Dark Souls III Shouldn't Get An Easy Mode
In some ways, I'm surprised to hear myself say this.
I'm not one of those aging gamers who looks back on the way video games used to be, glorifying every last aspect of the industry. Have we left some things behind that I wish we hadn't? Sure. But I always thought games were too hard and frankly, if they hadn't gotten significantly easier, I probably wouldn't be playing anymore.
And therefore, I certainly don't ascribe to the elitist "harder is automatically better" mentality that I honestly believe tinged a lot of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls reviews over the years (whether certain critics want to admit it or not). This whole "oh, it's more hardcore so it's just a more impressive product" makes absolutely no sense to me. Difficulty and quality are mutually exclusive and always have been. One has no bearing on the other, unless the difficulty is so far in one direction or the other that it actually affects the gameplay.
I know some have accused Dark Souls of being too extreme, of going too far in the "hardcore" direction and thereby negatively impacting the gameplay. I've never bought into that, though. The games aren't for me; I've made that clear. But I don't agree with the gamers calling for an easy mode to be added to Dark Souls III. Strangely, if you ask me if I'd be more likely to finish the game with an easier option, the answer would probably be "yes." But this isn't about me. Every game doesn't need to cater to me. People really need to stop thinking that every title needs to appeal to everyone; it'll never happen and we should never demand this impossible feat of developers and publishers. When you go to sell a product, the creator and producer of that product need to understand the intended audience, and "everyone" is never a valid option. Just ask any marketer.
The point is, I don't want to see an easy mode because it would invariably change the game. Dark Souls isn't hard because we have to pull off crazy combos. It isn't hard because the enemies are unfairly unforgiving. It's hard because it forces the player to learn and adapt in ways no other game does. As I mentioned in my review, the series has always pushed the player to learn and re-learn, to become ultra-vigilant, to be ever-observant. The instant you remove the ever-present threat of death, the entire atmosphere changes. We start to play it the way we do just about any other video game. Yes, we'd still have to read our foes and be careful in certain situations, but certainly not to the originally intended level...and that level is what makes this IP. It's what allows it to stand out.
Make it any easier and the core, the soul, if you will, of the game disappears. Or if it doesn't completely disappear, it certainly wanes. Everything about how we approach the adventure would change, and I'm not sure enough people appreciate just how drastic the difference would be. Those who don't really understand the true challenge of Dark Souls are asking for an easy mode, in my eyes, and these people are also being selfish. The game wasn't made for you, so what? There are plenty of other games that are, so go play one of them. I have no trouble with this whatsoever.
4/8/2016 Ben Dutka