Like it or not, there’s still a real need to keep your “gamer cred” in check. I still get shit from my buddies for my decade-long insistence on playing most games on “easy” or the dreaded “casual” mode. We’re all grown men now: aren’t there statutes of limitations on how “hardcore” or not you are with your games?
My thoughts break down in a couple of different ways. One, I just don’t have time anymore to bang my head against a game until I prevail against it. Having a 40-hour workweek and adult obligations really puts a bind on just how much time you can commit to a game.
Two, a perceived notion on my part that some games just aren’t balanced or designed very well “out-of-the-box” these days.
When A Game Becomes A Hassle, You Must Easy Mode
In the last generation of consoles, a lot of games were rushed to market undercooked and underdeveloped. It’s only gotten worse with the current generation of games. But back in the last-gen era, at least the unevenness was buried in the game and not seemingly front and center.
For my part, it all started with Mass Effect 2. I was infinitely more interested in the game’s story than I was in it’s “improved combat.” Don’t get me wrong: the first Mass Effect’s “combat” was pretty sub-par too, but with BioWare (back then at least) it was about crafting great game stories, so I was fine with it.
Mass Effect 2 introduced the need for ammunition management, and I didn’t have time for that baloney! On top of that, trying to manage A.I. partners who would only do what I told them to when they seemingly felt like it… I snapped, put it on easy mode, and never looked back.
I think another problem for me, as we move in to the current generation of consoles, is the laborious load times. I’ve been playing The Witcher 3, and if you die, it’s a good minute-and-a-half load screen punishment waiting for you. Bloodborne’s the same way, and in a Souls-esque game, where you spend a goodly amount of time dying… that’s some bullshit. Putting Witcher 3 on easy has saved me a lot of pain from death from bullshit like falling off the side of things due to Geralt’s movement locomotion, etc. But again, I’m in it for the story.
(Side note: Witcher 3’s goddamned sirens don’t seem to notice that I’m in easy mode anyways… those heartless assholes are the worst!)
Now, I’m not going to take games to task that are designed to be hard and grouse about how I just want to play the story… difficulty be damned! Games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne are supposed to be hard, meant to push you as a player… and so on. I also find that they’re mostly fair game endeavors, so I don’t feel cheated when I get destroyed by an enemy.
One of my favorite games of all time is God Hand. I found that game brutally difficult at times, but a whole lot of fun. IGN’s 3.0 review score of God Hand was also one of those turning points in my gaming life. Naïve as it is, I realized that even game reviewers could be godawful at games and then lower their score just because they couldn’t “git gud” at the game. Never mind how horribly wrong and incompetent the reviewer was, especially considering the 8.4 rating from the community.
My favorite element that a lot of current games get up to is allowing the user to change the difficulty on the fly. I don’t love it nearly as much as the sliding scale difficulty of say a Skyrim or Fallout 3, but knowing I can change the difficulty should things get out of hand has been a godsend.
How often do you buy a game thinking you’re King Shit of Poop Mountain, only to find the game eating your lunch? Either due to your own incompetence at the games mechanics, or just some brutal chunk of the game you just want to get over with and move on. Just flick a button and all is well… sometimes… sometimes there’s some jank in these modern games that no toggle can ever fix!
That’s why I use easy mode the most often, just to reestablish some sense of fairness and justice in games where the mechanics or gameplay just aren’t there. I buy a lot of my games day one, so I inevitably wind up being on the QA team for the games’ initial offerings. This isn’t fun in the slightest! The forthcoming patch for the game will mean nothing to me as I’ve already found a way past the broken parts of the game, and can only hope the developers can outpace me getting to the end of their game.
I don’t really worry about my “gamer cred” much anymore, because my playing on “easy mode” doesn’t effect how anyone else enjoys the game. Which is how it should be. If you find yourself developing uncontrollable rage at a game, just slide on down to easy town. You’ll thank yourself in the long run… you’re going to be gaming for long long time, why not enjoy yourself?