The subject of difficulty in video games is a tricky one. On the one hand, video games in general seem to be too easy in a lot of ways, holding players’ hands from step 1 all the way until the final boss. On the other hand, it seems like many developers don’t know how to ramp the difficulty up in a way that is fair and organic, instead opting to throw completely ridiculous situations at you to frustrate you. It’s actually an odd trade off. The more I find myself grumbling about an easy game, there are just as many games that make me want to rage quit with unfair deaths, impossible sections, etc. This is one of the reasons I loved Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, because it kept ratcheting up the difficulty level without completely infuriating me.
Over at Gamasutra, Tim Keenan has posted a blog about this very subject called The Difficulty I Want. In it, he talks about how it’s often hard to know what you want in a game until you’ve had a chance to play the game yourself. He makes some great points about how many games just make you pick a difficulty and force you to stay with it to see the game through, rather than being able to switch down after dying multiple times or up after not dying enough. He also praises the difficulty sliders of Oblivion, which is one of my favorite games in this regard. It really is interesting to note that difficulty options haven’t changed much since the beginning of gaming. We still have the same generic options without much evolution.
So what do you guys think about gaming difficulty? Are games too easy? Is this an area where games can improve, and offer more dynamic ways to play that would make them more enjoyable? What games were unfair/too easy to you in recent memory? Go!
Source – Gamasutra