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Games should not have easy, normal and hard mode.

Difficulty selection on games


  • Total voters
    126

Keihart

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Jun 23, 2013
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Not really an original thought, but having this modes selected at the start of the game takes away a lot of the balance and sometimes can even kill any challenge originally designed for the game, let me explain.

How many times you read someone complaining that x game's combat it's bad because it's too easy, and then you have a group of people telling that same group to bump up the difficulty? I think this is a hole that a lot of devs put themselves into. Just by having that menu, you automatically have a portion of your player base select the wrong difficulty for their level of skill, making them lose interest in the game because it's either too easy or too hard for them while a small portion finds the right one and calls it a good challenge.



Then of course you also have the problem of balancing each difficulty which usually ends up in some difficulties having some features taken off that were considered too challenging or even sometimes in harder modes have some features become unreliable because of the increase in challenge forcing the player to min max in a different way.

As some examples, Uncharted's combat it's not easily appreciated because in normal it's too easy and bumping it up to crushing becomes sadistic sometimes, usually best played in the difficulty before crushing but since the game it's not that challenging on normal it makes no effort to train the player for harder difficulties or ease them into the effective use of some mechanics.

Devil May Cry it's an example of changing the design of the game to the difficulty options, the game it's balanced with the idea of replaying it so most entries are fairly balanced or even kinda easy on normal sometimes but you are introduced to new mechanics during the whole game until the end so you hopefully want to comeback for harder runs or the bloody palace to challenge yourself. Usually this games start to shine when playing the harder difficulties with new enemy placement, new enemy abilities, new player handicaps and so on.

Then you have the golden standards in difficulty, Demon's Souls and the indie rouge likes like Spelunky, you just play this games and allow yourself to balance the challenge by selecting which tools are better for your play style be it either by making yourself a melee glass canon in Demon's Souls to make it harder or playing it as a royal mage to make it easier. In Spelunky you can either choose to use shortcuts to make advancing faster for learning the quirks of every stage or maybe you prefer to just do it in one run to get better equipped or maybe you want it to be harder and go for high scores using the ghosts and robbing the shopkeepers.

Kinda of a wall text, but wouldn't be better if games were always balanced about the one true difficulty where most people can engage with it, where every feature it's considered and made relevant ?

TLDR; Selecting difficulty from a menu sucks balls and keeps players out of your games.
 
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Mista

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Nov 21, 2014
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Yeah no. Not everyone is a sweaty prick that wants a challenge in everything. There’s people that play games to relax. Why everything must be oohhh the uNLeAsH tHe hArDcOrE iN mE

With all due respect, this is the most stupid thought I read this month.

You’re talking about “balance” yet your thought is 100% taking the balance out :/
 

Airola

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Jun 25, 2015
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I like the system Double Dragon II has.

On Practice the game ends after three levels.
On Warrior the game ends after eight levels (just before the real final boss).
On Supreme Master the game allows you to fight against the real final boss.

But yeah, I would have no issue with having just one difficulty setting for a game.
 

Sentenza

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Dec 3, 2011
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Yeah no. Not everyone is a sweaty prick that wants a challenge in everything. There’s people that play games to relax.
Nah, fuck this slimy apologetic bullshit.
I'm with you, OP.

I always dislike "Difficulty selection", especially since it's usually a choice you're asked to pick without any clear knowledge of what's to come.
I'll always take a game with ONE standard "difficulty" for everyone and some resemblance of balance (and amusing ways to break it, when the knowledge is there) over a bunch of vague options ranging from "brain parasites impair my coordination" to "masochism is my fetish".
 
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Joon

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Sep 1, 2018
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wouldn't be better if games were always balanced about the one true difficulty where most people can engage with it, where every feature it's considered and made relevant ?

TLDR; Selecting difficulty from a menu sucks balls and keeps players out of your games.

More difficulty and playstyle options are precisely for capturing and making the game more accessible to a wider audience and getting more players "in". So no.

Also games most often are balanced around one true and intended difficulty. Having more extra options doesn't negate that fact.
 
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Mar 1, 2018
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Yeah no. Not everyone is a sweaty prick that wants a challenge in everything. There’s people that play games to relax. Why everything must be oohhh the uNLeAsH tHe hArDcOrE iN mE

With all due respect, this is the most stupid thought I read this month.

You’re talking about “balance” yet your thought is 100% taking the balance out :/
If everyone who wants a challenge is a sweaty prick then by the same retarded logic everyone demanding easy mode is giant pussy, right?
 

gamerguywashere

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Aug 3, 2020
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I can see both sides to this argument.

For example, I think you all should have to play hardcore mode in diablo...and there should be pvp again.


...but that ruins the game for people that aren't like me, that don't buy another cdkey to enchantress factory a bunch of toons i can use to meat grinder you because you want my enchantress buff WEEE
 
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reinking

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Jun 1, 2020
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I am going to go the opposite and say every game should have easy, medium and hard mode option on the fly. The way Nier Automata does it. That way, people can play at a challenge but if they get stuck a quick drop to get past a boss is no big deal. I no longer like being controller throwing frustrated when playing games. I also do not like face-rolling through them. Having to discover how well a game is balanced for me takes playing time. I dislike having to start over for one reason or the other.
 
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Enjay

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Feb 18, 2009
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Yeah no. Not everyone is a sweaty prick that wants a challenge in everything. There’s people that play games to relax. Why everything must be oohhh the uNLeAsH tHe hArDcOrE iN mE

With all due respect, this is the most stupid thought I read this month.

You’re talking about “balance” yet your thought is 100% taking the balance out :/
You need thicker skin. Not every game is for sweats and removing difficulty settings won't automatically turn every game into Dark Souls.
 

vaibhavpisal

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Jun 10, 2019
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Devs get too good at their games. They are not good judges of optimum difficulty.

I understand the sentiment. They should fine tune diffficulty to perfection.

But a deep yet accessible combat system cannot be designed in this way.
 

Sentenza

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Dec 3, 2011
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Devs get too good at their games. They are not good judges of optimum difficulty.
Which just means they shouldn't balance their games around the idea of perfect performance.

The so reviled and "super-difficult" Souls games leave a lot of room for errors and give plenty of tools to go around a challenging fight even without great skill, for instance.
 
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gamerguywashere

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I am going to go the opposite and say every game should have easy, medium and hard mode option on the fly. The way Nier Automata does it. That way, people can play at a challenge but if they get stuck a quick drop to get past a boss is no big deal. I no longer like being controller throwing frustrated when playing games. I also do not like face-rolling through them. Having to discover how well a game is balanced for me takes playing time. I dislike having to start over for one reason or the other.


astral chain also did multiple difficulties well, imo...all the way from fighting for you, to thank you sir may i have another! :cry:
 
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GreenAlien

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Jun 11, 2016
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I don't like difficulty settings. Choosing the right one is an ordeal every time.

What I do like is the game asking "lower the difficulty for this encounter?" after getting killed.
 
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Away with the fairies
I partly agree, in that there shouldn't be a vague 'slider' of difficulty or the choice between 'medium' (how the game was meant to be played) and 'hard'/ 'nightmare' where all enemies are just as dumb, but do double damage and have double health.

I think games should approach it in two ways:

corridor/platform action game: If you die repeatedly on one section, you should have the option of help, hints, tips, maybe a 'drop-in' tutorial where you can practice the jump and or combat sequence. Failing this, the AI should remove an enemy or add a 'ledge' in the case of difficult jumps.

Open world games: Allow each world to be built ala Deus Ex, where there are several routes/options to get through a situation. Are you good at jumping but crap at combat? Good at stealth but suck at platforming? Have 0 patience or the patience of a saint? Each area gives the players their choice of how to manoeuvre through the environment.

None of that is really possible but it would be a nice pipe-dream.
 

nemiroff

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Feb 19, 2018
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Not every human being on this planet are exactly like everyone else, that's why we have options. The Dark Souls games' difficulty f.ex. is perfect for me and I finished all the games in the series with a comfortable feeling of challenge, some multiple times. ..But I literally hated my time in Spelunky because it had timers, I would probably enjoy it if it had an optional "easy" mode where I could expand the time or turn it off. It's not "in the spirit of what the developer imagined"..? Fuck that, I should be able to decide. Now, going back to the Dark Souls example, the interesting thought is: Would I start playing it on "easy" if it had the option..? Honestly, probably I still wouldn't, I could instantly feel "normal" was right for me.
 
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Damigos

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Oct 18, 2013
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What most dont understand is the all games are not for everyone.
Having a standard difficulty is better than choosing easy, medium, hard because the developer has to start somewhere and then substract or add from there. The magic sauce is lost when following this path.
That is the exact reason the souls like games are so popular.
 

vaibhavpisal

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Jun 10, 2019
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Which just means they shouldn't balance their games around the idea of perfect performance.

The so reviled and "super-difficult" Souls games leave a lot of room for errors and give plenty of tools to go around a challenging fight even without great skill, for instance.

rpgs have multi level difficulty balance depending what level you are.

I wouldnt have finished Demon's Souls without grinding opportunities.
 
Mar 1, 2018
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Games should be what their creators intended them to be. If creators want multiple difficulty modes - then so be it. If creators want one set difficulty to make everyone play on the same page - then so be it, too. How hard is it to understand for some people is just beyond belief.
 
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brian0057

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Difficulty settings aren't bad, just badly implemented.
Just look at how it could be done right with the following example.

Thief II: The Metal Age
Difficulty selection for mission 1 - Running Interference
  • NORMAL
    • Once you're ready for Basso to go, give the signal using the birdcall he gave you. You have to be close enough for him to hear it!
    • Help Basso and Jenivere get out of the mansion together. You'll need to scout ahead to make sure Basso's route is safe.
    • Jenivere would be aghast if anybody died because of this. Don't kill anyone.
  • HARD
    • Luckily, Basso didn't say anything about not taking Lady Rumford's stuff. Get 300 in loot.
  • EXPERT
    • Luckily, Basso didn't say anything about not taking Lady Rumford's stuff. Get 600 in loot, including 200 in gems.
    • Still, nothing stops you from teaching these guards a lesson and getting in a little practice. Score at least 8 knockouts.
BONUS OBJECTIVE: (This one is not marked nor shown in your log) What would a wedding be without rings? Get two for Basso and Jenivere.
You can also buy notes and clues in between missions to make the level easier as long as you have the money to pay them. Money that you get by just how good you were while stealing in a previous mission.

The higher the difficulty, the more objectives you get and the more complicated already existing objectives got.
 

gamerguywashere

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rpgs have multi level difficulty balance depending what level you are.

I wouldnt have finished Demon's Souls without grinding opportunities.

maybe dark souls is different then, cause to me it's more about learning the game than outleveling it

im still trying to figure out anor lando tho
 
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Saruhashi

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Oct 2, 2018
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Personally, when I am playing any given game I prefer to just be getting exactly what the developers wanted me to get.

I don't really want to be messing about with options hoping that I am picking the right one. Then potentially missing out on what the game has to offer by making it too easy or too hard etc.

Ideally developers should design "challenge" around showing off a games systems and teaching the player how to use everything that's been designed as part of the game.

This is where I think a conflict of story and gameplay comes in. A lot of players legitimately seem to just want to enjoy the story and the world. Look at how popular Ghost of Tsushima's photo mode was and look at how much marketing pushed the photo mode around launch. Some people really just want to have a good look at the games assets and get the story and then move on.

Its tough to accommodate them if the developers want to push all the games different systems and make them necessary to beat the game.

Thinking about Shadow of War as an example since the options menu states that "Hard" difficulty is the way to experience the "full depth" of the Nemesis system. That seems messed up to me. Like so many people will pick up the game and never get to experience their star attraction. The nemesis system NEEDS the player to die pretty regularly so that the different orcs can develop etc. However, they can't implement that well in "easy" or "normal" mode so for those players they get a so-so story and lukewarm gameplay and miss out on the games major selling point.

I think its better for devlopers to establish early what kind of challenge they want their game to present. Then have items and equipment etc that allows the player to mess with aspects of the gameplay while keeping things interesting.

So maybe some players will just not bother with power ups or items to make things interesting while players who are struggling could grind or farm to make the game easier on themselves.

That seems better then looking at a bunch of menu options that maybe are changing the game away from what the developer intended.
 
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Sentenza

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Difficulty settings aren't bad, just badly implemented.
Just look at how it could be done right with the following example.

Thief II: The Metal Age

Yeah, both the Thief games had the best handling of a difficulty setting I can think of.
The game played exactly the same, you just had different mission goals and winning conditions.

It made you WANT to play on the hardest difficulty setting because it added to the fun, without that putrid bullshit like "Enemies have ten times more HP" etc.
 
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Life

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Jul 25, 2019
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Most games have basic difficulty changes like stat changes for your enemies and player - or less items etc. Not like it takes enormous effort on their part.
 

Knightime_X

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Dec 17, 2018
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One should not dictate how others enjoy a game.
Have an intended setting as well as options so everyone can play and enjoy the game. You're not 11 years old. Don't be mad if someone thinks your game is too easy and step off the high horse if someone's skill doesn't match yours.

Some devs totally understand.
Others are comically clueless.
 
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Arcadia88

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As many difficulty option as possible. From walking simulator mode to only teenagers with perfect reflexes and all the time in the world to learn the game mode.
Game designers please listen up to my main difficulty gripe.
Time Limits.
If your game has time limits I'm not playing it. I will quit and uninstall it after the second attempt.
Put a F'n setting in your game to remove any form of time based puzzle or action.
Ori Pull a lever to open a door that will close in X amount of time. Then I have to complete a set of movements and button presses and smack face first into a closed door.
I don't have time for no time limits.
 

vaibhavpisal

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maybe dark souls is different then, cause to me it's more about learning the game than outleveling it

im still trying to figure out anor lando tho

Dark Souls have less rewarding grinding scenarios.

So you are encouraged to learn it. Its bosses have easier identifiable patterns so is not impossible.
 
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Bartski

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I voted no but that's what I would want if all games were made just for me. In general for everyone else - I think some games should have all the options, while some absolutely shouldn't. I think you know which ones I'm talking about
 

Jeeves

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I don't especially have an opinion on difficulty settings, but it's odd to me that I haven't seen more games adopt the Kid Icarus Uprising/Smash Ultimate approach to this.



You select a starting difficulty based on whether you want a relaxed or challenging experience, and if you do well the difficulty rises. If you do poorly the difficulty drops. Higher difficulty carries better rewards.

Eventually you reach an equilibrium of difficulty that matches your ability. But there is still incentive to push yourself further if you're feeling brave.
 

Mista

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You need thicker skin. Not every game is for sweats and removing difficulty settings won't automatically turn every game into Dark Souls.
I got that. Having different optional difficulties doesn’t make you a pussy also mr thick skin
 

John Mullins

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You get different experiences with different difficulty modes. One is not better than the other - they are complimentary.

Usually I like to try tackle the hardest after I've did normal... then go easiest for any trophy mopping up.

The challenge is great, but after that an easy mode is very liberating - you get to "play" more, not having to be so guarded allows you to take more risks and have more fun which is very refreshing after having spent the whole game hunkering down not having the opportunity to truly flex. Titanfall 2 was a great example of this.
 
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BlackTron

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Maybe read like the first 3 lines of the OP, i mean, if you care to post and read the TLDR, that far should be fair...

I read the OP. Obviously, based on my comment, I made it to the end.

Whether an individual person likes difficulty levels or not in their game is an argument to be had. Suggesting that difficulty levels keeps people OUT of games, I can't understand that. At least people who are less skilled, have the opportunity to get into the game, become familiar, and eventually upgrade to a higher difficulty level if they wish. By the same token, if you play through a game on normal and feel like a master by the end, you can up it for a greater challenge if you wish.

Sure, the developers might have an ideal way to play the game "correctly" in mind, but dude it's a GAME. It's about fun. I would rather my 7 year old niece be able to play at all, than to be left out because "git gud son".
 

dalekjay

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To me is a mix of, how is supposed to be played if the difficulty is part of the creator vision, and what o want to play now, if I’m on a tight week Souls games are worse, o go on other things, when I have a clear schedule Souls games are my choice
 

quest

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Lol just ridiculous. I don’t see how having a lower difficulty affects you. So stupid.
Let's be honest this is all about gatekeeping only the hardcore should enjoy games. It was a popular mindset when I was a kid in the 80s-90s with gamers. Now this is coming from the souls community scared of a casual mode letting more riff raff see the whole game instead of git gud like they did. Most developers suck at progressing the challenge in a game for 1 difficulty. That and there is a wide variety of gamers from pro gamers to beginners. With no refunds it is crap to sell someone a game they are stuck on a hour into it.
 
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