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Default Dark Souls II - No Easy Mode Allowed

April 19th, 2013, 11:25
Originally Posted by Mr Smiley View Post
Sometimes I wish that somebody would come up with a better name for our hobby than "gaming". Because I don't really like games. Seriously.

Don't get me wrong; since the early 80s I have spent a huge chunk of my life playing computer and video games. But to be honest, the "game" aspect has always been something I endure rather than enjoy. This might seem strange to some of you, but I'm in it for the exploration. Lore and worldbuilding, design and atmosphere is everything.

Dark Souls reminds me of another fascinating, but ultimately frustrating gaming experience; playing Air Ball on the Atair ST. Yes, I played Air Ball for the exploration. I loved the game world, the atmosphere and design of it, for what it was. In those days, the challenge was necessary, because the game would not have lasted very long without it. But it was a necessary evil, not something good.

Let's get a bit philosophical about the idea of "game" here. There is no such thing as a fair game when the goal is "winning" as opposed to "losing". If a game was truly fair, then nobody would ever win or lose. Because in order to win, you must have some sort of advantage. And any sort of advantage is unfair, if you think about it.

It doesn't matter if your advantage is an easy mode or your own skill. It's still unfair.

To me, if you take the "game" out of a game, and it's still worthwhile, then you have something. If "game" is all there is, then you have nothing.

I spent well over 100 hours playing Dark Souls. I estimate that about 70 of those hours was pure "game", which is not an acceptable ratio to me these days. But I'm not complaining. Since there are so many other promising titles in development, I happily leave Dark Souls II to those who appreciate "gaming".
Interesting thoughts - and I can certainly empathise with the notion.

However, it all depends on how you define gaming or gameplay. Because at the highest level - I don't think a game is necessarily an experience you can win or lose.

I think interactivity in itself is the key - and winning/losing is more an added motivation to interact.

I'm very much a gamer when it comes to the gameplay/mechanics - but at heart I'm more like you, as in I enjoy exploring and immersing myself more than I enjoy pretty much all the other things.

But, for whatever reason, I can't make do with those aspects alone. I need more than that, and I need moment-to-moment entertainment ON TOP of exploration and immersion. Maybe it's because I'm an impatient person - and maybe it's because I'm not disciplined enough, but my brain tends to shut down slightly when I'm not being actively engaged by some kind of gameplay.

So, I would not want a game without "gameplay" or mechanics - if you take my meaning. As I'm fond of pointing out, I'm a very greedy gamer and I really want all of it.

Dark Souls, to me, is not broad enough in scope in terms of gameplay and mechanics. It's a bit too pure - and I don't think the excellent atmosphere or "world building" is done with enough content density or interactivity to suit my demands.

We've had this discussion around here before, where people are telling me there's plenty of detail and content if you look for it. Truth be told, I haven't played Dark Souls that much - and I'm basing my experience on Demon's Souls which I played quite a bit.

My problem is that the stat-based development is not interesting enough for me to endure the checkpoint challenge design. I'm not looking forward to upgrading a stat, and I'd need tangible "toys" like added powers to be engaged.

As for overcoming challenge, that's really not a big draw for me. When it comes to singleplayer games - I consider overcoming challenge an inevitability. I'm a very experienced gamer, and that means there's no singleplayer challenge I can't overcome - because games are not made exclusively for super skilled gamers. Darks Souls is not aiming as wide as an AAA game - but it's not aiming at a tiny audience either. That means all challenges MUST be doable for the experienced gamer.

As jaded as it sounds, I'm not motivated by challenges that I KNOW all experienced gamers can overcome. I really don't feel I've done anything special by defeating such content. It's not like I'm winning a championship or that I really stand out in any way by getting through all of it. So, the main draw of the game isn't a draw for me at all.

I know the combat system is very intricate and that weapons have different behaviors - and I think that's great. But ultimately - the loot system is not interesting enough. I need more toys and more features tied to weapons.

Essentially, Demon's Souls is very much Diablo with a different perspective. If you look at the checkpoint design, the hub design, and the respawn mechanics - and the boss content gating design, it's pretty much the same experience. But naturally the perspective and nature of a 3D world makes it much more visually immersive.

Dark Souls does away with the hub design - and is non-linear in comparison, but it's not THAT different.

Unfortunately, it lacks the tangible powers and toys in terms of character development - and I find the world pretty barren when compared to exploration-oriented games like Bioshock Infinite or Skyrim. There's not enough motivation to explore and find stuff - for me.
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April 19th, 2013, 23:36
Oh, for the love of God, give these poor casual gamers an option to cakewalk through a game where you're never supposed to have an easy go no matter how powerful your character is! All they want is FUN! Let them have their FUN time, playing with FUN features, let them burst with FUN! Or else I dunno what is going to happen! They are ENTITLED to it, goddamit!

*clears throat*

Seriously though.

With all the energy some people have invested in arguing why this game should be changed fundamentally from the original concept, they could have already mastered Dark Souls.

Mind, I know where they are coming from. I had my doubts, I loath checkpoints, I despise no-free-save, I dislike respawns, I detest grinding, and I don't generally like to go up against the same frustrating encounter a zillion times. But I watched some vids that were dripping with atmosphere and badassitude (yes, that's a word). I listened to people I trust who said I should give it a go.

Now I'm hooked. And I don't mind the controls, the bonfire checkpoint system, the frustration when something gets the better of me and I lose Souls (experience) permanently, I don't mind the difficulty, nothing. Because when I do come over these challenges, it is a feeling I haven't felt for a long time now. I can't go to sleep after I play, I'm so on edge. In a good way. And all the while I'm part of this living world (well, sorta, more like… dying world really), where my actions really have meaning, where nothing and noone tells me what I can and can't do, and I need to decide for myself about it. And there is also lore aplenty for those who want to dig deeper and theorize about it, and it's really awesome.

Do yourselves a favor and give it a try.

Or if you really can't compromise in order to be given a real treat, if you don't want to feel that you are really doing something worthy in your game-time, just leave it be. This game is not for you. And it wouldn't be the same experience if it was done any other way. Play it, and you WILL understand.

That said, there are a few things I'd like to clarify now that I have spent ~150 hours of gametime.

1) Dark Souls is not a very difficult game. You can MAKE it difficult by trying to do extra stuff, like wearing certain equipment for RP reasons, trying to get extra drops from a boss by cutting its tail, playing in human to test your mettle against invading players, and so on. Or you can make it much easier for you, with things like reading about a boss on the game wiki, summoning other players to help you out, or optimizing your gear and tactics for a battle. Difficulty is implicit in the game design, and even though you don't have a slide for it, you can pretty much change it vastly.

2) The keyboard mouse controls are not horrid. It's a lie. With the simple mod for the PC it is much more efficient than the controller because of the mouse-camera-look. I'm speaking out of experience. Okay, granted, you do need a mouse with at least 3 buttons. As for controls being unintuitive, I also disagree. Some minor things, like character sheet and menus are oddly mapped, but the most important keys are mapped to the most logical places, and you can also remap them with the same mod.

ON TOPIC!
As you'd expect, I am very glad they finally address this, because there was a fear it would become a Souls game by name only with the ease-of-access. Let's hope they live up to this promise.
Last edited by Soulbane; April 19th, 2013 at 23:46.
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April 19th, 2013, 23:54
Good post, Soulbane. I agree with pretty much everything you said except for keyboard & mouse being more efficient than a controller. I have both the PC and PS3 versions of Dark Souls, and, at least for me, the PS3's controller is hands down better for this game.
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April 23rd, 2013, 20:41
Thanks, brother. As for the controller, my experience may stem from the fact that for me personally, pretty much everything is more difficult to control with a controller. I have a strong PC background and have only recently been introduced to consoles. I found the mouselook-camera thing in DS with the DSmfix mod vastly superior, which was useful in some encounters.

Let me correct myself then: I believe that keyboard-mouse is not horrid at all, and neither that, nor the controller is inferior. It's a matter of experience, more like.
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April 24th, 2013, 21:26
I haven't played the 1 and won't play the 2. That series seems have been build upon a reputation of being difficult, and change that for a series considered successful, would be weird.

But conclude that this is how it should be is going very far. It's quite obvious that difficulty is a very complicated subject. A game difficulty doesn't mean the same difficulty for everybody, from far.

The problem is many players won't bother raise the difficulty even if they have the tools to do it and then will whine it's too easy. That series is made for those players I'll let them the pleasure to play it. I'm more mature and know when a game becomes too easy and search how improves that.

And for RPG I'm particularly suspicious because too many players will consider do very boring stuff just to optimize their characters and then have a quite easier difficulty. Just look at the number of MMO fans and you know I have the point.
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April 25th, 2013, 00:15
Originally Posted by Ihaterpg View Post
It's quite obvious that difficulty is a very complicated subject. A game difficulty doesn't mean the same difficulty for everybody, from far.
Back in the 80s, when arcades were big business, most every game was super hard for everyone but the most over-the-top-dedicated-player (with a lot of quarters to spare). Back then I don't remember much bitching about games being too hard. The attitude was, 'shut up and put another quarter in, stop your bitching."

If I'm right but there is no wife around to acknowledge it, am I still right?
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