• dcbernman - January 21, 2012 2:51 a.m.

    My first few playthroughs of Dragon Age: Origins were incredibly refreshing. Here was a game with convenient saves that killed me repeatedly on normal, punishment for rushing into battles recklessly. I started playing it again recently, and even though I'm playing it on hard (an impossibility when I first played it a year and a half ago) it feels disturbingly easy. I'm wondering if they patched the AI or something and put me in the same spot you are, because it's not like I had some epiphany and leveled up my gaming prowess over the last year...
  • mothbanquet - January 21, 2012 6:29 a.m.

    I know exactly what you mean. I felt ashamed at having to turn the difficulty down to Casual on my first playthrough but after a few more (and after I grasped how to properly build a good character) then it was no trouble whatsoever. I even managed the Harvester on Hard on my third attempt once I grasped those fundamentals. However, DAO was horrendous for its difficulty spikes and OP enemies. If a fight had more than one enemy mage then you were dicing with death, and in parts you could be hacking your way through a horde of undead merrily only to stumble into a room with an army of bewitched templars and a desire demon with no warning whatsoever. I nearly cried many times with that game. The trouble is that modern games shouldn't be trial and error experiences. I remember sinking ungodly numbers of hours into Thunder Force IV on the Mega Drive to the point where I still know the enemy patterns to this day. It was fine for back in the day but now gaming has grown so much as a medium and so have our needs and expectations.
  • Vulneratus - January 21, 2012 2:37 a.m.

    This is an issue for me every time I start a new game. I usually forget what mode I'm playing on until some sh*t hard section and then I'm like WTF why is this so hard?... oh yeah! i'm playin it on hardest! (I'm lookin at you Raam you motherf*cker!!) Hopefully it's something that will even out over the coming years... I'm playing OoT on the 3DS at the minute and man i really can't remember this game being this EASY!! I couldn't even choose the master quest on my first playthrough, still an awesome game though
  • comaqi - January 20, 2012 11:09 p.m.

    I agree with EVERYTHING you said! Love it! Also did you sign my messerschmitt? There's one signature in the bottom corner I don't quite recognize.
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - January 23, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    I signed near the bottom-right corner I believe.
  • closer2192 - January 20, 2012 11:05 p.m.

    I think my worst experience in modern games with difficulty came (and still comes, unfortunately) in the EA Sports products of Madden and NCAA Football. Play on Pro/Varsity, and the game is boring and too easy. Jump up to All-Pro/All-American and suddenly linebackers are leaping four foot verticals to intercept your passes, that 5-8 "scat back" is shaking off tackles from your defensive lineman, and your offensive line can't hold off the defense for long enough to make a pass. It's been going on for years, and they still haven't fixed it.
  • spencertucksen - January 20, 2012 11 p.m.

    Battlefield 3. I tried to get through that mediocre and bland story mode on hard because those games are always boring on Medium. But on hard, it wound up being that I would end up sitting most of a battle out because it was almost instant death. Three bullets kills you so you take a shot and you go for cover again. The enemies are unfairly accurate, as well. Then you have those cheap deaths where the game forces you to go around a corner and BOOM shotgun dude right there. When you immediately die, you realize "Oh no! I just spawned ten minutes back AND before a big battle that killed me 30 times!" and scream. It was a horrible experience and one example of developers putting stupid difficult to their games. At least make it FAIR.
  • BladedFalcon - January 20, 2012 9:11 p.m.

    Heh, I like that Keast had no trouble pointing out the games he has knocked down the score due to it's difficulty. Even though I may disagree with him in there, I respect his reasons and this is a pretty well write and thought out article. While I usually don't have THAT much trouble with difficulty spikes in the hard modes of a lot of games. There is definitely something wrong with how difficulty is handled in games nowadays. Like some people have pointed it out, I think part of it is that most developers are just lazy, and the difficulty levels are reduced to simply increasing damage output from enemies. A true difficulty would be to make the enemies smarter or more dangerous because how the act or where they are placed, not because they just do more damage. In my opinion, one game that did this rather well was megaman 10. Changes in difficulty changed the number and layout of the enemies in the stages, and with bosses, they added extra moves to their repertoire and made them faster. Way I see it, a properly balanced "normal" difficulty is one that allows you to get careless a couple of times, but WILL destroy you if you keep making the same mistakes. While the hard mode would demand more precision and less mistakes from your part. The new announced mode in bioshock: Infinte promises that, let's hope it delivers.
  • madman725 - January 20, 2012 10:40 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more
  • DaveGoose - January 20, 2012 9:06 p.m.

    Great article. I whole heartedly agree with the inFAMOUS reference. I also sit at the start of a game and wonder what difficulty is for me.
  • BaraChat - January 20, 2012 8:13 p.m.

    I totally agree that most games are actually not that hard on "Hard" but those f****** sudden spikes in difficulty completely ruin the experience. I don't mind when a game gets progressively tougher as you go along, but sometimes it just makes no sense. Take the Uncharted series. Games I can all beat on hard with not much effort, but there's always that set piece or that section of the game which takes me 35 attempts. What the fuck is that? Anyway, great article. :)
  • Fox_Mulder - January 20, 2012 9:41 p.m.

    I agree. I played Uncharted 3 on normal the first time but when I got to the desert village I was getting destroyed. When enemies are headshotting you with pinpoint accuracy through a sandstorm, frustrating doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • aberkromby - January 21, 2012 8:19 a.m.

    The level in the run-down shipyard was the worst. In the first sequence (right after I blew stealth) I flanked the enemies on the right side, then died from a random grenade. When I respawned, Naughty Dog saw fit to place me on the left side, which was literally impossible to defend. I lost count of the number of times I died (it was at least 30) trying to fight my way back to the right so I could actually survive. As soon as I got there, I beat the sequence in about two minutes. Then sold the game back to Gamestop, because I was disgusted with how lazy the Naughty Dog was with this game.
  • - January 20, 2012 7:29 p.m.

    I know I’m not alone when I stare at the start screen and wonder, “If I choose Normal, I’ll be vaguely bored, but if I choose Hard, will I be screaming later?” You are not alone, sir. Refreshing to see a topic that hits me as a a gamer these days perfectly. I share your frustration and your future worries. Think of us old people, developers! We have more money, we're worth the hassle.
  • Lurkero - January 20, 2012 7:15 p.m.

    Its often the case that "difficulty" means giving the enemies more health and the player less health. This does not equate to difficulty to me. So far, the only game that I have seen do difficulty on an acceptable level is Halo. In Halo, the enemies do get more health, but they also become strategically smarter. A skilled Halo player would be able to take advantage of the known weaknesses of enemies and get more of a challenge out of the harder difficulty rather than more frustration.
  • MattOfSteel - January 20, 2012 6:57 p.m.

    It is hard for the more story based games to do this. But I think Mario 3D Land was a perfect balance in difficulty. The casual could get through the game, the intermediate could make it through the special levels, and the hardcore could enjoy the challenge of collecting all the star coins in each level. The problems are less the actual difficulty and more making sure there isn't a "spike". A difficulty spike is always more the fault of not properly preparing the player for the skills they need.
  • blazikenrocker - January 20, 2012 6:54 p.m.

    I had the exact same problem when playing Infamous on hard. There were a few other areas that were difficult but nothing like Kessler, I must have died at least 50 times.
  • ItBurnsWhenIWii - January 20, 2012 6:47 p.m.

    I felt that the inFamous final boss wasn't that bad, but then again I did my second play through on hard, so maybe the problem is that on hard you never get a chance learn a good strategy before you get killed. If anything the hardest part in the first inFamous was killing those damn armored trucks on hard, as soon as you started to get hit with the machine guns you would die.

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