Difficulty. It’s a topic that can breed a lot of discussion. There are those that feel if you don’t play a game on the hardest setting possible then “you suck”. Let’s explore that shall we?
So I play games on all degrees of difficulty. Depending on the game I may even switch it up during the playthrough. Fallout 3 comes to mind. I would adjust the difficulty on the fly, both up and down, depending on the situation and how I felt like playing at the time. In fact, I prefer games that have a difficulty slider that can be accessed in-game. It’s annoying when changing it locks out certain achievements or trophies, so in those cases I just deal with it.
It’s absolutely justifiable to play on an easier setting sometimes or, hell, even all the time. It just depends on your play style. Fallout 3, as mentioned above, is probably my main example. I put a lot of time into that game. I played it over a span of weeks, hours per day. Over the course of weeks my taste changes in all sorts of things, gameplay style is definitely one of them. Luckily Fallout 3 allowed me to satisfy that change. Some nights I wanted to just clear some story missions and level up, but my goal was to cover a lot of land and progress the story a bit. In those cases I’d play on normal, or even a little easier depending on my mood. Conversely, some nights I was in the mood to challenge myself and get into a heated battle that required tactics. Easy enough to fix, just turn up the difficulty. It was great, I had a good time and was able to satisfy my play style while still playing the same game.
Some games, however, do not allow on-the-fly difficulty changes. At this point I make a choice. If it’s a big, major release where I’m really looking forward to the story, I will sometimes choose to play on an easier difficulty so I can experience the story. If I end up really liking the game then I will replay on normal or harder. But if it turns out that I didn’t really like the game, then at least I was able to breeze though it.
But if it’s not a major title or the game isn’t as story driven then I will just play it normally. I very rarely play games on the highest difficulty. It’s just not why I play game. I play them for the experience. Many times I like to experience the story and the gameplay is just the vehicle I use to experience it. Other times I like to feel like a badass, crank down the difficulty and just hack things up. That’s a big argument towards easy mode. It’s sometimes just fun to crank down the difficulty and feel like a super hero. A lot of fun can be had that way.
So let’s talk Action RPGs, specifically the games that end in Souls. These games tend to be loved by a lot of people for their high difficulty, like some sort of exclusive club for people who have beaten them. I have absolutely completed them and the high difficulty did add to the experience. I did feel a giant sense of accomplishment after every boss or tough area. I’d gladly play Dark Souls II again, it was even our 2014 Game of the Year. But I don’t care about the difficulty. Sure it made it unique and a satisfying experience to say I finished the games, but the actual gameplay was done so well that I didn’t care. I just really liked how the main character felt; the sound and weight was all done perfectly. The game could have had an easy mode and I wouldn’t have cared, for me it was all gameplay and control.
I don’t buy into the “you have to play on hard” mentality. I get that a lot of people really enjoy that, and there is nothing wrong there. It’s all about your play style. I would absolutely challenge you to play on easy mode sometimes if you haven’t. It can completely change the experience, but it’s up to you as to if it’s fun or not.
I have found some game to be much more fun on easy, conversely some are better on harder difficulties. What do you think? Feel free to comment below, I’d love to here what you think.