Dark Souls’ Uncompromising Design Leaves No Space For An Easy Mode

Dark Souls [official site] isn’t for everyone in the same way that a bowl of piping hot broth isn’t for everyone. Let it cool for a while, add some seasoning, and people might happily tuck in and enjoy, but if you expect them to eat it exactly as you would – whether that’s by chugging it down in a few swift gulps or taking tiny sips long after it’s gone cold – a fair few folks would rather have a nice sandwich instead. Nothing wrong with that. Nobody should have to drink soup through a straw.

Or should they? Given the cries of ‘git gud’ that greet many complaints about the difficulty – or inaccessibility – of Dark Souls, it’s tempting to see those who love the series as precisely the sort of people who would chase you away from the bowl if you brought a spoon to the soup kitchen. “NO SPOONS” they’d shriek “YOU WON’T APPRECIATE IT IF YOU DON’T GET IT ALL DOWN YOUR CHIN AND THE FRONT OF YOUR JUMPER BEFORE YOU MANAGE TO SWALLOW A MOUTHFUL”

I wholly agree with these kitchen monsters.

Dark Souls is the kind of meal that you take as it’s served. No condiments, no seasoning. The chef has done his work and if you so much as think about asking for the salt and pepper, he is going to salt the next batch with his own tears.

Now, I wouldn’t want to eat in a restaurant that dictates terms to me. I don’t enjoy food in the same way that I enjoy art and entertainment. I know what I like to eat but I wouldn’t dream of trying to analyse why I like it afterwards, and I’m usually shovelling something in my mouth to make sure I stay alive and (relatively) healthy rather than to discover some transcendental experience. If I was searching for the perfect meal though, I’d feel a bit let down if I was expected to muck about too much with the flavours myself.

Dark Souls allows you to choose an approach, from the initial selection of a class and the freedom to alter character builds through to the decisions you make regarding covenants and NPCs, but it doesn’t modify its own behaviour to accommodate that approach. Struggle to overcome a section or a boss and it won’t bump the hitpoints of enemies down or dull their reactions. Nor will it mock you. It’s a weirdly unresponsive series that so often treats the player character as an incidental creature. Yeah, you’re there, kindling embers, kicking through ashes, sparking cinders, but even when it’s killing you with a massive monster, Dark Souls seems like it’s shrugging.

I think that’s because of the mechanical nature of the whole game. AI, enemy placement, combat animations – it’s all predictable, to the extent that you can exploit every element, and as soon as you die, most enemies will walk away as if getting back to their patrol route is far more important and taxing than vanquishing some kind of sun-praising hero. They’re more concerned with fulfilling their eternal function in the world, whatever that might be, than dealing with distractions.

Dynamic difficulty balancing would interfere with that sense of an uncaring world, but I have stronger objections to the idea of an easy/easier difficulty setting in the Souls games. I don’t know how it would work.

When I tell people who don’t know the games particularly well about a tough boss, they often make the assumption that I’ve spent ages chipping away at an enormous health bar and that the sheer length of time they take to die is a key part of the difficulty. That’s rarely the case. While there are examples of bosses that demand perfection for a prolonged period, it’s usually possible to hack away great chunks of those health bars with a single blow delivered to just the right spot. The brilliance of the Souls bosses is built on inventive designs and clever patterns rather than gruelling wars of attrition.

That being the case, it would be very tricky to modify bossfights without detracting from the experience significantly. Sure, you could reduce the damage that their attacks inflict or make those health bars a little thinner, but that would treat complex design as a simple mathematical issue. Less for them, more for the player. Fights would be almost as difficult if one fewer successful attacks were needed and would be entirely pointless if entire sequences were removed in order to speed things along.

An Estus flask with more swigs of the good stuff – lovely, healing liquids – is a possibility. If it were possible to recharge your health after every major scrap, you’d spend less time dying and replaying…but you’d also spend more time gathering souls and would risk losing loads everytime you died. And bossfights or difficult sequences of enemies would still wipe you out completely from time to time. The frustration of Dark Souls is rarely felt most keenly when a fight finishes and you’re left with a fragment of health and no way to heal – it’s when you fail to finish the fight over and over again that desperation sets in.

In considering possible ways to introduce an easier mode, I thought about allowing people to bank souls. What I mean by that is that you’d be able to head back to the Firelink Shrine – or any bonfire – and cash in any souls you’ve gathered, even if you don’t have enough to spend on an upgrade. The way it works at present is that you’re stuck with the souls you can’t spend and risk losing them, which becomes a source of anxiety in the late-game when upgrade costs are much higher.

If you could bank those souls, saving a few thousand at a time and working toward an upgrade or new level step by step, would that make the game more accessible?

I don’t think so. I think it’d make the games an awful grindfest, encouraging repetition of areas that you’ve already mastered. That’s at odds with the way the games operate as they stand – there’s lots of reptition, yes, but you’re generally repeating tasks until you’ve mastered them and then moving on. Dark Souls is a learning process and once you’ve passed the test, you get to go and play in a new area, with new friends and enemies.

And I think that’s the root of the problem. I know so many people who feel excluded from Dark Souls because they love what they’ve heard about it and want to experience it for themselves, but can’t get past the pain of repeated defeats. As I’ve written elsewhere, I find Dark Souls far more forgiving than games that give me a set number of lives and make me start all over again if I run out. There’s no precious limited commodity to worry about in Dark Souls – it’s far more important, as I see it, that the game lets you live as many lives as you choose to rather than that it takes those lives away from you. It’s like Hotline Miami in that regard. The fact that death is a momentary inconvenience makes me feel empowered.

The difficulty isn’t an elitist exclusionary choice, even if some like to see it that way. It’s part of the design, thematically, mechanically and artistically. Repetition and death, and the learning experiences that come with them, are as much a part of Dark Souls as the ability to pause combat or chat to your companions is an essential part of a BioWare RPG.

One of the reasons I love games so much is that they don’t often insist on themselves in the same way that many artforms do. I am the person who wants the salt and the pepper and the condiments so that I can tailor the meal to my tastes. Games allow me to do that. Sure, I can fiddle with the contrast settings when I watch a movie but I’d rather have the DP and director come round to my place and prep it exactly as they reckon it should be.

In an ideal world, I sometimes think every game should be like Invisible, Inc., which allows such individualised tweaking of the game setup and difficulty that I’m amazed by how generous it is everytime I play. If I want my next few hours to be made up of nerve-rattling tension, Invisible, Inc. can accommodate me, but if I’d rather play a lazy game of infiltration and cybercool, it’s happy to go along with that as well. That’s lovely.

I think Dark Souls might collapse if it compromised. If there was an easy mode, people would play it and then ask those of us who’d been here all along, ‘what was all the fuss about?’ That’s what happened to me when I had to cheat my way through sections of The Witness. The joy of a solution lost, I couldn’t understand the appeal. That’s because I’m rubbish at the kind of puzzles it presented me with – not my failing, not the game’s failing. We’re just incompatible.

Now, of course I’m going to tell you to try again if you did find Dark Souls just that little bit too unforgiving. I think I’ve made a good case for its lack of compromise and I’ve hopefully managed to make a case for the reasons behind its much-praised and much-lamented design.

But if you never manage to leave the Asylum, that’s ok. There are hundreds, thousands of other games. Some of them are very good. None of them are Dark Souls, sure, but then I’m told that these are all good games and there’s not a fucking chance I’ll enjoy even half of them. I wouldn’t want them to change for my sake though. It’s fine. It’s all fine.

Dark Souls III is available now.

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371 Comments

  1. Xocrates says:

    While I’ve never played Dark Souls (I do own it, but never had the time/will to play past the Asylum) I find many of the arguments present here, while not necessarily wrong, to be somewhat… disingenuous?

    The problem with the “the game is perfect as it is” arguments is that it assumes that all people are equally capable. Two players playing in the same difficulty can have vastly different experiences, in much the same way that players in different difficulties can have surprisingly similar ones.

    Even minor mathematical tweaks can have huge impact in accessibility without substantially changing the experience. Just making sure the players can make one more attack before dying can be the difference between victory and rage quit for thousands of players. And this mathematical balance is almost certain to be tweakable since it’s one of the most basic levers to tune a game.

    But regardless of all this, the actual problem is not, and has never been, if there should be an easy mode. The problem is how does one prevent players from playing at a difficulty – or playstyle – unsuited for them.

    • picollo7 says:

      Dark Souls easy mode is looking at a guide. The difficulty to DS quickly plummets when you know the weak spots of the enemies and bosses, and where things are located. The skill requirement to this game is quite low.

      The problem is people treat this game like Diablo and try to facetank everything instead of treating it as a Zelda for adults that is primarily about solving puzzles. Puzzles with respect to, what is this enemy’s weakness, where do I go?

      If you act like everything can one shot you, which a lot of times it can, then you adjust your play style to not Rambo through.

      Dark Souls just seems inaccessible because of the presentation that belies what it actually is: a puzzler revolving around exploration and combat.

      • gwathdring says:

        No, that’s you projecting the things that you found difficult about it onto other people.

        There are plenty of people who still found its bare mechanics difficult to execute in ways that would have been responsive to exactly the kinds of difficulty tweaks this article dismisses out of hand.

        This article pretends that the designers themselves weren’t sitting there tweaking numbers trying to make sure fights were the right amount of tough. Yes, Dark Souls as an experience is supposed to be difficult. You’re supposed to die and repeat. But that’s different from saying “Dark Souls is supposed to be exactly this difficult.” Which is what the article proposes. And I think that flies in the face of game design. I think that misunderstands that game design is at least a much an art of communication as any other art, and by many metrics even more so than others. Communication goes two ways.

        • gwathdring says:

          P.S. Just for the sake of clarity, Dark Souls has its share of glitches, bugs, poorly designed fights, grindy bosses, annoying enemies. It isn’t perfect.

          When players struggle with those aspects of the game, they aren’t incompatible with the vision of Dark Souls, they’re simply not so compatible or so skilled or so fortunate that they can engage with the game’s core intended experience without modification. You cannot ever please everyone, but reducing damage here, improving estus recovery there, adding an extra bonfire there, allowing you to leave an extra bloodstain … there are lots of small tweaks that could make the game optionally easier without sacrificing the game’s core structural, mechanical, and thematic conceits. Whether or not it is worth the expense and effort of doing those things from the developer’s standpoint is a complex question I leave to the developers. I can’t answer that, so I can’t say whether or not Dark Souls “should” have an easy mode.

          But I can say that the article’s reasons for arguing that it shouldn’t are nonsense. Everything the article says couldn’t be done because it reduces the game’s complexity to mere math has been done hundreds and hundreds of times over the course of the game’s development and coming up with a few bad ideas for how to make the game easier doesn’t magically shutter the discussion either.

          • picollo7 says:

            I guess I wasn’t clear. While there is usefulness in being skilled for this game, the base skill level needed is not as high as this game appears to require. Being careful is rewarded. Aping Rambo is punished. The problem is most people assume this game is Diablo thinking they can run and gun and mow down hordes of enemies at once, and that’s because that’s what a lot of ARPGs are these days.

            The reason why there is no “easy mode” is because the player chooses whether they play harder or smarter. Smarter is by far the easy way to go. And if you don’t have the time or can’t be bothered to trial and error for that knowledge, there are a plethora of guides on the net that make this game a breeze.

            ***SPOILERS***

            For example, the second Asylum Demon almost had me ragequit because he would oneshot me in an instant. My gut reaction was to stay as far away as possible and try to dodge his huge AOE attacks. An uber player could probably do it that way. Counter intuitively, the way to beat this guy is to run TOWARD him and spank him in the butt. He becomes ridiculously easy knowing his AOE doesn’t reach far behind him. That is a puzzle to solve, not a skill level to reach. Could you beat him with raw skill? Probably. Is there a better (easier) way? Yes, in my opinion.

            ***END SPOILERS***

            If you still don’t believe skill isn’t that important, youtube Kay Plays Dark Souls. Here is a total noob, not a gamer, that knows nothing about Dark Souls, succeeding at the game from scratch with no outside help.

            Think of Dark Souls as an adventure game a la Myst or Monkey Island. Those games were hard and you would hit a block if you had no idea about the puzzles. But once you solved the answer, you could progress. Puzzle (adventure) games typically don’t have a difficulty level because you can just look up the solution. You can do the same with DS.

            An easy mode is diametrically opposed to the game’s philosophy for a number of reasons. Rambo style playthrough obviates the need for thoughtful discovery and caution. The combat puzzles would be meaningless and far less rewarding once solved, if bothered to be solved at all. The atmosphere and ambiance are completely negated if you have nothing to lose, no skin in the game.

            Some claim an easy mode wouldn’t detract from the game. But it would, because the entire concept of brains over brawn (knowledge vs skill) becomes moot when you can just facetank your way through. The game just needs you to stop, look, and think. It is telling you there is a solution, there is an easy way, but probably not the way you think. It subverts the ARPG tropes and it is able to do this precisely because of its perceived difficulty and lack of an “easy setting.” But there is an easy mode. You just aren’t listening.

          • gwathdring says:

            My first reaction to the Stray Demon was to sit behind it and spank it in the butt. I quickly realized you still had to backdash when it did the AOE attack and that it would frequently make staying behind it difficult. When I looked up advice on this failing repeatedly … I found people recommending exactly my tactics and at best recommending I try stripping to the nude to run faster and using a Black Knight weapon. I did these things. I still just couldn’t whittle down the thing’s health bar before eventually failing to stay behind it well enough.

            This is a consistent problem I have with the game. The Taurus demon the very second boss most players face. My first thought was to cheese it with drop attacks from the ramparts. I noticed the skeletons up there the very first time I walked through the fog gate because I was warned to always look around and move cautiously in Dark Souls and the Fog Gate seemed like a big deal. But it took me quite a few tries to master aiming the drop attacks right (they would miss both due to user error and glitches) and properly navigating the someone awkward collision detection involved in getting around the demon again to draw it far enough away from the ladder and again to get past it and back to the ladder. On occasion, even a successful drop attack would get me stuck off to the side of the Demon, pinned inescapably between the demon and the ladder or launched unceremoniously over the edge. After many attempts, I learned the quirks of the boss–both intentional and buggy–well enough that I was recently able to do this fight in a single try when a friend two of us were introducing to the game semi-rage-quit and thrust the controller at me despite me insisting that he should try it himself, he’ll get it eventually. The barrier here, once again, was not me failing to see an easier tactical option. It was not me failing to explore and be careful. It was execution.

            This is why I called your rhetoric projecting; all this talk about how most players who struggle just aren’t playing smart. It’s an interesting inversion of typical gaming elitism. It’s saying “no, you don’t have to 360 no-scope, you just have to not be an impatient idiot.” You were not this harsh about it, and I appreciate that. But my experience is quite different. My experience is that Dark Souls has a much higher execution barrier than most games I have played, despite me continually either playing smart for myself or using guides to help me play smart. Dark Souls requires brawn, too.

            I’ve played countless adventure and puzzle games. Dark Souls is not like those. Not to me. To me, the barriers Dark Souls presents are in physical execution and physical endurance. As a lifelong gamer and musician, this is probably not because I am unusually bad at dexterity challenges. I have played games with other gamers for years–I’m not the best, I’m not the worst. Something else is going on here–my bet is on Dark Souls actually having an execution barrier! I don’t understand why so many people here are trying to argue that it does not. That some non-gamer on youtube can eventually figure it out is a single data point. Dark Souls is designed to be difficult and is consistently found difficult by many, many players not all of whom are impatient buffoons as many in this comments section would have it believed.

          • picollo7 says:

            Ok, point taken. I concede that even after “playing smart” the level of skill may be too high for some. In general, I believe most struggle in this game due to lack of knowledge/experimentation. I realize this is not necessarily the case every time.

            The lack of a difficulty setting does limit Dark Souls’ appeal to a wider audience, and I think that should be ok. I believe this contributes to its success as a game and fan devotion. While some may consider its uncompromising nature elitist and exclusionary, I don’t believe that is the intent. I believe the intent is to craft a particular experience aimed at a specific type of gamer who will enjoy the potent experience much more than something intended for mass appeal.

            I think that’s pretty neat these days. When practically all AAA games try to be everything to everybody to meet the bottom line, you get watered down garbage designed by committee that ends up being a giant shrug. Dark Souls bucks the trend, and is a much better game to certain people because of it. Unfortunately, this means others will be left cold. Dark Souls isn’t for everybody, and that’s ok. It means greater variety, devs taking risks, creating unique games with specific appeal.

            I think this is a good thing; I would rather have a few games I adore, then a bunch of forgettable meh.

            (PS, if you’re still up for it, try not locking on to the demon, forget your shield, two hand your weapon, jump attack the booty, and roll back immediately after. Run away when he flies up in the air, but as soon as he comes down get behind him. Learn the AOE distance and always stand behind him just outside of that distance. Wait til he attacks and as soon as the AOE is safe, just before it completely dissipates, jump attack, roll back. Lather, rinse, repeat.)

          • gwathdring says:

            I agree there’s nothing wrong with it! I disagree with all of the argument’s excuses as to why there IS something wrong with an easy mode.

            The article, were I writing it, could have stopped at “You know, not every game needs to be for everyone so Dark Souls is fine because being too difficult for some people who might like an easier version of it doesn’t take away meaningfully from the things that make it, for me, an incredibly well designed game.”

            That said, a lot of the excuses in the article and in the comments for why it couldn’t be easier, too, are completely silly. It doesn’t need to be! It’s fine that it isn’t! But it totally could be without losing the things at its heart. It isn’t supposed to be easy for anyone playing it, but it could be eas*ier* and still be hard for most people who play it.

            Again, that it isn’t? Is fine by me. :)

            As to your PS, those are all things I’ve done. It was tricky to stay behind the demon while it pivots so much. I was wailing at it wearing nothing but top armor and double-handing a Black Knight sword and it was just hard to get it to consistently let off it’s explosive attack so I could get a hit in from behind–it spun around too much. I ultimately gave up not because the fight seemed impossible, but because the health bar was so large that I could tell it was going to take me WAY longer to finally get to a point where I could get enough hits in safely enough to kill the boss than was worth my time, especially when there were other parts of the game to explore that weren’t anywhere near as boring.

          • Josh W says:

            I can agree with the execution concerns; I was playing dark souls 3 the other day, swapping controller with friends when we died, and I was able to beat an enemy that many of my friends couldn’t beat.

            This wasn’t because I was super-clever, it’s because when playing Dark Souls, I realised I did not have the correct swiftness of execution in order to defeat enemies unless I took advantage of long ranged weapons and AI pathing. I had to kite, jump attack, and bait out the most predictable responses from enemies.

            When I faced bosses, I would summon people, if I couldn’t summon people, I’d do other things until I could. Because with rare exceptions, I just couldn’t pull off the obvious things I could see to do fast enough. I need a few other people around to distract the bosses so I get some breathing space, even if it means they get more health.

            Slow dark souls to 2/3 of it’s speed, maybe half, and I would be able to play it well, at normal speed, I’m bad at it.

            Dark Souls allows you to grind your way far past the levels of bosses, so that defeating them becomes a matter more of brute force than cleverness. It doesn’t give you them at the exact moment that they provide the perfect challenge. But, if you happen to pick the right level bound to fight an enemy, and you can react fast enough, then the result is brilliant and very rewarding.

            I would be very happy for an easy mode, some kind of item that reduces soul gain and slows the speed of all enemies. Then I would be able to do all the timing stuff that I know should be working, and have more fun doing it.

            As it is, I play it slowly, in fits and starts, and with other people, either via multiplayer or via actually sitting in the room with them talking about the game. I still have fun, but not as much fun as I would have if the execution difficulty of the game was more closely matched to my abilities.

        • montorsi says:

          Except it is supposed to be precisely this difficult. The bosses will kill you until you suss our their weaknesses, and then you will breeze through them. Or you’ll continue dying trying to facetank while you mewl pitifully for an easy difficult, but that’s not much to do with the game itself.

          • Xocrates says:

            Except that ignores the reason Easy modes exist on the first place: Player skill.

            A game simply cannot be “precisely this difficult” because the same difficulty setting can be experienced in vastly different ways by different players.

          • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

            Lack of patience is why easy modes exist.

          • Xocrates says:

            Lack of patience is why YOU play easy mode. This is certainly not universal.

            There are many people who do not have the skills, the time to get the skills, or even the ability to get the skills to play on higher difficulties. And arguing otherwise is showing either complete lack of empathy or a very poor understanding of the multitude of people playing games.

          • Zelos says:

            Anyone can git gud if they’re willing to try.

            Being good at video games isn’t some inherent thing; you have to put in effort.

          • Politik says:

            Sorry I completely disagree with Zelos, that anyone can “git gud” given time. While you can certainly improve your skill at something, everyone has a base level of talent at everything. Apply your logic to football/ basketball/ insert sport here and we could all go on to be professionals. But we can’t because each person is born with a certain ability level which will only ever allow you to go so far…

        • tolian says:

          Not sure I agree with you. You say Dark Souls being “exactly the right” difficult flies in the face of game design; says who? Is there not room for a single franchise that says “No, this is what our game is about.”, why make every game the same?

          Game design – like any other medium – is subjective, and some titles should be allowed to stand out from the norm.

          • gwathdring says:

            Because the designers spent hundreds and hundreds of hours trying to figure out which numbers to put where. They didn’t meditate carefully on the themes of their game before deciding “Aha! Taurus Demon will have whatever-thousand hit points!” Some animation frames were designed carefully others were cloven to the art material they produced. Some aspects of the game were carefully crafted, others were cobbled together to get around hardware limitations, bugs, or art design problems.

            And finally, and most obviously, gamers are varied. The game cannot aim to be exactly one thing to all people because all people are different. It cannot be designed to be exactly the difficulty it is; that design has behind it some intent–usually several intents that overlap or even conflict. Maybe the game is designed so you die a certain rough percentage of the time or so you feel a certain way or what-have-you.

            Unless the point of the game is specifically to weed out players below a certain skill level in certain arbitrary skill categories (which I will say with confidence is not the purpose of Dark Souls as a piece of art), then there is no such thing as a precise level of difficulty because there is no universal guidepost for how skilled your audience is.

          • gwathdring says:

            My point isn’t that games can’t take a stand and have intent and treat that intent with sovereignty and integrity. My point is that anyone who thinks they can make a difficult game “exactly the right difficulty” is either designing that game for exactly one player in the whole world or isn’t very good at designing games.

          • tolian says:

            Well all games are made out of numbers at the end of the day. You say spending hundreds of hours tweaking them is a bad thing? Surely that’s better than making it impossibly hard, or too easy?

            The developers decided that getting hit by a weapon should probably kill or severely injure you. Finally, someone made combat dangerous, instead as easy as walking. This isn’t like The Division, where you can empty a clip into somebody’s head and they’re still alive.

          • gwathdring says:

            I never meant to imply that tweaking numbers was a bad thing. I’m not sure where you’re getting that impression.

            I don’t know what The Division has to do with this discussion. It’s nowhere near as well designed as Dark Souls and it’s an entirely different kind of game with entirely different balancing concerns.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Diablo 3 definitions of difficulty: multiply damage, multiply health. An absolute 0 skill game.

      • Urthman says:

        When you say that “easy mode” is looking up the solutions to the puzzles of how to defeat the bosses, it’s clear you don’t understand what people are talking about.

        The secrets are all out there on YouTube videos, but some people can watch those videos, follow the instructions, and easily beat the bosses, while other people can’t. It’s that difference in what equally-knowledgeable people are able to do that is usually addressed by a difficulty mode, so that players of different abilities can experience the *same* level of difficulty.

        When you say Dark Souls shouldn’t have difficulty levels, what you’re saying is that the game should be *harder* for less-gifted players than it was for you.

      • Reapy says:

        God of war 1 and devil may cry 1 were much harder than dark souls. Why did nobody rip these guys a new ahole over the difficulty levels?

    • BooleanBob says:

      Special pleading isn’t special pleading when there’s a consensus apparently!

      And I say that as someone who loves Dark Souls.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Play it beyond the tutorial, at least, then.

  2. GameCat says:

    I think demanding easy mode in Souls series it’s kinda like demanding the Walking Simulator mode for Doom.
    If you strip the whole core of the game, you will end up with… hollow shell of it former self (hehehe).

    Also, it’s not like Souls series doesn’t have some helping tools for less skilled players.

    • Xocrates says:

      Consider for a moment that DOOM includes a God Mode cheat.

      This doesn’t mean you’re supposed to use it, but the option is certainly there.

      • zxcasdqwecat says:

        Does the X in Xocrates stand for poison or it’s Xo like kisses?

        • Xocrates says:

          It’s a “X” as in “it was the late 90’s/early 00’s and I was a teenager”

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        There are definitely trainers for Dark Souls which will give you similar cheats. I enjoyed messing around with Doom using idkfa and iddqd and idspispopd, but it’s not really playing the game in any meaningful sense.

        • gwathdring says:

          What is it like than? Embroidery? Eating a banana?

          I’m pretty sure it’s like playing the game in several very meaningful senses. Just so, getting boosted health or damage is like playing the game in a yet more meaningful sense relative to God Mode cheats and having a specifically designed and balanced easier mode of the game is as meaningfully like playing the game as the more difficult mode.

    • sosolidshoe says:

      Haud on though, when they aren’t endlessly burbling what amount to longform variations on “git gud”, the thing I see most from DS fans amounts to “yeah but anyway the whole combat thing is incidental, it’s totes really about exploring this lovingly crafted world with all the details everywhere”.

      Regardless, both your argument and all the arguments in the article are pretty easily brought down by one simple retort; why do you care? Adding an “easy mode” doesn’t affect your ability to continue playing the game the way you feel it *should* be played, and if people find the idea of an easy Dark Souls or a walking-sim Doom interesting why does that matter to you?

      Of course it doesn’t, unless the constant protestations of “we’re not being elitist!” are a transparent lie, and in reality DS fans derive a significant portion of their enjoyment of the franchise from doing something other people haven’t done and so can feel like they’re superior to those other people…

      • Kamestos says:

        Exactly this.
        I played through DS1 with a trainer (offline), essentialy making the game a walking simulator, and I enjoyed exploring the world and the level and enemy design.
        I would have done that legitimately if the game had allowed it.

      • montorsi says:

        Well, sure, the game is defined in large part by its combat and solving its puzzle-like aspects in realtime with the threat of death looming if you fail. I can’t fathom wanting to sprint through the game before having experienced the highs and lows that make each area uniquely memorable.

      • mxmissile says:

        Adding an “easy mode” doesn’t affect your ability to continue playing the game the way you feel it *should* be played, and if people find the idea of an easy Dark Souls or a walking-sim Doom interesting why does that matter to you?

        One word… e-peen.

      • Zelos says:

        The idea that having an easier mode does not negatively affect players is nonsense. By allowing such a mode to exist, the game is made worse for newer players who made a poor choice without knowing any better. It’s much like Adam said in the article; by cheating through parts of The Witness, he wasn’t able to properly appreciate it.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Except, no. That would be like Doom having more than one difficulty. Which it does. Or Doom having cheat codes to make it easier. Which it does. Or Doom having character and level design which is appealing on its own. Which… wait, no it doesn’t but Dark Souls does.

      There’s a huge difference between changing the equations that dictate how the game functions and taking out every single enemy.

    • Razumen says:

      Nice fallacy, it doesn’t have to be one extreme or the other. There’s tons of other challenging games that offers different difficulties without sacrificing the core gameplay….

    • Fnord73 says:

      With the caveat that Im currently grinding my way through DS1 for the first time, and that and Demons Souls is my only experience, the only way I can see making it easier without loosing the flavour is to allow with retrotinkering with stats. Its damn annoying to come quite far into the game and realize that you have built your character *wrong*.

  3. math0ne says:

    My problem with this line of thinking is adding an easier mode for people like me doesn’t detract anything from your experience playing it on normal difficulty all it does is prevent me from ever seeing the game.

    I know no matter how much I practice I will not be good enough at this to get very far in any souls game, I really like video games and have played thousands of hours, but I’m just not that good at them.

    Simply giving me the option to have more health would allow them to make another 60$ from me thats for sure.

    • yogibbear says:

      Playing the game and over-leveling the PVE content to upgrade your HP gives you your easy mode more health. i.e. effectively farming the easy bit if you hit a wall. (which is not at all how you need to play, but satisfies what you want to do).

      • Scripten says:

        I’ve beaten Dark Souls and greatly enjoyed it. That said, this argument has the problem of “Why?” Why would anyone sit and grind for a higher health bar? I personally have a full time job, so I just don’t have enough time to grind. If I didn’t have the lifetime of gaming skills/dexterity to defeat DS, I would never have been able to enjoy the game. I don’t think that gaming skill should be a barrier to experiencing a game, personally.

    • Palladian says:

      I don’t think the point of the article is to jealously guard the difficulty for difficulty’s sake. Rather Dark Souls is hard as a natural consequence of its other systems, and changing any one would weaken the experience. ‘You’ can’t have an easy mode not because of a ‘git gud’ attitude, but because you’d be playing a worse, not to say incomplete, version of the game.

      • khalilravanna says:

        To build off this, to ask for an easier version would be to sacrifice from the vision the developers had for the game. If we are to assume games are art, then asking for an easier mode, that defeats the drama a part of learning to defeat the challenges presented by the game, is the equivalent of asking for a different ending to a movie because you didn’t agree with the director’s vision for how it ought to end.

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          X_kot says:

          This is a terrific argument against mods – they only serve to warp or dilute the creator’s intent. Or as a rebuke to those people complaining about always-online features: “that’s the way the devs made it!” That is a cohesive view, but there are those who want to promote authorial vision when it suits them and the openness of the PC platform otherwise. I hear complaints about how there aren’t many “difficult” games out there, but you can mod any game to make it more punishing.

          • Palladian says:

            I agree that authorial intent is a bad argument, but mods are incomparable with actual gameplay modes. I think the nearest analogy is the CKII mod that puts women on equal inheritance grounds with men. It’s fine as a mod and it’s fine if you want to play that way, but the devs obviously didn’t include it even as a checkbox because it violates the particular game they envisioned. If someone wanted to mod Dark Souls to be easier so be it, but often the dev even providing options is a tacit endorsement that it is an equally valid way to play the game. Contrary to popular belief, more options is not always better.

          • Emeraude says:

            The two visions are not incompatible.

            I love to play with mods. I also don’t claim that I’m playing the original game when I do.

            The existence of fan-fiction doesn’t dilute the existence of the original work. And you can value both equally, though for very different reasons.

          • Premium User Badge

            X_kot says:

            From Palladian: “the dev even providing options is a tacit endorsement that it is an equally valid way to play the game”

            From Emeraude: “I also don’t claim that I’m playing the original game when I do.”

            What I get from both of you is that the notion of authenticity is important, that when someone tells you, “I finished Dark Souls,” there is a shared experience between you. Playing a modded or easier version is not the “true” experience. Palladian, you distance yourself from the authorial-intent crowd, but you still value dev-created components more than fan-created. Emeraude, you imply that when discussing a game, you should disclose that one is playing a modded version.

            Why is the original valued as more authentic than the mod in this case? There are plenty of games where the modded version is generally deemed as superior (see Knights of the Old Republic II, Total War: Empire, Civ IV). My argument is that the dev vision of the game is not the arbiter of authenticity. The place of mods is to customize the player’s experience, and difficulty levels are a form of customization. Ergo, in the spirit of the PC platform, we should embrace the proliferation of choice by encouraging devs to make difficulty more modular and accessible. The current mod system favors those with the knowledge and tools; the next step is to push devs to incorporate that system in the base game so that anyone can easily tailor the game to their preferences.

          • Emeraude says:

            I wouldn’t have said it’ s a matter of authenticity, but if you have to put it that way, it’s that a mod is it’s own game. It’s a matter of identity. Warcraft 3 isn’t DotA.

            People playing football but allowing certain players to use their harms/hands beside the goal are not playing football. They’re playing their own game.

            Which is not a bad thing, but then it totally changes the kind of conversations you have about them.

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            X_kot says:

            From the FIFA website: The offside rule formed part of the original rules in 1863 but it was a far remove from the law as we know it today. Any attacking player ahead of the ball was deemed to be offside […] In the late 1860s, the FA made the momentous decision to adopt the three-player rule, where an attacker would be called offside if positioned in front of the third-last defender.

            It’s only a mod until the dev does it, right? This is why we must continue to push devs to incorporate community ideas and broaden the matrix of possibility.

          • Emeraude says:

            It’s only a mod until the dev does it, right?

            We’re entering another debate here. Interesting one, that you can partly see in the game as service vs game as product, but one that has bigger ramification.

            We don’t know who created chess. It was a long collective process where not one person or group can be said to be the originator. It’s down-top design. There are no “authors”. It’s been formalized and standardized over a long period of time, and we’ve known several variations of the game. Still, we know and understand that Chess and Shōgi are different games born from common origin (Chaturanga). They’re different mods that have grown apart.

            As compared with a lot of modern games, which are made by a finite, known number of people, which collectively can have authorial intent. It’s a top-down design.

            You can change the game, it’s good that you can, and you should be able to – at it’s best it will lead to new games. But if you’re doing so, well, you’re making a fork, and it’s not the original you’re playing. May be better – hell, may be closer to the original intent in some ways, may be worse, but it’s not the original.

            There is value in games having archived, known, “definitive” versions the way other art forms do.

            If I’m playing a Super Mario hack, I’m not playing Super Mario. That has no bearings on the quality, importance or value – validity – of either. They’re not the same thing though.

            (PS sorry, getting needlessly wordy, that’s fatigue for you)

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            X_kot says:

            A good point about service vs product, but authorial intent is present in any game played in modern times. Rules and standards of play are taught/enforced by someone, whether it’s FIFA, Hoyle, or the World Chess Federation. There will always be an appeal to authority in any argument over what is the definitive version. When I learned chess, my mother wouldn’t permit en passant because “it’s not traditional.” But according to whom?

            In the article Adam wrote, he referenced Invisible Inc. and how you could tweak a bunch of game parameters. I don’t know if you’ve played it or not, but there three presets and a mode where you can adjust all of the settings. Would you consider finishing a campaign on any of these modes definitive? My guess is that you would say yes because the devs have created the game that way. If that’s the case, then my position is that From Software should try making the next Dark Souls the same way. Design the game in such a way that difficulty can be scaled manually. I don’t want to take away the punishing experience you enjoy, but I also don’t want mods to be necessary to allow others to have fun. My hope is that whatever follows DS3 will be built differently to give more people a go. That way, if the hardcore don’t like it, at least they’ll have had three games they can call their own.

          • Emeraude says:

            A good point about service vs product, but authorial intent is present in any game played in modern times. Rules and standards of play are taught/enforced by someone

            But the ones imposing the standards are not the one that made the game, nor do they have unlimited margins in the changes they can make. They are bound by a form that is a being prescribed/transmitted to them.
            And that form was not created by any individual or group. It’s a collective property really. *Everyone* understands that Knightmare Chess is not Chess and no official organism could turn one into the other so to speak.

            If you look below, I specifically commented about Invisible Inc. It’s a game I want to love, but I just can’t find it in me. Feels to me like I’m paying to do the designer’s job to a point. And some people will enjoy the game for that very reason but I personally think it diminishes the game itself. Or I guess reduces it to the sketch of a finished work that is yet to come is more like it. There are *very* solid design elements but no cohesive intent that coalesces them into a working gestalt.

            Now, more specifically about the possibility of “à la carte”, or “easy/easier” difficulty for Dark Souls, I don’t think it would work if you are to respect the authorial intent. Which I discusses in more details below.

      • Ragnar says:

        You can make that argument for any game with a difficulty setting, and it’s always crap.

        I’m playing Fire Emblem Fates right now on Hard, and it would absolutely be a worse experience for me on Normal since it would pose no challenge. But if my daughter wants to play it on Normal, who am I to stop her? If she loves the game without the difficulty, so what?

        Many people will accept what you may consider a “worse” experience over no experience, and for some people the experience would be improved.

        My experience would be improved with an easier mode. Dark Souls is not too hard for me – I killed the Bell Gargoyles on my first try solo – but it demands too much time. I get the thrill of defeating a boss you thought unbeatable, I just don’t have the time for it. Having to kill the enemies you killed many times before to get to the tough part is draining. If the game was less lethal, I’d play and enjoy it more. My experience would be better.

        • Emeraude says:

          Which raises once again I guess the question of whether games are supposed to be about processes to be mastered or content to be exhausted.

          Personally find that the gaming industry has been focusing way too much on the later. For understandable reasons.

        • swigg says:

          Fire Emblem Fates is Fire Emblem Fates.

          It has nothing whatsoever to do with Dark Souls. If Dark Souls did things the way Fire Emblem Fates did, then it would not be Dark Souls, it would be Fire Emblem Fates. So good for you, you have a game that does things the way you like it, so just play that, you know?

    • f0rmality says:

      I disagree. The difficulty is part of what creates the world and atmosphere of dark souls, without it, you’re sorely lacking something. That’s why a lot of people didn’t like DkS2 as much until Scholar of the First Sin released and made it much more difficult, cause at first it was a bit too easy and didn’t feel as much like Dark Souls should.

      It’s supposed to feel hopeless, you’re meant to despair, that’s the entire point of the world and the storyline, if you feel like you can handle the next boss, or you haven’t died fifty times in the same area, then the game has failed at what it’s trying to accomplish.

      And if you don’t want that difficulty or feeling of despair, but instead just want to see the world and listen to the lore – then there are Lets Plays to watch.

  4. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    The best way they could add an easy mode is the same way that racing sims do, by adding in visual cues that not only make the game easier but teach you how to play the game properly. Have the game better project when the actual point is that you need to dodge.

    These are basically bullet-hell games at this point (stabby-hell?) Games made to appeal to one group of people meaning those games need to continuously get more challenging to maintain that appeal. The first boss in DS3 is clearly designed to be as confusing to old players as possible which just makes it that much harder for the non hardcore players to get into the game. It took me three days to beat him, just because I kept having to put the game down because it was obvious I wasn’t going to beat him that day because I was too tired or had other things on my mind.

    I also think the “it’s not that hard” crowd make it worse. Lots of people find these games hard, that’s the point. Being presented with the idea that they’re not difficult just makes them more frustrating when you are struggling.

    • gwathdring says:

      Indeed. It takes a special sort of mental gymnastics to say that a game doesn’t need an easier mode because it isn’t that hard while saying it can’t have an easier mode because difficulty is part of its artistic integrity. :P

      Also to imply that difficulty is an absolute quantity and that being difficult can’t mean slightly different mechanical balance for a variety of audience members.

    • tolian says:

      As an “old” player, having completed DS1 twice, and DS2 once, I didn’t find the first boss confusing at all, and killed it on the first attempt, sure – it was close – and I’m not that good really. Exactly what I wanted from the first boss, it could have killed me, but I approached the fight with extreme caution.

      There’s no mental gymnastics required to understand that the game isn’t that hard once you master where the game is coming from – which is it’s primary art; you learn a set of “skillz” that can not come from any designed game system.

      • gwathdring says:

        I have never seen it argued that, were Dark Souls to have an “easy” mode, an easy mode should literally auto-play itself and require zero learned input skills.

        So I’m not sure what your point is.

        • gwathdring says:

          That said, the popularity of Let’s Plays and Twitch streams tells me that having a baked-in mode where a file of inputs takes over the controls and plays the game while you watch wouldn’t exactly be a terrible idea.

          And it’s not as though cheat codes and god-modes and such are new. They’re part of the history of gaming, and have been used even by skilled players to have a different experience.

          None of this requires that From Software do any thing they don’t want to do. But … I’m confused that the notion of an easy mode or a cheat mode confuses people. Where have you been, self-described ‘old’ gamer and all, that you find any of these ideas unorthodox? Did Dark Souls give you amnesia?

  5. Imakandi says:

    It really amazes me that people want an easier mode for a game who’s whole selling point is that its not easy. Something like DelrueOfDetroit’s suggestion of making attack tells easier to see could work, but the gameplay should not be compromised. Its not a case of it being ‘perfect as is’ but of actually challenging players to get better at the game. Honestly there are tons of games for easier experiences, for people that ‘just want the story’ or ‘don’t have the time’. The people that play Souls games do so because they don’t want those kind of games, they want an uncompromising game. And clearly Souls games sell well enough to make sequels, so theres room in the market for a few games like this.

    • horrorgasm says:

      Makes me think of participation trophies. Everyone wants to be in on what everyone else is doing, but they don’t want to actually work for it. It’s the kids these days with their hippin’ and their hoppin’ and their bippin’ and their boppin’, they forget what the video games are all about!

      • gwathdring says:

        Have you considered that players are interested because they want a challenge, but that their skill ceiling is lower? That a player might want a difficult challenge they have to work hard to overcome but that they don’t have the time or capability to get to a point where they’re experiencing the same difficulty and reward balance the game gives you?

        Of course, this isn’t about elitism and self-congratulating! It’s about artistic integrity and game design.

      • qrter says:

        Exactly. I remember a time when ALL videogames were a fucking chore to play, and now people expect their games to be all “fun” and “entertaining”!

    • gwathdring says:

      One person’s “uncompromising” is another person’s “$!#@ me this is impossible.” Wanting something “uncompromising” is going to mean something different to players of different abilities. Dark Souls could be less difficult than it is while still being far more difficult than most games on the market.

      Consider, too, that Dark Souls is a more forgiving sort of difficult than a really difficult hitscan shooter or a really difficult stealth game or a really difficult puzzle game. It’s a lot more like a really difficult platformer without a lives system. You try again and again until you get it right and then you move on … but success and failure are matters of correctly approaching the environment, correctly assessing the possible solutions, and correctly executing one of those solutions rather than a matter of dealing with the kinds of chaos you get in a really difficult modern military shooter level or in something like Hyper Light Drifter.

      Is it really so hard for you to imagine wanting everything about Dark Souls with lower barrier to entry? Are you that incapable of imagining players with less skill at the game than you, that you cannot imagine them facing difficulty when the bar is lowered?

      • zxcasdqwecat says:

        Is hyper light drifter that chaotic though?

        • zxcasdqwecat says:

          I mean, I can tell damage and health anytime, just like I can distinguish between enemies and the range of their attacks etc. Definitely not a military shooter but I still see the point of the post I guess.

          • gwathdring says:

            Hyper Light drifter often has a lot of enemies on screen at once moving rapidly. Further, it allows the player to move rapidly using the dash or chain dash. I find that fights are less likely to play out the same way twice as often as in Dark Souls. Little things like aiming a dodge a little to the left can change how enemies path which changes where certain attacks are aimed and some enemy entrances are slightly randomized as well rather than occurring exactly the same way every single time.

            All of these combine to make it a game that is more about reaction than knowledge. You learn where things are and what attacks they have, but mostly you develop a set of high-speed reactions to certain problems which you then adapt to situations as they arise. Hyper Light Drifter is kinda like Zelda meets Bullet Hell. Hyper Light Drifter never lets you just tank behind a shield.

            It’s more chaotic.

          • zxcasdqwecat says:

            Yes there’s the idea of the gameplay which is fast thing and is more chaotic than something like dark souls, I just don’t find it as chaotic as a military thing. The game does provide cover and traps to exploit if you wish, else a clean stage calls for bullet dodging I can walk away to avoid, while bosses are perfectly fine duels.

          • gwathdring says:

            Military shooters and Hyper Light Drifter weren’t meant to literally be the same in my examples, indeed they were meant to explore the concept of what makes Dark Souls, Dark Souls from different perspectives. :)

      • Imakandi says:

        I don’t really understand the argument that every game has to conform to every possible player’s skill level. There are plenty of other difficult games that won’t compromise from their core design, the main difference is that Souls games are in the public spotlight and have a triple A budget. I, for one, enjoy playing difficult games that I will probably never beat. Whether its oldschool Roguelikes like Angband or Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, or other difficult games like I Want to be the Guy, Volgarr the Viking or Touhou on Insane difficulty. I’ve never experienced all the content in any of those games. And I’m okay with that. What would be the point of going through I want to be the Guy with tons of extra checkpoints or hitpoints for example? It would just be a subpar platformer at that point.

        “Is it really so hard for you to imagine wanting everything about Dark Souls with lower barrier to entry?”

        My point is that you aren’t getting everything about Dark Souls. You’re getting a hack and slash action game with some interesting level design. And there are already plenty of those.

        • gwathdring says:

          I don’t think every game has to conform to every possible skill level.

          What I’m suggesting is that many of the arguments in favor of Dark Soul’s difficulty don’t make sense. I’m not suggesting that From software has any obligation to make the game differently, just that the fans claiming an easier mode would be 1) impossible or 2) anathema to the game’s core message/ethos/whatever are full of crap.

          • Imakandi says:

            Yeah I agree that some of the arguments against easy mode are nonsensical. But considering that these games are still being made its clear that enough people enjoy them. This fanbase clearly does not want the game to change, and I can’t blame them. There are so many easy games, that many skilled gamers want harder games. And this series offers that.

            Dwarf Fortress is a game that many people want to play, but the barrier to entry is far too steep to climb. The solution? Dwarf Fortress clones are made, like Gnomoria and Rimworld.

            My point is that its okay for a game to be difficult, to be too hard for most players. So long that there is a market for Souls, I sincerely hope that it never changes (or if anything gets harder as the fanbase gets better at Souls games).

          • gwathdring says:

            That’s all well and good and a much more reasonable stance that I take no issue with. :)

            For my part, I think some of these games that aim, among other things, to be difficult and require dedication would still benefit from having some sort of optional training arena/mode/level or easier play mode and that for some of them that wouldn’t hamper anyone else’s experience or overtax the design team. I admit it’s entirely possible the Souls series doesn’t fit into that category, and am largely frustrated by how many people find that mere suggestion to be an attack on the artistic merits of the Souls games.

  6. Xerophyte says:

    I’ve heard this argument before and always find it at least slightly strange. Dark Souls _has_ an easy mode: at any point in the game you can summon other players, generally ones with more gear and familiar with the area, to help you out. You can also put down a summon sign and explore an area in someone else’s game without fearing the loss of any souls on death.

    You could argue that this is not a very good easy mode. Finding people to summon later in the games’ lifetime can be tricky and you never know quite what you’re going to get. It still serves as a pretty good way of letting you pick your level of challenge.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      At which point you are letting somebody play the game for you, and how is that going to be a better experience than playing the game atbyour skill level?

      The other problem is that humanity/embers are a limited resource. You aren’t always going to be in a position to summon others.

      • Xerophyte says:

        I am not making a comment on the quality of the experience, I am saying that it’s a mechanic in the game that allows players to make parts they find difficult significantly easier. You can see it as diluting the experience — much like any other difficulty setting — but it’s still an intrinsic part of the game that you can use to make it easier.

        That you can’t co-op as much and as often as you might like holds in DaS, sorta. You can farm Humanity if you know where to go and you get liquid humanity relatively often but you can definitely run out. You’re also limited by the fact that not a lot of people play DaS right now so actually finding someone to summon is a lot harder.

        Being summoned will always let you unhollow at will in 3 and especially in 2 with the small sign. They’re also more active and have better matchmaking code (or had, not sure if the de-GFWing of DaS helped any). Right now in DaS3 you can pretty much go through every area of the game as a team of 4 if you so choose and it’s going to be a pretty relaxing time outside of the occasional player invasion.

        • Dare_Wreck says:

          I said something to this effect in the last article on Dark Souls, and I’ll say it again here… where in Dark Souls does it adequately explain to you how co-op works?? I never would have figured it out without looking it up in a wiki, so I don’t buy that co-op represents a sort of “easy mode,” at least to those that are trying to beat the game without external reference and hints. As DelrueOfDetroit pointed out, you need humanity to summon others, and if you’re dying a lot and/or new to the Souls series, you may not even realize that you don’t have humanity or how to get more!

    • Emeraude says:

      That’s only for people who play online though.

  7. yogibbear says:

    Adam, can you please go give Richard Cobbett some hugs and teach him how to do Dark Souls. Because from his earlier article (effectively at odds with this one) I fear he may be still stuck on the first boss of Dark Souls 3 and refusing to seek help! Please go see how he is doing as if he would give the game a chance and bother to learn the mechanics around movesets, stamina management, dodge rolling and so on that he would actually learn to love the game he seems to loathe.

    • yogibbear says:

      Also on topic a little bit more I completely agree that Easy mode makes absolute nonsense in the way Dark Souls works because it would split the co-op community, and the game already includes ability to summon people to help as well as farm infinite souls to effectively over-level the PVE content. So you can already make your gear and self have better stats that the game content as well as summon people that are also over-levelled for the content if you are struggling.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Hmmm, that’s actually one of the more interesting arguments i’ve heard. ofc you could argue that the number of people who buy the game because of an easy mode would not actually split the community in terms of absolute figures, but personally I don’t think that’s likely.

        I mean if I can complete dark souls 2 without much problem with 0 knowledge of how stats work, no optimum play styles ect (I went for duel wielding because it looked cool) then it can’t be too difficult.

      • Josh W says:

        Well, Demon’s Souls had world shade, I’m sure it’s something you could balance, earlier I suggested that you could have the slowed worlds produce less souls. It even makes sense in lore; the reason you are able to do multiplayer is because of the strange way that time flows in these places near the end of the world. Dropping into a timestream that runs more slowly than your own is as plausible as dropping into someone else’s session at all.

        The main problem is that people offering to be summoned are not able to decline summoning to easy or hard mode timelines, that would be an interface challenge.

  8. Ketchua says:

    There already is an easy mode in Dark Souls – it’s called “using a greatshield” or “using zweihander”. The problem is that it’s not apparent from the outset. You have to get into it in order to discover that using a shield with high stability strips the game of virtually all challenge.

    • gwathdring says:

      I think you, and many others, are failing at empathy here.

      I’m not that bad at games in general. I’m not The Best, but I’ve been playing games since childhood and I’m still relatively young with pretty sharp reflexes. I read all the guides, I made sure to get a stable shield and take it slow and all of that–I still struggled with many parts of Dark Souls to the point of certain things just not being possible within a time frame that is worthwhile to me. I do not want to spend too many hours on a small section of one game, though I’m happy to spend dozens or even hundreds of attempts–I died well over 100 times completing Veni Vidi Vici in VVVVVV and well over 1000 all told collecting all 20 shiny trinkets but it didn’t take hours and hours of my life to do so. It isn’t even about patience–I can play 14 hour game sessions given enough spare time. It is about opportunity cost and skill ceiling; there are other games I could play and there are certain aspects of timing in games that have always given me trouble. Given properly clear cues or given a training mode that reveals hitboxes and timing windows … I can learn to be very precise. But just from observing the post-process animations and sound effects … I struggle in games like Dark Souls and fighting games to engage with the kinds of precision I eventually manage in VVVVVV or Super Hexagon or Mario or what-have-you.

      But I still enjoy Dark Souls and fighting games. I would enjoy Dark Souls more if–as when I play opponents of my skill level in a fighting game–I had a way to lower the bar a smidge. Even romping around with a bit old shield and taking it slow and walking into new areas with my shield up and all of that classic Dark Souls advice.

      Crucially, no one owes this to me. No one owes me an easier Darks Souls. The stakes here are simple–I finish it or don’t. I buy the sequels or I don’t. There’s no ill will or anger here. I just want to stress that the idea that players “just need to [do thing X]” to experience Dark Souls as an “easy” game is complete nonsense. Gamers are a varied bunch. We have different abilities, sometimes very specificly different mechanical skills and deficits rather than generic skill or generic lack therof. Making a game easy or difficult, therefore, is a very complicated matter. Whether it is worth putting in the extra work to make Dark Souls *just* hard enough to still be Dark Souls for a wider player base is entirely up to the developers. But players routinely insisting that such a concept is unnecessary (just use a greatshield or use summons!) or anathema to the game’s artistic message (obviously if it is too easy for me, it is too easy for everyone!) represents a clear lack of critical thought and/or empathy applied to the matter.

    • Emeraude says:

      That’s only for people who play online though.

  9. tolian says:

    If there were an easy mode, Souls’ would be seen in an entirely different light and have an entirely different audience. If DS had an easy mode, we may never have seen a sequel because the huge culture that has spawned from its notorious difficulty simply wouldn’t exist.

    I get that people wish it wasn’t so frustrating and inaccessible, but the masochistic charm and moments of relief and accomplishment are made even sweeter by knowing it was hard won.

    “git gud” may seem like patronizing advice, but please, get good at this game and if you still want an easy mode, you will be able to find it through your mastery of the game.

  10. Freud says:

    The Dark Souls games are almost always fair. Demanding but fair. We’re just so unused to games demanding us to pay attention and if we don’t getting slapped on the fingers with a ruler.

    They are not mechanically hard. They are hard because they require patience. They require observation. They require learning from your mistakes.

    • gwathdring says:

      Spacechem demands that you pay attention. Spacechem demands that you think carefully. What Spacechem does not demand is that you press a button at exactly the right time.

      This is fine. It’s fine for Dark Souls to require this. But pretending that because you played it for just long enough in just the right way or had just the right amount of game-related physical dexterity from the beginning to find all of this–in retrospect–easy just shows that you’re not thinking very carefully.

      Dark Souls is a demanding game. It does not demand mere attention. It does not demand mere knowledge via repetition. It demands physical dexterity, understanding of game conventions, understanding of when the game is intentionally trying to thwart those conventions, intimate knowledge of the game’s timing systems …

      The game will throw sucker punches at you. It will hit you with unfair encounters (Capra I beat in fewer attempts than any other boss except the Gargoyles, but I would never in a million years call Capra “fair” and it murdered my summoned allies pretty quick when I tried to seek help after a few attempts), it will hit you with hazards that require fast reactions and cannot be reliably avoided by mere common sense observation. Dark Souls is a difficult game. It is supposed to be a difficult game. The mechanics surrounding death are supposed to be engaged with. They are part of the game’s storytelling. You are supposed to struggle.

      That players routinely bend over backwards to assert it’s perfection, it’s not being hard or not being traditionally hard or being a puzzle or being easy once you get to know it … that players routinely bend over backwards to pretend it is “fair” simply because they ultimately figured it out … I find this frustrating. I think Dark Souls is an exceptionally well designed game but all of this guff makes it difficult to discuss as a piece of design. Fans treat it like a damn cult.

      • tiltaghe says:

        It is deemed fair in the sense that the attack patterns of the enemies can be learned and become predictable enough that the only thing killing you is your mistake. Most of the time ^^

        Capra demon is a good contrary example. The bastard. It is so relentless and close quarter. Very oppressive fight. He probably wouldn’t be that bad without the 2 adds though. It is the boss I had to retry the most among all (DS & DS2). I recall I defeated him in a really weird way haha. Some boss fights I manage to defeat them the method to do so was so quirky. A lot of them in one try in DS2 too. But the feelings, the stories you can share with fellow players afterwards.. they need that difficulty to exist I think. Capra demon is memorable precisely because he is indeed brutal and unfair. It gives me a smile anytime someone mentions him. So I agree with this -the unfairness- and with a lot of things in your stance as a matter of fact. But my opinion differ about your conclusions and I wouldn’t be for the inclusion of an easy mode.

        Alright, it is a nonsense to say that the difficulty is just right. The difficulty is arbitrary and an attempt by the developer to balance the game to produce a hard but ultimately very rewarding challenge. I think they succeeded.

        When someone says that, in fact, he felt the game was not that hard, it might really be disappointment that they feel. They have been let down by the game masochistic premise. The hardship and punishment is the way that brings the familiarity. True familiarity with the environment and a deeply personal connection. Remove that sense of reward by diluting the difficulty and you simply change target audience.

        So yeah, why not provide two levels of difficuly? This is just not possible, because of the online aspects of the game for one, and because we have to all battle through the same challenges to feel that the conquest has any value. It will dilute all communications around the game to have several levels of difficulty. This is pragmatically not possible even in a business point of view in my opinion. And that is a victory over the seas of insipid hand-handling games out there, because for one a true unforgiving game can sell and be recognize… and i think this is because of its artistic merits that DS can be the champion for the players who seek challenges, more than what a shoot them up -that hardcore genre- has ever been able to capture and is sure to stay a niche.

        My point is that an easier level of difficuly spoils the players who wants the unforgiving, demanding experience out of the game. Sorry^^

        Like tolian commented: “If there were an easy mode, Souls’ would be seen in an entirely different light and have an entirely different audience. If DS had an easy mode, we may never have seen a sequel because the huge culture that has spawned from its notorious difficulty simply wouldn’t exist.”

        But by all means, let’s dissect the game and it doesn’t have to be a cult of fanatic. The games have flaws. But it also hides them well. It is so much more than the sum of its parts. Astonishing really. The game doesn’t strike me as particularly original either. It is just so well executed and pure. Lol here goes the cultist I guess^^

        As a whole, it’s a masochistic action RPG with a metroidvania structure where monsters act as skill gates. Moments to moments, the combat mechanics don’t even have an astounding diversity. Yet here we are. Masterful the way they expanded and kept there mechanics alive. Probably because the core is so coherent and the dynamics at play just enhance the repetitive nature of the game. But fatigue is coming, fatigue is coming. Like he said. Move on, Miyazaki.

        • gwathdring says:

          I’m definitely excited to see where the studio goes after Souls. Miyazaki and From clearly know what they’re doing, any way you slice it.

      • Poolback says:

        Capra demon is one of the hardest boss in the game, along with the gargoyles. If you killed the Capra demon then you definitely have the minimum skill required to beat the rest of the game. I didn’t even make it that far in my first playthrough of Dark Souls before I gave up on it.

        This is a scary game. Big monsters, drama music, they kill you and give you the feeling that you will NEVER be able to kill it. I thought it wasn’t a game for me. Except that I came back to the series with the second one, and even though every single boss gave me that feeling of “I will never be able to kill it”, I ended up killing them a lot faster than what I thought I would.

        I now played through Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1 and 2 as well as Bloodborne many times. And still. Almost every boss in Dark Souls 3 give me that feeling of “Holy shit I cannot do this, this is too hard, I cannot kill it”. Except that I do. And if I don’t right away, then I go explore some other way. There’s always something to do in another place, another path to explore with another set of bosses, that could allow me to level up a little bit.

        I don’t have much time as well, I go through one area and maybe one boss per night. But that’s enough, because each time you kill a boss then the reward is massive. Not especially in term of items or souls, but in terms of emotions as well as the quality of the new content unlocked.

        This game is a challenge. It does not make any compromise. It is the living proof that a game doesn’t have to hold your hand to be popular. It has a very extremist vision of gaming. It throws you things that most of game designers wouldn’t even dare to, out of fear to lose their audience. Fans want their Dark Souls game to be uncompromising, so that it can shake the current gaming industry in the direction they want. That’s why most of Souls fan don’t want an easy mode.

        But I also think From Software doesn’t make an easy mode because their game is a very finely tuned machine, and that it would be extremely complicated to make it easier without being too costly. But who knows, Dark Souls 3 is the last game made by the company where the project started before Miyazaki became the president. Maybe, he will try creating a budget for an easy mode for the future games to see how that goes for them and their project. But with this franchise, this is a very risky decision. And a costly one.

  11. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    Maybe not an “easy” mode, per se, but a “non-masochistic” one, where you can save/load, or at least there’s a checkpoint before a boss fight. Although it might very well make the game lose most of its appeal. I played DS1 more or less in this mode (by manually backing up saved games), and my takeaway point was that it was a clunky, mechanically obtuse, and overall decidedly mediocre game (with only the visual design being somewhat above average). So I’m guessing “Stockholm syndrome” is a big part of the package.

    • horrorgasm says:

      I guess I’d feel that way too if I had to cheat to win.

    • montorsi says:

      It might surprise you to learn there are people out there who enjoy a challenge. If you find the combat clunky, the problem is you. It’s easily the best combat you can find in a medieval action RPG, bar none.

    • tolian says:

      And then you actually become good at the game and realize it’s not difficult at all, you’ve just become accustomed to the modern conveniences of games that lamented by many, scorned by the people that love Dark Souls. This is a game for players that want a challenge that has been crafted into something, like any level design or art asset.

      Dark Souls is purposely obtuse, bleak and frustrating to newcomers – we have plenty of games that make us feel like we’re Rambo and know exactly what’s going on. The Quick-Save mechanic in Dark Souls wouldn’t make sense in its cohesive self-referential, life/death cycle, or in the pseudo online mode.

      And there are usually quite forgiving checkpoints before the bosses.

      • Rumpelstiltskin says:

        I never said challenge was the problem. I just found the mechanics uninteresting and repetitive (especially magic), and having to run to bosses from bonfires was too annoying.

        • Blackcompany says:

          My exact problem. Three hours into Dark Souls 3 and desperately hoping for refund.

          Not because the game is not good. Not because its not engaging. But because I simply DO NOT have the TIME to repeat content hundreds of times. I should have known this going in, but thought that maybe my time with Dark Souls 2 would count for something.

          It didnt.

          Enemies in Dark Souls 3 have quick recovery times, super turning speeds, wide weapon arcs and can break poise in two hits. To say nothing of the pathetic amount of stamina awarded on level up. All in all, the game strives to make dodging the ONLY viable melee strategy early. Not a fan.

          I wish the game had a recovery/revive mechanic. Maybe give me 5 revives, each costing 10% of my max health and stamina. I could revive right there, at the boss fight, with 90% of each left and keep fighting. I could continue to do this until I died with only 50% of each left. THEN I would be forced back to the bonfire.

          Kill me. Force me to learn from it. That’s fine. But forcing me to repeat the same content over and over is tiresome and tedious and kills the fun. Dark Souls 2 had it right with stopping respawns after a certain time. That was the way to go.

    • jgthespy says:

      I think if some of you spent as much time actually playing the game as you’ve spent typing up huge paragraphs about how you deserve to experience every game ever made on your own terms, you probably wouldn’t have this problem.

      If you want to experience what the rest of us are experiencing, nothing is stopping you. Ok, maybe you have a skill cap that’s stopping you. In that case, it is impossible for you to experience what we’re experiencing. If you can’t dodge attacks or figure out how to manage stamina when blocking, then you can’t experience what we’re experiencing. If you have enough estus chugs or extra health to make more than a few mistakes, then you can’t experience what we’re experiencing. Dark Souls 3 already makes things easier in good ways. The dodging iframes are extremely lenient and it ends up making fights more exciting because you can be much more aggressive. Estus is more plentiful and less annoying to upgrade. If you can’t handle it, you’re going to be left out no matter what, so just go play something else.

      The danger IS the game. The complete terror of every step you take in a new area as your estus runs dry and your soul count grows. Stopping to appreciate the level and scenery, not because you’re into that sort of thing, but because you just need a minute before you can go on. Making it to the next bonfire on your first try after spending the last 20 minutes one hit away from death. Then 20 lives later, coasting through the same area, wrecking everything that moves as you make your way to the boss door for the 10th time, knowing that you’ve got his ass this time because you know all of his moves by heart. Then dying anyway because you tried to heal yourself at the wrong time. Then beating that boss and stepping into a new area where you start the process all over, except now you feel a little more empowered than last time because you’ve overcome so many challenges already.

      The community has always been a huge part of the Souls experience. The wiki is part of the game. Finding and sharing exploits is part of the game, and using those exploits is encouraged for people who are struggling. Part of it is the homogeneous experience shared by everyone, many of whom were tired of games dumbing themselves down to the point where they were barely even games. So with easy-mode, I see one of two things happens. Either the majority of people still play on hard-mode, and you still don’t get to be part of the community because you’re playing the wrong game, or the community gets diluted by easy-mode players and loses what makes it great. And the second one most likely leads to the dumbing down of potential sequels for this new audience.

      Just play something else. This game isn’t for you. Or git gud, cause you probably haven’t tried as hard as you think you have. We’re not lacking empathy, you just don’t get it.

  12. iainl says:

    The fundamental difficulty for me is reaction time, particularly when I never managed to get the 60Hz patch working. Bigger nervy bars wouldn’t make a massive difference, particularly when it’s not that hard to grind more hit points and kindle you bonfire up to 10 or even 10 Estus.

    What would help enormously would be a bit more slack timing on the boss attack signals. Some of us are old, and our reactions aren’t what they once were.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Hell, I’ve heard you can even go up to 10 Estus!

    • Emeraude says:

      What would help enormously would be a bit more slack timing on the boss attack signals. Some of us are old, and our reactions aren’t what they once were.

      I confess I just beat Manus again yesterday, and I certainly felt that sting.

  13. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Indeedly. It’s been said enough but really, the game isn’t hard in the traditional sense. I hate hard games, especially epic RPGs I always dial difficulty to easy to plow through and see the story.

    Dark Souls is different, you’re spot on it is a puzzle game – and in that respect easy mode is playing with a guide an alternative tab away. I ruefully played a lot of the first game this way and wish I hadn’t. Enjoyed BB and DS2 a lot more for going in completely blind.

    Once you change your mindset on what dying means (it’s not failure, just a thing that happens) then I never felt too frustrated with repeated deaths. In fact you have to accept it, a lot of the time its only through dying that you learn how to not die. It’s sounds frustrating but it’s just… you just get used to it. DS ‘gets away’ with stuff other games wouldn’t by fully accepting them into its design. Something really hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t played it or bounced off early on.

    • HopeHubris says:

      Puzzle games don’t require you to have very good reflexes

      • Cinnamon says:

        Many or even most puzzle games require you to use twitch reflexes from Tetris to Portal.

        • nottorp says:

          Personally, I found the timed or jumping sequences in the Talos Principle (a puzzle game, isn’t it?) a lot harder than the Souls series.
          In DS if you pay attention you’ll prevail; jumping puzzles are simply unfair most of the time.

          • Rumpelstiltskin says:

            I think Talos’s jumping puzzles were very friendly; it even showed the position where you’d land and would target it automatically.

    • Rumpelstiltskin says:

      Ok, so how does it fare against “real” puzzle games, like Portal, or the Witness? If I want a puzzle game, shouldn’t I rather play one of those? Again, sounds like it’s a “puzzle game for action players”, with the main part of the difficultly coming from large downtime periods before you can attempt to solve a puzzle again.

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        Sure, I wouldn’t go recategorising its genre, but I think my point is the whole game feels like a puzzlebox. Both in working out how to progress, what the hell is going on, and how to defeat each enemy type. Accept there is a level of skill or reflexes or whatever you want to call it to grasp to make some head way but a lot of the puzzling is how to win using the skills you are good at and/or the build of character you’re accidentally and later purposefully forming for yourself.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Its not dying that is frustrating. Its being forced to repeat the same content over and over again that is frustrating. See, some of us older folks, we arent just slightly slower in the reflexes. We also have jobs and families and interests besides Dark Souls to pursue.

      Thus, we simply cannot be bothered to retread the same content over and over again in a game, no matter how badly we might wish to do so. If we could somehow revive at the boss fight, with a slight penalty – say, 10% of health and stamina per revive, up to mayby 3-5 times – and keep fighting, I for one would be much happier to play the game.

      As it is, I am hoping for a refund on my Dark Souls III purchase. Which is unfortunate, because I like the game, but not the amount of my time it threatens to consume. The game is lovely; the mechanics make it also quite tedious.

      • nottorp says:

        Maybe you need to adopt a different strategy.
        For every boss there is a bonfire from which you can reach the boss arena without fighting anything. That may mean running past a few mobs, but it’s still pretty fast.
        I split my DS time in two phases: one where I explore an area and clear everything, and one where I do a boss and simply run past all the enemies until the fight I’m interested in.
        Works every time.
        And don’t worry about losing your souls, if you really want funds to level up / buy consumables just help a few people with bosses in multiplayer, risk free. You don’t lose your souls when you die as a helper phantom. When you have enough funds use a homeward bone and go shopping.

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        Fair enough. Just to say the old, jobs, other commitments thing all applies here, I am just totally and utterly obsessed with Dark Souls so find time. Other games just aren’t as good so don’t get played anymore.

    • Razumen says:

      Ok, first of all, it’s not a puzzle game. If DS is a puzzle game, than so is Ninja Gaiden, which also required the player to learn specific strategies to defeat different enemies easily.

      That doesn’t make it a puzzle game, it’s just good action game design.

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        The good action game design is just how you interact with it. That’s just layer 1, this onion goes a lot deeper. The whole thing feels like a puzzlebox, that what I was driving at. You’re forever having to unlock the next jigsaw piece, even if some of those pieces are mastering a skill with a controller (or finding a better solution).

        • Razumen says:

          Nah, it just feels like a hard, engaging action game.

          The fact that there’s stuff to figure out beyond what button does what just means it has depth beyond most others.

  14. Emeraude says:

    I think, at the end of the day, and I’m sorry to introduce things in those terms really, the question ties back to: are games allowed to be art, or are they meant only to be entertainment products?

    That’s something I’ve been pondering ever since Dishonored, a game that suffered a lot from being torn between artistic intent and the necessities of being entertainment (not that the two necessarily go at cross purpose, mind you).

    Asking for a Dark Soul easy mode is missing the point twice, in a way.
    It’s thinking there can be a Dark Souls game without the difficulty.
    It’s thinking the game is about the difficulty, when difficulty is just a mean to an end. The game is difficult because it wants you to feel the despair, the rage and frustration. It’s part of the nerves it’s meant to touch raw. The world is unfair, but you can master it… and it will mean nothing, and matter just as much. The game has authorial intent that meshes at all levels of design and artistic direction. And it doesn’t always work for sure, but it’s brilliant and well worth it for when it does.

    And they already tried to give people an easy mode in Dark Souls 2 really. Non-respawning enemies. That’s the way they tried to compromise, and it was awful really.

    In an ideal world, I sometimes think every game should be like Invisible, Inc., which allows such individualised tweaking of the game setup and difficulty that I’m amazed by how generous it is everytime I play.

    It’s amusing you would use Invinsible Inc example, along with SuperGiant games, it’s part of a modern trend of design I just can’t find love for, even when I enjoy and/or respect the end product.
    A game with no vision asking players to do the designer’s work. That’s how it feels to me. And I want to love the game; there’s so much good about it.

    • gwathdring says:

      You realize players have different skill levels, right?

      Say I, as a writer, want to describe a character from one of my novels to someone. Depending on that person’s ability to hear I might have to speak more or less softly. Depending on their familiarity with certain words or cultures or pop culture references, I might have to change the way I describe my character in order to best present it to them.

      As a writer, when I put words on a page … I have to hope for the best. But that is quite different from presuming the best. I hope, knowing that things will be lost in translation. That people who would like the story if I told it to them differently will not like how I wrote it or will not be able to read it due to the state of their eyes or their grasp of my language or their different relationship with my language.

      As a game designer, I can fudge that more readily. I can set my game up in such a way that players can self-report their familiarity with the language of games. Can self-report their physical capabilities–which may be limited by mere practice or may be limited more permanently. Players can listen to me explain the experience I want them to have, can listen to me begin telling my story … and can adjust the volume here, adjust the contrast there, adjust the physical demands over there.

      We accept routinely in PC gaming that PC gamers can and will adjust the shit out of the visual art presented to us. Since when did we grow an irrational complex about artistic integrity? Since when did we decide that making games customizeable and flexible was lazy? That is pure ignorance on your part.

      • megabee says:

        We get it. You’re terrible at this game and would rather pitch a fit in the comments section about it than improve.

        Not everything has to be inclusive. Sometimes, something is just not for you, and it’s time to move on.

        As long as you bother to learn the fundamentals and have a little patience, there isn’t a single Souls game that’s prohibitively difficult.

        • Synesthesia says:

          Besides the personal attacks, I kind of agree with this. The souls series being “Hard” is more of a cliche than anything else. Almost every single enemy and boss have weakpoints. For example: The huge rat boss at DS II was absolutely wrecking me, a caster. I spent about 4 hours running against that wall. That’s on me, not trying to solve it a different way.

          However, after i attuned the magic that exploded corpses, I two-shot it after having some luck with the positioning of the corpses of it’s minions.

          The collective learning of the game mechanics is a big part, too.

          As someone said above, the easy toggle is the DS3 Wiki. And most people use them, me included. The “git gud” meme is quite simply, not that true. Dark Souls is not hard. It’s fair.

          • gwathdring says:

            What frustrates me about this is that there is so much evidence to the contrary. It is intentionally made to be difficult. You are supposed to struggle. Sure, you’re supposed to ultimately figure it out but this is like me saying “Quantum mechanics is easy; yeah, it takes some getting used to and some background information but the course is designed to get you through to the other side of understanding the material eventually anyway so it’s just a matter of patience and effort.” That’s not what most reasonable people mean by “easy” and “difficult.”

            The game is difficult. People who play lots of games find it difficult. But some people reach a point where they get good enough at the game that they forget that it was difficult or they rationalize away that difficulty. It’s this weird sort of reverse elitism–you’re not GOOD at the game it’s just that everyone else is either lazy or bad at it. You’re not special, but clearly the only two options are 1) the game is hard and you are special and 2) you’re not special AND the game isn’t actually hard. Since you’re not special, 2 is the only option!

            I find this whole platoon of people baffling.

        • gwathdring says:

          I’m not attack Dark Souls. I rather like Dark Souls. I think it’s one of the best designed games I’ve ever played.

          I’m also pretty bad at it, though I stopped more because I don’t like bugs and Blighttown was uncomfortable than because I couldn’t have kept going. Undoubtedly, I would have been unable to beat the game but I honestly don’t know how far I could have gotten.

          I’m not sure why that invalidates my taking issue with certain arguments presented here. I dislike a lot of the elitism and misunderstanding floating around and a lot of the obnoxious attitudes like yours.

          Not everything has to be inclusive. I don’t think once in this entire comments thread have I demanded that Dark Souls absolutely have an easier mode, and several times I have stressed that it doesn’t need one.

          • Bury The Hammer says:

            You can skip a lot of Blighttown if you have the skeleton key as a starting gift – go in via New Londo Ruins, briefly into the Valley of Drakes, and it’ll pop you almost right at the end of Blighttown.

            That said, it requires a specific starting gift. But if you’re thinking of giving it another go, this is worth bearing in mind. Blighttown isn’t *that* far into the game, maybe about a quarter, a third?

            Agree that Blighttown is one of the more unpleasant areas of Dark Souls, but it’s just before two of the greatest – Sen’s Fortress and Anor Londo.

          • Emeraude says:

            You can skip a lot of Blighttown if you have the skeleton key as a starting gift

            You don’t even need that *if* you can stomach going through the Valley of the Drakes through the Darkroot Basin entrance. That’s how I did it the first time.
            Granted, I did a lot of things in the “wrong” order, but that’s the kind of joy you get from playing without a guide.

          • gwathdring says:

            I do have the key, actually. I looked at all the starting gifts and it was the only one that seemed worthwhile. I found an entrance to the Valley of the Drakes but it had a lot of ledges and steep cliffs and I was worried about fighting on them so I didn’t explore very far into it.

          • akev2794 says:

            One problem here is that people are using different definitions of easy. You seem to be using a definition of “easy” that’s roughly equivalent to “still challenging, but a little more forgiving/slow etc. so that more people are able to overcome the challenges presented without being frustrated/with the limited time they have due to their life schedule etc”.

            Sounds fine at first – but then comes the next person: “You know what, even this easy mode is a little too hard for me. Please Fromsoft, include another easier mode that’s still challenging but once again a little more forgiving.” This could go on practically ad infinitum, and the most obvious problem is practical – it takes up unnecessary development time and divides the community online as well (as it would be unfair to mix the groups, as those on easier difficulties would have an easier time getting certain weapons/spells, for example).

            The second problem is that, if you’re talking about a change of this relatively moderate magnitude, then it IS completely unnecessary – the organic difficulty present in the game more than accounts for this.

            You can farm for a relatively short time to level up vigour by, say, 5 levels in the early game. That may well boost your hp by 15% early game, and there you go! Easier mode unlocked. Or simply take the time to farm out one or two extra titanite shards early, and once again there you go, a 20% damage boost on your weapon is easily possible, for example. If you don’t want to go through the tedium, perhaps at higher levels, then you can summon a friend to drop a few materials for you (there is a password system for summoning now, making this even easier).

            If that’s not enough, summoning other players can make the game much, much easier. If you find that too easy, you can restrict yourself to summoning only one person at a time, and only after you’ve been stuck at a certain section for far too long, and then dismiss them when you feel you don’t need their help anymore. Still to easy? Then you can use the npc summons, which are generally less effective than player summons.

            If you want to do everything by yourself, then you can look at videos/guides for specific sections. You could even check a guide purely to see where to find a powerful early-game weapon, and then play through the rest of the game on your own once you get more used to the same.

            As you can see, there are so, so many ways to make the game easier on yourself (as well as harder for yourself, for those so inclined) in vastly varying amounts for varying amounts of time, I simply don’t see the need to add extra difficulty options in the menu.

            There is, I suppose, an argument to be made for those who simply don’t have the reaction time/hand dexterity/mechanical ability, for various reasons, to time dodges and attacks reliably, making the game a little too mechanically challenging. I do feel this can be ameliorated by some of my previous examples – if your weapon is now doing 50% more damage and/or you have more hp because of upgrade material/souls provided by a friend, you have less attacks and/or dodges to time properly, for example – but I can see why a brute-force solution like that may be unappealing, and fall apart later game where you should probably have a maxed weapon normally anyway. And I wouldn’t begrudge such a person wanting a, say, 25% slower version of the game which otherwise has the same enemy and player health and damage. I would simply argue that none of the Souls games (save perhaps Blood-borne, which is significantly faster-paced) require mechanical skill such that, on its own, it should alienate a significant chunk of gamers, and the disadvantages of making such modes (development time which could be spent on level design/enemy design etc, fractured online community and so on) outweigh the advantages of making the game more accessible to people whose main barrier was lack of mechanical skill. Based on what I’ve seen, most people who find the Souls games too hard isn’t because of this, but because of the unfamiliar nature of the game and what it expects from you (for example, most people would be caught off guard by the dragon burning the bridge in Dks1 – they probably would except such a thing to have a cut-scene, or show itself in ample time, whereas the game expects you to remember your previous encounter in undead burg, look at the charred and burnt bridge, hear the wing-flap and put these things together quickly).

            Ideally though, sure, if Fromsoft had piles of money, I would welcome easier modes for people with slower reactions or something, at least offline – but they don’t, and I think most people’s difficulty problems with the Souls series doesn’t stem from this, and the present organic difficulty is a good enough solution for perceived difficulty from any other source (and the white sign soapstone is easy to find, btw, you buy it from the shrine handmaiden – seriously, if you don’t bother spending a few minutes in what clearly is your hub world, talk to the npcs, and see if/what people are selling, then I don’t think one can justifiably complain if they miss something important…and the item description of the soapstone explains it well enough).

      • avtrspirit says:

        @gwathdring You do realize that there are readers of varying reading skills too, right? And, sure, most books are written to be accessible to a wide audience, but some of the classics are just not. Stuff like stream of consciousness and other ways of playing with language (like the post-apoc section of Cloud Atlas), it leaves a lot of readers behind because it is just on the other side of being accessible. So should they be re-written to make them more accessible? Not really. Some readers find joy in the way these books play with language, especially if that ties in to the core themes of the book. [Sure there are Cliff notes of difficult books, but that’s the same as reading wiki articles of Dark Souls or watching a Let’s Play.]

        Given that there are so many, many, many accessible games out there, why must this also be just as accessible? Given that it is saying something about the world with its difficulty, is it really that hard to respect the kind of integrity it is trying to create (whether or not it succeeds in this goal)?

        • gwathdring says:

          The use of phrases like “must be” are yours. I have avoided them and at points explicitly distanced myself from them. I have no interest in proposing that all games must be equally accessible to the whole of those interested in gaming.

          But whereas it is prohibitively time consuming and difficult to write a book twice for different reading levels in the current publishing climate, this is simply not the case with games. I can’t really practically communicate my story with readers of varying ability levels and still reach audiences of the same scale. But in gaming, it’s a lot easier. I can ship a game with two difficulty levels that doesn’t take approaching double the time and exactly double the cost to produce. I can bake into my game a way to reach a wider audience much more efficiently.

          This does not, of course, mean that I must. My point is that arguments of artistic integrity cut both ways–they cut in favor of difficulty adjustment as often as against it. Game development gives us tools and capabilities that some mediums do not have. Artistic integrity, surely, involves carefully considering whether or not to use those tools more so than it involves stubbornly insisting on the One True Way to get your message out?

          • gwathdring says:

            And when I can tell my story in multiple ways to multiple audiences? That’s something I would carefully consider in writing as surely as in game design. Authors with the pull or popularity to stretch across mediums–have their works made into comics, films, audio books, children’s adaptations, abridged editions … these are good things. These allow your story to spread, if you want it to.

          • akev2794 says:

            You know, games do cost money to make – implementing the kind of easier (but still not easy) mode you describe would take effort, time and money that could arguably be better invested in the core experience. See my other reply to you for a more extended counterargument (apologies if it’s long).

  15. Dr.Ded says:

    great article. The soup metaphor works very well. I have used a rubix cube metaphor several times when describing dark souls. A rubix cube is the same puzzle no matter who is trying to solve it. I’ve never completed a rubix cube and I appreciate it more for that reason. A puzzle (or game in this case) that is easy to solve or accommodates the player will most likely be forgotten after a short while. I’ve always appreciated artists with the guts to alienate a potential audience for the sake of their vision. Dark Souls will be remembered long after many games have been forgotten because it didn’t bend to its audience. Oh and also, you can actually be proud of yourself for completing it. (remember those days?)

  16. derbefrier says:

    I agree. If you take the danger out of dark souls you are really not playing the same game. I think for most games including an easy mode is fine. The game play doesn’t usually suffer and is pretty much the same expirience,It’s just easier but the thing that really makes dark souls difficult, a lack of knowledge about the enemies and enviorment, looses any meaning if you drop an easy mode in. It’s counter intuitive to the games design philosophy, learning by expierementation and gaining knowlwdge.

    Plus we have all seen that streamlining and making games more accessible more often than not fundamentally changes them. The Hard difficulty of today’s first person shooters was yesterday’s normal mode and games have only gotten softer and more hand holdy through the years. People are protective for a reason, the same reason you get worried when you see people asking to make things in your favorite game easier orore streamlined. It’s funny how people forget that stuff when it doesn’t affect them though and all that matters is what they want.

    • Ragnar says:

      This argument ignores that different people have different ability levels.

      I’m pretty good at FPS games, able to play them on Hard and Very Hard, but have two friends who are way better, and many who are worse.

      • Ragnar says:

        Previous entry posted prematurely.

        I was saying that different difficulty settings let my fiends and I tune FPS games to suit our ability.

        Dark Souls is no different. It’s an action hack & slash that takes skill to play. One friend who’s much worse than me at FPS games turned out to be much better than me at Dark Souls. A section and boss that took me 8 hours and many deaths to beat, he beat in an hour on his first try.

        Despite playing Dark Souls at the same difficulty, we had completely different experiences.

        Arguing that adding an easier difficulty will change the experience is meaningless. Of course it will, but so will putting someone else behind the controller. There is no single Dark Souls experience, each player a different experience based on their skill set, ability, approach, and even their starting class and favorite weapon.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Very well said. Bravo.

        • Poolback says:

          I completely agree, people have different skills and what is easy for one can be challenging for another. But I also agree with this article, the souls game are made with a crazy attention to details. In the story, in their environment, in the creature design, in pretty much anything, and that includes the difficulty. Adding an easy mode would mean redesigning a lot of things. I think they would rather spend their budget on making sure that everything is as finely tuned as possible. How would you go about balancing the game in Easy mode New game + ? How would the invasions work ? There’s already plenty of mechanics to help less skilled players : Summoning, some covenants, the possiblity to farm, practicing bosses without taking any risk by being summoned in another player’s session, etc… They keep on adding new things to help the less skilled. But adding an easy mode will have to make them redesign a lot of things. And that’s something risky, when a lot of people value the game to be as uncompromising as possible. They would be able to reach more players, but fans would probably be less invested in the serie.

  17. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Oh, and also, there is an easy mode: if you want Dark Souls without the challenge watch one of the many great let’s play YouTube vids. Crate and Crowbar or Epicnamebro are both excellent.

    And if watching rather than playing a game sounds like missing the point then, yes, well done, you’ve understood why Dark Souls can’t have an easy mode.

    • Urthman says:

      What a frustrating conversation. It’s like a bunch of 4-foot-tall kids watching 6-foot-tall basketball players and saying to themselves, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a basketball court where the baskets were two-feet lower so we could dunk like the 6-foot kids do?” and then the 6-foot-tall players say, “Dunking is *supposed* to be hard. Git gud, don’t lower the baskets. Basketball would be ruined if short people could play on on courts with shorter baskets.”

      • Premium User Badge

        aleander says:

        I hate you because you wrote this in a way that’s so much more concise than I ever would. I don’t understand why we keep having that conversation :-(

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        Good analogy but basketball with trampolines in front of the hoops is a thing.

  18. Dr.Ded says:

    …remember Lords of The Fallen? maybe some people do, but ask that question again in a decade and the answer will probably be, “No, is that a death metal band?”

    • yogibbear says:

      Sounds like some filthy casual nonsense that no one played.

      • Leafcutter says:

        I thought it was very good… and certainly a good trainer for Dark souls.

  19. Geebs says:

    OK, here’s something that I think people tend to get wrong about Dark Souls’ difficulty:

    It’s a tremendously successful series, with a large and dedicated fanbase, many of whom say that there are levels of enjoyment that they can get from a Souls game that they don’t get anywhere else.

    It seems to me that they got the difficulty level just right.

    • gwathdring says:

      I don’t think people tend to get that wrong. I think most people who talk about Dark Souls and difficulty understand exactly that.

      Some people think it would be kinda cool if they could enjoy some of what those people are enjoying, but with a lower bar to entry. Sure, some of THOSE people are going to hate the game anyway because they find the game obtuse due to lack of patience or what-have-you. But that’s their problem. Quite a few people simply don’t quite have the reflexes or the time to become Dark Souls experts or even good enough to barely hack their way through … but would still quite enjoy the game were the bar lowered just enough that they could.

      The question at stake is simply: would it be worth the time and effort–and would it be possible–to make the game function for that second group of people?

      That’s it. That’s what people tend to get wrong about this damn discussion every time it comes up. That’s the thing that gets glossed over and hand-waved away by people complaining about how Dark Souls is supposed to be hard or artistic integrity or whatever else.

      Is it worth it for the devs? Honestly, probably not. But that’s not where this discussion tends to go.

      • nottorp says:

        The problem is, if you try to appeal to everyone, you end up with Battlefield of Honor of Duty. Or whatever Ubisoft does these days, Assassin’s Creed XXXVII?
        Don’t try to bring the gaming industry to the lowest common denominator.

        • Razumen says:

          Slippery slope fallacy, my god, it’s everywhere!

        • Rumpelstiltskin says:

          I wince every time someone uses the term “lowest common denominator” to refer to something that supposedly gets smaller when more arguments are added. Same thing when “semantics” is used to say that there are no truly meaningful differences.

    • Ragnar says:

      They got the difficulty just right for a lot of people, but not for everyone.

      For some people it’s too hard, for others it’s too easy. Those people would be better served with difficulty options.

      Would it ruin the Dark Souls experience? Of course not. Most would play on Normal and have the exact same experience. Some would play on Hard and have a better experience from being properly challenged. Others would play on Easy and certainly have a better experience than “this game is too hard, I give up.”

  20. pistachio says:

    To anyone that fears they would get stuck in ds3:

    In most souls games there are spots where you can get free xp (souls) right next to a bonfire early in the game. In ds3 (and 1) it’s the fire breathing dragon. This allows you to quickly gain a bunch of levels to make things easier. You can get at least 7 levels per hour, although levels get more expensive as you gain them, you can reduce the difficulty by as much as you like this way. Plus you get to train on easy mobs while you are doing it. Spend them on health only. Also, start with a class in heavy armor with a shield that blocks 100% physical damage.

  21. Emeraude says:

    You realize players have different skill levels, right?

    I fail to see how this relates to what I was saying, really.

    Since when did we grow an irrational complex about artistic integrity?

    How is saying that there should be a space for games with authorial intent more irrational than your -at least seems to me – advocating that there shouldn’t be? I’m not saying all games should be about it, but surely *some* games can?

    Since when did we decide that making games customizeable and flexible was lazy?

    First, I didn’t say lazy. Don’t put words into my mouth. You can lack vision and be as hard working as it gets. I have no doubt that giving all those options demanded work. Quantity isn’t the issue. Quality might be, in the strongest sense of the word.

    Often, less is more.

    To follow the format of your example as a storyteller, I can adapt any story on the fly to my audience. That doesn’t mean I’m always going to want to.

    • gwathdring says:

      Apologies, I thought your intent was to imply that it was lazy to let gamers to the work of balancing your game for you. Implying that balancing a game is a task that designers are supposed to perform, and that offloading it to the players was an inferior, lazier performance.

      It seems you meant some of that, but without the connotation of laziness. I still disagree. You’re not allowing that custimizeable difficulty can itself be part of a broader artistic vision. You’re not allowing that I might want to create an experience that changes based on who is playing the game so that players of more widely varying sorts can have the specific experience I want to evoke. You’re also not allowing that entertainment is an art; if I want to accomplish a lit of artistic goals that includes among them letting the player have fun or challenge while experiencing the feelings and stories I want them to experience … allowing them to customize the game to make it more fun or challenging or otherwise engaging doesn’t represent a lack of vision at all!

      Which brings us back to your very first question in this post. What do varying skill levels have to do with it?

      “Asking for a Dark Soul easy mode is missing the point twice, in a way.
      It’s thinking there can be a Dark Souls game without the difficulty.
      It’s thinking the game is about the difficulty, when difficulty is just a mean to an end. The game is difficult because it wants you to feel the despair, the rage and frustration. It’s part of the nerves it’s meant to touch raw. The world is unfair, but you can master it… and it will mean nothing, and matter just as much. The game has authorial intent that meshes at all levels of design and artistic direction. And it doesn’t always work for sure, but it’s brilliant and well worth it for when it does.

      Where in all of that does it say what health value the Taurus demon has to have? Where does it say how much damage the Halberd has to do? How much health Estus should give you? How many bloodstains you can leave before they start disappearing, souls lost for good? All of that is decided through testing. Through attempting to put practical name to the concepts and themes and stories you describe the game as wanting to evoke.

      And the success of that practical nomenclature depends entirely on the audience. It varies from player to player. Finding where to put those practical determinants is not a mere matter of making an artistic statement. It is a matter of compromise and communication with the audience. The variety of player skill levels matters, because it means that different players need different timing windows or health bars or damage values to experience the core artistic experience Dark Souls wants to evoke. There is no perfect difficulty for games like this … which is one reason game designers create a flexible difficulty structure. Not out of lack of vision. Not out of lack of conviction or commitment. But out of realization that player variety means a consistently delivered vision must be delivered differently to different players.

      • Emeraude says:

        You’re also not allowing that entertainment is an art

        From my original post:
        Dishonored, a game that suffered a lot from being torn between artistic intent and the necessities of being entertainment (not that the two necessarily go at cross purpose, mind you).

        Where in all of that does it say what health value the Taurus demon has to have?

        As much as it needs to makes most new players hit a difficulty wall.
        As I said, the difficulty is a mean to an end. If people are not hitting their head against the wall, then the game is not doing its work.

        You can switch values as much as you want, in the end the game is all about those moments when it becomes too hard for you. That’s why there cannot be an easy mode. Because however low you want to put the mathematical values, qualitatively the whole point is that it will become too hard and that you will have to overcome. However much you reduce the values, it *has* to get too hard for the player. It’s only a matter of when.

        That’s one of the issues from a design standpoint for Dark Souls 2 (and I’m guessing this will be true as well for 3, though I haven’t played this one yet): because players have learned the rules and have gotten better, because the designer wants and has to elicit the same reactions as from the first game, there has to be a heightened focus on difficulty, ramping it up until it becomes an almost fetishistic process that demands difficulty for its own sake rather than for what it’s supposed to accomplish.

        • gwathdring says:

          “However much you reduce the values, it *has* to get too hard for the player. It’s only a matter of when.”

          Then we don’t actually disagree! We’re just using different terms. I’m used to easy mode meaning “Easier than Normal or Hard.” I’m not suggesting Dark Souls should be easy in a colloquial sense. I’m suggesting that it isn’t so weird an idea that it could, if the developers felt like it, have an easier optional mode. I call that hypothetical mode easy mode for hopefully obvious reasons, as many others do.

          It’s not unreasonable exactly, but it hadn’t occurred to me that you would take it quite so literally.

          • Emeraude says:

            But that’s the thing though, “easier” would still be too hard. It will *always* be too hard if it’s doing what it’s supposed to do.

            If the design aim is that you should feel powerless and despaired and/or angry in equal measure at times (which you may disagree with, but I think it is), then there cannot be an easy mode, because the point of an easy mode is that this won’t happen. Or it’s not an easy mode.

            Contradiction in the terms.

            Not to mention the level-design issue it poses. How do you redesign the Tomb of Giants without compromising the whole place?

          • gwathdring says:

            Er. You’re making a contradiction out of thin air. Dark Souls isn’t supposed to be “too hard” if we define too hard as “so hard I cannot ultimately overcome it and feel the sense of thematic horror and thematic struggle combined with the sense of excitement and relief and exploration that makes people love Dark Souls.”

            If you define “too hard” as “hard enough that you hit a wall and have to try really hard” then you’re being intentionally obtuse just for the sake of disagreement. We both obviously agree that Souls is supposed to present a challenge and supposed to blend that challenge with certain thematic constructs. Obviously, there is not one exact level design, on exact set of stats for everything that allows for players to experience that. You know this, I know this. You’re pretending not to know this despite us both having said it already in multiple posts.

          • Emeraude says:

            Dark Souls isn’t supposed to be “too hard” if we define too hard as “so hard I cannot ultimately overcome it and feel the sense of thematic horror and thematic struggle combined with the sense of excitement and relief and exploration that makes people love Dark Souls.”

            That’s we have a misunderstanding/disagreement. Dark Souls is supposed to be “too hard” including “so hard one cannot ultimately overcome it”.

            People will stop disgusted, throwing their gamepad in anger with choice expletives. Some will never come back to it.
            That’s not a bad thing in itself.

            I still haven’t beaten the Fume Knight myself (bastard).

            That being said it might have more to do with me not liking DS2 as much. As I said, they ramped the difficulty, but to do that they had to ramp the player tools too. In the end it makes for a design that is a lot more fuzzy. It hits a strange plateau between King’s Field and Dark Souls I find. And is at its best when it dares to be more one than the other, whichever it chooses.
            Hope I make sense. Sorry about the rambling.

  22. weaverthegreat says:

    This is very much a case of to each thier own. I don’t have the time or inclination to repeat boss fights/entire sections and for that reason i’ve never been interested in playing any of the games for myself.

  23. vahnn says:

    I’ve never been one to say “git gud” or its equivalents, in any game. But seriously. Go play something else. This game is supposed to be hard. The whole pull of the game is “lol ur gon die so much lol get ready.” If you don’t like dying and want to superhero your through a game, then look elsewhere.

    I’ve been stuck at sections of Souls games. The have been groups of enemies I can’t get past, puzzles i can’t solve, areas I can’t find the entrance/exit, bosses I can’t beat. But I’ve overcome them all. I’m not the best game out there. I don’t have the best reflexes, I’m not a master strategist, I’m no Magellan. But I’ve overcome all these extensive difficult tasks. And it feels wonderful.

    Sometimes it’s one session, sometimes I rage quit and don’t return for a couple days. I smashed my head trying to beat a boss 20 times, then was getting so frustrated that I was dying to the 4 enemies you encounter in the way to the boss. Enemies that would normally never even land a blow on me. I rage quit harder than I ever have in a game.

    Came back to the game the next night. Killed all the the boss and all the enemies in the way without taking a single hit on the first try. I can’t even describe the sense of satisfaction I felt.

    Now imagine if I could have simply hit escape and done a couple clicks to lower the difficulty a notch. Sure, I would get past that part, but I wouldn’t feel accomplished.

    You know the game Simon, or games like it? The Souls games are like that. Pattern recognition, memorization, and reflexes. Some people are bad at it. So they play other games. If you’re bad at Simon, then don’t play Dark Souls. You don’t demand Hasbro (or whoever) change Simon to make it easier for you.

    • Urthman says:

      What you don’t understand is that the experience you had is only available to people who are roughly like you in video game ability. By tweaking the numbers, other people who aren’t like you could experience that exact same difficulty curve you experienced but scaled to their ability level.

      What you’re asking is for some people to experience more frustration and difficulty than you experienced. So if what you experienced was good, you’re saying some people should have a worse experience than yours.

      • vahnn says:

        Some people aren’t good at Super Mario, so what?

      • vahnn says:

        I do understand, and too bad for them, don’t play Dark Souls. That was the whole point of what I said.

        Kudos to the devs for sticking to their vision, and to the publisher for not forcing an easy mode.

  24. khalilravanna says:

    I’ll start by saying I’m in the no-easy-mode camp myself.

    And while I’ve already addressed what I think is the main reason to not add an easy-mode to Souls games, that is, in keeping with the director’s vision for what the game ought to play like, there’s another reason that’s way more tertiary but I think is important for me as well.

    That is that having multiple difficulty modes presents me with a whole bunch of internal conflict before I’ve even started the game. Do I play it on Normal? Can I switch it to Easy later? What if it’s too Easy on Normal, now I’ll have to switch it to Hard. Can I do that mid playthrough? Are there any rewards for Hard-er difficulties or is there no reason to not just play on Normal or Easy? You know I wish the designers had just thought it out and come up with a good opinionated difficulty that offers a challenge. After all they know the game better than I do. I’ve only just hit the Main Menu.

    • gwathdring says:

      This makes a lot more sense to me. I certainly prefer no difficulty selection to poor or unclear difficulty selection. And certain games are much more friendly–both toward designers and toward players–when made with more robust customizeable difficulty. It would be harder to get that to work with Dark Souls.

      I think games like Dark Souls would benefit more from a training mode where you’re giving a separate game are disconnected entirely from the rest of the game where you can practice the bare mechanics with some debugging hints that help you with timing and whatnot. I’ve played a number of games that do exactly this. It helps make the process of learning to play well less stressful for people limited by the dexterity component of the mechanics first and the mental component second.

    • Ragnar says:

      The devs would set a standard difficulty, it would be called Normal. Just pick that and go, no agonising required. No different to not having a difficulty.

      If you find the game is too easy, restart on Hard. If you find it’s so hard you want to quit, restart on Easy.

  25. worm600 says:

    It seems like the root problem with this argument is selection bias. If you accept that different players have different skill levels, then by definition any set difficulty level is going to make the game easier for some and harder for others. And the higher the set difficulty, the fewer people who can enjoy the experience.

    The thing is, players who love Dark Souls – like me! – aren’t uniquely gifted with an understanding of what makes the series so great. We just happen to have a skill level that is perfectly in line with the series. If we were worse, we’d have rage-quit a long time ago, and if we were a lot better, we’d blow through the game and ask what all the fuss was about.

    The big point of confusion here, then, is that players who want an easy mode don’t want a different experience. They want the same exact experience that we get. The issue is that for them, “challenging difficulty” is objectively just a bit easier than where DS sits right now.

    Given that an “easy mode” wouldn’t change how I personally experience Dark Souls, I don’t really see what the fuss is about. If someone prefers to wander around looking at the pretty art, or enjoying the lore, who am I to tell them no?

    • gwathdring says:

      This. Though someone further up made an excellent point about difficult levels generating analysis paralysis or related worries. Do I keep trying or restart with an easier/harder difficulty level? And so forth.

      • worm600 says:

        I guess you could get around that with dynamic difficulty changes, or simply allowing players to bypass specific problem areas via some method (there are a lot of options, and I’m not sure which would be best).

        • nottorp says:

          Dynamic difficulty changes kill all sense of progression. No matter what you do, the game will be the same from start to end. Zzzzzzz…

          • Emeraude says:

            Some games can do it pretty and shine through it, see God Hand.

            I don’t think it’s fitting for all games though.

      • Ragnar says:

        I find the difficulty selection paralysis a strange argument.

        Almost all games have difficulty settings, but we manage those just fine. Most people play on Normal, and it would be no different for Dark Souls.

        Most fans of Dark Souls wouldn’t pick Easy anyway, that would be admitting defeat and letting the game beat them.

        Some would resent that less skilled players could play Dark Souls on Easy, but they could still point you their Steam Achievements and feel superior.

        Super fans could play on Hard for a real challenge.

  26. qrter says:

    The difficulty isn’t an elitist exclusionary choice, even if some like to see it that way.

    I love you, Adam, but you’re lying to yourself there. Ofcourse it is an elitist exclusionary choice. The game is hard, and most of the players who enjoy that kind of thing (at least partly) get off on the exclusivity that creates. Just look at most of the comments of the people here agreeing with you. From Software know exactly who they are designing these games for.

    And to be clear, I’m fine with a game Just Not Being For Me. I could not care less about this game series.

    • picollo7 says:

      There’s always going to snobs and jerks who tend to be way more vocal and likely to express their opinion, right? I love tough action games like Ninja Gaiden, DMC, Bayonetta, and MGS:R, but not because they’re exclusionary, but because I love feeling like a badass ninja or demon or cyborg, rising to the challenge and and feeling like I earned it. It’s a rush. It’s rewarding. It’s fun. Please don’t stereotype people who like a certain genre as one way due to a few bad apples.

      • Ragnar says:

        I agree. I also love Bayonetta and DMC and the like and have no problem with Dark Souls having an easy difficulty setting.

        It seems elitist jerks have flocked to Dark Souls specifically because it doesn’t have an easy difficulty setting.

        The original Devil May Cry is, IMO, much harder than Dark Souls. I could barely get through that game on Normal, and those playing on Hard would awe me with their skill. Having an Easy difficulty didn’t seem to bother that game (though I hated the way Easy was implemented there).

        DMC3 was so hard initially, they toned it down for the Special Edition Western release.

        There was none of this ridiculous “DMC shouldn’t have an easy mode” nonsense because of course it had an easy mode. Why wouldn’t it? Was it the same experience as Normal? Of course not. But it was still fun, and isn’t that the whole point of games?

  27. animlboogy says:

    Dark Souls has always been a series about community interaction. Everything about it is designed to push people to talk to each other about the game, hence Miyazaki’s story of being inspired by seeing people working together in real life to push a broken down car.

    This “Dark Souls is HARD” discussion really has no merit when you realize the concept From is playing with. The modular difficulty is already built into the game: from summoning UP TO THREE OTHER PLAYERS to help (with the mustache-twirling effect of attracting invaders, of course), all the way down to hearing a small tip from a friend, this game is as hard or as easy as you want it to be.

    If you want it to be easy, AND you don’t want to engage with the social features, or the community that has grown around these games, tough luck. There are other games for that. The 1-2 combo of summoning full parties and using optimized builds (you don’t even have to make one yourself, just ask online or a friend IRL and they’ll have your back) IS the easy mode.

  28. tomek says:

    I remember a time where pretty much every action game had a level of difficulty and trial and error en par or above Dark Souls 3 (never played 1 or 2) and noone complained or praised the games for that element in particular.

    Gaming has moved into the mainstream and suddenly anything that is not an interactive movie is considered “elitist” and anyone demanding an easier mode is a “carebear” that needs to “git gud”.

    Both sides of the argument are equally retarded.

    • animlboogy says:

      Easy mode is co-op and getting advice from other players. It seriously drops the difficulty through the floor if you combine these two things. It’s not a matter of “git gud,” it’s a matter of people being so completely entitled to success in a game that they get angry if the game offers them in-context tools instead of a simple difficulty toggle.

  29. Leafcutter says:

    One man’s rubbish is another’s treasure.

    I have put more than 500 hrs into X-Rebirth and yet more people dislike it because it’s too hard… and/or a bit buggy. Sounds familar?

    I completed DS1 and am currently 60 odd hrs into DS2 and about 2/3 way though. Slightly over leveled, but not massively so. When frustration kicks in, I get help from a fellow Sun worshiper… still always one outside a boss door. Just got to remember to be human, which means you either require an effigy or you need to help someone else first. All very straight forward and if you understand the systems ultimately rewarding.

    Also, as an ex EVE Online player from 2003 when only a 56K internet phone line existed, online gaming was still very much the preserve of Mums and Dads.. now nearly every kid with an XBOX1(360),PS4(3) or hand-me-down computer is connected permanently to a broadband connection.

    I’m not looking for exclusivity, but the Dark Souls franchise is mature enough that I will have a much greater chance co-operating with a like minded adult rather than a child… which I do not wish to do… particularly in today’s world.

    So I hope some dev studios will carry on producing game IP’s which predominatly only appeal to the mentality of an experienced adult.

    -LC-

  30. lylebot says:

    The more games I play, the more I think that game design benefits from having a single, fixed level of difficulty. It can be “easy” like most open-world games, “challenging” like Dark Souls, “masochistic” like Super Meat Boy, whatever, but if the designers have an idea of what they’re going for, the game is going to be better for it.

    I played Metal Gear Solid 2 for the first time ever last year. I played through it four times, from Very Easy up through Hard. I don’t think I can adequately explain why, but the game simply should not have had a choice of difficulty levels. I actually think it works to its detriment, in that the Easy modes make it seem like the game is completely about the story it tells through its cutscenes, when it’s actually, like Dark Souls, about the relationship between the player and the game.

    • gwathdring says:

      I think careful difficult modulation can work wonders, though. Let’s say you want to tell that story of the relationship between the player and the game but you simply want to tell it to more people?

      Or let’s say you have a turn-based strategy game where the point is interesting decisions at your own pace?

      I certainly agree that I’m quite tired of the traditional tiered difficulty levels and their inconsistencies. It’s quite frustrating to choose between interesting AI behaviors with absurdly large health bars and boring AI behaviors with reasonably sized health bars and it’s even more frustrating to go by a vague bit of prose and anguish over whether or not you’re going to have to restart the game later.

  31. Dr. Why says:

    The hardest part of Dark Souls III for me so far was getting it to run on my GTX 650 Ti.
    I turned everything down and off and resolution to the lowest playable which had no black bars on my 1080p monitor.
    By the time i got to the high wall fortress, though, my frames went way down and my pc completely shut down when i tried to go down a ladder. I was actually enjoying it too. I’ll wait till I get a better card…

    • yogibbear says:

      You are below the minimum specs, but try the following:
      -Rollback to Nvidia 314.22 WHQL drivers.
      -Set all graphics options to Low.

  32. AgingGamer says:

    Dark Souls as a series, and Dark Souls III specifically, doesn’t look at all interesting to me. The part I least like about an RPG is dying over and over again to learn some special ‘timing’ required to succeed. A game that is so clockwork-repetitive that this is even a viable strategy has little or no interest for me.

    And I think that’s fine. I’m happy that other people enjoy these kinds of games. Good for them. What aggravates me is that reviews, articles, and internet trolls of all stripes basically say about Dark Souls: ‘git gud.’ I am good: I can play repetitive deathathons quite well, thank you- I’ve been playing computer games since before most of the people saying this were born, and the old games were absolutely unforgiving. I’m personally glad that computer gaming has progressed beyond that.

    I’ve never heard Dark Souls III described as having a deep or involved story, nor have I heard that it allows for tremendous character development, awesome AI with emergent behaviour, or anything else that particularly interests me. All I’ve heard is that it is ‘hard’ and extremely repetitive i.e.: to ‘beat’ one fight, you have to die dozens of times to master the timing. Repetition does not appeal to me.

    • Leafcutter says:

      Agreed… but honestly there is more to these games than repetative combat if given a chance.

      …and aren’t nearly all RPG’s the same these days… maps with hundreds of icons on.

      Risen 3 does not and has character also.

      • Urthman says:

        “There’s more to the games than repetitive combat…”

        And yet people are REALLY invested in the idea that there shouldn’t be any way of tweaking the difficulty of that repetitive combat to accommodate players of different ability levels.

    • Snschl says:

      Speaking as a story-focused gamer who adores long, talky RPGs with libraries of lore, the Souls series is fantastic (though admittedly unorthodox) in that regard. I cannot for the life of me figure out why everyone loves it just for the “challenge.” For me, the real star of the Soulsborne cycle has always been the atmosphere. Thematically, they have the scope of religious scripture, reinforced by a grotesque-but-dignified aesthetic, expert manipulation of mood, fantastic writing displaying rarely-seen restraint for this medium, and A-grade environmental storytelling. They also regularly have detailed, interconnected areas that reward exploration, and enough lore to make Bethesda flinch, though it is delivered in cryptic fragments that make you feel like a historian when you connect them.

      And yes, the combat mechanics are finely tuned enough to allow for spectacular blade ballets, if you’re into that. The problem is if you’re not (like me). I always felt that the whole “dying repeatedly is important for the story!” was a fallacy – with how good the worldbuilding and moodsetting is, the game gets the point across without the repetition. In fact, after the first few deaths it becomes like an overused joke, and weakens as a storytelling tool.

      I realize the challenge made some people wake up from their “press A to win”-coma to a whole new world of gameplay, and that’s fantastic, but they shouldn’t confuse their personal epiphany with “the only reason the game is any good.” That’s a disservice to the franchise, which I enjoyed IMMENSELY despite often having to rely on guides, co-op or a trainer.

    • jgthespy says:

      You’re not really dying to learn some magical timing. You die to learn enemy behavior. If you’re brand new to the series, this might happen a lot. Once you play for a bit, you figure out how to learn enemy behaviors without dying. That’s what “git gud” means. You figure out how the game works and then you don’t suck anymore. If you’re the type to throw your hands up and quit every time you fail at something, it’s not going to be your kind of game. If you’re capable of figuring out your mistakes and improving, it’s not as inaccessible as people make it sound. It’s not even particularly repetitive because the fights that you repeat play out differently as you get better. By the time they turn repetitive, you’re most likely close to the next slice of the game and everything that you’ve learned still applies.

      It sounds like you haven’t actually tried any of the games. You should! It’s hard to explain the experience and most people on the outside misunderstand what it’s all about. The story isn’t superb by itself, but it’s interesting within the context of the gameplay. The AI isn’t spectacular on its own, but it works to create the exact encounters that the game wants you to have. The atmosphere IS fantastic however, and a big part of that comes from the way the game plays.

      Or maybe you won’t like it. That’s cool too. Just remember that this series started with a game that no one would even release outside of Asia because they knew it wouldn’t sell. Then word of mouth spread and so many people ended up importing it that publishers picked it up and released it everywhere, and it ended up spawning 4 other massively popular games. I don’t know why the hell I decided to import a game that sounded like anti-fun from China, but I did it anyway and it’s been my favorite series since.

      • Urthman says:

        And yet when everybody knows all the secrets, some people are able to easily use that knowledge to easily beat the bosses and others, with that same knowledge, try and and repeatedly fail.

        So when you claim that figuring out the strategy is the real difficulty, you’re not actually talking about the thing that people asking for difficulty levels are talking about.

        • jgthespy says:

          “So when you claim that figuring out the strategy is the real difficulty, you’re not actually talking about the thing that people asking for difficulty levels are talking about.”

          People who have actually played the game, were able to figure out the strategies, and are still asking for difficulty levels should play another game. The fun comes from being good after you figure out what to do. If you can’t be good after you figure out what to do, you’re going to be stuck with a mediocre game. I’m sure most of you are fine with that since that’s the bulk of what you’re playing anyway, but From shouldn’t have to waste time trying to balance their game for people who really want to be playing a different game.

          “What a load of bull. “You have to die to learn so that you don’t suck”. Dying is sucking but you have to do it. This is my problem with Dark Souls. You’re forced to suck at it. I don’t want to replay a boss because of things I couldn’t possibly know. That is just plain dumb.”

          You’re not forced to suck at it. Like many things that are fun and fulfilling in real life, you can’t expect to be good at it from the start. If you don’t want to play a game like that, go play something else. You have a billion other options. You’re not entitled to enjoy every game ever made on your own terms.

          • jgthespy says:

            oops I thought that was going to be a top level comment. Disregard the second part.

      • Faxanadu says:

        What a load of bull. “You have to die to learn so that you don’t suck”. Dying is sucking but you have to do it. This is my problem with Dark Souls. You’re forced to suck at it. I don’t want to replay a boss because of things I couldn’t possibly know. That is just plain dumb.

        • jgthespy says:

          You’re not forced to suck at it. Like many things that are fun and fulfilling in real life, you can’t expect to be good at it from the start. If you don’t want to play a game like that, go play something else. You have a billion other options. You’re not entitled to enjoy every game ever made on your own terms.

          • Faxanadu says:

            You said it yourself. It has nothing to do with being good. You simply *have* to die. It’s one or the other, you can’t have both mate.

          • jgthespy says:

            Dying isn’t sucking or failing. Dying is how you get better at the game. For the people who actually enjoy the series, dying is fun. It’s motivation to go back and do better the next time. It’s cool if you’re not into that. You don’t need to act like it’s an invalid preference though. I don’t want to be coddled. I want it to kill me as many times as it takes for me to be better.

          • Faxanadu says:

            It’s fine to like that. I just don’t. Repeating content and dying (which I’m accustomed to think as failing) being a part of the game doesn’t appeal to me. No problem if someone likes it, but when you hear someone telling you to “git gud” it doesn’t sound like “yeah you were kinda going to die there anyway”.

            I love hard games. But the time of obtuse, cheap, repetitive games is in the 90’ies for me. No need to go back there. I’ll be found playing Quakelive, a brutally hard game but one that will never push you face first into a puddle and go “git gud!”

            I’ll probably finish Dark Souls because of the good things it has going for it though.

  33. anark10n says:

    You know, I never thought there would come a day I would disagree with RPS writers to the point I felt compelled to comment. Writer seems to fall into the same trap as everyone that argues their taste as the one to be catered to the exclusion (without even a possibility of inclusion) of anyone else that prefers something different. And it’s that writing a whole bunch about why they like something, that something should not be changed to include people who want a different experience. Not even, when that change is optional.

    How is any of this an argument to not include an easy mode? I can understand why the writer likes Dark Souls the way it is, that’s what this whole article was, but from that to “therefore, an easy mode shouldn’t be included” is a non-sequitur. Not everyone plays games for the same reasons as the writer. And no, I’m not saying cater to every taste out there, but an optional easy mode, makes it more appealing say to someone more interested in the art direction, for instance, without the penalizing combat in the way. Or someone more interested in NPC dialogue, or world lore, without the penalizing combat getting in the way? Or just plain experimentation, again, without the penalizing combat getting in the way? Or for instant, for someone who penalizing combat is quite simply not that fun, e.g. me, the novelty wears off so quickly, and I just get annoyed with it.

    This is the perfect example of when people get too carried away by their own passion for the art they choose to consume more of than any other. Loss of a sense of their own insularity.

    • Bury The Hammer says:

      I would argue that making Dark Souls easier in order to cater to those who aren’t good enough (or not willing to get good enough) to enjoy it, would be a little like asking someone to translate Ulysses, or Gravity’s Rainbow into simpler English so that they could enjoy other aspects of it. Not everyone can understand English or literature the same, no?

      It makes sense in a twisted way, but you’re missing so much of the point of the work, why not read something else that you can enjoy much more? It’s not like there are a lack of decent games, or books out there.

      Obviously, Souls is very different to said literary classics, but I hope you get the point – the difficulty and game mechanics are finely tuned to be a challenge to players, and a lot of people play for the challenge. You take it out.. the game is going to feel hollow. Pun not intended.

      If you want to enjoy the lore and world of Dark Souls without the difficulty, there are some excellent youtube channels devoted to it, like VaatiVidya.

      • Premium User Badge

        X_kot says:

        What do you make of the existence of abridged versions or illustrated/comic versions of books? Or even CliffNotes? Admittedly, the latter is typically used as a study aid, but the point is that there is a market for derivatives. Like, should the people who enjoy watching My Fair Lady have to read Pygmalion, or Pygmalion and Galatea, or the relevant Greek mythology? Yes, their appreciation for the story and characters might be enriched, but it’s not mandatory.

        • Emeraude says:

          What about poetry though?

          You can rewrite, say, L’Après-midi d’un faune to make it readable. It just so happens that you have to destroy everything that made it worthwhile in doing so.

          What happens in those case where its form and execution that matters, and not content?

          Like, should the people who enjoy watching My Fair Lady have to read Pygmalion, or Pygmalion and Galatea, or the relevant Greek mythology?

          Should the people that made My Fair Lady also have made a non-musical version since there are more people that enjoys them than people that enjoys musicals?

          • Premium User Badge

            X_kot says:

            Translated texts are a great example! I really enjoyed reading Beowulf and the Epic of Gligamesh, but I didn’t read them in their original languages. Was something lost in the difference? Certainly. But I was still able to enjoy the experience and discuss it with other people. Those other people, mind you, weren’t scholars who studied Sumerian (I assume they wrote to each other in cuneiform). To each their own, and all can find something to bond over.

          • Emeraude says:

            Translated texts are a great example!

            That they are. And they’re the reason I specifically chose poetry. You can read translated poetry. As good as it’s going to be, it’s not going to be the original. Because the underlying rules of poetry are different from culture to culture.

            The translation you’ll get might might be outstanding, might be something incredible on its own merit, but it’s not going to give you what the original did. It can’t.

          • Premium User Badge

            X_kot says:

            Likewise, the original won’t have all of the charms of the translation. I completely agree with you that any derivative, regardless of medium, cannot match the source 1:1. But does that mean there is no point in reading them or even trying to translate them? To me, that is just a challenge waiting for a creative mind to address it. My position is thoroughly practical: I cannot access the original, but I am interested in the concept; therefore, I will enjoy a version of the original. All I ask is that From Software dub their next game for the benefit of those who don’t speak the source language.

          • Emeraude says:

            But does that mean there is no point in reading them or even trying to translate them?

            How would you read them if you don’t understand the language? And I wouldn’t say no point in reading the translation(s), there’s always good in trying to expand yourself – if only because of dissemination and reappropriation and the positive effects they have on creation. I read annotated, translated poetry. Hell, I translate poetry. But it’s not even that it’s not a 1:1 reproduction, if (now, that’s big if) you think poetry is mainly about the quality of language, not the content, then it’s another work altogether. Prismatic refraction.

            As for Dark Souls let’s put it that way: the whole experience hinges on the game being oppressive. At times unbearably so – and I do mean it that way, there are moments when that game will not be fun by any stretch of the word. The whole point of an easy mode is to make it less oppressive. Those two propositions don’t belong together. “I want to feel oppressed but not too much and only as much as I can cope with” is just the antithesis of the base design of the game. It makes no sense. And trying to live up to that standard can only mean a downward difficulty spiral in the same way that the game seems caught in an upward spiral for sequels because it has to one-up itself.

            Or as I was saying in the beginning: authorial intent vs entertainment. Is the game allowed to be anything more than something meant to entertain, or is it allowed to have a point, and stick to it pigheadedly even if it means it being less successful, less accessible?

          • Ragnar says:

            The assumption here is that there is a singular, pure version, and anything deviating from that is lesser, but that’s not true for Dark Souls or poetry. Each person has a unique experience even given identical material.

            You may hear a poem and have it speak to you, and I might think it’s nothing special. A translation may actually improve it for me.

            I hate the movie Borat, but I love my friend reenacting scenes from it.

            It took me 6-8 hours and a dozen deaths to beat the first boss of Demon’s Souls. My friend did it in an hour without dying once. For me it was a huge accomplishment, for him it was nothing special. He needed a Hard mode.

            Even with only one difficulty, each person has a different experience. Each starting class is different, each build is different, each player’s ability is different. There is no singular Dark Souls experience.

          • Emeraude says:

            A translation may actually improve it for me.

            The translation won’t be the poem. It will be another text based on it. Which you may like more.

            The assumption here is that there is a singular, pure version, and anything deviating from that is lesser, but that’s not true for Dark Souls or poetry

            Not lesser. Other.

            The issue is not that putting an easier mode is lessening the game. It’s that it’s a negation of what the game is trying to achieve. It’s contradictory in the terms. It’s like saying “I want to get kicked me in the groin till I throw up my balls/ovaries, but just not too much”.

            You couldn’t just move stats around, that just won’t cut it, you’d have to change the whole package. The game works as a cohesive whole. Enemy placement – the very first normal enemies in the game can still kill you at the end if you’re not careful; level design – Tomb of Giant, you still die in one fall, even if you’re barely hit if at all, you still have to deal with the darkness; Crystal Cave? Invisible Floor, that’s bullshit! Save system? Why can’t I save when I want? No pause?
            You’d have to make two games really. Several even given the people that want an “easier” game can’t really agree with what it is they want from that.

            And then From – not just Miyazaki, but From as a whole, those are people that have a very sly, very mean humor done through level design. Those are people that made a room in King’s Field that had a secrets passage in a secret passage in a secret passage whos on,ly point was to trigger spikes that could kill you. Hilarious if you have the same snark. Maddening if you don’t. I think by now those of us that have followed them for long know the – for lack of better word – tone of their level/game design and we’re still follow them because we like it. Hell, Aldia’s Keep? That place is a hoot. They’re an Auteur Studio. People want them to be something else.

      • anark10n says:

        And again. Some people approach different forms of art for different things. For instance, I read fantasy not for the contrived drama, but to see if the author can build a cohesive world (usually doesn’t, because magic is not something conducive to cohesion). Same with sci-fi. The language comes in a close second. I read through The Count of Monte Cristo. And I came away thinking, that it could have been done in far fewer pages. Same with Don Quixote.

        And again, let me repeat myself, some people do not come to a game for the challenge. And in some cases, the challenge quickly gets in the way of the rest of the game. If the game was just about the challenge, why bother with high definition graphics and hiring an entire art team. Or even have a story at all, let alone a world. So clearly, the challenge isn’t all the game is meant to be. And the easy mode option gives people who don’t care for the challenge, to experience everything else about the game.

    • Freud says:

      Dying, learning and then succeeding is at the core of the game. It’s at the core of story. It is what these games are about.

      It’s not true that you die dozens of time to every enemy until you learn them. There are loads of enemies you kill the first time you see them. There are bosses you’ll beat the first time you see it.

      You can’t introduce easy mode without removing the magic of these games. If you played them, you’d understand why.

      • anark10n says:

        And I hope you see that dying over and over again for this feeble sense of achievement holds no appeal to me. Which is why I get annoyed with games like this very quickly. I don’t see magic. All i see interminable irritation asking myself “when is it going to end?”.

        I hope you see the difference in how I present my beef with this article. These are all presented as my feelings about the game, and I do not expect you to share them. And yet, the writer, and you, seem intent only on trying to establish your fascination with the penalizing combat as the only reason to play the game.

        Let me ask, though, since you brought it up. Do NPCs in the game remark on how many times you die. Or how many souls you lose? How is the challenge of the combat central to the story? Does losing mean the story progresses without you? Is there any persistence when you lose beyond those introduced for the sake of game mechanics e.g. loss of souls, or does the world reset?

        I mean this isn’t even like the ARMA III where an assault helicopter can complete your objective simply because it happened to be the one attacking that position, for instance. So, even the writer’s claim of the player feeling incidental to the world, really doesn’t sound all that incidental. The world doesn’t move on without the player. The player still has to be the one that fulfills the objectives. Correct me if I’m wrong.

        • Emeraude says:

          Ok, I’m going to go the polemic way: when people ask for Gone Home to have enemies, rules and possible loss states so that they enjoy the game, they are being reductive and disrespectful of the authorial intent and should look for games more to their liking, but when people ask for an easy mode of a game that has difficulty tied to its authorial intent, it’s only fair?

          • anark10n says:

            If you would like a challenge in Gone Home, and the developer was willing to make it an option for you, by all means, have your challenge and loss state. I wouldn’t care. 1. I don’t much care for Gone Home. 2. Even if i did, i would understand that this is the only way you care to experience a game.

            It would, perhaps, serve your polemic better to not make assumptions into which camp your detractor falls before said detractor actually spells it out. Or maybe I’m missing the point of polemic. Either case, your point remains unmade.

          • Emeraude says:

            I’m going to have to underline the central issue here:

            If you would like a challenge in Gone Home, and the developer was willing to make it an option for you, by all means, have your challenge and loss state. I wouldn’t care.

          • anark10n says:

            And is the developer for Dark Souls 3 willing to? From all accounts i here, they are, or at the very least considered it. Correct me if i’m wrong.

          • Emeraude says:

            And is the developer for Dark Souls 3 willing to?

            My understanding it that they are, just not in ways that would please people asking for an easy mode, because then it would have to compromise the design and intent.

            So I guess they aren’t.

          • anark10n says:

            Did they say they are, or did they say they’re not? I wasn’t asking what you are able to guess at. A source would be helpful.

          • Emeraude says:

            Given the tone I’ll let you look for sources yourself. If you don’t mind.

          • anark10n says:

            Ah, yes of course, quick on the draw with your polemic, but when it’s turned on you: “my word, how rude!”.

          • Emeraude says:

            Have you ever visited a Turkish prison?

          • anark10n says:

            No.

          • jgthespy says:

            Yes, you absolutely do get good on the first playthrough. Most people get decent within the first couple hours and good within a few more. At least in my experience, and this includes Demon’s Souls when the series was brand new to everyone, there’s a huge shift after you beat your first boss and another huge one after the second boss. After that, it’s still tough and you still get better, but you also have a very strong sense of empowerment. You also have a big collection of weapons, almost all of which work differently so you can pick the ones that work best for you. In Demon’s Souls, that was the meat cleaver for me. It was big and slow but you only had to get one hit off and then dodge away because it did so much damage. In Dark Souls, I use a shield that blocks full physical damage and a weapon that balances speed and damage, along with medium armor so I don’t have to fatroll. This is basically easy mode already. Some areas are easier or more fun with a different weapon setup, so I’ll switch as needed.

            Everything you learn fighting one creature absolutely applies to others. You’re not just learning about that one creature, but also about your weapons, spells, and character abilities (e.g. dodging iframes, fatroll vs quick roll). You learn how to avoid damage, how approach a room with blind spots, how to get the enemies to do what you want. You’re not learning patience, you’re learning how the game works and how your character works, and everything you learn compounds throughout the game. After your first hour or three, you don’t really even learn by dying anymore. You know how to avoid damage and coax out attacks from enemies, so you can figure them out the fun way, by kicking their asses.

            I didn’t say that you can experience it by skipping combat, just that there are lots of ways to make it easier. Wiki the bosses, use exploits where they exist, use a low-risk equipment setup that includes a good shield, summon other players, etc. The game wants you to succeed, which is one thing I think a lot of people tend to miss when they read about it online before playing it.

            So, seeing as the things you don’t like comprise 70% of the game, no I’m not willing to do the same for you. I’m not worried about me dropping the difficulty. I’m worried about the large number of new players who are likely to drop the difficulty and miss out. Like I said, I don’t think most of us expected to like the difficulty, but it was forced on us and we stuck with it because it turned out to be so much fun.

            I definitely don’t advocate for diversity in games as far as player preferences go. I think games tend to be better when they narrow their target audience and I rarely play big budget games these days because they cast such a wide net that they end up with a completely bland experience. This is exactly why I like Dark Souls so much, and why it got this huge following in the first place. If From wants to add an easier mode, that’s on them. I’m sure they wouldn’t do it unless they had a good way to make it work without diluting the game. But I don’t want them to feel pressured to add it by people who don’t like the game for all of the reasons that it became so successful. I would rather try to help those people enjoy it or convince them to play a different game.

          • jgthespy says:

            Wow I am super bad at this commenting in the right place this.

          • anark10n says:

            Oh, boy, I see you can’t even keep track of the part in what you said was a contradiction and the part in what you said is a non-sequitur. Just to help you out, these 2 parts are not the same, and I wasn’t addressing them as a whole.

            Let’s also not overlook how you claim that I misapply what I have learned argumentation, and the proceed blithely on into failing to point out how I have misapplied it. Stellar showing, brah.

            And you still invoke collective taste like this is supposed to matter to me. Or that it’s supposed lend your point more credence. It doesn’t.(See that! I can pass judgment on your points without needing to point how it fits, too!)(By the way, appealing to popularity does not a sound argument make. Even for art(quite possibly, especially for art.))

            Your entire argument boils down to you wanting the game to do something to make you enjoy it more.

            No this was not my argument at all. My initial argument, which I have maintained, is that those in your camp forwarded a bad argument for keeping the game the way it is. I was pointing this out. Pointing out a bad argument, does not necessarily mean support the opposition. Not to be accused of playing devil’s advocate, I did state that an easy mode would attract me back to the series, yes. Is this the same as stating that the game should include an easy mode?

            I tell you about a few of the different ways that are already in place to make the game easier…
            Isn’t this that “I I I me me me” tactic you were just pointing a finger at me for using. You know what, forget it, you can have this point. It hasn’t helped your point in your previous comments, it’s not about to change now.

            That an easy mode wouldn’t affect anyone else.
            Nope, not what I said. This doesn’t even count as paraphrasing. I said, it wouldn’t affect those of you who want a hard game. Kind of like the same way it doesn’t in any other game that provides these options. People who want to play games on hard, play on hard, people who don’t, don’t.

            I am aware that self-control would completely solve my issue…

            “I am aware that self-improvement would completely solve people’s issue with the difficulty level, but I don’t think that people should have to waste their efforts at self-improvement on a leisure activity to appease a loud fanbase.” See how this works?

            Incidentally, since you accused me of making assertions, are you able to back up your assertion that people who want an easy mode for Dark Souls are in fact a minority?

        • Zelos says:

          There’s an easy solution here; just don’t play the game.

          • anark10n says:

            In lieu of any substance to backup your position, you fall back to that tired rhetoric. Adam did write this very similar point at the end of his article, although using more words and the more positive spin on “of play other games”, but still making largely the same point. If it wasn’t clear in my previous comment, I haven’t played the game, for this very reason. Dark Souls 1 was enough of an irritation.

        • jgthespy says:

          You’re not into the main conceit of the game, therefore people who ARE into it are wrong. Gotcha.

          • anark10n says:

            Could you point out which part of my comment can be reduced to this? Or even implies that those the buy into this conceit are wrong to buy into it? If no, your man made of straw is not something other men made of straw can afford.

          • jgthespy says:

            “And I hope you see that dying over and over again for this feeble sense of achievement holds no appeal to me. Which is why I get annoyed with games like this very quickly. I don’t see magic. All i see interminable irritation asking myself “when is it going to end?”.”

          • jgthespy says:

            “therefore people who ARE into it are wrong”

            That was a stretch. You’re obviously not saying that we’re wrong. You’re basically insisting that the developer should put in more time to make the game something you’d like more. We’re saying that the game is what it is and people who want easy-mode probably aren’t going to be as happy with it as they think they will.

          • anark10n says:

            No actually, I wasn’t insisting the developer do anything of the sort. I was registering my disagreement with the general point raised in the article and in Freud’s comment that there’s should be the only taste catered to in this regard. If the developers decides this for his game, more power to them. If the developers feel like putting an option to cater to mine, more power to them to.

            My beef here is with the fandom presenting their non-sequitur of an argument of “I like the penalizing combat, therefore you should not cater to people who want easier.” If it wasn’t optional, I’d get your gripe, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, now does it.

            Also, note how I phrased everything in my comment as only my feelings about Dark Souls. At no point did I denigrate anybody else’s experience as wrong or misguided in feeling something else when playing Dark Souls. So, like I said, your rhetoric was not a stretch, it was a strawman.

          • jgthespy says:

            Yeah it was a strawman. I was projecting some of the other comments I had recently replied to onto you.

            The fandom appreciates that the difficulty was forced onto them because we’ve been coddled by games for so long and we loved being surprised by the fulfilling experience that we got from this series. Most of us would have dropped the difficulty a long time ago and probably wouldn’t have cared half as much about the series as a result. It’s part of the design. It’s what makes it good. People don’t rave about the atmosphere because it’s objectively good. It’s good within the context of that design. Every part of the game feeds into that design and all of the little things that tickle our fancy fall out of it. All of the weird little NPC comments. The horrible weightless ragdoll corpses that we actually love because it makes us feel empowered over them. Cheesing the fuck out of every dragon that ever failed to stop us from crossing a bridge. It’s all part of the experience. The atmosphere is a function of the difficulty and you can’t experience one without the other.

            If you want to run around and appreciate the levels and the story, you’re free to do that. There are plenty of ways to make the game easier within the already existing framework. But adding a way to directly make the game easier is a compromise. It’s absolutely true that this compromise is easily defeated by the tiniest amount of self control not to drop the difficulty. But I play games when I’m tired and don’t want to waste my self control. I want the Souls experience forced on me because I know that it’s worth it to me in the end, and I know that a large chunk of the fanbase agrees. That’s why we get defensive when people want to change that.

            We’re not trying to push people away with whatever form of “git gud” you find. We want you to step it up and join us. The bar is the same for everyone, and half the people who complain about not having enough dexterity, or whatever reason they can’t hack it, are just tainted by the the modern world that bends over backwards to make them comfortable. The point of Dark Souls is specifically to make you uncomfortable. That’s what makes it great. If that’s not your thing, that’s cool. You can find plenty of games that will be much more fulfilling than Dark Souls – difficulty.

          • anark10n says:

            I understand all of your feelings about it, and gladly concede that it adds to your experience. Are you willing to do the same for me, as someone who does not find the combat remotely satisfying, or the consequences of failing and having to slog through it all again with no sense of ever actually getting good? And do you ever get good, on the first playthrough. Everything you learn fighting one creature, you have to throw out when facing the next new one that comes along. So you’re left with the rule of thumb of patience. Patience is not a skill, though. And even that, does not always result in consistent victory, at least on the first playthrough. And victory is necessary to move things along in Dark Souls (in 1, at least, not sure about the 2 and 3).

            You say there other ways of experiencing Dark Souls without the combat in the existing framework. What are these other ways?

            As to your call for solidarity in the experience of Dark Souls, it sounds more a like a call to conform. No room for anyone that does not like the difficulty, but likes everything else about the game. This is that insularity that I mentioned in my first comment, that Adam, and just about everyone else from that school of thought, falls into. Which is somewhat strange, given their calls for diversity in other aspects of not just gaming culture itself, but games themselves, and then completely do an about-turn on this one. I don’t get this.

            Let me ask again, regarding your experience of the Dark Souls games, how does it then follow, if the developer considers adding an easy mode, that they should not, based only your feelings about it? Or what the existing fandom feels about it. Moreover, an easy mode that is not mandatory. You don’t lose anything. If you end up changing the difficulty, how is that any fault of the game for having an easy mode?

          • jgthespy says:

            Yes, you absolutely do get good on the first playthrough. Most people get decent within the first couple hours and good within a few more. At least in my experience, and this includes Demon’s Souls when the series was brand new to everyone, there’s a huge shift after you beat your first boss and another huge one after the second boss. After that, it’s still tough and you still get better, but you also have a very strong sense of empowerment. You also have a big collection of weapons, almost all of which work differently so you can pick the ones that work best for you. In Demon’s Souls, that was the meat cleaver for me. It was big and slow but you only had to get one hit off and then dodge away because it did so much damage. In Dark Souls, I use a shield that blocks full physical damage and a weapon that balances speed and damage, along with medium armor so I don’t have to fatroll. This is basically easy mode already. Some areas are easier or more fun with a different weapon setup, so I’ll switch as needed.

            Everything you learn fighting one creature absolutely applies to others. You’re not just learning about that one creature, but also about your weapons, spells, and character abilities (e.g. dodging iframes, fatroll vs quick roll). You learn how to avoid damage, how approach a room with blind spots, how to get the enemies to do what you want. You’re not learning patience, you’re learning how the game works and how your character works, and everything you learn compounds throughout the game. After your first hour or three, you don’t really even learn by dying anymore. You know how to avoid damage and coax out attacks from enemies, so you can figure them out the fun way, by kicking their asses.

            I didn’t say that you can experience it by skipping combat, just that there are lots of ways to make it easier. Wiki the bosses, use exploits where they exist, use a low-risk equipment setup that includes a good shield, summon other players, etc. The game wants you to succeed, which is one thing I think a lot of people tend to miss when they read about it online before playing it.

            So, seeing as the things you don’t like comprise 70% of the game, no I’m not willing to do the same for you. I’m not worried about me dropping the difficulty. I’m worried about the large number of new players who are likely to drop the difficulty and miss out. Like I said, I don’t think most of us expected to like the difficulty, but it was forced on us and we stuck with it because it turned out to be so much fun.

            I definitely don’t advocate for diversity in games as far as player preferences go. I think games tend to be better when they narrow their target audience and I rarely play big budget games these days because they cast such a wide net that they end up with a completely bland experience. This is exactly why I like Dark Souls so much, and why it got this huge following in the first place. If From wants to add an easier mode, that’s on them. I’m sure they wouldn’t do it unless they had a good way to make it work without diluting the game. But I don’t want them to feel pressured to add it by people who don’t like the game for all of the reasons that it became so successful. I would rather try to help those people enjoy it or convince them to play a different game.

          • anark10n says:

            And again, you still fall into projecting your experience as the only objective experience to have of Dark Souls. That someone cannot dislike the difficulty and like everything else about the game. Not only that, you missed the entire point of what is that I asked you to do for me, that I did for you. And I can only spell it out so many times and in so many ways for you.

            You probably won’t get it, but I’ll try again: The difficulty was annoying for me. It added a grand total of zero to a memorable experience of Dark Souls for me. To the point I had zero desire to return to it once I finished it, and have skipped 2 and will now be skipping 3. This is coming from someone who has replays ARMA games over and over. And sometimes play it with trainers, because, hey, it’s slapstick fun to do. And note, I would not begrudge anyone asking for a COD mode for the ARMA games. It will have no effect on me. None whatsoever.

            Are you willing to accept that the difficulty holds no appeal to some people, but the rest of the game does. And an easy mode would allow said people to experience these other aspects of the game without the combat getting in their way? And no matter how many words you write about why they should like what you like about the game, will not make them like the difficulty. Especially, as you so generously put it, it’s 70% of the game, and they just want the 30% that isn’t combat.

            And then you present this: You also have a big collection of weapons, almost all of which work differently so you can pick the ones that work best for you. And also go into quite some detail into how many other ways a player can experience the game. Provided by the game itself, no less. And most of them things that you learn by playing the game, and one meta-game option.

            And then later on you present this: I definitely don’t advocate for diversity in games as far as player preferences go.

            Contradiction much, no?

          • jgthespy says:

            “And again, you still fall into projecting your experience as the only objective experience to have of Dark Souls. That someone cannot dislike the difficulty and like everything else about the game.”

            I didn’t say that. I said that I don’t care about your experience
            because catering to you would probably detract from the experience of people who are more in line with the game but not accustomed to the difficulty yet.

            “Are you willing to accept that the difficulty holds no appeal to some people, but the rest of the game does.”

            It’s certainly possible. I would guess that you would be in the extreme minority and that most people would find the game underwhelming and bland without the things that create most of the atmosphere.

            “And an easy mode would allow said people to experience these other aspects of the game without the combat getting in their way?”

            Maybe it would. As I said, I care more about new players that would grow to enjoy the difficulty than I do players who don’t like the combat, and the needs of those two groups conflict.

            “Contradiction much, no?”

            No, but nice recovery attempt. I’m sure you can figure out the difference in context between those two statements if you put your mind to it.

          • anark10n says:

            I didn’t say that.
            When earlier in the thread you had this to say: So, seeing as the things you don’t like comprise 70% of the game, no I’m not willing to do the same for you. I’m not worried about me dropping the difficulty. I’m worried about the large number of new players who are likely to drop the difficulty and miss out.

            What exactly is that if not setting up your taste as the only objectively fulfilling way of playing the game?

            I said that I don’t care about your experience because catering to you would probably detract from the experience of people who are more in line with the game but not accustomed to the difficulty yet.

            And here we have why yours, and Adam’s, everyone else in your camp’s actual reason for being in this debate. It is for everyone that would like to play the game to conform to your collective taste. Going so far as to voice active denial of an option to those that don’t when one is offered. The fact that you use so many words, hasn’t really elevated you above the “git gud” crowd.

            It’s certainly possible. I would guess that you would be in the extreme minority and that most people would find the game underwhelming and bland without the things that create most of the atmosphere. And for me to count as an extreme minority, the game would have to reach the status of CoD, or at least do the same numbers as some other mainstream RPG. The fact that its fans are loud about why they like about Dark Souls, doesn’t actually mean it’s all that popular. And if it does manage to do those numbers, how would it help your case, exactly?

            As I said, I care more about new players that would grow to enjoy the difficulty than I do players who don’t like the combat, and the needs of those two groups conflict.

            The needs of these two groups do conflict, yes. Catering to these two groups does not. So again, my initial beef with your position, connect the logic of “I like the game being this difficult” to the conclusion, “therefore don’t cater to people who want an easier mode”. This argument coming from your camp remains a non-sequitur.

            No, but nice recovery attempt. I’m sure you can figure out the difference in context between those two statements if you put your mind to it.

            And what context is that? You stating that the game caters to diverse approaches to circumventing the difficulty (one of which is not provided by the game) while failing to realize that they still require significant investment in the game? And then going right into stating that you are against another while trying not to sound elitist? I must ask, did you read the whole paragraph I wrote, or did you just stop at where I C/Ped your words? Reason why I didn’t C/P your whole paragraph is because of what my response ends up looking like when the thread is this far nested.

            And tell me, how have these other means of circumventing the difficulty negatively affected your experience of the game?

          • jgthespy says:

            “What exactly is that if not setting up your taste as the only objectively fulfilling way of playing the game?”

            Me explaining to you how the majority of fans came to like the series, via forced difficulty.

            “It is for everyone that would like to play the game to conform to your collective taste.”

            An ARPG without A is just an RPG. It’s not my taste, combat is a fundamental part of the design. Just because there are other parts of the game that you happen to like doesn’t mean that you should be catered to.

            “or at least do the same numbers as some other mainstream RPG”

            It does.

            “And if it does manage to do those numbers, how would it help your case, exactly?”

            Because it’s obviously doing something that people enjoy, and people who enjoy it probably know why that’s the case better than people who don’t.

            “Catering to these two groups does not”

            One group needs forced difficulty to get the experience that they came for, the other group needs the option to reduce the difficulty. I can’t think of any way that these two requirements can be reconciled. Can you?

            “And what context is that?”

            ARPG has multiple weapons. It’s not a stretch to have axes behave differently than swords. It’s also not a stretch to have different swords behave differently. It’s diversity within a fundamental aspect of the design and it mostly exists to make the game more varied for people who enjoy the systems that are present in the game. Changing fundamental aspects of the design in order to cater to a wider range of people isn’t the same. The difficulty is clearly a fundamental aspect of the design. Maybe not for you personally, but to the people who created the game. There’s just no reason to cater to people who dislike most of your game when you can be catering to people who have responded positively to that design and actually enjoy it.

            “And tell me, how have these other means of circumventing the difficulty negatively affected your experience of the game?”

            They haven’t because it’s a game about overcoming challenges within its framework in any way that you can. Directly making those challenges less challenging is a silly way to accomplish that. I don’t deny that you might have more fun with a difficulty option. I just don’t care. You’re not important.

            As a side note, I feel really left out here. I think this discussion would be better for everyone if you provided an actual argument longer than a sentence or two so that I can pick it apart instead of responding to any of the things you say in detail.

          • jgthespy says:

            Your goal here should be convincing me to care about what you and the small number of people like you want. I have what I want and will likely to continue to get what I want. Why should I care what you want? Why are you more important than the new player who has no choice but to play at the level that the game was designed for and feels awesome about it once they succeed? What aspects of the game do you enjoy, in detail? How long did you play for? How far did you get? Regarding whatever made you stop playing, how many times did you die before you quit?

          • anark10n says:

            I’ll be truncating your the parts of your comments I’m responding to, but will be responding to the whole paragraph.

            Me explaining to you how the majority…

            Yes, I know, thats what you’re explaining, I’m asking why you present your explanation as the only objectively fulfilling experience of the game?

            An ARPG without A is just an RPG. It’s not my taste …

            At no point was I advocating the removal of combat from Dark Souls. I specifically said that I did not enjoy the combat as it stands in Dark Souls. The novelty wore of so fast and just got annoying for me. An easy mode would go a long way in making it enjoyable for me.

            It does [do the same numbers as other mainstream RPGs].
            Citation needed.

            One group needs forced difficulty…
            Yes, I do see a way of reconciling the two. Make the difficult combat the default. The developers can even label the easy mode a cheat, if the developers want to further drive home the point of how they want their game played.

            Because it’s obviously doing something that people enjoy…

            How does the popularity of something make a non-sequitur of an argument for that thing a valid argument?

            ARPG has multiple weapons…

            And I’m getting the feeling again that you did not read the whole of my response. I did not limit my contention to weapons in game. You mentioned a whole bunch of ways to circumvent difficulty, some provided by the game, and also one that wasn’t. And then go on to say that you don’t support diversity in diversity of accessibility to a game. Is that not a contradiction?

            They haven’t because it’s a game about overcoming challenges…

            Key point here, is that they have not. Even though they are present. An easy mode would have the exact same effect. None.

            As a side note, I feel really left out here…

            How are you feeling left out in a part of a thread which only you and I are the only remaining participants? And have I not been responding with more than one sentence at a time to your comments? Have you been reading the whole of my responses?

            Your goal here should be convincing me…

            No, actually, that’s not what my goal is supposed to be. This is merely your attempt to try and make me commit the same fallacy that you do. Our tastes differ. I do not find the difficulty in Dark Souls rewarding, you do. I do not find that the difficulty adds to the atmosphere of Dark Souls, you do. I am not trying to deny you your experience and convince you of mine. And yes, you will continue to get what you want, even with the addition of an easy mode.

          • jgthespy says:

            “I’m asking why you present your explanation as the only objectively fulfilling experience of the game?”

            I’m not. I’m only saying that my experience is fulfilling and common to most fans of the series.

            “At no point was I advocating the removal of combat from Dark Souls. I specifically said that I did not enjoy the combat as it stands in Dark Souls. The novelty wore of so fast and just got annoying for me. An easy mode would go a long way in making it enjoyable for me.”

            I I I me me

            “Citation needed.”

            link to eurogamer.net

            “Yes, I do see a way of reconciling the two.”

            That does zero things to solve my problem.

            “How does the popularity of something make a non-sequitur of an argument for that thing a valid argument?”

            Because you’re not important. What you want isn’t important. This series is not for you.

            “And I’m getting the feeling again that you did not read the whole of my response.”

            Likewise. Or rather, you only read the sentences without actually thinking about what they were saying.

            “And then go on to say that you don’t support diversity in diversity of accessibility to a game. Is that not a contradiction?”

            No it’s not. I specifically addressed that already.

            “Key point here, is that they have not. Even though they are present. An easy mode would have the exact same effect. None.”

            Nope. Read better. I love how you spend multiple posts attempting to set up arguments but don’t bother to adjust them as things change.

            “How are you feeling left out in a part of a thread which only you and I are the only remaining participants?”

            SARCASM

            “This is merely your attempt to try and make me commit the same fallacy that you do.”

            No it’s my attempt to point out how you’ve hardly said anything at all. You make tiny assertions that you don’t back up and then spend the rest of the time playing intro to philosophy with statements that you don’t bother to contextualize.

          • Razumen says:

            After reading most of the comments here, the gist of the arguments from the anti-easier mode crowd is simply that they don’t want it. That’s it, there’s no valid argument that proves it would ruin the game or be a detriment to the regular difficulty. It’s their wants vs everyone else, with the selfish desire to not give any concessions to anyone else that’s not in your exclusive club.

            The fact of the matter is that the addition of a easier difficulty below what is now the default would change nothing for current players, other than their own smug satisfaction, and someone less skilled than them would get to enjoy the same thing as they do.

          • jgthespy says:

            “After reading…”

            haha yeah that’s what you did.

            Did you two go to the same elementary school?

          • anark10n says:

            I’m not. I’m only saying that my experience is fulfilling and common to most fans of the series.

            And how many times did you say you would rather convince someone to enjoy what all of you as a collective enjoy about Dark Souls rather than see the game present an option for those don’t feel the same to play the game? And that because this taste, being a collective thing, is something that needs to be upheld, to the exclusion of all else. Never mind spinning percentages out of thin air in an attempt to back your point up (which if i was to concede to, would just render the Dark Souls a pretty shallow game, with or without an easy mode).

            I I I me me [/irony]

            Fixed that for you.

            Because you’re not important. What you want isn’t important. This series is not for you.

            Where in that piece of contention for which you wrote this, did I mention it being about me. I specifically pointed out that your argument is still a non-sequitur, even if the whole world had your hard-on for Dark Souls and its difficulty, and I alone did not fall in line. It would still be a non-sequitur even if I did fall in line.

            link to eurogamer.net

            Let’s take a look at some mainstream RPGs shall we:

            Fallout 4: 12 mill — close, but not quite
            Elder Scrolls: Skyrim: 20 mill — eh?
            Diablo 3: 30 mill — yeah…

            No it’s not. I specifically addressed that already.

            No, you addressed one point in my contention, which I clarified wasn’t all that you presented in the many ways that the Dark Souls difficulty can be circumvented.

            Here’s what you wrote:
            Wiki the bosses, use exploits where they exist, use a low-risk equipment setup that includes a good shield, summon other players, etc.

            One of those is not provided by the game. Another is direct option provided by the game to make it easier, albeit with an online requirement. And the one that comes as a result of playing the game, still requires significant investment in the game.

            Nope. Read better…

            Nothing has changed. You’ve been repeating the same non-sequitur every time you post. And I’ve been trying to get you to connect your premise to the conclusion. You haven’t done so. And not having done so, you resort to “i know you are, but what am i” level of tactics in attempt to not actually address the problem with your entire argument. And of course, a dash of condescension just to make it look like you have analyzed me so completely and thoroughly.

            SARCASM

            The limitations of text. I couldn’t tell.

            No it’s my attempt to point out…

            What assertions have I made? What philosophy have I brought into this? Can you not tell the difference between philosophy and what constitutes a sound argument? What part of stating that your argument is a non-sequitur, and then demonstrating how it is, do I need to contextualize?

          • jgthespy says:

            “And that because this taste, being a collective thing, is something that needs to be upheld, to the exclusion of all else.”

            No, just to the exclusion of people who don’t like the game.

            “Fixed that for you”

            I be like “we we me we I we me I I we.” You be like “me me me I me I I I me.”

            “Where in that piece of contention for which you wrote this, did I mention it being about me.”

            Your entire argument boils down to you wanting the game to do something to make you enjoy it more.

            “Let’s take a look…”

            Sorry, in my brain-world, 6 million is a big number that most niche games and many not-so-niche would kill to sell.

            “No, you addressed one point in my contention, which I clarified wasn’t all that you presented in the many ways that the Dark Souls difficulty can be circumvented.”

            I explained how those things are different than easy mode. Now you explain how they aren’t.

            “One of those is not provided by the game. Another is direct option provided by the game to make it easier, albeit with an online requirement. And the one that comes as a result of playing the game, still requires significant investment in the game.”

            Cool. Different things are different. Use this information to make a point.

            “Nothing has changed. You’ve been repeating the same non-sequitur every time you post.”

            It’s not a non-sequitur just because I’m not saying what you want me to say. And I’ll keep repeating it until you actually tell me why it’s wrong. You can declare that it’s a contradiction until you’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean anything.

            “And of course, a dash of condescension just to make it look like you have analyzed me so completely and thoroughly.”

            A dash of condescension just to keep myself entertained while I wait and see how long it’ll take you to address anything I’ve said rather than saying “nuh uh” and then playing debate bingo for the rest of your post.

            But I’ll analyze you a little bit now. I think you’re not super confident in your ability to make an argument of your own, so you fall back on whatever facts you’ve memorized about logic to pick apart other arguments without ever contributing. But it’s always better to practice and be wrong than to let yourself stagnate. I believe in you!

            “What assertions have I made?”

            That an easy mode wouldn’t affect anyone else.

            “Can you not tell the difference between philosophy and what constitutes a sound argument?”

            Are you not familiar with the course where most people first learn about arguments, then run around misapplying what they’ve read? Maybe it’s different where you’re from. Either way, you claim it’s not a sound argument. You state that it’s a contradiction. I disagree, and I’m certainly not going to take your word for it since you seem to be incapable of constructing your own argument.

            “What part of stating that your argument is a non-sequitur, and then demonstrating how it is, do I need to contextualize?”

            Haha this is it right here. You don’t need to contextualize whatever strategies you’re using avoid making a point, but you ought to contextualize the things that I say that you are responding to.

            Here let me summarize how I see things right now, and then you can use this information instead of trying to refer back to the other 20 posts in this chain.

            You think that Dark Souls should have an option to reduce the difficulty of the game for people who struggle to make progress but still want to experience the other things the game has to offer.

            I think that one of the things that the current fanbase finds appealing about Dark Souls is that the difficulty is forced on them, and they just have to overcome it.

            I tell you about a few of the different ways that are already in place to make the game easier, but I still think that directly making the game easier is the wrong way to go about it. The things I list boil down to learning about the game, then using the things you’ve learned to overcome the challenging bits. I like how this parallels challenges that a person might encounter in real life, where you can’t just turn down the difficulty.

            I like that the game gives players a ton of options to reach the bar, but I also think that the bar having a fixed position is a fundamental aspect of the game. I agree that for some people, lowering the bar would make the game more fun, but I also believe that many people will take that option when they may have enjoyed the game more had they stuck it out. This belief is based on my knowledge of the community, and I think the players who would have more fun by lowering the bar would be a very small minority.

            I am aware that self-control would completely solve my issue with a difficulty level, but I don’t think that people should have to waste their self-control on a leisure activity to appease a small minority of potential players.

          • anark10n says:

            Oh, boy, I see you can’t even keep track of the part in what you said was a contradiction and the part in what you said is a non-sequitur. Just to help you out, these 2 parts are not the same, and I wasn’t addressing them as a whole.

            Let’s also not overlook how you claim that I misapply what I have learned argumentation, and the proceed blithely on into failing to point out how I have misapplied it. Stellar showing, brah.

            And you still invoke collective taste like this is supposed to matter to me. Or that it’s supposed lend your point more credence. It doesn’t.(See that! I can pass judgment on your points without needing to point how it fits, too!)(By the way, appealing to popularity does not a sound argument make. Even for art(quite possibly, especially for art.))

            Your entire argument boils down to you wanting the game to do something to make you enjoy it more.

            No this was not my argument at all. My initial argument, which I have maintained, is that those in your camp forwarded a bad argument for keeping the game the way it is. I was pointing this out. Pointing out a bad argument, does not necessarily mean support the opposition. Not to be accused of playing devil’s advocate, I did state that an easy mode would attract me back to the series, yes. Is this the same as stating that the game should include an easy mode?

            I tell you about a few of the different ways that are already in place to make the game easier…

            Isn’t this that “I I I me me me” tactic you were just pointing a finger at me for using. You know what, forget it, you can have this point. It hasn’t helped your point in your previous comments, it’s not about to change now.

            That an easy mode wouldn’t affect anyone else.

            Nope, not what I said. This doesn’t even count as paraphrasing. I said, it wouldn’t affect those of you who want a hard game. Kind of like the same way it doesn’t in any other game that provides these options. People who want to play games on hard, play on hard, people who don’t, don’t.

            I am aware that self-control would completely solve my issue…

            “I am aware that self-improvement would completely solve people’s issue with the difficulty level, but I don’t think that people should have to waste their efforts at self-improvement on a leisure activity to be part of a loud fanbase.” See how this works?

            Incidentally, since you accused me of making assertions, are you able to back up your assertion that people who want an easy mode for Dark Souls are in fact a minority?

          • jgthespy says:

            Jeepers, I’ve got you all wrong! Alright, let me just scroll all the way to the top and look at some older posts…

            “Writer seems to fall into the same trap as everyone that argues their taste as the one to be catered to the exclusion (without even a possibility of inclusion) of anyone else that prefers something different”

            There’s only one group being excluded here. Please justify why you think it is important to include them.

            “but from that to “therefore, an easy mode shouldn’t be included” is a non-sequitur”

            I really don’t think you understand what a non-sequitur is. I feel like you disagree with the premise and refuse to connect any of the points made by the author to his conclusion. But let’s see how you justify that.

            “Not everyone plays games for the same reasons as the writer”

            Very true! This is a great baseline justification to include an easy mode.

            “I’m not saying cater to every taste out there, but…”

            Ok you’re listing people who might benefit from an easy mode.

            “…without the penalizing combat in the way”
            “…without the penalizing combat getting in the way”
            “…for someone who penalizing combat is quite simply not that fun”

            Everyone on this list is bothered by the gameplay of this game, and would prefer to play the game without the gameplay getting in the way.

            Totally fair. As you said, different people like different things.

            “This is the perfect example of when people get too carried away by their own passion for the art they choose to consume more of than any other. Loss of a sense of their own insularity.”

            Does this follow from what you’ve said so far? You listed one group that the game currently excludes. The author wrote a big article highlighting why it’s ok to exclude this group in great detail. You declared it a non-sequitur, ranted a little bit, and moved on. You need to explain why you think his conclusion doesn’t follow from his arguments. You ought to explain why you think it’s important to include this one group of people as well.

            “If the game was just about the challenge, why bother with high definition graphics and hiring an entire art team. Or even have a story at all, let alone a world. So clearly, the challenge isn’t all the game is meant to be.”

            What on earth are you trying to say here? How does your conclusion follow from your premise? I just watched a video yesterday where someone said that if mass-shootings were really cause by mental health problems, then half of them would be committed by women. Is that a good argument?

            “And yet, the writer, and you, seem intent only on trying to establish your fascination with the penalizing combat as the only reason to play the game.”

            The writer actually listed a bunch of reasons why the penalizing combat is inherently part of the design and difficult to get rid of without hurting the game as a whole. You’ve addressed zero of them thus far.

            “Do NPCs in the game remark on how many times you die.”

            Yes, NPCs in the game constantly talk about the endless cycle of death that the players go through. They don’t talk about you like you’re special, because you’re not. You’re one of thousands of other similar looking corpses that are all doing the same thing. It’s very meta.

            Do they give you a number? No. That would be stupid.

            “How is the challenge of the combat central to the story?”

            The central story isn’t very good. The lore, NPC dialogue, and atmosphere are good. Not because they’re well written, but because they’re written in a way that integrates the player’s gameplay experience along with the wider meta-story that incorporates all of the other people playing the game.

            “Does losing mean the story progresses without you?”

            That would be completely contrary to the lore and the point of the story. Do you actually know anything about the game?

            “Is there any persistence when you lose beyond those introduced for the sake of game mechanics e.g. loss of souls, or does the world reset?”

            Once again, completely contrary to the lore and the story.

            “So, even the writer’s claim of the player feeling incidental to the world, really doesn’t sound all that incidental.”

            That’s because you’re completely clueless about the game.

            “It would, perhaps, serve your polemic better to not make assumptions into which camp your detractor falls before said detractor actually spells it out. Or maybe I’m missing the point of polemic. Either case, your point remains unmade.”

            I just want to take a break here to let you know that you’re an annoying person.

            “If it wasn’t clear in my previous comment, I haven’t played the game”

            It’s very clear.

            “Oh, boy…”

            I’ll give you credit for one thing, you are quite good at talking around subjects.

            “My initial argument, which I have maintained, is that those in your camp forwarded a bad argument for keeping the game the way it is.”

            You can’t call it an argument if you haven’t argued anything. You declared it a bad argument. That is all.

            “Kind of like the same way it doesn’t in any other game that provides these options.”

            Different games are different. Facts are true. Is is is.

            ““I am aware that self-improvement would completely solve people’s issue with the difficulty level, but I don’t think that people should have to waste their efforts at self-improvement on a leisure activity to be part of a loud fanbase.” See how this works?”

            No. Please explain.

            “Incidentally, since you accused me of making assertions, are you able to back up your assertion that people who want an easy mode for Dark Souls are in fact a minority?”

            Of course not. I can only guess based on the 7 years I’ve been playing the series and interacting with the community. I’ve taken the things that I know and the things that I’ve experienced, and I’ve combined them into a prediction which I qualify with as much uncertainty as I think it requires. I can explain how this works in more detail if you’d like, but it might get a little mathy and I’m guessing that’s not your wheelhouse.

          • anark10n says:

            There’s only one group being excluded here. Please justify why you think it is important to include them.

            I wasn’t making the argument that they should be included. It would be nice that they be included, as I fall in that group, but I’m not overly concerned if I’m not. I just don’t appreciate bad arguments, on principle, and when they are used for the purpose of exclusion.

            I really don’t think you understand what a non-sequitur is…

            By all means, you have all the stage in the world to correct my apparent misunderstanding of what a non-sequitur is.

            Does this follow from what you’ve said so far? You listed one group that the game currently excludes. The author wrote a big article highlighting why it’s ok to exclude this group in great detail. You declared it a non-sequitur, ranted a little bit, and moved on. You need to explain why you think his conclusion doesn’t follow from his arguments. You ought to explain why you think it’s important to include this one group of people as well.

            And since when does quantity determine quality? His whole article boils down to “I like the game this” and does not depart from this at any point. And his conclusion is “therefore don’t introduce an option to include people who don’t like the game like this.” You took a swing at it switching his “I” for a “we” thinking (hoping? praying?) it would connect. And missed.

            E.g. Since I said it would be nice to have an easy mode, if I went and then stated, therefore, the game should introduce an option for me to play it like this, this would also be a non-sequitur. I haven’t made this statement. This isn’t my argument.

            What on earth are you trying to say here?

            The difficulty can be achieved without the need for detailed art or any kind of narrative. And yet the developer took the effort to put them in the game. Clearly, the game isn’t just about the difficulty.

            The writer actually listed a bunch of reasons…

            The writer listed a bunch a reasons that would hurt the game for him. They are not an objective measure of whether the game would actually suffer for it.

            Yes, NPCs in the game constantly talk about…

            Well look at that, you actually can answer a question. A question not directed at you, but still, I’ll take what I can get.

            The central story isn’t very good…

            Well, that didn’t last long. I wasn’t asking whether you thought the story was good or not. I was asking the significance of the difficulty to the story, since the commenter I directed it to, and you made the assertion that whole game is designed around said difficulty.

            That would be completely contrary to the lore and the point of the story. Do you actually know anything about the game?

            Once again, completely contrary to the lore and the story.

            That’s because you’re completely clueless about the game.

            I would really like to know your working definition of incidental. Just have this feeling that yours isn’t like mine, and neither the author’s, too, but I could be wrong. How is the player incidental to events, when the player is the one who events unfold around and because of? The player’s repeated dying has no impact on the world that is of any significance, only his success. Also notice, how you don’t make mention of how this affects difficulty or how it is affected by the difficulty. Odd that, for a game supposedly designed around said difficulty.

            You can’t call it an argument if you haven’t argued anything. You declared it a bad argument. That is all.

            Reading comprehension. Do you has it? Just in case you are possessed of the honest introspection to admit that you do not: a bad argument was forward to keep the difficulty in Dark Souls as is; a bad argument is not worthy of consideration; therefore, the argument forwarded to keep the difficulty in Dark Souls as is, is not worthy consideration.

            Bring a better one. Or admit you has none.

            No. Please explain.

            Try not to use an argument that could so easily be turned on you to the same effect. Or if you do, be willing to concede. Such a concession would detract nothing from your point and would gain your detractor the exact same. A grand total of zero points is won by either side.

          • jgthespy says:

            “I wasn’t making the argument that they should be included.”

            Obviously. You haven’t made any arguments at all, as both of us keep insisting.

            “By all means…”

            You clearly know what the definition is and you clearly don’t know how to recognize one in the wild.

            “His whole article boils down to “I like the game this” and does not depart from this at any point.”

            It doesn’t, but I can understand why you keep saying this about no-easy-mode arguments since you think it removes your responsibility to make an actual argument.

            “The difficulty can be achieved without the need for detailed art or any kind of narrative. And yet the developer took the effort to put them in the game. Clearly, the game isn’t just about the difficulty.”

            What does “about” mean to you?

            “Well, that didn’t last long. I wasn’t asking whether you thought the story was good or not. I was asking the significance of the difficulty to the story, since the commenter I directed it to, and you made the assertion that whole game is designed around said difficulty.”

            I understand what you were asking. I was letting you know why it was a stupid question.

            “How is the player incidental to events, when the player is the one who events unfold around and because of?”

            There are no events. There are only dead bosses.

            “The player’s repeated dying has no impact on the world that is of any significance, only his success.”

            Nothing has any impact on the word. It never changes.

            “Also notice, how you don’t make mention of how this affects difficulty”

            Notice that I did, it just happened to be in the previous paragraph. You should reread it and try again.

            “a bad argument was forward to keep the difficulty in Dark Souls as is; a bad argument is not worthy of consideration”

            i.e. I am incapable of refuting anything the author said, therefore I shouldn’t have to.

            “Try not to use an argument that could so easily be turned on you to the same effect.”

            Sure. Explain how your search and replace did that.

            This isn’t a contest with points. Obviously, since you have none. Ahyuck!

          • anark10n says:

            Obviously. You haven’t made any arguments…

            Me not making said argument is not the same as me not making any argument. So let me ask again: reading comprehension, do you has it?

            You clearly know what the definition…

            And yet I provide, as an example, how if I was to use the exact same argument for my own preferences, it would still be a non-sequitur. It does not stop being non-sequitur just beacuse you happen to agree with the conclusion. Nor does it stop just because someone can write a whole bunch of words about it.

            It doesn’t, but I can understand…

            It does, actually, because I agree with so few of the points he raised as to why the difficulty is a good thing to have as is in the game. These are not objective facts about the game. Here are objective facts about the game: it is an RPG in a European-styled medieval fantasy with a harsh penalty for player-death. The stuff about frustration and desperation, and the sense of an indifferent world, and the sense of reward/achievement, that’s all subjective fluff. If you think there is something objective about his article that supports his conclusion, provide it. Or easier yet, if you think there is something objectively enjoyable about the game that would break if an easy-mode was introduced, provide that.

            What does “about” mean to you?

            In this context, I will go with this one: concerning a particular subject

            I understand what you were asking. I was letting you know why it was a stupid question.

            Ah, well, that’s okay. You may have picked up on my lack of hope in your ability to answer a question some lines back. If you didn’t, well, that’s fine to.

            There are no events. There are only dead bosses.

            Nothing has any impact on the word. It never changes.

            I can’t tell if this sarcasm or not. Are you presenting this as serious points of contention?

            Notice that I did…

            Yes, NPCs in the game constantly talk about…

            Not lick of it is about the difficulty. Nevermind that you completely after an imagined point I was making. Allow me to follow up, is there a consquence, trivial or non-trivial, to the world for the player’s continued dying?

            i.e. I am incapable of refuting anything…

            Hey, hey, the return of the strawman. Hope you have fun with that.

            Sure. Explain how your search and replace did that.

            I am aware that self-control would completely solve my issue with a difficulty level, but I don’t think that people should have to waste their self-control on a leisure activity to appease a small minority of potential players.

            If I was in the business of actually advocating for an easy-mode, I could have used this same exact argument against you. As I am not, I can largely ignore it, because it adds nothing to your point because it could be used to the exact same effect by the opposing camp. Debate hasn’t moved from square one.

            This isn’t a contest with points. Obviously, since you have none. Ahyuck!

            Cheek, like sarcasm, is hard to transmit in text. You’re not to blame for not picking up on this.

          • jgthespy says:

            “Me not making said argument is not the same as me not making any argument”

            You’re absolutely right. Doesn’t change the fact that you haven’t made any arguments. Only declarations.

            “The stuff about frustration and desperation, and the sense of an indifferent world, and the sense of reward/achievement, that’s all subjective fluff”

            Says the person who hasn’t played the game. But I like that word!

            “In this context, I will go with this one: concerning a particular subject”

            Concerning the subject of a particular game. A game being a system of rules that players interact with. So what a game is about is whatever those rules are. Everything else is fluff. Not all interactive pieces of entertainment are games, and no game can possibly be defined by the any of the things that you personally value about this series. Every game can be defined by its rules. That doesn’t make said fluff less valuable and it doesn’t mean that the fluff can’t drastically enhance the experience, but they are, by definition, incidental to any and all games.

            “I can’t tell if this sarcasm or not. Are you presenting this as serious points of contention?”

            There’s nothing to contend. You don’t know anything about this series of games.

            “Allow me to follow up, is there a consquence, trivial or non-trivial, to the world for the player’s continued dying?”

            Yes. One thing does change about the world every single time you die.

            “Hey, hey, the return of the strawman. Hope you have fun with that.”

            Bro. If an argument is obviously bad, then it is easy to show that it’s bad. This “a bad argument is not worth considering” bullshit wouldn’t fly in any debate or any other logic-based context. Put your shitty babby’s first logical fallacy book down for a second and use those brain muscles to refute the arguments made by the author. If they’re as bad as you say, then there’s no reason you can’t do it.

            Seriously, why is this so hard for you?

            “If I was in the business of actually advocating for an easy-mode, I could have used this same exact argument against you.”

            Why don’t you go ahead and try? Oh wait, that would mean making an actual argument.

            “Cheek, like sarcasm, is hard to transmit in text. You’re not to blame for not picking up on this.”

            Oh it was cheeky and I failed to pick up on it! Gawrsh, I’ve been had!

            So this isn’t nearly as much fun as it was a week ago. If you can’t put forward a single argument to actually back up your original non-sequitur claim about this article, then I don’t see any reason to continue. You can interpret that however you want.

          • anark10n says:

            Good luck to you.

      • Ragnar says:

        As you said, dying, learning, and succeeding is the core of the game. But for some people, their skill at action games makes it impossible, so they’re forever stuck at the dying part.

        I played the games, I liked them, I think they should have difficulty options.

        Why does everyone seem to assume that Easy means “no difficulty whatsoever”? No one is asking to remove the challenge from the game, just to make it more accessible for those for whom the default difficulty is insurmountable.

        Dark Souls isn’t too hard for me, but it’s impossibly hard for my wife and daughter. It’s too easy for my friend.

        They will never get to experience the game we’ve played and enjoyed because the current difficulty does not match their ability.

  34. Bury The Hammer says:

    I’ve always found it a little confusing that Dark Souls 3 has this reputation for being unbelievably hard. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s no harder than a lot of modern indie games – in fact, it’s a lot easier. And it’s surprisingly forgiving when you take into account that dying has very few drawbacks – other than your time. Nothing really gets lost forever: souls can always be grinded again.

    I do think there is an essential tension between authorial intent and player agency, and Dark Souls has always towed the line more towards the creators. The game being difficult is so much a part of the Dark Souls theme – the world SHOULD feel imposing, scary, and you need to prove yourself to it, not the other way around. Giving the player agency over the difficulty through a menu toggle is very ‘game’ like and ruins the idea this is a fictional world that COULD exist. What you should do is use the game mechanics that already exist as a way to make the game easier (hint: summon people!).

    I’d compare this to World of Warcraft. They introduced Hard Modes for bosses in the Ulduar raid, which generally meant playing the bosses in a specific way that made sense in the game world. For example, take on the trio of bosses in a different order and they’ll be far harder, absorbing and combining their special abilities in different ways. Or press an auto-destruct button, and the room starts filling with fire (link to youtu.be). Thematically consistent, and just made the dungeons feel interactive and interesting. In future raids, this was reduced to toggling the difficulty in a menu. Boring. Why was the boss harder? Why did it have different mechanics? It just didn’t make sense. It further encourages the idea that the bosses are just loot pinatas, rather than characters that you can interact with.

    • Bury The Hammer says:

      By Dark Souls 3, I errr, mean, just the series in general, I guess.

    • Ragnar says:

      I think your argument would be a lot stronger if not for player messages.

      The whole world is practically covered with graffiti. People warn each other about ambushes, point out treasure, and much of it is people just being silly. It feels incredibly gamey, and in stark contrast to the dark and dire world.

      Why is a difficulty setting giving the player too much agency over the game, but letting you choose your starting class and leaving messages for the world isn’t? What else would give the player excessive agency, resolution settings?

      You’re right that you don’t lose anything on death but time. But for many people, finding time to play is the biggest challenge of all, so a death that costs them time is a huge loss.

  35. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    I love coming up with provocative theories that explain DS’s appeal (“Stockholm syndrome”, “sunken cost fallacy”, etc), so here’s another one. Yes, it’s not that hard in the sense that it doesn’t need any truly extraordinary skills. It requires some strategizing and “puzzle-solving” if you approach it as an action game, and some (ok, possibly a lot of) discipline and precision if you approach it an RPG, but ultimately what it requires most is patience and obedience. So in the end it allows gamers who have no outstanding skills apart from those two feel like they are some some of hardcore elite, and that’s why they protect it so stalwartly.

    • Zelos says:

      There’s some truth to what you say. Dark Souls is approachable, fair, and even casual in a sense, but it “feels” difficult, evil, imposing, mean, etc.

      Because of that feeling it creates a greater sense of accomplishment when you overcome trials. Dark Souls is the “hard” game that even someone bad at video games can beat, and THAT’S why it’s wildly popular.

      An easy mode would ruin that. It wouldn’t be a particularly good game.

    • Ragnar says:

      So Dark Souls can’t have an Easy mode because that would erode fans’ sense of accomplishment? Finally an argument that can’t be easily refuted.

      I think there would be just as much push back on Dark Souls having a Hard mode for that same reason.

      • Razumen says:

        It’s pretty easily refuted by the existence of every other game that has difficulty specific achievements.

      • Rumpelstiltskin says:

        I even think it should rather be named Dork Souls because of that

  36. Premium User Badge

    Dorga says:

    Wot I said about hyper light drifter

  37. Chillicothe says:

    I like saying this as it sends people not used to having their worldview questioned (or being told “no” by a purveyor of goods and services) into fits of apoplectic rage.

    Oh believe you me, they’re these clowns on both sides of the divide.

  38. imlikeiolo says:

    It’s interesting that the person writing the most in the comments here has just around 24 hours of play time in the first game if you check their Steam profile. I feel like they’ve spent more time commenting about this than actually playing the series. Also, it’s difficult to have a full opinion on it without really playing all three. I haven’t finished any of them, but I don’t feel like I could really fully comment on the approach to difficulty without seeing the updates by the creators over time. Those responses and changes affect this discussion quite a bit.

    I will say that as someone who really likes the games even though I’m not very good at them, that I’m having a better experience with these without having the option to change the difficulty. I would have been in the category to take the lighter option, but it really wouldn’t be a very good game if I had that option available. Gear, souls and achievement wouldn’t have much point or be interesting if the game were any lighter. Replaying harder wouldn’t be able to recreate that feeling of achievement in the face of the unknown. Once the tension’s broken by knowing what’s next, it’s in that “you can’t unring a bell” category. The game has that rhythm of things feeling unsafe until I become familiar with that area and then dive back into something new and unsafe once I feel safe with what was before it. That flow and feeling is just impossible to recreate after it’s all known.

    Anyway, I’m bad at it, but I’m glad the developers made a choice for me in this area as I’m experiencing feelings I wouldn’t otherwise. I think it’s comparable to those restaurants where you pick out your own ingredients in a bowl and then hand them to the chef to stir fry. That can be nice for some things, but there are times I want a chef with expertise to make some choices and say, “trust me, you’ll like this.” Dark Souls is like a restaurant with a single pre-fixe menu.

    • Ragnar says:

      24 hours isn’t enough time to form an opinion about the game? That doesn’t strike you as an elitist statement?

      How much is enough? 40? 60? Do you have to beat NG+ with every class before your opinion counts? At what point have you gitten gud?

      Just wait until you have a family and kids and are lucky to get 1-2 hours of free time a day. When you can’t find time to play games, reading and talking about them is the next best thing.

      And I’m glad you stuck with Dark Souls and are enjoying it. But why do you think your sense of exploration and discovery would be diminished if you died less often? Surely for those that don’t have the skill or time for the game as is, a lesser difficulty is preferable to them using a guide and having all of that spoiled for them?

  39. sharkh20 says:

    Don’t like a sport? Don’t watch it. Don’t try to change the sport.

    • gwathdring says:

      One second while I go tell some kids who are playing soccer to use the proper offsides rules or get off the damn field. ;)

      • jgthespy says:

        There’s a difference between rules that make things more competitive and rules that define an experience.

  40. Haymz Jetfield says:

    The challenge of Dark Souls mostly comes from within – fighting against the constant desire to just treat it like any other mass market AAA title where I’m showered with accolades for sleepily pounding on the attack button until I win.

    Although DS3 having a more Bloodborne-ish drop rate was a great idea as now my studly knight lady doesn’t feel the need to horde every throwing knife and firebomb as there’s always more on the way. The combination of that and a fully equipped Firelink Mall from the start makes it downright neighborly in comparison.

  41. jgthespy says:

    I think if some of you spent as much time actually playing the game as you’ve spent typing up huge paragraphs about how you deserve to experience every game ever made on your own terms, you probably wouldn’t have this problem.

    If you want to experience what the rest of us are experiencing, nothing is stopping you. Ok, maybe you have a skill cap that’s stopping you. In that case, it is impossible for you to experience what we’re experiencing. If you can’t dodge attacks or figure out how to manage stamina when blocking, then you can’t experience what we’re experiencing. If you have enough estus chugs or extra health to make more than a few mistakes, then you can’t experience what we’re experiencing. Dark Souls 3 already makes things easier in good ways. The dodging iframes are extremely lenient and it ends up making fights more exciting because you can be much more aggressive. Estus is more plentiful and less annoying to upgrade. If you can’t handle it, you’re going to be left out no matter what, so just go play something else.

    The danger IS the game. The complete terror of every step you take in a new area as your estus runs dry and your soul count grows. Stopping to appreciate the level and scenery, not because you’re into that sort of thing, but because you just need a minute before you can go on. Making it to the next bonfire on your first try after spending the last 20 minutes one hit away from death. Then 20 lives later, coasting through the same area, wrecking everything that moves as you make your way to the boss door for the 10th time, knowing that you’ve got his ass this time because you know all of his moves by heart. Then dying anyway because you tried to heal yourself at the wrong time. Then beating that boss and stepping into a new area where you start the process all over, except now you feel a little more empowered than last time because you’ve overcome so many challenges already.

    The community has always been a huge part of the Souls experience. The wiki is part of the game. Finding and sharing exploits is part of the game, and using those exploits is encouraged for people who are struggling. Part of it is the homogeneous experience shared by everyone, many of whom were tired of games dumbing themselves down to the point where they were barely even games. So with easy-mode, I see one of two things happens. Either the majority of people still play on hard-mode, and you still don’t get to be part of the community because you’re playing the wrong game, or the community gets diluted by easy-mode players and loses what makes it great. And the second one most likely leads to the dumbing down of potential sequels for this new audience.

    Just play something else. This game isn’t for you. Or git gud, cause you probably haven’t tried as hard as you think you have. We’re not lacking empathy, you just don’t get it.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Extremely well put, thanks for that.

    • banana says:

      Message! therefore praise the message! *snicker*

      I just want to add that it’s quite a widespread (global?) problem these days, that almost everything, from politics to media, has to be, no must be accessible to even the biggest idiot out there, because, you know, customer is king therefore profit, and majority is king therefore democracy! But learning new things, trying to break out of repeating the same mistakes or to simply get better at something (maybe even becoming a “better” person) is frowned upon. Just look at all these treehuggin’ yoga-veggie, nature/resources respecting anarchists! They keep ruining all our ignorant fun! Yuck. Disgraceful.

      Yep, I just went there… :)

      • Razumen says:

        Blah blah blah, all I hear is “If you’re not as good as me to be able to beat the game as it is, go away”. Same old elitist BS.

        Adding easier modes (or even harder ones!) Isn’t going to ruin anyone’s fun. Hell, people that play on the easier mode at first may go on to enjoy it at harder difficulties!

        • jgthespy says:

          I think there are three kinds of people in this situation.

          1. People who love the challenge and would play on hard-mode no matter what.
          2. People who would start on hard-mode and then switch to easy-mode or start over once it became too frustrating.
          3. People who would play on easy-mode no matter what.

          I think group 2 contains the bulk of the player base and probably the bulk of people saying that there shouldn’t be an easy-mode because they know it would ruin their fun.

          I’d rather group 3 just didn’t play at all since they’re just going to be bitching that the game is boring anyway.

        • jgthespy says:

          Ok at this point, I’m not going to be jumping ship to easy-mode. But new players will, and most of them will be missing out when it happens.

  42. PikaBot says:

    I strongly feel that the difficulty in Dark Souls is not just a gameplay element, but an important part of the game’s aesthetic. Any discussion of Dark Souls as a piece of art which doesn’t include a mention of its difficulty is badly incomplete.

    If you provide an easy mode, you compromise that aesthetic hard. Playing through an easy Dark Souls would be a vastly inferior experience to playing Dark Souls as-is.

    Some would say that if people want to compromise their Dark Souls experience, that’s up to them, but I don’t agree in this case. Even disregarding the fact that creating, implementing, and balancing such a mode would require resources on From’s part, the game’s base difficulty would shunt frustrated players onto the easier compromised game experience. They’d be ruining the game for themselves without even realizing it. It’s just a better choice to not have an easy mode at all.

    And yes, I realize that this means that some players will be unable to experience the game at all because they just can’t hack it. Fewer than you might think, because Dark Souls gives you so many ways to make difficult scenarios easier through creative thinking and most of its problems can be overcome through persistence, but there are definitely some people who are locked out of the Dark Souls experience by the execution barrier. But while tha: unfortunate, I think that from an artistic perspective, that’s still better than having a bunch of people experience half-assed Souls.

    Nobody would try to sell an abridged and simplified version of Ulysses, because stripping out the difficulty would also remove what makes the book worth reading. So it is with Dark Souls.

    • Ragnar says:

      There’s making Dark Souls easy, and then there’s Dark Souls on Easy.

      Making Dark Souls easy strips the challenge from the game, and I agree would make it worse. People could still admire it for the art design, the level design, even the lore, but the feeling of accomplishment for overcoming challenges would be lost.

      Dark Souls on Easy is the same game, just easier. The punishment for mistakes is still there, just diminished. The reposte for attacking at the wrong time gravely wounds you instead of killing you. The bosses are still puzzles to figure out, but they hit for less so you have more time each attempt to figure them out.

      Yes, you could accomplish that in the current game by grinding souls and over-leveling, but that’s tedious and no one should have to do that, and expecting players to grind is terrible game design.

      And for my friend, who discarded his shield from the start and proceeded to wreak havoc upon the world without dying, and thus didn’t see what all the fuss was about, there’s Dark Souls on Hard.

  43. LatrosAZ says:

    It is a mixed bag for me… If I was 15 or hell even in my 20s… I would probably love the shit out of this game. But reality is between my career and life I have little time to be at a level that makes these games very accessible to me. I am still a pretty good gamer I could hop into any COD game and within 30 minutes after 6 months of not playing be in the top 3 on any platform, I can hop into any racing game and grab a podium with lil practice… but. A game like this which requires patience and very very precise actions? It kills me because of a few reasons:

    1: Patience… I do not have it anymore… I am always rushed, I get home spend some time with the family shit I only have a couple hours tops to play a game… with the clock always ticking its hard for me to approach a game like Dark souls with the proper patience… because there are other games and I want to beat this game, another game and go back to the games I also like playing… its my own fault but it leads to increasing the difficulty level for me.

    2: DarkSouls is a fairly unique game in the control schemes, it requires something many AAA games do not and that’s learning a control scheme that is not shared with many of the types of games I play and have played for decades. So as a middle aged gamer it leads to once again a slightly higher difficulty to remaster/relearn a control scheme I feel is different / outside my normal gaming.

    3: Twitch… I am just not that fast anymore, I dont game like I used to and I rely on winning games now by being smarter then the other player… while this should correlate to fighting Bosses… it really does because you are relying on patterns and twitch reaction speed instead. Which once again increases the difficulty just slightly… This is mainly my part as I have been trending towards slower paced games such as CrusaderKings2 over the years.

    While none of those issues are game breakers or by any means real handicaps, they contribute to making DS3 hard in my opinion, hard enough I dont know that I will ever finish it, I am doing alright I think I beat the first boss on my 5th try or so.. but the castle wall map wore me down because of my rushing I missed the second fire a dozen times(No idea how I managed to miss it, in fact only found it because my wife playing adjacent to me found it and pointed it out).

    Point is While some of us may never slow down, some of us simply are… I jumped back into Battlefield4 the other day after some months away and I found I just couldn’t land in the top 3… I was getting upset after round after round of 5th-10th places and my wife said I was stupid and how I should be happy being in the top 10 and that I honestly don’t deserve better anyway due to my lack of playing and just being slower… She was right… truth is I do believe I have started sliding down the slope to being a lot closer to a “average” gamer… And I have to accept that just as I have to accept that I cant blindly play through dark souls at warp speed and pretend its easy… And just as I have to accept this, others have to accept their lack of ability in being able to beat every game… buying a game does not guarantee completion… you are buying a chance to play it, not beat it. Its like the Arcade back in the day… I can not recall a single arcade game having a difficulty level. They were hard and hard for a reason and its why the top score list was there… because not everyone could do it. Those that could did, and those that couldn’t tried. Dark Souls 3 brings back that Arcade situation of you either can do it, or you cant. Some of us may need a shit ton of quarters to get there while others just do it with ease and the rest simply chose the next game down the line… There is nothing wrong with that. So in those terms, while I think the game can get fucked and I hate it, and I will keep playing it a bit, I wont beat it… I know I wont.. why? I just don’t have it in me anymore, and I am ok with that. Kudos to those that can, its impressive. But I feel my pockets will run out of quarters before I get there and I am ok with that why? Because I hear that other new shiny arcade machine that is coming in town tomorrow is suppose to be a lot of fun as well.

    • jgthespy says:

      See I’m in a similar boat as far as free time and age-affected dexterity goes, but I love having a game with actual substance to play when I do get a chance to sit down. I like that the goal isn’t a race to the end so much as it is to get good enough that you can finish. And I love that I can’t dumb it down when I get frustrated, because I end up having more fun in the end.

      But I definitely get where you’re coming from and I’m glad we have such a huge range of games to choose from these days so that we can all be happy!

    • Tobberoth says:

      Would just want to quickly point out that it’s a common misconception that Dark Souls are twitch games. A guy beat Dark Souls with voice commands, then again with a guitar hero controller. What you need in Dark Souls is knowledge of patterns, once you do you have plenty of time to react. I’m generally quite bad at twitch games myself, I get completely owned if I try to play something like Quake Live, but I have no problems in Souls games.

      Can’t speak for your other arguments much, though I think the whole “I’m an adult I don’t have time for hard games” is a bit weird. Spend 1 hour in a racing game to win a little race, or spend 1 hour in Dark Souls. As long as you’re enjoying that 1 hour, it shouldn’t matter if one game is hard and the other isn’t, it just means that you’ll get way more hours out of Dark Souls which I would say is a good thing. But then again, I personally never understood the whole rush to beat games so you can start playing other ones, I play games to enjoy them, not to add them to a list of completed games. I’d rather have one amazing game last me a year, the other games won’t be going anywhere.

      • Josh W says:

        That that person is very good, doesn’t mean that element of the game isn’t also hard. I’m extremely good at pattern recognition, working out strategies to defeat enemies. When playing with my friend who has completed every game in the series multiple times, I can often work out how enemies work and what we need to do far quicker than him. I’m still bad at the game.

        When it comes to actually doing it, speed and timing matters so much.

      • Ragnar says:

        Have you watched those videos? That guy controls his character as well with a guitar as I do with a gamepad. And the voice control video shows that bosses are easy if you have ridiculously good gear. Most people fighting the Gargoyles don’t do so with lightning enchanted weapons.

        They show that yes, Dark Souls is easy if you know the whole game inside and out. There is certainly a mastery that comes with his 800+ hours of playing Dark Souls. I don’t think it can be applied to new players starting out.

  44. Deano2099 says:

    You’re right but there’s a flip side to this: yes, the game would be nothing without the difficulty. But that’s as much because it brings nothing else to be table as it is because the difficult combat is great fun.

    If Dark Souls had a brilliant story, if it had a properly interesting world, if it did something else, you’d be making the opposite argument. Imagine if Mass Effect replaced the shooty bits with Dark Souls style combat. Sure, we would say, the combat is great fun but it’s really hard. If you can’t hack it, turn the difficulty down and just enjoy the experience, it’s still worth having.

    That’s not the case with Dark Souls. It’s not worth bothering with if there were an easy mode. Which is fine. It’s just weird to see a game essentially being praised for not bothering.

    The Witness is a great comparison. The puzzles are all it brings to the table. You bypass them, it’s pointless. Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have been better had it bought more.

  45. Argyle Salmon says:

    There seems to be an assumption that making something more accessible will earn that thing more money and in doing so mean it’s “better”, “successful”, “well designed”.

    Why?

    What if designing something that matches the expectations, goals and ambitions of its creators is the most important goal, with money and accessibility as (perhaps very) secondary motives?

    That would make games more like art, wouldn’t it? Enjoyed by some, hated by others, ignored by most.

    Is that so bad?

    Looking at this the other way, isn’t asking for an “easy mode” missing the entire point of the game and more importantly disrespectful to everything it and From is trying to accomplish?

    • Bernardo says:

      Yes. It seems to me that the whole discussion can be broken down to people who look at this as an entertainment product (needs to be accessible to as many as possible) vs. people who look at it like art (needs to be uncompromising) – not that one is inherently “better” than the other, mind.

      I don’t like twelve-tone music, and though I like Jazz, I don’t find, let’s say, Albert Ayler very accessible. I’ve often read that you need to work on your understanding of music to be able to appreciate the stuff, but I’m not going to do that. However, I certainly wouldn’t ask Albert Ayler to tone it down. Same here: I suck at this game, but well, ok; sometimes I still like it and I certainly appreciate what it’s doing.

      • Josh W says:

        I feel like art should also be accessible. If I’m partially sighted, then I would want a painting to be well lit, so I can see it, even if the original is murky.

        If I was looking at a small painting with details below my level of vision, I would want to pull out a magnifying glass to see it.

        You don’t run around in art galleries going “no put those magnifying glasses away, you’re not experiencing it as the artist intended.” because perhaps the artist did not consider their particular abilities and levels of perception.

        Using these extra tools is transforming the work from it is as the artist experienced it, and as someone like them might experienced it, into something that can be similarly experienced by someone with different levels of ability.

        An artist can make a vast and punishing audio piece with a massive soundtrack, and someone with hearing loss will not get the full effect unless it’s even louder. Someone with extra sensitive hearing will get the same effect if the volume is turned down.

        Accessibility is not the enemy of uncompromising art, it is what allows it to be experienced.

        • pepperfez says:

          “Accessible” can mean different things. Your examples are of eliminating barriers to get at art, which I think is a basically uncontroversial goal in games as well. Almost every game should have configurable controls, audio, and video.
          The other sense of “accessible” is the tougher one. Difficult games are inaccessible in the same way as, say, atonal music or Ulysses: You may be able to see and hear them just fine, but not take much enjoyment or appreciation from the experience. For all of those things, you may just have to “git gud,” whether that be by listening to the record until you start hearing its structure, using annotations as you read, or just playing through that boss another couple times.

        • Argyle Salmon says:

          You’re confusing Accessibility as it applies to the eyesight, hearing, motor skills, cognitive function, etc and the Accessibility of a medium relative to one’s practice and experience.

        • Bernardo says:

          What pepperfez and Argyle said. English is not my first language, so I’m not sure if there’s a better word.

          Also, your examples are of using added instruments to look at the painting/listen to music; crucially, no one would have told the artist to paint bigger so that people can see it properly. I’m certainly not going to fault, say, the guy with cerebral palsy for wanting a controller adapted to his needs.

  46. Mark Schaal says:

    One thing I haven’t noticed being brought up, is that if these games had an easier mode they could also have a harder mode. A lot of people (especially those who say the games are already easy) might enjoy having the harder option.

    • Ragnar says:

      This is absolutely right.

      I introduced a friend to Demon’s Souls, and he proceeded to clear to and kill the first demon without dying once. Without enough challenge, he found the game boring.

      For Dark Souls to be an engaging game, the challenge needs to match the player’s ability.

      Are people going to argue that Dark Souls can’t have a Hard mode either, lest it compromise it’s artistic vision?

      • Poldovico says:

        Actually I’d say yes, a harder mode would compromise the game somewhat, at least if done with simple damage multipliers. Increase the damage on Dark Souls enemies, and you break the balance.
        Just as an example, in no way meant to be exhaustive: increase enemy damage and suddenly heavy builds don’t adequately offset their slowness with defense, and the game starts pigeon holing you into a fast build.
        If a easier mode would rob some of the game’s options of meaning, a harder one would rob them of viability, and thus rob the average gamer of the options themselves. (Of course, the challenge run crowd would probably just roll with it, but we’re kidding ourselves if we say running the game without leveling up, or without upgrading gear, or whatever else has ever been for everyone in the first place)
        You need look no further than Dark Souls 2 for an example of a souls game that is diminished by excessive “difficulty” (though I would argue that excessive enemy damage is a more accurate way to put it).
        Probably the most sensible suggestion I have seen would be to have difficulty settings alter the timings, but how would online work with that?

  47. Tobberoth says:

    I agree 100% with the writer, Dark Souls are games where it would be ridiculously hard to implement a good easy mode, the games are 100% designed around those challenging and punishing mechanics and it would start to fall apart if you changed it too much.

    People who disagree should write their own article explaining how an easy mode would work without completely ruining the games pace and mechanics, because if an optional easy mode can’t do that, it’s not really any better than current alternatives (cheat engine, trainers).

    • Ragnar says:

      Start by modifying enemy damage to get Easy, Normal, and Hard.

      On Easy, players are able to survive more hits, and thus die less often. They’re alive longer, giving them more time to learn attack patterns. Insta-kills do damage instead. It still requires learning, but allows for sloppier play, and is more forgiving of mistakes.

      On Hard, enemies hit harder, and thus the game is less forgiving of mistakes and demands more exacting play. Perfect for amazingly talented gamers and the “git gud” crowd for whom the game isn’t hard.

  48. Monggerel says:

    That’s great, but what’s really important is that Dark Souls III has really shitty music. Easily the worst in the series – by which I mean, all the other games have at least decent tracks, whereas DS III is just actually no goddamn good. Demon’s Souls, which was made with synthesizer and sounds vaguely like chiptunes in places, has better music. Compared to Bloodborne (which had a live orchestra), the difference is shocking. It’s a huge shame, because it makes the boss fights much less exciting.

    I wish I remembered enough of my musical training to be able to talk about what’s missing, but listen a bit to the OST and you’ll probably figure it out yourself.

    • Monggerel says:

      Ok, maybe that’s an overstatement cuz I’m bitter. I still think DS III has the worst music in the series, even if it’s not necessarily bad in and of itself. It’s certainly better than Dragon’s fucking Dogma for sure.

  49. Premium User Badge

    Alfy says:

    I’ll always be amazed by some of the reactions whenever someone mentions an easy mode for the souls game. As if difficulty was somehow artificially amped up to please the fans, rather than a direct product of the design decisions.

    Take the God of War series for example, another hack and slash game. If we lowered Kratos’ max HP, gave him limited potions, upped his foes hit points and power, would it suddenly please all the souls’ fanboys out there? Of course not, difficulty is not something that will suddenly produce a masterpiece when dialed up. Neither will it ruin one when reasonably dialed down.

    Difficulty in the souls game is a byproduct of a very specific design choice. You are not a superhero here, you’re at best a reasonably proficient fighter. You have but one real power, the power of Bill Muray. You can go through that groundhog day again and again, until it’s perfect and Andie MacDowell spends the night with you. But for that to be interesting, it HAS to be hard. What would be the point of the whole setup if you only went through the day once or twice?

    But it certainly does not mean anyone should have to make it through that same day fifty times, or that some should not even make it till noon. The question asked by the author is absolutely a valid one: are there ways to duplicate the design without the punishing difficulty, is it possible to include more people in the experience?

    And to all those going berserk at the thought of a watered down souls experience, seriously, what’s the problem? This is a game that could handily get away with asking it’s players a simple question in its opening screen: “are you a man or a wuss?” After a morning spent dying to giant crabs and stupid undead peasants with sticks in a miserable swamp, I’m not so sure what my answer would be…

    • PikaBot says:

      You just answered your own question at the bottom there. Dark Souls is a game about surviving and surpassing adversity. Give people the option to avoid that adversity instead and…they will. And ruin the game experience for themselves.

      • Ragnar says:

        You assume that an easy option would remove all challenge. We’re just arguing that the challenge could be diminished or increased to better match player abilities.

        For example, if the undead fencer’s riposte gravely wounded you instead of killing you, it would still teach you not to attack when he holds his blade up, it just wouldn’t be quite as punishing.

        • Beva says:

          Or you could let me have this one game. A game that I can admit I, personally, don’t really have time or nerves to finish but would like to see as a possible future achievement. And if I never get to then that’s fine but just let me have what’s there.

          • Premium User Badge

            Alfy says:

            But I would not want to take this game away from anyone. What I meant by asking a question in the title screen is having a normal and easy mode. You, and probably I, could still very much play in normal mode.

            Why are people so peeved at the idea that other people could play in easy mode? It’s as if letting others enjoy the game without going through the same motions somehow means lessening the experience for the current hardcore crop. I find that… Really weird. And not very healthy.

    • Poolback says:

      Why are you fighting the giant crabs ? You are the one making the game more difficult to yourself. You don’t need to kill every single creature in the world to carry on, especially when they are insanely difficult to kill and are not preventing you in anyway to progress through the game. If you’re tired of killing some ennemies over and over again, then just run past them, you won’t be missing much.

      • Premium User Badge

        Alfy says:

        I know I don’t, I’m not a newbie at the souls games. I just really wanted my swamp ring.
        But dying repeatedly to crabs had made me temporarily rethink my manliness. Until I got the darn thing safely from the shore with a bunch of firebombs. :)