Helldivers 2 director stands by FromSoftware in the difficulty discourse as Hidetaka Miyazaki doubles down on making hard games: "Always cater to a select audience"

Elden Ring DLC Messmer
(Image credit: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco)

FromSoftware president and long-time Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki recently reiterated that difficulty is integral to the type of game the studio makes, readily acknowledging that "if we really wanted the whole world to play [Elden Ring], we could just crank the difficulty down." Over at Helldivers 2 developer Arrowhead Game Studios, CCO and creative director Johan Pilestedt aligns with FromSoftware's philosophy and reiterates Arrowhead's: "A game for everyone is a game for no one."

Pilestedt waded into the discussion in response to a Twitter post sharing a clip from Twitch streamer Stormfall33, who was positively elated to defeat the Shadow of the Erdtree boss Rellana, the Twin Moon Knight 173 deaths into the DLC.

"Some people think FromSoftware design hard bosses for difficulty’s sake," reasons YouTuber Rurikhan. "They are wrong. The game is challenging because they want you to feel this. But you can’t feel this without being challenged. This moment sums up the entire design philosophy of every Soulsborne game."

"Indeed, this 1000% - good game design is evoking emotion more than anything," Pilestedt said in a quote tweet. 

Another user responded to share that they didn't enjoy the original Dark Souls and, instead of accomplishment, only felt relief after overcoming challenges in FromSoftware's games and ultimately quit them. "A game for everyone is a game for no one," Pilestedt replied. "Always cater to a select audience." 

This user wasn't mad about the Souls games or anything, only noting that "I just never gelled with" them, "and that's fine." If anything, their experience perfectly demonstrates the argument here: not everyone is going to like this approach, but the people who do will love it. If you sand blast all personality and friction off a game in pursuit of broad appeal, you sacrifice what would make it stand out.

Pilestedt was of a similar mind: "Absolutely! The games industry is now big enough for there to be so many exciting experiences for all audiences. I try to imagine having this variety when I was 10... It would have been mind blowing!"

This isn't new for Arrowhead, for the record. Load up the studio's website right now and you'll see this very motto in big bold letters: "A game for everyone is a game for no one." It's been the studio's catchphrase for years and helped shape Helldivers 2 into the mega-hit it is. "You may have seen us use this motto before," Arrowhead adds in another page. "For us, it’s important. We make games that we ourselves would like to play. That’s the secret to our success."

Miyazaki's comments reflect a similar design philosophy, but in a different way; not so much opposite sides of the coin as different sides of the same die. Where Elden Ring is unapologetic with its challenges, Helldivers 2 – brutal in its own right on higher difficulty missions – commits to the bit and delivers an extremely specific experience through multiple factors, from worldbuilding to gameplay. 

"Games should challenge the creativity of the individuals who play them," Arrowhead argues elsewhere on its website. "We feel that this is one of the key factors in creating long-lasting, memorable experiences that can be retold time and time again." 

Here's how to beat Shadow of the Erdtree's Rellana Twin Moon Knight for yourself

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.