Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Have Games Become Too Easy?

This is apparently a much-talked about issue, but I actually just realized that. I really thought I was the only one that was feeling this, and I wasn't even sure of it until I saw that other people had the same opinions. The question is this, are modern games too easy? Has the difficulty been toned down too much? Are developers too liberal with constant auto-saves? In a way, this is true. Games have definitely been made more accessible because it appeals to a much broader audience than before.

This isn't to say that all new games are just cake-walks. It's just that most serious gamers today grew up with games from the late '80's and '90's. Back then, almost every game was freaking torture. Remember the original Ninja Gaiden? Or the Contra series? Pretty much every classic platformer had it's ridiculous frustrations. Blind turns and pit-falls, limited lives, and you had to start over from the beginning if you died. There were no auto-save points. Remember how everyone made a fuss about how hard Devil May Cry 3 was? It was mainly because there were no save points. But if you stop and think...that's how EVERY game was in the 8-bit and 16-bit era.

One important point that I have to mention is that this isn't necessarily a bad thing either. A lot of people don't like it, but it's not an obvious flaw in the industry. In fact, the "easiness" is just a result of video games improving. Making tons of progress then having to restart is frustrating, so automatic save points take all of that frustration out. "Impossible" levels from the classic era were really just levels with design flaws, riddled with things like pin-point accurate jumps and totally blind turns. The same goes for boss fights. Basically, they're not technically making games "easier". They're more...fixing game design.

But anyway, I do agree that games have definitely changed in terms of general difficulty. Back when I was playing on my Super NES, every game required you to master all the gameplay mechanics and memorize every part of a level if you wanted to beat it. There was plenty of trial and error, but by the end of it, you felt incredibly satisfied. It was a long, hard fought battle. And that's precisely what modern games are missing. That sense of satisfaction. I don't remember the last time I played a game through, and really felt satisfied at the end. Every game has just been "do this, auto-save, do that, auto-save, quick-time event, auto-save". The game holds your hand for so long that by the end of this smooth ride, you think "huh? It's over?"

To name of few great games that were really just cake-walks: Assassin's Creed series, God of War 3, Vanquish, inFamous, Uncharted series. If you've noticed, these are some of the most highly rated games of this generation. That says a lot. And again, they're not bad games. Just...maybe not so challenging by the end of the day. But there's another issue here. Normal is basically easy mode now, but when you switch it to hard, it's suddenly completed unbalanced and ridiculous. I thought God of War 3 was easy, so it switched to Hard mode. My god, I was dying in 3 hits. What's with this imbalance?

What do y'all think? Are games too easy these days? If so, is it a bad thing?



  1. I'm mad, I just made a long comment and appearently it didn't recognise my wordpress account and it was lost in an error..

    *SIGH* Well to sum up what I said:

    It's because the biggest gaming group in modern society are casuals, so the industry tries to sell more copies by going for that audience. And to 'satisfy' hardcore gamers they just add pulled out of ass difficulty that increases dmg and health of all enemies.

    They should give us two options: casual and normal, the second one being without hints, with more enemies, bosses being smarter etc.I don't think there's anything good about the game going full casual.

    I don't mind it being completely hard though, of course the audience will be smaller but if the game is original people WILL love it. Example: Dark souls on PS3, even though the prequel was underpreciated, the sequel simply blew people's minds. Quite literally for their characters. The game is considered the hardest on console and for a reason.

    So to answer your question: Yes it is bad, the industry shouldn't try to copy other games from the genre and go for something original while keeping oldschool gamers in mind. We don't want to come back to a game that we had easy time beating, the only thing that can keep us in the case is the story and characters, and let's face it, modern games pretty much spit on that part too.

  2. I believe this question is answered here: (BTW, it's an awesome web series. If you're interested in game making, gaming community, and games in general, I'll totally recommend you to follow this series from the beginning).

    In short, developers wants to (and should) make a game that's accessible by as many players as possible, where everybody can enjoy the game without having to spend too long in learning the game mechanics, and not rage-quit when they're unable to perform a certain challenge. Unfortunately, a lot of developers translates this into making easier games.

    I can understand wanting more players to experience the whole game without making them stuck/quit midway, but I think they also need to develop a good balance ratio of efforts-to-rewards.

    Perhaps the most apparent downside to this as a player is that there are less memorable moments in game (not story-wise, but ingame challenges-wise). I still remember every single boss fight in every Metal Gear Solid game, because each of them have unique challenges that felt fun and rewarding to perform (that, and that I have played each series at least 5 times :p). But I hardly remember any moments in nowaday games, especially FPSs where a solution to a tought fight is either shoot more, aim more accurately, or both.

    The other bad thing is, that a lot of nowadays gamer are getting weaker/lazier. I recently watched a friend plays Dragon's Dogma, where he skipped a lot of the tutorials and sidequest, only to see his character being underdeveloped and get his ass kicked by the game's real first boss, it was painful to watch. Then I played the game myself, explore thoroughly, paid careful attention to what the game says, and by the same time I went to where my friend was, I'm better equipped, has 5x the amount of money, and 4 levels higher (okay, that was an extreme example because for some reason my friend really went through the game being very ignorant, hopefully not because of stupidity).

    1. Yeah, I have a lot of friends that have no idea how to play games. They skip through every cutscene and tutorial, then ask how to play. I'm like "Really? You just skipped everything". Makes no sense to me..


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