and breezed through it. True story.

      Also, you might not notice it, but you’re actually thinking about the mechanics while playing FTL. I admit that the article is sort of poorly worded and I’ll change that in a moment, but you’re constantly making calculations and judging what actions will get you the greatest odds.

      I knew I’d get this argument, so let me just briefly point out it is one of the dumbest towards Dark Souls ever invented. Take XCOM Enemy Unknown as an example of the same thing. Ever beat Impossible? Especially on Balls Mode (Ironman) and with a bunch of Second Wave options? It’s just a challenge, I’m sure you can do it!
      Yeah, no. There’s pushing you to be good, a la World of Warcraft top raids (yes, you do require skill to be actually not terrible at that game) and then there’s just not giving you a fair fight, like DS and XCOM. Everything can be beaten, even Kaizo Mario without save states. However, you can also tear down a brick wall with your face, it’s about the same thing.

      By the way, in case I wasn’t clear enough, I do play Dark Souls myself and I think it’s a decent game overall, but people seriously need to stop praising its artificial difficulty like it rose from the cross or something.

      • See, I like artificial difficulty for the same reason I like QTEs.

        It’s because it reminds me of real life.

        In real life, you face things all the time that have no precedent or obvious solution. Sometimes you figure them out, but often you just get your ass handed to you without an explanation. There is a solution, but you have to find it. You have to fight for it. It’s not fair, but it’s how things are.

        Dark Souls feels “real” to me because it’s not fair. The entire gameworld isn’t just constructed to hand you things and teach you things and play by the rules of “being a game.” Maybe that means it’s artificially hard, but that has a genuine quality that I appreciate.

      • Oh my *insert deity*, Wing has opinions of his own, which may differ from mine! Well, guess I won’t be needing this engagement ring then…

        In all seriousness, you’ll only hear this kind of sentence from me once, in this very special case, so listen up. This is a game. Games are fun. Three-year college courses are not fun. I have those elsewhere, at college, where they testify for something besides my determination to apply face to wall.
        (Well, I do have fun with college, because it’s mostly biology and biology is awesome… then again, I don’t expect this would be true of a course which consists of training yourself to do a twenty minute long sequence of tiny, interchangeable movements with a tenth of a second of fault on ONE of them resulting in the professor smacking you in the back of the head and having you start over.)

        In my opinion, difficulty in games should result entirely in what to do, not how to do it. (Within reason; You do have to aim yourself.) A game which refuses to tell you how to utilise its concepts and essentially forces you to rely on third party resources to get through. A game like Civ 5 is an ideal example for something like that. It won’t tell you how to play beyond basic concepts, that’s up to exploration. However, if you want to know more about a topic you’ve just discovered, there’s the Civilopedia, a ‘pedia of literally everything in the game, ready to give you the information you need (though not how to use it.)

        Then again, maybe I’m just too young to appreciate a good challenge akin to pulling your own teeth out with a string. Considering how the gaming careers of many people here are older than I, not a distant thought. (I like to view it as you’re old, but that’s personal opinion.)

      • “Let me think of another way to get my point across clearly.”

        What you just wrote is the opposite of clear. These rambling, self indulgent walls of text you spray all over the comments are just terrible, they derail and discourage useful conversation because nobody can be bothered reading it. And that’s not just because of the size (although that is a factor) but because of the unfocused and unclear content. As Einsten said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”.

        Let me try and glean some coherent points from the morass.

        “I can get behind the game being built around exploration by death, even though that’s a bullshit concept for people too lazy for proper balancing, but then why is death so punishing?”
        “…you have absolutely no indication as to whether an area is meant for your level.”

        The point of all of this is that it makes the game intense like no other. Every unexplored area and new monster you encounter invokes real anxiety and fear and forces you to be completely engaged and intent ; how many modern games do that? In so many other games death is just “ah shit, oh well” and you quickly continue where you left off. There’s nothing at stake and therefore no intensity.

        “The point is, picking up Dark Souls is like not knowing anything about Magic, getting handed a deck, and then being expected to win a tournament.”

        This is not a relevant comparison. DS gives you as much time as you want to investigate, experiment with and learn the game’s systems.

        “Asking for skill is perfectly fine challenging. Asking for perfection, especially with as much reset time as Dark Souls, is dickfaggotry.”

        As you pointed out yourself, people have finished the game naked. So the skill the game demands is obviously attainable. And what the fuck is with the use of that word?! You sound like 13 year old Blizzard forum troll and just used a homophobic slur?! You are a joke of a writer.

        If you are unaware of the reverence and esteem people have for Dark Souls then you are sorely out of touch with the hardcore gaming community. You seem to want a game that you just kill time with, go through the motions and have some fun. Which is fine. But I play games to _experience_ something, immerse myself in a space that I can’t experience anywhere else and be completely engaged and compelled by it. I thought this site was for people like me but lately the content seems to have been lacking something. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s changed…

      • ^^ I would have to agree. This article in particular is a waste of time. I enjoyed Xiant’s rants about asshole playstyles more. This discussion (especially Toraka’s comments) has stoped being funny or insightful. I use to come to T3 for Dotp deck builds (which WiNG thank you, I attribute my 9th 1 vs 1 and 5th 2hg Xbox leaderboard rank to you setting me straight in dotp 2012) but lately I find no reason to come here.

        Maybe a dotp 2014 Xbox tourny could persuade me.

      • You didn’t answer my point. There’s a perfect example of it right at the start. I’d say no less than 50% of player will have missed the stairs up to Twinkburg, been attracted by the big church structure, and wandered right into the graveyard. Whoops, you now spent an hour or more trying to beat up skeletons fourty levels above you. Don’t complain, it’s intense exploration!

        Death can and should be punishing, but couple it with that death is so frequent even on runs back to your stuff thanks to the effects of getting increasingly pissed off and it’s hard to see why you should continue. And then you must do the whole run with sufficient Estus and human. Have fun!

        Fine then, you get handed a deck six hours before a tournament, with somebody who has equally as little experience to practice, but punches you in the face each time you misplay something without telling you how it’s really done. Would the end result change depending on how long you get lost without knowledge, aside from your mood?

        Surely the skill is attainable, but those people have been gaming for years and playing Dark Souls for months, at the very least. Maybe we’re talking about different audiences here. To be truly effective in Dark Souls, you need days or weeks of practice. In FTL, you need half an hour. Which would you rather buy?

        However, I see your point. Goodbye then, I’m sure Wing will see your vast superiority over me and enlist you instead to cover half the strategy of entire games on your own. I’ll just leave and cry with my separate bataillon of fans then.
        Oh, and take a fucking number. In two years of writing, you’d be surprised how many people tell you to quit it.

      • I find it surprising and hilarious just how similar my and King Eternity’s opinions on Toraka’s writing style are. Proof of this can be found on the Chant of Mul Daya Deck Guide Article. It would seem however that King Eternity has pumped all his Bane juice into his veins and has got some mad hate on. Toraka I feel as though the content comes second to the humor and sarcasm to you, when perhaps it should be the other way around? And I still stick to my “say less with more” opinion. Hemingway could teach you lots. Homophobic slurs are a big no-no though, as I am sure you know and feel bad for using, but smarten up and don’t do it again. It does make you reflect badly on people. Anywho, once again no disrespect and continue writing.

      • This all was just an enormous pile of poorly chosen words on my part. What I meant to say was that I personally use the mentioned word and its like for just dislikable people in general, as its original meaning is stupid. Apologies to everyone who got offended by it, I did not think about the scope of people and how well they know me.

        Same goes for this discussion altogether, which got just a bit out of hand. I think we, especially I, should learn from it and let it rest.

      • Personally I think we should all take the South Park approach and change definition of the word to

        Fag (făg) n.

        1. An extremely annoying, inconsiderate person most commonly associated with Harley riders.

        2. A loud and obnoxious person who owns or frequently rides a Harley.

      • The problem I have with your writing is that it is neither informative nor amusing. Sarcasm and insults do not amount to wit. I’m sure you are a real star in the Brony scene but here is a tip for you: no good writer in the history of the world has ever written My Little Pony fan fiction. Ever. I am 100% confident of the accuracy of that statement.

        As for those supposed counter-points about Dark Souls, I’m not even going to waste my time replying. At this stage the stupidity of my arguments is self-evident, for everyone except you apparently.

      • I think Ponies are silly but they are no reason to discredit somebody for anything, let alone their ability to write. Everybody has their own interests that others consider foolish. Might I remind you that most of us on here spend hours of every day playing with trading cards and video games. A lot of society would consider this an immature waste of time and money. Personally I love Disney and have a rather impressive collection of their cartoon movies which many would consider silly or creepy for a twenty something year old. Even my love of Hockey is the target laughter when it comes to Americans even though it is one of the four big North American Sports. Make your points and argue when they make sense, but don’t bring personal interests into things just to try and make people feel like shit. You’re just being a douche. Love of Ponies has no correlation to writing ability. You also ragged on him for uttering a homophobic slur, then you go and judge him by what t.v shows he watches? Sounds like some bullshit spewed from the mouth of a hypocritical asshole to me.

  2. I miss games like UFO, that
    1) Gave you the information you needed
    2) Wasn’t just a big “move mouse around and push buttons fast”-fest
    3) Had more than one dimension of challenge
    4) Still had some element of RNG
    5) Could punish you VERY hard if you messed something up

    TBBH I don’t think either FTL or DS comes close to giving a similar total experience.

    Disclaimer: I was like 14 (so basically drooling dumb) when UFO came out and that could easily have affected the perceived difficulty of it.

    • Generally-and-especially-against-children misanthropist approves of this message!

      This is exactly the point I was failing to make. The new XCOM is another decent example of it, so long as you’re playing Classic or perhaps Normal Balls Mode. It relies a bit too much on RNG though and the difficulty curve somehow goes DOWN as the game progresses, but it’s still fairly well balanced.

      Unfortunately, there aren’t many games to give an example here, as none but indies have the balls to make themselves difficult.

      • Yeah, that new XCOM was an odd thing. I kinda liked it because, well, aliens. Even on Impossible you’re home free if you can pull of the early stage and the further you get the easier it gets which is wierd.

        Add to that the exclusion of several mechanics in the remake:

        – No base defence. Feel free to use a retarded layout for your base.
        – No free aim. Who needs to blow down a wall with a laz0r r0fle for tactical advantage?
        – “YOU CANT HANDLE TWO INTERCEPTORS ON ONE UFO”
        – No inventory management. That shit’s haaard and who picks up gear from the ground in a battle anyway?
        – Simplified movement point system. Math’s hard.
        – “YOU CANT HANDLE TWO SKYRANGERS”
        – Aliens don’t establish new bases. We can’t have players try to figure out what several supply ships in one area are doing rite?

        And I’m probably forgetting stuff here.

        At least they left out the AOE stun-gas-gun.

        But yeah, since it was a “remake” it’s pretty much the perfect example of how games have been dumbed down a lot and the amount of concepts you have to deal with are so reduced. And it’s not even indie IMO.

  3. I feel Dark Souls is hard for a couple reasons. First, it’s unforgiving. And it’s unforgiving with a purpose. The title on the PC edition is not “Prepare to Die” for no reason. From Software understands how perilous every step is in Dark Souls, and the precedent they set with Demon’s Souls remains. When a reasonably in-the-know player picks the game up, they have at least some idea what kind of experience they’re getting into.

    Second, it’s hard because it tells you nothing. I agree with Wing that it mimics real life in a way few other games do. When the game opens up and tells you to “explore the world,” it gives no indication as to where the best route is. Life is much the same. The road to billionaire is not laid out, and I’m sure someone somewhere has gotten obscenely rich while naked. It takes the proper knowledge, skill, and intent, but anything is possible.

    As for the “classic” argument, it isn’t that any one person claims Dark Souls is a classic in its own time. Designers, critics, and fans alike have made the claim, enough so that it’s become true. You aren’t the only one to disagree, certainy, but there’s a history of difficulty in games that hasn’t held up well into the modern age.

    The Konami Code exists because Contra was almost impossible without it. People broke controllers playing Battletoads when they got to the rock dodge level. Ghosts and Goblins laughed at its players struggles by making them beat it twice to see the credits. “Nintedo Hard” wasn’t a thing because Nintendo wanted a cool name for their games. It’s because they were brainmeltingly hard. And people accepted it.

    Dark Souls is trying to harken back to the days when games sneered down their noses at you and told you to take it like a man. We hold games like Contra and Ghosts and Goblins as classics despite the fact that they’re hard.

    I’ll grant you, I hesitate to call Dark Souls a classic. There needs to be time, and serious thought and consideration to make that claim. I will say it’s a game that knows its players, and knows exactly how difficult it is. It makes no claims to be anything else.

    • I was actually discussing with a friend recently the comparison of Demon’s/Dark Souls to old arcade games, and how similar they are in how you approach them.

      You learn each new zone through repetition, usually dying a bit or a lot, but adding information to your knowledge each time. Later on you will have run an earlier zone so many times that you can get through it trivially; you know the layout, traps, where the enemies are and their moves and weaknesses. It’s exactly the same way you play old arcade games like Ghosts n Goblins or Wonder Boy in Monster Land.

      A classic doesn’t have to be a perfectly made or designed game, it is about being an integral part of the zeitgeist, somehow helping define or impacting on the culture that it enters into. If you look at how much the Souls games are discussed and written about, how every hardcore gamer is aware of their reputation even if they haven’t played them, the awe or vitriol that inevitably pours out of players when they talk about it, I don’t see how you can describe them as anything other than classic.

  4. I have never played Dark/Demon Souls, but have heard nothing but good things about it (prior to this article). I am not a fan of difficulty for the sake of difficulty however. Unless there is a particular Platinum Trophy I want I generally stick to the default difficulty as I feel it’s what the game creators want it to be experienced on. I generally prefer more linear story/character driven games(Uncharted is a favorite of mine), and when the burn for challenge ensues, I normally hop on to competitive multiplayer. I really liked Skyrim for it’s exploration and character customization, but I feel if I played that on it’s highest difficulty it may become annoying. I’m not sure if Dark Souls is a game for me? I don’t expect to be picking it up either way as I am already planning out games for my PS4. But hey, maybe Dark Souls 2 on next gen?

    Anybody else excited about Knack?

  5. You’re letting a number of classic paradigms of game difficulty fall away here. Nethack and Spelunky are widely praised games where you’re supposed to learn procedures rather than refine your execution, and Dark Souls creates an interesting blend of that style with more prescriptive action tropes. Instead of dismissing the value of these modern classics, maybe you should try to understand why so many people seem to love them, and what about your taste differs?

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