What are your least favorite forms of difficulty in games?

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AKTANE

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Poll What are your least favorite forms of difficulty in games? (176 votes)

Hit-Sponge (Hit me with your best shot, okay now do it again, and again) 55%
Boss with No Health Bar (shit! you were so close! or were you...) 10%
Losing XP / Currency on Death (damnit miyazaki, look what you did to video games) 10%
Losing Significant Progress Completely upon death (retro games are actually very fair games... with save states) 32%
Solve the Twist (oh you thought you knew how to play this game? gotcha! ) 3%
Forced Stealth (the story demands it, you must obey, hit crouch, put the guns away) 27%
Low Level (you haven't been doing your daily grinds have you, ...it shows) 16%
Boss Rush (oh wait so you didn't master every boss the first time you beat them?) 14%
Realistic Simulations (we all know shit is hard in real life, don't remind us) 6%
No Pause (Not NOW mom,dad!!! I am about to beat Tyson!) 14%
Memorization (you knew that invisible area was a death pit, and yet you sailed through the air into it... again) 10%
Raw Reactions (Hit A! ... aw you lose! Did you turn on game mode on your TV?) 9%
Pixel Hunting (call me SCUMM-dog millionaire) 22%
That bullshit that you got hit by, that made you stop playing Sekiro 9%

Hey hi, games are hard! haha

Let's talk about why they frustrate us so much, but are still so fun.

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redwing42

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One that you didn't mention but is related to the low level option is high encounter rates. I used to love old JRPGs, but the old "three steps and a fight" mechanic is extremely frustrating to me now, unless it is a very specific and limited portion of a game.

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AKTANE

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@redwing42: I hear you there, random battles are super annoying, and totally a form of difficulty!!!

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TheRealTurk

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Answered with several, but as a mostly-RPG guy, it's definitely HP inflation. Not only is it obnoxious, it's such transparently bad game design. It takes no thought or skill to just turn the knob up on enemy HP and damage rather than thoughtfully designing more enemy types or better encounters. This is part of the reason why I dropped off Assassin's Creed hard after the last few entries.

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BoOzak

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#4  Edited By BoOzak

Forcing me to play with other people in a game that you can generally play solo.

Specific monsters in MHW come to mind but live service games in general do this a lot. I get it, those games are designed for groups but the only game(s) my friends want to play is COD.

(Forced stealth is a close second)

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Efesell

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I think actual worst is bad RTS difficulty where it is just blatantly cheating and doing something you can’t compete with.

Closer to my heart is forced stealth though. I enjoy stealth in games but if you are not a stealth game with real tools for it then it does not belong in your game. Ever. Whatever plot reason you think you have for it is wrong.

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cikame

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Of the options i chose hit sponge because it makes any game feel terrible, it's the primary reason i don't like Halo, but i personally hate when you're given loads of cool abilities then the game introduces enemies that are invulnerable to them, Shadow of Mordor as an example, i don't know if that counts as difficulty or it just being a mechanic but being given really cool options then having my hands tied is massively frustrating.

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Ben_H

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@efesell said:

I think actual worst is bad RTS difficulty where it is just blatantly cheating and doing something you can’t compete with.

Yeah that or the RTS-equivalent of hit sponge where they chuck more of the same enemies at you for the given time in the game so you just have to kill more of the same thing rather than actually change up your strategy. It just makes the mission take longer but it isn't ultimately more difficult in any way. The Starcraft 2 campaign is bad for this. Starcraft 2's single player versus AI (for practicing for multiplayer) blatantly cheats in a way that makes it useless for actually practicing against. It mines much faster and builds things faster so it can attack you with units or groups of units that are unrealistic for what would happen in multiplayer.

That's what made the whole AlphaStar thing where they hooked SC2 up to a learning AI so interesting. AlphaStar was restricted to the same rules as players (only information you have is what you scout, same mining and production speed, capped actions per minute to a more realistic value) and it played not only differently than the game's built-in AI, but also completely differently than most players. It turns out you can make functional non-cheating RTS AI, it just takes thousands and thousands of hours of computation time and incredibly powerful computers.

In general, the second I sense a game's difficulty is scaled by hit sponginess (see RPGs and the recent Assassin's Creed games), I immediately tend to turn the difficulty down. It's straight up not a fun way to make a game difficult.

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deactivated-6321b685abb02

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The only one that really bothers me is damage sponges, once I've figured out an encounter and I can pull off what I need to just let me win and move on.

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AKTANE

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@therealturk: @someoneproud turning knobs is just the worst. games with "hard" difficulties that are literally just the same game with double enemy hp and half player hp is lazy and poor. quit turning an encounter into a chore, video games!

@boozak: this is kind of why I am reluctant to get further in MH... because I never want to feel lik im not playing the game the "intended" way... hear you.

@efesell: omg cpu AI for ANY vs. games that breaks the rules ( im looking at the street fighter AI that didn't have to charge charge moves...) is legit the worst

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AKTANE

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@ben_h: I should actually do what you do, and turn difficulty down... God Of War (Ps4) at the beginning on normal or hard I cant remember, was ridiculous, each enemy required like 5-6 combos to take down, so I turned the difficulty down, then it felt kind of easy later on ... it was a bizarre pacing thing with that game early on

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SarcasticMudcrab

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#11  Edited By SarcasticMudcrab

Does infinite respawning enemies count? I hate that, let me clear out an area!

Also timers.

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Quantris

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Tough choice since I approached it from the angle that any of these actually could be done well (meaning contribute positively to making a compelling game experience) in theory.

Hit sponge is probably the one most often done poorly as a quick way to make progress harder. But having to pull out all the stops to vanquish a meaty foe can make for a great moment.

I voted for "Raw Reactions"...outside of rhythm games it's just not what I'm looking for. I don't mind it if they don't lead to immediate fails (e.g. you lose some health, or there's a bonus for the tightest window etc.)

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GloveSlipper

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@sarcasticmudcrab: Agreed 1000%. Respawning enemies is an instant deal killer for me regardless of difficulty.

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mellotronrules

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i think bullet/hit sponge (especially coupled with making the player character more fragile)- it just feels like the laziest, least-tuned and least-rewarding of all the difficulty ramps.

i still get flashbacks to trying to beat the Gears of War 3 last boss on the hardest difficulty- and i can feel my blood pressure increasing as i type this...

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AKTANE

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@mellotronrules: hahaha oh nooo quick ...play hotline miami to cure this

@sarcasticmudcrab: omg infinite respawns and timers both suck hahaha cant believe i forgot those.... facepalm

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sweep

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#16 sweep  Moderator
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Ry_Ry

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boss rush for sure

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Christoffer

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I hate "stealth" in games so it was an easy choice for me. Sitting in a corner waiting for a vision cone to point away long enough for you to sprint to another corner... nope

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SethMode

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#20  Edited By SethMode

@therealturk: I actually quite enjoyed Origins, but I am 100% with you. It is absurd that stabbing a high level guy right in the fucking head does minimal damage because oops, he's level 30 to your 10. Ghost of Tsushima sort of does it too with camp leaders just taking a "Critical Hit." Okay, sure game, I dropped onto this dudes head with my sword but I'm sure it wouldn't be fatal.

I picked losing significant progress, because at this point in my life that can actually make me completely drop a game.

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theonewhoplays

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@aktane: Funny thing is, I have that issue with every God of War game. Normal is too easy, Hard is too frustrating.

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Shindig

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Boss rush. It only works if becomes a cathartic exercise in how powerful you've become.

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Superharman

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Having played a lot of JRPGs recently, the low level thing really rings true. When a game is balanced to the fact that you need to grind to beat the last boss, it's really frustrating. This is a general annoyance with last bosses that you have to invest a lot of time to beat because at the point you're at the last boss, you're also probably ready to be done with the game.

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JeedyJay

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#24  Edited By JeedyJay

My biggest annoyance is when altering the difficulty setting doesn't do anything but change damage numbers from and against you, the player.

I cast my actual vote for Damage Sponge, because I greatly dislike it when it's constant. Having some damage sponge encounters is fine when it's even decently designed, though.

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hansolol

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#25  Edited By hansolol

Cascading attacks resolving in delayed succession from multiple enemies : You see this sometimes in Arkham Asylum-inspired combat systems. You block an enemy's attack and immediately afterwards another guy hits you, and then another and so on. It feels like you're always blocking/countering and rarely going on the offensive. Final Fantasy 7 Remake has this and I also just replayed Mad Max and noticed it there big time.

Fighting games where the AI reads your inputs and counters instantly : He somehow caught my poke from half screen and turned it into a full combo but then just stood there while I swept him 8 times in a row. Ok, game.

Shooters where the enemies all simultaneously reacquire targets and focus you down : You're confidently running around, ignoring the low-level grunt enemies in the area when they all decide to turn and shoot you at the same time. Somehow 10 enemies each plinking you for 10% of your health manage to buzz you down in less than a second and now you're staring at the loading screen. Wtf was that?

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AKTANE

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@sethmode: I really wonder if all modern games should come with save states or some kind of save system to be enabled on a " save state" mode because what's the point if the person isn't going to finish your game... do you want to challenge them so much that they put it down? retro games are terrible about this, but with save states I have fun, I feel challenged, and I actually finish the game.

@theonewhoplays: I took like a 10+ year god of war break so you could be onto something like I played 1, 2 .... then the Ps4 one. haha.

@superharman:this happened to be badly with persona 5... I used to do dungeons in like 1-3 days in that game and when I got to the final boss I felt hella under powered :/ but you kind of almost CANT grind at that point in the game either... it's like come on :/

@hansolol: these are all good, having a combat system "stun lock" you isn't fun. fighting game ai is so rarely ever good. Honestly, my favorite fighting game AI is Arcade 3rd strike, they won't do what you're saying unless you crank it up. on the last one ... I agree but that's on you! when the grunts take you down, that's the dev tryna say " dont ignore the grunts! " hahaha but nah I feel you on it being frustrating when its not common place in the game...

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AKTANE

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@shindig: @ry_ry: agree y'all boss rush modes haven't been cool since Megaman 2 on the NES, unless there is SOME twist then it's just lazy design. I think its fine to include as a separate mode, but boss rush as a "okay remember these guys? now fight em 1 by 1!" is ... just lazy, like they couldn't come up with a couple more bosses

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AKTANE

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@christoffer: I lol'd at vision cone ... and was remembering how even MGSV got rid of those if memory serves?

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hermes

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Choose several options but, by far, the worst offender is the difficulty change that turn your enemies into bullet sponges and you into tissue paper, because it is cheap and lazy. You can see the developers only worked on one difficulty setting, and then just threw some multipliers to make it more challenging. In its most extreme forms, they haven't even playtested the result, so you end up with unwinnable scenarios unless you are using a specific built.

Another option that is not listed (but several others have mentioned) that is a deal breaker for me is when the PC cheats, by doing something it shouldn't do if only they weren't also the rule master. Examples include having impossible resources in RTS, rubberbanding in racing games, everyone on the map being instantly and simultaneously able to read your position on FPS or reading your input and breaking the characters rules on fighting games... At that point, you are not testing our skills, you are testing our resolve to deal with bs.

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Arcitee

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Most of these suck. For some reason I have a much higher tolerance for crazy difficulty in 2D games like the messenger than for 3d games like God of War (if you set it to hard)

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AKTANE

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@arcitee: might that be the lack of issue regarding camera / spacial pattern recognition that's making it a bit easier to tackle 2D? (its like I always say, things can't come from behind you in 2d hahaha)

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Giant_Gamer

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Hit sponge is the worst in my opinion and when it comes to levels of difficulty, it usually end up being higher hp and atk as you increase the difficulty. In the end the boss end up being able to knock you down with a hit or two while you can barely cause any damage.

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Giant_Gamer

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@arcitee: i'm quite the opposite. I couldn't beat Cuphead while i have no issue with difficult 3D games at all.

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AKTANE

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Hit Sponge is running away with this

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ALLTheDinos

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I voted for hit sponge (primarily), and I think this counts as a variant of it. In 4X games, just starting AI out with some multiplier of what you have and a bonus for their resources per turn is just a way of masking their AI deficiencies. I’m an avid Civ player, and I would much rather try zany stuff at medium difficulties than testing my number-munching at high difficulties.

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Efesell

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There's a wide variety of what people consider hit sponges on display here and that's interesting.

I would never have considered Assassin's Creed in this.

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hatking

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As a busy person, anything that takes too long and doesn't respect my time is often an immediately deal breaker. Unforgiving checkpoints, taking things away when I die, not being able to pause, requiring me to do frivolous side shit, enemies that take a disproportionate amount of time to defeat. It all feels like padding to make a game take longer than the actual art justifies.

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wollywoo

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I'm not sure what "solve the twist" means, but when a game suddenly changes its control scheme in a difficult area without letting you practice first it is very annoying. The chief offender I can think of is the original God of War, where if I recall you had completely different moves in the last fight with Ares. Because of this I could never beat the game. All my practice with the previous moveset was useless.

Losing in RPGs because you didn't spend enough time power-leveling (or you didn't find the ultimate weapons that you need because they are hidden behind obtuse puzzles) is also very annoying. I could never beat Sephiroth because I was under-leveled and under-equipped and stuck in that damn cave so I couldn't get out to properly train up.

Not so much an issue now as in older games, but knockback from enemies that sends you into pits (especially in 2D platformers) is very obnoxious.

Having to balance on extremely thin platforms in 3D games (thinking of Super Monkey Ball.)

Losing because there is some important mechanic that is hidden away or unexplained. e.g., in an RPG where all attacks are failing and you don't know why - the enemy is immune but this is not communicated well. Or in a strategy/city-building game where populations are dying because they don't have some necessary resource and you can't figure out which one.

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AKTANE

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@wollywoo: I didn't explain the "solve the twist" well, but its exactly what you're saying, I'm also thinking like Psycho Mantis in MGS. Any game that you're playing a certain way but then suddenly they try to subvert the game to confuse you. It can be cool when done right but most of the time it's either (oh okay restart) or (I have no idea what to do here).

and also yo old school Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden knockback is super annoying and not fun and just bad. 100,000% agree

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Arcitee

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@aktane: I think it is also in a lot of 2D games you pick back up at the last check point almosy immediately versus a load screen.

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AKTANE

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@efesell: yeah im finding this response interesting too :)

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AKTANE

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@arcitee: fast loading has a huge effect on a game, its primarily why a difficult game like say Celeste, I can continue playing it because of the instant reload that section :)

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csl316

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I used to get really upset at Twisted Metal 2, since when you died you would realize that the CPU just had infinite energy. So enemies that cheat can be frustrating.

That, and bad puzzle design.

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Arcitee

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@aktane: yeah there is a big difference in taking another try in Celeste and Super Meat Boy and Dark Souls.

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Captain_Insano

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Failable button mashing

Mash X really fast to survive the interrogation

Oh you physically can't do that? Too bad

This was a late 90s early 00s problem

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SethMode

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@captain_insano: I remember having to get my college roommate to do the MGS interrogation scene. Terrible.

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Intradictus

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This is a bit specific I guess, but when a game has you walking across ice and you your controls become really terrible. I understand the idea is to make gameplay (usually platforming) more varied/difficult but to ke all you're doing is ruining your controls and making the game more frustrating than difficult

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AKTANE

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#48  Edited By AKTANE

@intradictus: does this apply to like random ish wind mechanics too :) I'm looking at you Ninja Gaiden 2 (NES) .... this is your fault!

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Intradictus

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@aktane: haha, I tend to find that wind is better since it doesn't mess with the feel of your controls but is more of an obstacle, but it can definitely be implemented in a frustrating way

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cikame

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Ooo just thought of one, Modern Warfare's skill based match making and revenge based completely bull**** spawn system, ensuring that 70% of the time i'm having an awful, one sided experience.