Early video games are known to be more difficult than games of today, even by young people like myself, who didn’t get a chance to play them when they came out. But it seems that most recently, there’s been an even greater influx of particularly “easy” games. A quick Google search of any recent title and “too easy” will provide an abundance of results. So then we might to ask ourselves, “Are video games too easy?”
The gaming industry is growing faster than expected, so we definitely know that the difficulty of games isn’t affecting the rate at which gamers are consuming them. Yet, the criticism of how easy games have become isn’t relenting. So while it’s rare to find a AAA title that doesn’t offer an easy mode, it’s probably rarer to find someone who doesn’t feel guilty playing it.
And the shaming doesn’t stop at the difficulty level. Yesterday, Naughty Dog released gameplay footage of The Last of Us Part II at E3 and many online audiences were not having it. One of the biggest criticisms was that it looked like a scripted sequence. Many were upset that the intelligent AI and strategy-rewarding mechanics of the first game were seemingly replaced by what is more or less a cutscene.
Now, I totally understand that there’s a ton of hate online over the gameplay because of its inclusion of LGBT characters and that this will attract criticism of all facets of the game. However, it’s still interesting that these people still choose scripted sequences over everything else to pick apart. Even if their hate starts with homophobia, it doesn’t seem to end with it.
Games have also become way more cinematic over the past couple years as the medium slowly earns a reputation that’s on par with films, TV, and other legitimized forms of art. One of the easiest ways to make your game cinematic is to focus on choice driven mechanics, and let your game play out in cutscenes. But each time one of these games comes out (think Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead Series, Life is Strange, etc.), they’re heavily criticized right off the bat. Even well-respected reviewers feeling comfortable enough to complain about a game that does exactly what it promises. (Okay my bias is starting to show so I’ll just come out with it)
Where Video Games Need to Go
Like it was mentioned earlier, the ability to avoid grinding in games doesn’t seem to be affecting the market much at all. It seems that people will simply continue buying easy video games. My personal opinion is that I love having the option. Working 40 hours a week on top of a long commute doesn’t leave me and other gamers with much time to spend running in circles on the same level for 3 hours each night. So it’s really nice to enjoy a story that I have a part in “creating” (okay let’s not get ahead of ourselves) and not feel overly stressed about it. And it’s really nice to have varying levels of agency. I can almost sit back and watch the contents of Detroit: Become Human play out at the press of a button, or I can play God of War on easy mode and get some kickass fighting done exactly in line with my playstyle without feeling too wiped.
However, I still haven’t addressed the Google search results I mentioned earlier. It does seem that as an overall trend, games are getting easier. While I think that most of the hardest difficulties out there are sufficient, I will say that normal mode in many games is a little bit too easy. Games can be intimidating and not all of us want to jump into a hard difficulty and fall flat on our faces. So, if you’re anything like me, you’ll typically try the normal mode first before attempting anything harder or easier. It’s such a tiny thing, but I wish that normal difficulty was just a tad bit harder.
So while I like variety, I don’t think I’d mind if games got a tiny bit harder (emphasis on tiny). But what do you think? Do you think games are too easy, too hard, or just right? What would you change if you could? Let me know in the comments below!