The other day I was talking to one of my friends about recently released games, when the subject of video game difficulty was brought up. Basically, what brought about the conversation was the supposed high level of difficulty faced when playing when playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
This conversation sort of had me thinking about the general difficulty levels in modern video games. I’ve heard many gamers in recent years complain that video games are just too darn easy nowadays. This has the side effect that you can finish games rather quickly – that can be good or bad depending on your viewpoint.
This of course led me to an important question: If games are getting easier, then does it mean that developers have begun to make their games easier because gamers prefer it that way?
So, Are Most Modern Video Games Too Easy?
The internet is filled with fans complaining ad nauseum that games have gotten too easy, and there isn’t a real challenge even on the highest difficulty settings. I’ve always thought that this argument was a bit odd.
Perhaps, I’m just really bad at video games, but I do feel like there definitely are titles out there that are pretty damn difficult to complete on their hardest settings.
The best popular example I can think of at the moment is Call of Duty: Black Ops III, which has a “Realistic” difficulty mode for campaign in which being shot once counts as a death. How many people do you know that own the game and have finished the campaign on that difficulty?
Nostalgia Is Clouding People’s Memories
I also tend to think that age is a factor that many tend to ignore when making these claims. We’ve gotten to a period within society, where most people currently entering adulthood most likely grew up with gaming to some extent.
When you’re a younger, less experienced gamer, some games will just seem harder because quite honestly you don’t really know how to play the game properly.
Continuing with the Black Ops III example, I’m a huge zombies fan and quite honestly it doesn’t take all that much for me to get to higher rounds like 30 or 40, but I do remember one of my younger brother’s friends being absolutely amazed at the idea of getting to such numbers.
Then, there’s also the idea of perceiving a particular title to be hard, when it’s just player stupidity. When I first started playing RPGs heavily, I used to make the error of forgetting to save often, which sometimes meant I died at the most inopportune moment and had to start again from a save point that was hours ago. Then there were situations where my level was not high enough to complete a quest and the last hard save I made was weeks ago.
In such instances, the game isn’t hard, but having to redo all the work that you did already may make it seem somewhat hard.
Some gamers who grew up with gaming also tend to forget that sometimes the games we perceived as hard in the past were really actually just broken and they were unable to be completed not due to user error but rather due to software errors.
You know, getting stuck at the wrong times, or particular weapons not working at certain times when they should be.
However, the recent praise for Breath of the Wild being a title that forces the player to learn and adapt in order to properly progress have changed the perception. And let’s not pretend that the recent Zelda game is alone. Titles like the Dark Souls series and Bloodbourne have also recently garnered great praise for challenging the player to, for a lack of a better term, get good. This seems to suggest that maybe some developers actually are making games easier for players.
So, are developers making games easier?
This does seem to be a question that most gamers can only answer for themselves. I’ll say that while some games do seem to be somewhat easier to complete than what they should really be, but there are enough titles out there that also provide really difficult experiences.
Do Most Gamers Prefer Easier Games?
I think that most people prefer to play most games on moderate settings that aren’t too difficult, but also provide a bit of a challenge.
If you’re consistently dying all the time isn’t fun. And if all you can do is die, you probably aren’t going to play a game for very long. But if everything is too easy and the game provides no challenge, then you might also feel that there is no reason to keep playing it. It’s a hard balance.
Some gamers do prefer titles with higher learning curves that force players to think more strategically, whereas some others will just want to speedrun every game at the lowest difficulty. Both are fine – everybody is entitled to their own preferences.
Personally, when I start new games I generally do tend to start on a lower difficulty, even if I am familiar with the series. I generally tend to look at the first playthough as a manner to experience the title’s gameplay, but tend to place greater focus on the story that the game has to tell and I feel getting stuck at each small step due to player inexperience can sometimes infringe on your want to get to the end of the narrative.
After this, I am more than happy to go back to some titles and play through on the highest difficulty. A few of the most recent titles that I have finished on the highest difficulty setting include Bioshock Infinite, Batman: Arkham Knight, and The Witcher 3 and I can honestly say that I had a good time doing it.
The first time I was mauled down by enemies in seconds after charging in stupidly, I knew it was going to be a challenge, but one that I just had to beat and I had a lot of fun planning and playing the title in a different manner.
I love hard games, but they don’t make or break the experience for me. I don’t feel that every single game has to challenge the player to extraneous extents.
What do you think? Are games slowly becoming easier? Do gamers prefer overall games to be easier? Please share in the comments down below.