I Do Not Like Difficult Games

I Do Not Like Difficult Games

As I climb the ladder of life I have quickly begun to realize that I simply do not enjoy OVERLY difficult things — especially games. When I sit down to play a game, I do not want to be faced with insurmountable difficulty. I don’t want to bash my head against a wall trying over and over to beat something. I don’t want my margin of success to be the 1% room for error that has to be executed perfectly in order to succeed.

I like sit back and enjoy the experience without feeling like I have to throw my controller across the room. Oh yes, I’ve done that. Much to my disappointment in myself… it wasn’t too long ago.

I consider overly difficult things to be a waste of my time. Why did that boss have to be so difficult? Why did that ability it uses have to be designed so that beating it meant getting lucky rather than figuring out the solution?

This type of difficulty I speak of has been present in gaming since the beginning. From TMNT on the NES to Echo the Dolphin to Dark Souls to Kingdom Hearts. These elements of “that was just stupid hard” are present and make me want to stop playing.

Perhaps that’s the key. Things can be difficult, but they should never be so difficult that I want to give up and move on to something else. I get those moments often. I was raiding last night in WoW and the boss, despite being a 10 man raid, wasn’t “tuned” for 10 people so it was practically impossible unless we executed things perfectly. I played Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories and wanted to snap the controller in half after an aggravating string of defeats against Hades — seriously, who the eff designed that boss?

I like earning things. I like working for things. I don’t want EVERYTHING handed to me on a silver platter, but at the same time I don’t like when the game is designed to be “punishing” or “unforgiving”, etc. Difficulty is  a perception, and to some (like Graev) it’s a hallmark of a good game. I think a game should be good even on the easiest difficulty.

I do not consider “time” to be part of the difficulty equation. Things can take time and that doesn’t make them difficult. The boss who 1-shots if you don’t move perfectly out of the way and forces you to restart from 10 minutes prior? Yeah that’s dumb.

Sometimes — most of the time — I want to sit back and simply enjoy the ride. What type of gamer am I? I’m a bit of a wuss. I like easy games.

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  • I agree with that pretty much 100%. I think of gaming as a leisure activity, a form of relaxation. I don’t think of it as work, validation or a means of proving anything. If it’s not fun I stop doing it and anything that looks for me to hit some tiny margin of error in order to succeed is not fun.

    I would absolutely say I like easy games but there needs to be something more than just ease of access, ease of use, ease of success. There has to be something amusing, entertaining, informative, satisfying, fulfilling, surprising, soothing… any of those will do. A game needs to have something to offer and it needs to be willing to offer it. Having something and hiding it behind a wall of frustration or tedium won’t fly and having nothing and hiding that is even worse.

    All games should be “good even on the easiest difficulty” because if they aren’t they aren’t good games. And who has time to waste on games that don’t feel good to play?

  • I disagree for the most part. I like games that have difficulty, and you can’t just blow through. However I don’t like games that have artificial difficulty in the form of randomness. So things like where you have to get lucky on who a boss targets, or if he uses an ability or when they use an ability, are the ones I don’t like.

    Games like Dark Souls (and for some fights, WoW) I do like the difficulty because they don’t have randomness or unfair difficulty. There are mechanics in the game to counter everything a boss does, you just have to learn the tells, or the pattern, etc, but if you execute perfectly you win. And even then if you don’t execute perfectly they usually have ways to recover, at least a limited amount with things like flasks in Dark Souls or healing in WoW.

    The reason I like these games is that you get a sense of accomplishment when you progress, beat a boss, and then consistently beat a boss. Easy games lose something by not having that sense of accomplishment. There are some easy games I like, but easy games need to bring something else, whether it is great characters, great story, spectacular gameplay, etc. Games with difficulty need some of these (good mechanics, good systems, etc) but don’t need an amazing story and characters. Look at the Dark Souls series, it only has a story for those that search it out, and the characters are funny but not super deep, yet it is widely considered a great series of games.

    On the other hand, something like Mass Effect is what I would consider a fairly easy game. Sure there are challenging parts but for the most part it is easily beatable especially on lower difficulties. This is an example of an easy game that has great characters, story, and mechanics to make it a great game without needing the difficulty.

    However, games that are easy without anything super memorable (aka Dynasty Warriors or most Warriors games) I don’t enjoy. They have ok story, ok characters, decent gameplay… but are so easy they get very boring after awhile at least for me.

    • I definitely enjoy the story more than the difficult mechanics. I think the difference is that I can feel the sense of achievement without the difficult mechanics. Time is a big factor. Something can be easy but take time — that gives me all the accomplishment I need.

      Only matters if its a game where I need accomplishment, though. Otherwise a good story and gameplay matter way more than difficulty and accomplishment.

  • I like something in the middle. I don’t want a complete faceroll or a controller tossing rage-fest. I want a modicum of challenge but don’t want to beat my head against the wall, either. I like something challenging enough that you can see a separation between those who’ve really mastered it versus a noob.

  • I don’t like the difficult “dancing” that modern raids require. It’s just choreography and I’m not a dancer. I liked when you needed a huge tank and a great mezzer and great clerics though. People needed to know their roles and be good, not just dance.

    Personally, if a billion people can log in and get the same loot and stats as me in a week, I’m interested for about a month tops, no matter how cool the graphics. I will never win these games, especially pvp, I’m not that good. But I’m not going to waste 100s of hours if they are just handing out prizes like candy.

  • I agree, depending on the game.
    I like dark souls games, and without their difficulty they would not be that interesting. Mass Effect and Skyrim, I want to explore, not bash my head against a well. RPGs like Pillars of Time, I want those difficult and storyfocused. I guess I am all over the place depending on the specific game.

    Regarding wow, personally I enjoy the dance, it keeps me engaged in the fight, since my rotation is pretty much finger memory by now. Also, without a punishing dance, how do the fights stay varied? There are difficulty levels to tune the game to more your liking. If normal is too tight, LFR is always an option (and there is nothing bad/shameful about that)

    I think the biggest issue with wow raiding is not tuning, dance or punishment for failing, it is that it does not tell you what you did wrong. Is it mechanics, personal performance, output? Sometimes it is really hard to find out, even when using out of game logs. (which you should not need, you should be able to find out ingame)

    About your Tichondrius example, according to your logs you tried the fight 4 times, of which the last 3 wipes were 7,6, and 1 percent. Almost there! How many times are you willing to wipe before you find it too difficult to enjoy?
    PS: a personal tip. Just by quickly looking through your logs, go rend and tear unless you have 90%+ uptime on pulverize. You averaged 10% on Tichondrius, and <40% on other bosses. Going Rend and Tear will increase your damage, survivability and also make the playstyle quite a bit more relaxing.

    • The raid example was just a recent example of difficulty thrown in the post last minute. I’ve been writing the series for a while. Tichondrius — or ANY WoW bosses in Legion for that matter — are not the type of difficulty I’m talking about. There was only one specific mechanic from Tichondrius that doesn’t make sense to me and that’s the adds not scaling with the number of players.

      To answer your question about how many wipes, I think that will vary based on the encounter and progress made. I’ve wiped hundreds of times on bosses in vanilla. Being the first to kill every MC/BWL/AQ boss on 3 servers came at a great cost, and with a lot of patience. I’m not longer that competitive, and WoW has changed a great deal. Bosses back then were more percentage based rather than dancing a raid dance. Different type of difficulty. We spent months gearing up to take out a boss wheras now it’s more about pushing a character a single percentage point further to edge something out days after it becomes available.

      I could remove WoW entirely from the post if that helps it make more sense. It was simply top of mind since I was annoyed by a mechanic.

      Appreciate your tips!

  • Nothing will get me to set a game down faster than having some completely random bull happen and waste my time. I find it happens with RPGs the most. I’ll be going along and then Bam something kills me, maybe it was a cleverly hidden mine or a slip off a mountain and then you reload that auto save and realize it has been 3 hours since that last save. I typically stop right there and I won’t play the game for a week/month/year… I find it happening in CiV too. I’ll have a specific goal of trying to get relics or I’ll want to get X wonder and as soon as I don’t get it I’ll stop playing that game. I’d say it was the same for Single player campaigns in FPS as well, but typically their auto save system doesn’t make it to much of a chore to replay a mission.

    I’d say there is a sweet spot for difficulty. I don’t want to play a game where I feel like I am wasting my time. I don’t want to bash my head against a wall to try and break it down. While it may feel great after I finally get through I also feel like a … well a person who just spent hours of their life trying to break through a wall with their head.

    • Yep, I can agree with that. I think there’s a spot in the middle between “press 1 button and kill everything” and “bash head against the wall for 20 minutes.” I find it happens most in RPGs too. More specifically, I find it’s when I’m working against specific mechanics rather than a boss in general.

      I think games lose site of the experience in an effort to add a challenge. I would rather “difficulty” come in straight percentages like more health or more damage than dancing randomness.

  • I have tried each Dark Souls entry and Bloodborne and couldn’t get into them. I do have Nioh pre-ordered and I am not sure if I will like it as much as I am hoping. The setting looks good but they are shooting for a DS clone as far as difficulty. When I play games I want to feel powerful. I admit that with single player games I usually turn the difficulty to the lowest setting. It’s not that I mind a challenge from time to time, but a game being cruel just for the sake of it isn’t fun to me.