Monday, 3 May 2010

Difficulty: MEDIUM

So I'm getting my thoughs out here first, as Brap's been talking about it recently. To save those people that skim the article and look at the pretty pictures some time:


So on with rationale. If you're new to games then yes, playing on easy is understandable. But I'm willing to bet anyone reading this has played their fair share of games, yes? If you're still playing on easy then where is the challenge? Where is the satisfaction of completing something when the game practically feeds it to you? A lot of games that I've played recently have a great depth to them, much more than would appear from first glance. For example, I recently went back to finish Dead Space, and stumbled upon a section that was excruciatingly tough to get by, I died over and over again, but I was determined to get through it. So I reloaded that save and stopped to survey the area, to try to plan out what to do before I flip the switch that brings on the shambling, leaping, exploding horde. Then I looked up, and out of a window. The view was unbelieavable, and while it wasn't my first thought, I would suggest to you: How many people that played the game on easy have seen that same view?

Now maybe you've read up to here and you're thinking, "If you want a challenge, play it on Hard you wuss!". The difference here is that whilst I like to get my money's worth, and I like to enjoy everything there is to offer, I have no intention of sitting through the same section until sticking forks in my eyes seems a reasonable alternative to playing. Maybe I'm just not good enough, but until console developers realise that action games require mouse and keyboard to work properly, I'm sticking to medium.

Now throw into the mix games that don't give you the option of difficulty settings. For example, the Grand Theft Auto series (if I'm wrong on this one, please forgive me) has been without a difficulty select since it's creation. Rather than letting you pick, it builds up pace by starting you out with easy missions and then goes on to massive sprawling missions that can easily go very, very wrong. This kind of progression makes it accessible to everyone, providing a simple introduction to game mechanics, and steadily building up the challenge to give that feeling of satisfaction and air-punching glory when completing that tough mission.

I think the most important factor when forwarding my case in favour of playing on medium difficulty is this; Medium difficulty puts the settings for the game at how the developers intended it, the level at which it should be benchmarked at. If you're playing at a different difficulty, could it be said that you're not experiencing the game in the way it was intended to be?



  1. Interesting points - I always tend to go for medium, but that's because Easy has become more akin to "Disabled" in recent years. There was a post recently on Play This Thing covering a similar topic. It suggests you have a go at the original Manic Miner to experience ludicrous difficulty.

    Easy modes now exist not for game players who don't want it too hard, they exist for NON gamers. Since the consoles have found their way into everyone's homes, and into families, this makes perfect sense. The easy mode for drummers on Guitar Hero: World Tour consists of just hitting the kick drum. The advantage, of course, is that everyone can participate - and thus in time new gamers are born.

    So yeah, you're bang on the money - go to medium :)

  2. After that kind of support, I think brap's got a tough act to follow!

  3. I would like to draw your attention to Silent Hill 2, which gives you the option to choose difficulty for puzzles and difficulty for combat. People who can swing lead pipes like troopers can love the game as much as the people who know from an obscure clue to put the orange soda in the trash chute. Everyone wins.

    If only Batman: Arkham Asylum had this choice, we could have fun battering the pants off goons and there would be room to have our brains taxed with the Riddler's puzzles. Unfortunately though, it was still *bash bash bash goon death*, and "take a picture of the see-saw, duuuuuuuuh".

    That's kind of an aside though..

    I'm with ParaLyze, medium's best. I hate being walked through a game. Give me some challenge but don't wipe the floor with me (please D:)