In defense of Easy Mode: Part One.

Greetings potential internet gaming audience and or publishers. I wanted to start a Giant Bomb blog mostly because I love the site, but also because I feel like I represent a part of the videogame audience that isn't often talked about. You see, I'm 32. I work in a creative field....okay I'm a rap producer...but what that means is that I spend most of my time working on music. I have also always been a gamer. I had an NES in the 80's, a SNES in the 90's and a PS1 after that. I had an xbox, but never a 360. I bought a PS3 last year, but recently sold it as Ive decided to game on the PC because its most convenient for me.

So....I love games, I love games media. I soak up maybe 10 gaming podcasts a week. I check reviews and news daily, and I follow the industry kind of religiously. I do all of these things a bunch more than I actually play videogames though. I enjoy being part of the conversation, and I think videogames are a huge part of our popular culture, even though I rarely have time to play them.

The other issue is one that others of my generation may experience. I'm just bad at games. I need all those annoying hud messages to figure out where Im going. I get frustrated when I die more than twice on a single encounter. I'm about the experience overall, not necessarily the challenge.

Is this wrong? I can certainly see where people would argue against it, and I would concede their point. But for me I need games that can be entertaining and easy. I just want people to know that I am still concerned with mechanics and good game design and everything else. I'm not just a casual player, I enjoy games that are challenging to the status quo, and I will fight to expose people to them who might not otherwise be aware of the fantastic artistic achievements happening in games. I will insist on my easy mode though....maybe that ruins it...i dunno. I enjoy watching others play through the hard ones though, that's why giant bomb is awesome.

Thats my 2 cents. If anyone ever reads this I will be surprised. But if you are out there spending more time reading game reviews than you do playing games, and you like it that way just fine? Throw up a comment!

24 Comments
24 Comments
Posted by MegaLombax

There's no problem with playing a game on the easy difficulty. I used to play on Easy as a default difficulty level. Only recently I've been experimenting with harder difficulties. Easy lets me enjoy the video game content without being too frustrated at the end of the day. Later on, if I feel that its worth another play through, I'd try on harder difficulties.

I do prefer games which sets difficulties based on your initial performance though. I remember InFamous had this sort of setting.

Edited by Oscar__Explosion

The only reason to ramp up the difficulty os to give yourself a challenge. If you feel like easy is where you feel most confortable just stick with it. I would suggest at least trying the a standard difficultly

Edited by dpedal1

@bsides88 said:

I'm about the experience overall, not necessarily the challenge.

Bravo to this. I am right there with you, I would much rather play through a game two or three times enjoying the experience then bumping up to some insane difficulty level and dying a gajillion times. I am not going to say I don't, but it usually comes a bit later if I feel like it. As a matter of fact this happened with the new DMC.

I played through the game three times on easy and enjoyed the heck out of it. I was not concerned with collectibles or anything, I simply enjoyed the mechanics, the visual, the design. I did end up eventually collecting everything and I did end up bumping up to Son of Sparda mode to see what it was all about, but not until I felt like it.

My default mode will always be easy to start with.

Posted by TobbRobb

That's a totally a fine viewpoint. And be happy, a lot of games nowadays are geared towards people like you. Definitely nothing to be ashamed of. I hope you are just ready to accept that not EVERY game is. That is my only gripe with a lot of people who argue for easy mode. Not every game is actually enjoyable that way dammit.

Posted by audioBusting

I agree that everyone should be able to enjoy playing games even when they're not very skilled. Personally I think easy mode is far from a perfect solution to this problem though, because 1) there's really no standard to these difficulty settings, 2) it's hard to tell how good we are at a game before we play it, and 2) it would suck if we miss out on feeling like we're learning to master the game. I like it more when a game is more flexible, giving the player a lot of options in succeeding at the game so that even less skilled players can master a game plan the most suited for them.

An example of something like that is Dark Souls, which gives us many options to progress through the game. There's many different types of weapons and magic, and we can even get overpowered gear from the get-go if we want to. The more we suck at the game, the less penalty we get from death (because we'd lose less souls closer to our spawn point). ..This isn't really a good example since the game doesn't properly communicate that and it's still pretty difficult either way, but that's the idea anyway.

It's cool that we have a big diversity in video games though, with games like Heavy Rain just ditching the problem altogether. And it's pretty cool when games like Red Faction: Guerrilla have a weird balance but thankfully gives the option of a more enjoyable easy mode. I guess it ultimately depends on what kind of game it is.

Posted by Quarters

I always play on Easy. I have a very limited amount of time to play games, and I mainly play them for story/experience. As I've gotten older, challenge literally means nothing to me. I just don't have the time or patience for it.

Posted by EXTomar

I hate how when the topic of "Easy Mode" comes up Dark Souls is not far behind. Dark Souls is not hard or easy but it requires a stupid amount of information that needs to be gathered from way outside of the game to make sense of the nonsense presented in game.

Edited by Kaiserreich

Considering most games today cater to people like you I wouldn't feel embarrassed. At this point we need a defense of Hard mode.

Edited by masterpaperlink

Depends on the game, games with heavy RPG mechanic's need to have some level of difficulty, or else what is the point of leveling up.

feeling bad about leveling up because its making the game too easy is annoying.

Edited by Brodehouse

I've been playing Silent Hill 4 on my twitch channel and at first I had to be a big tough man and set it on Normal... And I died in the first area. So I had to swallow my pride and set it on Easy, while live.

Posted by Corvak

I like having choice when it comes to difficulty.

Some games simply do a poor job of designing difficulty - the all too common normal mode which is too easy, and the hard mode which simply feels unfair.

Dark Souls is always mentioned in these topics - and I think @extomar is correct - much of the difficulty is removed when a guide or wiki is used in conjuction with the game. Or even talking to people about boss strategies.

I support both easy and hard modes, but they need to be designed correctly, for their target audiences.

Hard modes should be tough, but feel fair, and offer a feeling of accomplishment. Failure in these modes should be due to the player lacking skill or knowledge, not random chance.

Easy mode should be designed with people new to the genre in mind, instead of simply being easier than normal. Offer easier combat for less reward - have a reason for the player to graduate to a higher difficulty level. For example, give more time for QTEs, more time to make decisions in the middle of a fight. The mechanics made easier depend on the game in question - but the goal should be to introduce a player to the core mechanics of a genre. For a shooter, show locations for the player to find cover, and reduce damage taken to give them time to reach it. For an action game, perhaps more time to execute combo attacks.

Adaptive difficulty also applies. If the player is showing competence with these skills, perhaps the game could suggest increasing difficulty at the appropriate time.

Posted by believer258

If I have the most fun with a game on easy, then that is where I will play it, but I start most games on normal or one difficulty up from that.

Edited by Pr1mus

I always start on the easiest difficulty to see the content. If that content is good enough to make me care for it beyond the first playthrough and the difficulty seems fair i'll ramp it up. No shame in playing to have fun.

Posted by JasonR86

People should experience a game however they want. If that means playing the game on easy then great. If that means playing the game on hard that's also great. It's one's own experience so experience it how you will.

Posted by HerbieBug

I really enjoy seeing games that take somewhat unconventional approach to difficulty scaling. The standard is usually just a sliding scale on enemy health, enemy damage, player health, player damage, with maybe some small changes on enemy AI thrown into the mix. My favorite implementation of easy mode in a traditionally challenging game is Ninja Gaiden Black's Ninja Dog mode. Ninja Dog mode is exactly the same as normal difficulty, only you are given extra support items to keep you alive throughout the game. This allowed the basic design of the game to remain completely untouched by nods towards content tourism casual playthroughs. It also teaches the player all of the strategies needed to clear the game on the harder difficulty settings while allowing for more trial and error without penalty in the learning process.

If Dark Souls 2 happens to have some sort of content tourism casual mode, I hope that it is something along similar lines to Ninja Dog.

Posted by probablytuna

I think it really depends on the game, if it's something like Super Meat Boy, the challenge is part of the game's design so lowering the difficulty would probably impact on the experience negatively.

Edited by Corvak

I really enjoy seeing games that take somewhat unconventional approach to difficulty scaling. The standard is usually just a sliding scale on enemy health, enemy damage, player health, player damage, with maybe some small changes on enemy AI thrown into the mix. My favorite implementation of easy mode in a traditionally challenging game is Ninja Gaiden Black's Ninja Dog mode. Ninja Dog mode is exactly the same as normal difficulty, only you are given extra support items to keep you alive throughout the game. This allowed the basic design of the game to remain completely untouched by nods towards content tourism casual playthroughs. It also teaches the player all of the strategies needed to clear the game on the harder difficulty settings while allowing for more trial and error without penalty in the learning process.

If Dark Souls 2 happens to have some sort of content tourism casual mode, I hope that it is something along similar lines to Ninja Dog.

Another example of this is Etrian Odyssey IV (3DS). Casual mode simply means not having to reload a save after death - the combat difficulty is the same :)

Posted by Chibithor

For most games I play I'd consider challenge to be an integral part of the experience and I choose Easy only when gameplay is bad or uninteresting, like Spec Ops The Line. If you mostly play story heavy games I can totally understand defaulting to Easy, but I think if the gameplay is good then Normal or harder is the way to go.

Posted by Nickieroonie

@corvak said:

Dark Souls is always mentioned in these topics - and I think @extomar is correct - much of the difficulty is removed when a guide or wiki is used in conjuction with the game. Or even talking to people about boss strategies.

True, but I think that the same could be said for any game. However, I agree that the information presented in Dark Souls is way too scarce.

Selecting a difficulty can be frustrating when you've got nothing to go by (no experience with the game). I tend to appreciate games that let you switch on the fly. I also enjoy games that are designed to help you improve at a steady pace, such as Super Meat Boy and Starcraft.

Posted by EXTomar

@corvak said:

Dark Souls is always mentioned in these topics - and I think @extomar is correct - much of the difficulty is removed when a guide or wiki is used in conjuction with the game. Or even talking to people about boss strategies.

True, but I think that the same could be said for any game. However, I agree that the information presented in Dark Souls is way too scarce.

Selecting a difficulty can be frustrating when you've got nothing to go by (no experience with the game). I tend to appreciate games that let you switch on the fly. I also enjoy games that are designed to help you improve at a steady pace, such as Super Meat Boy and Starcraft.

Although a guide for Starcraft 2 and Dota 2 will tell you quite a bit about how to play the game but that doesn't mean any game is easier or that you can win.

The reason why I harp on Dark Souls and Easy Mode is that I believe there is something in the game that should be experienced without the BS from esoteric nature of the game.

Posted by Mirado

@bsides88 said:

Is this wrong? I can certainly see where people would argue against it, and I would concede their point. But for me I need games that can be entertaining and easy. I just want people to know that I am still concerned with mechanics and good game design and everything else. I'm not just a casual player, I enjoy games that are challenging to the status quo, and I will fight to expose people to them who might not otherwise be aware of the fantastic artistic achievements happening in games. I will insist on my easy mode though....maybe that ruins it...i dunno. I enjoy watching others play through the hard ones though, that's why giant bomb is awesome.

If the end result of your time is that you felt the experience was worthwhile, there's no possible way it can be wrong. Even in games that are designed to be thought provoking or unsettling, you can still derive that feeling from sources other than entertainment or enjoyment. As long as you shut the game off feeling that your time is well spent, who cares what others think?

I usually crank the difficulty up as high as a game will let me. I love the challenge of it. That doesn't mean I look down on the way you play, but it highlights that the same game can be experienced in different but equally valid ways. Are you robbing yourself of a game's "true experience?" No, because fuck that. If a developer didn't want you to play on easy, the game won't have an easy mode. Simple as that.

There are some games you won't ever enjoy (Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, etc), because the developers realized the kind of game they wanted to make isn't compatible with the experience you are looking for. Sometimes the brutal challenge is the experience. As long as you respect the decision that some games just wouldn't be the same if an "easy mode" was tacked on, I can respect your decision to play on easy for the games that do offer it.

Edited by Nickieroonie
@extomar said:

Although a guide for Starcraft 2 and Dota 2 will tell you quite a bit about how to play the game but that doesn't mean any game is easier or that you can win.

The reason why I harp on Dark Souls and Easy Mode is that I believe there is something in the game that should be experienced without the BS from esoteric nature of the game.

Reading guides for both of those games will absolutely make the game easier for the same reason that it would make Dark Souls easier. None of the previously mentioned games are getting any easier by reading the guides, but you are learning ways to circumvent that difficulty through knowledge. However, now that I think about it, there are a few games that don't get any easier with guides (e.g. Super Meat Boy).

I still totally agree with you that Dark Souls is partially hard because it's esoteric. I would love to see them move away from that in Dark Souls 2 while retaining its mechanics' intricacies.

Edited by Canteu

I play all games on hard. You play all games on easy.

This is how we enjoy our entertainment and I see nothing wrong with this. Nobody has a right to tell you how to be entertained.

Posted by DarthOrange

You can shove the box up your ass if you want to, you payed for the game and you are free to do what you please to suck some entertainment out of it.