Arcadia City from Halo Wars comes to mind. Where unless you are able to perfectly manage your troops in four separate locations, you are going to lose. The slightest mistake on this mission will force you to restart. And thats not a good balance when it comes to challenge and difficulty. So like, the bosses in the original Luigis Mansion might seem easy to someone whos beaten the online roulette game before.
But I guarantee you, that doesnt make it easy to get a gold plate on every last one of those bastards. You might be able to beat Luigis Mansion without dying once. But get a perfect score on every single boss? Thats something thats hard. The reason people love the Souls roulette games so much is because the bosses can really freak you out and kick your ass, but theyre never unbeatable. Online roulette game gives the feeling of an insurmountable challenge at first.
Youre this weak as all, piece of shit undead, but through perseverance you can come out on top. Theres so many unique ways of offering a fun yet fair challenge to players, and notice I said fair. Because there are so many games that add artificial difficulty which can sometimes be more aggravating than when a roulette game is too easy.
Artificial difficulty is shallow, provides a challenge that isnt satisfying or enjoyable and often it just feels cheap and unfair. To contrast this, there what is known as designed difficulty, which is exactly what it sounds. Things like puzzles, or the way the levels are made. Designed difficulty is meant to challenge the players skill and their thoughts, in order to overcome the obstacles presented, moreso than it is a test of patience and just sheer grinding.
if that makes sense. Banjo Tooie and DK64 will require you to solve some type of puzzle in order to damage the boss. Jackal Snipers are the perfect example of artificial difficulty. Because its not so much about forcing you to think, or giving you a tough foe that you have to outmaneuver. Jackal Snipers are simply about memorizing their location and how many them there are. An enemy that looks at you for one second and youre dead.
If you play through Halo 2 on Legendary there is absolutely no way you arent going to die to these bastards at least 15 times. Because this is just a way for the game to force you to replay the same sections. But now compare this to something like Cuphead, a game thats taking the world by storm! Where the bosses are visually interesting, with different phases. Even if you die a bunch, its still satisfying to know you beat the first couple phases and youre eager to try again. To see what the game throws at you.
To see whats next on the horizon. Because Cuphead is a game that is designed to offer shorter, yet more challenging experiences. And heres another thing to note, which is progressive difficulty.
You know, most games will start off easy with some kind of tutorial thatll teach you the basics. And the original Mario games are a great example of this, as well as the original Halo. For instance in the first level you fight Elites and Grunts. Then in the 2nd level they introduce the needler, the jackals. In the 3rd level they introduce Hunters and Sword Elites, you get the idea. Same thing with the original Mario, its a difficulty that ramps up in challenge as you get farther into it and as you get better.
Which makes the overall final levels much more satisfying because that difficulty has been built up over a period of time. Now another thing to note is plenty of games offer different settings, and customizable difficulty. Skulls in Halo 3 were a great addition because if you ever felt the game too easy, why not experiment with a few of the settings to shake up your playstyle? Another great example is the Tales Of series. Which is one of my personal favorites when it comes to difficulty. You can usually pick 3 options at the start, but after you beat it the first time, youre able to tweak the settings using Grade, a currency you earn throughout the game.
So you could make enemies tougher, but also increase your overall XP so you get more abilities to use earlier on. Just look at how many options there are to tweak the 2nd playthrough of this game. And this brings up an essential factor in a games worth. Replayability. The best games are those that design for the inevitable fact that players will want to go through it more than once.
You know that guy that brought up Chaos actually wasnt too far from the truth. Its thrilling to not know whats coming around the next corner, to try your best to be prepared for it. On the 2nd playthrough things might change or enemies might increased health and defense or specializations. This is why the Souls Series offers New Game Plus.
Because games that account for this replayability factor will take into account that having beat the game, youre good enough to beat it again. And thus if you were to start the game over with just the same difficulty settings, you could probably just breeze right through it! Which is why Diablo 1 & 2 were challenging and so replayable.
They had auto-generated maps which made exploring through the worlds and dungeons a little bit different each time! Enemies might be in a different spot or youd get a different quest than your other playthrough. So many factors that would change.
Heres another interesting point, I consider Paper Mario TTYD to be one of the most perfect games ever made. However theres one thing that holds it back, and thats difficulty. The first couple times you play through its a good challenge, dont get me wrong. Itll really keep you on your toes. But heres the issue, Ive played the game so many times that I have to personally handicap myself in order to make the game difficult. I have to equip a badge that makes me take double damage so that I can play the game with a challenge.
And that is a saving grace for The Thousand Year Doors replay value, but certain games really need a sort of expert mode, you know? Now occasionally, and this mostly applies to RPGs, they will have a sort of REAL final boss. Not the one you fought at the end of the game. Its usually something thats really hard to get to, to figure out. Perhaps you gotta do a series of quests, but its much more challenging than the actual final boss at the end of the game.
And thats a really nice touch to add yet another thing to achieve even after you beat a game. There are some games that only have one difficulty setting, and thats so you know that youre playing it the way its meant to be played. Most of the time the difficulty is just right, but this can be risky as if its not challenging enough, then again its not really worth playing. And other games offer a few choices for difficulty, some of them can make the absurdly hard! But hey, just having the option to change and tweak the way you wanna play can really make the game accessible to a lot more people. Occasionally, there are video games with huge spikes from one difficulty to the next.
Warcraft 3s normal is a decent challenge, then when you move to hard its like, fucking hardcore mode micromanagement REEEEEEEEEEEEE!! Then theres that group of people, mostly game journalists, you know, the ones that shouldve picked different careers, that constantly complain about games being to difficult. Games need a skip this boss button, they need to have a baby mode so that uncoordinated toddlers like myself can play it! On the real, there is usually some merit to complaints about a game being too difficult. Like for instance, the Capra Demon fight in Dark Souls 1. First time fighting this guy, youll have about 2 seconds to take in your surroundings before you get fucked in the ass.
I mean, while Dark Souls is a fantastic game, I have a problem with this boss. Because its almost guaranteed that the average player going in blind is going to die a few times. For comparison look at the Tauros Demon fight. Its similar because youre in a narrow space, but the difference is the first time fight this guy you see him off in the distance drop down.
You get a chance to plan your strategy and move around, you get time to anticipate this big demon coming towards you. This is important for games with boss battles, that they dont just fuck you in the ass the moment you get into one. Most of the times the games they talk about arent too hard.
You just have to adapt. The old motto, git gud, really does apply here. But its also very important to understand that some games arent created for everyone, actually no game is made for everyone because then its made for no one. Certain demographics of players will be pleased by the difficulty one game, and others wont be. People absolutely love the Civilization games, however for me the difficulty lies in simply understanding what the fuck Im supposed to be doing. So those games just arent for me.
So really it is up to the players choice in what sort of challenge and difficulty theyre looking for. I mean, people absolutely love the Civilization games. However for me, the difficulty lies in simply understanding what the fuck Im supposed to be doing! I cant even get past the tutorial in these games! So I know they arent for me, but Im not gonna bash the difficulty in them if thats what you like.
I said a while back, most people would agree with me on the statement that challenge and difficulty is the most important thing every video game needs, but a select few were going to disagree. Yeah I was talking about the hackers, the cheaters, specifically in multiplayer games. I mean, take a look at this: a highlight clip from a COD WWII game.
This dude is obviously hacking, everyone can see that so these 4 kills mean jack shit. Not just that, everyone who looks at this is gonna think wow that guy is a piece of shit. Because seriously, whats the fun in that? Whats the fun in knowing youre gonna win?
I dont find enjoyment in cheating, especially against other players. But I do know WHY people cheat like this, because the game as its supposed to be played, is offering you the challenge of playing against other real people! And from match to match its incredibly difficult to anticipate how other players are going to play. So people who hack are falsely chasing that accomplishment I was talking about! Even though its scummy, the important thing to remember is hackers are still chasing that Dragon of Challenge.
Again, Im trying to emphasize the importance here. Just because difficulty is the most important factor in a game, that doesnt mean the more there is the better. The too much of a good thing rule applies to everything but Cheeze-its and cocaine, alright? It really is a delicate balancing act but when its perfected, thats what really makes a video game addicting and fun as hell and gives it immense replay value. I think Ive covered just about every angle of this, but I would like to share this link to Video Game Difficulty Tropes, it actually highlights all the different forms of challenge in video games and I suggest taking a look at it if youre more curious on the subject.
But you know it all boils down to that sense of pride and accomplishment. That satisfactory feeling can come in low and high volumes. Whether it be winning a Mario Party minigame or successfully beating Dark Souls without taking a hit.
You know, thats really why we play games, to overcome the challenge and have fun while doing it. To sharpen our memory, our reflexes. I dont mean to imply that graphics, sound, music, writing, story, cinematics, or fun factor are not important features. They really, truly are. When you get to the core of what all games are about, it really comes back to the challenge. And feeling accomplished at the end of it all.