Thoughts: Nintendo Switch (from someone who is keen to get one)

So talking about a console is something completely new to me, especially one I don’t actually own, so take all of this with a grain of salt. However, given that the Switch strikes me as something new and exciting, when better than to give it a shot.

To start, I have to say that because I haven’t had hands-on experience with it, it’s difficult to fully give my opinion on it. But as of right now, and what I have seen, I’ll attempt to share my thoughts on it, from the perspective of a primarily PC gamer. Also these are just my opinions, and your’s will potentially vary from mine, so that’s just something to keep in mind.

The last tech from Nintendo I bought was the 3DS XL. I can play Pokemon to my hearts content, it plays like a dream, and is perfect for long flights or road trips, I love it.

And in my mind, having a gaming PC on which I primarily play games on at home, and then a Nintendo device I can play on the go is a match made in heaven. So for me, the Switch is a perpetuation of what I already have with my 3DS.

For me, the most interesting and exciting part of the Switch, and I’m sure others would agree with me, is all the different ways you can use it. Flexibility is the name of the game here, and whether you want to use it as a home console, or as a portable on-the-go console, the Switch. As for my own personal use, being able to play on the go is important to me (as discussed above with the 3DS), so the portable aspect of the Switch is perhaps what I am more interested in. I don’t expect it to be as portable as a 3DS, as the Switch is also a home console, as long as it is comfortable and it performs well with games, I’m sold.

I believe this is a part of where gaming is headed, being able to play games whenever, and wherever. The Switch looks like a step towards this goal, and with game streaming services on the rise, the industry it certainly headed in the direction. Needless to say, the portability is a big selling factor for me. The idea of being able to play at home with a friend, or even larger social gatherings, and take it with me when I go out is a very attractive.

If you are reading this, chances are you are aware of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the Switch’s launch titles, and a new, open world Zelda game. Beyond Ocarina of Time, I sadly don’t have much experience within the Zelda-verse, but Breath of the Wild has me starstruck. Exceptional reviews aside, the game looks beautiful, exciting, open world, and more importantly, it looks like a ton of fun, and certainly a great time to get back into the franchise.

Despite my interest in the console, I won’t be buying one just yet. Not because I don’t think it looks it great, but rather I would like to see how the console evolves the course of time, and how the roster of games expands along with it.

Even though I’m not too concerned about how powerful it is, one of the big factors that will play a factor in whether I get one later or not is around how well it plays games. I’m sure that the ironing out of bugs and glitches over the next couple of months would go a long way to me eventually picking one of these up.

Further would be the addition of more games and features. Nintendo has already come out and said that they will be working to bring all of their main franchises to the Switch, as well as the Virtual console, so it seems that a wider selection of awesome games is what awaits sometime down the road. So again, once it feels more fleshed out and complete as a console, it’ll certainly be harder to resist getting one.

But these are just my thoughts, and I would love to know what you think about this new, innovative piece of tech. Have you picked one up? Are you planning to? And whether or not have a Switch, what do you think of it? Let me know in the comments, and if you enjoyed this post be sure to give it a like. Also let me know if you would like to see more thoughts on consoles, or how I could improve in the future with such posts. Until next time, stay beautiful 🙂

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The apparent evolution of free-to-play games

In my opinion, the quality of free to play games has drastically improved in the last few years. Maybe I was too young to really notice all of my options a while ago, but looking around me now, there seems to be a wealth of fantastic opportunities for enjoyment, all for the low, low price of the space on my hard drive.

It feels like it wasn’t that long ago that the only free games I played were incomplete demos, or flash games on a web browser. Admittedly they were fun, especially years ago when new games for me were fewer and farther between. However most of the time I felt they never quite matched the quality or size of triple A titles. Also hogging the family computer got me in trouble regularly, which kinda sucked after a while.

Needless to say, I’m fairly older and more independent now, and long gone are the days that Newgrounds and Miniclip are my only sources of free gaming entertainment. As I have grown up, it feels as though free to play games have as well.

There is a slew of high quality, fully fledged free games to choose from on clients such as Steam, that honestly feel like could be on store shelves.

My gateway into this whole new realm of gaming? Dota 2

While I’m not such a big fan of it anymore, a few years ago I was a raging Dota 2 addict. Coming home from high school and jamming to some Dota with some friends was a pretty typical afternoon, and was one of the only games I played for several months (and is still my most played game in my Steam library, despite not touching it in almost 3 years).

Dota 2, is of course, a free game. It was the first free to play game that really showed me that free to play games can in fact be as great and large as a game costing $100.

From there I began to explore other options, and I came across other great games. Team fortress 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone, all some of the biggest games in the world, all incredibly fun and entertaining, and all completely free of charge.

Obviously the fact that they are free is great in and of itself, but what I appreciate more is the accessibility of it. They are free, hence the only barrier to trying it out is hard drive space and waiting for it to download, minuscule in comparison to monetary payment. This means if I want to play it with friends, we can. There is no looming financial wall standing in the way of our fun.

On top of this, all of the fun is completely natural. Maybe this is just me, but sometimes when I buy a new game, I almost feel as if I need to get my moneys’ worth of enjoyment out of it. The idea of spending money on a game, and that I won’t play or enjoy it is the worst, and is usually the reason I don’t buy many new games. This means that some of the enjoyment could be contrived, or forced in a way. With free to play games there is no investment, and no pressure. If I don’t enjoy it then I don’t lose anything from it. Hence there is no forced fun, and that makes the experience all the more satisfying, and as I said, naturally fun.

Perhaps my only problem with free to play games is the abundance of microtransactions. Sure, they are very prevalent in paid games as well, no doubt about it, which isn’t a surprise. Neither is their appearance in free games, I mean, they have to make money somehow, and microtransactions are a great way to do it, so I’m not necessarily bitter about it. Another thing which makes them so much more tolerable is that they usually relate only to cosmetic items within the game, such as skins and emblems etc. which have no real impact on the game, and which I have no care for. So most of the time they aren’t a bother. But as anyone can agree, when microtransactions actually influence gameplay and/or progression, or when they are ‘pay-to-win’, that’s where I become annoyed and disheartened.

Nowadays, I tend to stay away from MOBAs because of the intense competitveness around them, and stick to more casual free games such as Brawlhalla and Toxikk, among others, which I can jump into, with or without friends, and just have a blast.

As usual, I am very much looking forward to what the future holds for free to play games, and the good times that await with these advances.

But these are just my thoughts, and I would love to hear what you think. What are your thoughts on free to play games? Are there any in particular that you have enjoyed? Let me know in the comments, and if you enjoyed this post, be sure to give it a like, it’s free and it just makes my day. Until next time, stay beautiful 🙂

 

My 10 favorite co-op games

I’ve talked about my love of co-op games on this blog a number of times. I have praised the immense potential they have for enjoyment and the fact that by requiring co-operation, they test friendships and relationships like no other games can.

So I figure that this is a good time to run through some of my picks for my favorite co-op games I’ve ever played. The basis of my criteria is fun. Enjoyment is what I’m all about in games, and that’s the main thing I’m going to consider.

Some things to note beforehand though. Firstly, if I haven’t played a game, I can’t say if it’s one of my favorite, so there may be games out there I would absolutely love that I just haven’t played. Secondly, this list is highly subjective, so don’t be surprised if a co-op game you love doesn’t make it onto the list. Each persons’ list is bound to be different.

But without further ado, let’s jump into it:

10) Crawl

Kicking off this list is the dungeon crawler where “Your friends control the monsters”. Crawl is an inventive, original game that is an interesting blend of dungeon crawler, and hot potato. One player is the hero, who tries to kill monsters and get experience and loot to defeat the boss and win the game. The rest of the players are monsters, who are trying to kill the hero and become the hero themselves to have a shot at winning. The result is an incredibly fun game where one minute you are all ganging up on the hero, and the next minute you are fighting for your life against all of your friends. Every game is different, and the replay value is amazing.

9) Killing Floor 2

Killing Floor 2 is a class-based, zombie killing gore fest that improves on the original in nearly every way, making for an extremely enjoyable experience as you and your friends fight off waves of Zed. Every class feels balanced and unique in their own way, with my personal favorites being the Medic and Berserker classes. One of the main attractions however is the gore system. Named the MEAT system, every enemy has 22 distinct locations on their body that you can hit and potentially gib. The system works wonderfully, with the gore feeling realistic, impactful and satisfying as it should be.

8) Dungeon of the Endless

While I only got Dungeon of the Endless about a month ago, I have fallen in love with it. The hybrid tower-defense/roguelike strikes all the right notes. It is challenging and intense, while also being enjoyable and exciting. When playing with friends however, that is all amplified. Working together and managing your limited resources to fight off increasingly difficult waves of enemies is vital, and things can go from happy and good to “Holy crap we just got wasted” with a single bad turn. Fun to play alone, but way better with friends, this is how a co-op game should be.

7) Gears of War 2

One of my favorite games from my days of being an Xbox gamer, and one of my all time favorite games to play with friends. Gears of War 2 was for me the high point in the series, the campaign was awesome, killing Locust was as fun as ever, and like Killing floor 2 earlier in this list, the gore was on point. The stand out feature for me was the Horde mode. It was the first time I had played a survival-esque mode in a game and boy was it a blast. Rounds started easy and quickly became a matter of running for dear life and finding choke points to hold off the seemingly invincible monsters with a friend. Intense, gory, and insanely enjoyable in one game mode.

6) Borderlands 2

Hands down one of the best loot-fest games I’ve ever played. Borderlands 2 would technically be a first-person, role-playing shooter game, and it nails every aspect of it. In a word, it’s just fun. Everything about Borderlands 2 makes it a joy to play, the comedy is some of the best I’ve seen in a game, it is fast paced and the loot is rewarding and of course, there is a huge variety, making each gun feel different from the last. On top of all of this, it was built for co-op play. Playing with friends is hectic, chaotic and fun, making it one of my favorite co-op games ever.

5) Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2 was for me, the peak of the franchise. Aside from the fun, fast paced action and all the times it got me through study breaks when I needed some stress relief, the thing that puts this game this far up the list is it’s near perfect spec-ops mode. The spec-ops mode is a series of 2 player missions, and each and every one of them is so much fun. Some of my fondest memories gaming was trying to get 3 stars in every mission with my brother, and especially the final missions which are just full of juggernauts, made for some incredibly fun moments.

4) Terraria

A pixel art, 2-D, open world role playing game with exploration, crafting, and more items, and monsters than you can fathom, sign me up. The exploration and combat is incredibly exciting and enjoyable, and with such a huge range of items to find, which change the game and make you feel unique and awesome, there is always something to do, and I can easily spend hours upon hours in this game without even realising. With a friend to go through all of this with you, the game becomes even more fun and exciting. Exploring and fighting together is almost addictive sometimes.

3) GTA V (GTA online)

The sky’s the limit in open world games, with so many options and such freedom to do what you want to do, the world is literally a playground, one where your imagination is the fuel for what you do. This freedom is what I enjoy most about open world games, and GTA V represents the pinnacle of this genre. Of course, the best way to skyrocket the fun is to add a friend and see what kind of crazy ideas you can up with and try out together. Certainly discovering all of this games’ features and experimenting with many silly ideas has been a source of a lot of antics, and more fun times than I can remember.

2) Towerfall Ascension

The king of local co-op games, Towerfall Ascension is an endlessly fun and addictive game, and is the most fun you will ever have shooting your friends in the face with an arrow. Simple and easy to learn, but difficult to master, Towerfall was designed with multiplayer in mind, and that is certainly where it shines. All the way through the campaign it is challenging, hectic and endlessly funny. Absolutely recommended if you like having fun.

1) Portal 2

It makes sense that this legendary game made it to the top of this list. The portal-based puzzle game is as endlessly clever and funny as it is enjoyable and fun. Taking everything awesome about the first, and adding more of it created a perfect single player, and a co-op campaign that strains the mind as well as the relationship between you and whoever you are sharing the experience with. By forcing you to work together to achieve victory, Portal 2 provides an infinite number of opportunities for fun, as well as screwing each other over, until you reach the end of end level, which never fails to fill you with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. Like the single player, the comedy is on point and hilarious, as your AI narrator constantly puts you down, and tries to pit you and your partner against each other. It creates an experience that is almost difficult to put into words, as it is so special that you really need to play through it yourself to know what I mean.

 

Well those are just some of my favorite co-op games, and now I would love to hear from you. What are some of your favorite co-op games? What are some of your fondest memories playing games with someone else? Let me know in the comments, and if you enjoyed this post, be sure to give it a like. Until next time, stay beautiful 🙂

Thoughts: Ragdoll effects in games

We all have those moments, where you are playing a game, everything is going great, you are having a lot of fun, and before you know it, something happens. This could be dying, falling, crashing, anything depending on what game your playing. Something happens, your character goes limp, and gets tossed around the map like a wet salad.

You know it, it’s a ragdoll.

I always loved playing around with the ragdoll effects in games, whether it be trying to launch the body of my character as far as possible across the map, or trying to make it convulse in the most unnatural ways, it was one of my favourite things to do in games. Sometimes you can even glitch through the wall for bonus points if it’s the right game.

I’ve never exactly been able to explain my love of ragdoll physics to others though? Maybe it’s just because it’s something you would never see in real life, maybe it’s because of all the weird and wonderful trick shots that happen while playing around with them. Maybe I just have some strange fondness for making limp bodies fly through the air like majestic eagles.

Hopefully in this post I can run through a couple of ragdoll effects I enjoy playing around with in games, using various games as examples to help me with my point.

I can remember the first game that really got me into ragdolls was Resistance, on the PS3. I remember there was a part of the game where you went up an elevator, that was fully open to a large a hangar, perfect for launching Nathan Hale into the far corners of the earth. Combine that with a respawn point at the top of the elevator, and I could send the protagonist into the great beyond with a great big grenade blast under his kiester for hours. Thankfully Resistance was a game where you could glitch through the world, because that just opened up a whole new realm of fun for me upon that discovery.

Halo 3 has to be another favourite. Not only does it give you plenty of time to see what happens to Master Chiefs body after dying, but the ragdoll system in that game had an interesting mechanic. If you hit a surface while travelling really fast (as a ragdoll) for a split second your body contorts and glitches out into unnatural positions. By using the replay feature, I could launch my body with explosives, and pause it at the moment my body collided with a surface, and see things that cannot be unseen. It also makes ramming UNSC marines with a ghost that much more fun, because their bodies are prone to ragdoll spasm as well.

Skyrim, on top of being an amazing game, had some great ragdoll physics. I’m not just talking about Fus Ro Dahing people off of mountain tops, as fun as that is, but also it’s a great game for glitches. One of the two most striking examples I can think of occur when a giant does a huge crushing attack on you, and causes your body (or that of any creature) to be launched to the moon. It’s a pretty incredible thing to see, and is sadly an extremely rare glitch in games. The other involves using the Ice Form shout. If you freeze someone (or are frozen yourself by the Greybeard’s) and they fall off of a cliff, sometimes it can cause the body to convulse and move around in the air, disobeying the laws of physics. Both of these glitches are well known and can be easily found on Youtube if you are curious, and they are definitely some of the finest examples of ragdoll physics I’ve ever seen. Also, you have the ability to move bodies and place them into some strange positions. So all in all, Skyrim does ragdolls right.

Moving on, GTA IV had one of the funnest things you could do in a game, and that was being hit by helicopter blades. Whether it be jumping into the blades of another person’s helicopter, or causing yourself to bounce into your own helicopter blades, they send you soaring through the air, at super-sonic speed, leading to some hilarious post death moments. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself 🙂

Moving onto another favourite feature, I want to talk about impalement. In particular, impalement in Half life 2. Powered by the Source engine (an awesome engine for ragdolls), Half Life 2 features a crossbow weapon, effectively the sniper weapon of the game. The fun thing about this weapon, apart from it being a one shot kill against normal enemies, is that if they are close enough to the wall, you can actually stick them to the wall, hung up by the bolt of the crossbow. The impact of the shot combined with their body becoming lodged to the wall behind them, limply dangling from bolt, is immensely satisfying, and I laughed for a full minute when I first saw this happen. Better yet, you can shoot the already hung ragdoll and stick it to the wall with multiple bolts. And of course, who can forget the infamous super-charged gravity gun, which turns enemies into ragdolls that you can propel at other enemies. Hands-down one of my all time favourite moments in a video game.

Saving one of the best for last, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare features dismemberment. Now as someone who loves to run around with a big sword slicing people up, I can definitely appreciate it when with the finishing blow, the enemies’ head comes clean off. Even after death, if you continue slashing at the ragdoll, it moves, and more limbs can be cut off. Whether this makes me sadistic or not, I find it hilarious. Sadly, dismemberment doesn’t make it’s way to many games, I remember a mod for Garry’s Mod which allows you to gib particular body parts off of ragdolls, which was also incredible fun, but apart from these two, no other games outright spring to mind.

Well that about wraps this up. Overall, ragdoll effects are something I have thoroughly enjoyed from game to game, with certain features that give each game a special place in my heart, and I look forward to seeing more games using ragdoll physics in fun and interesting ways in the future.

But these are just my thoughts, and I’m sure that you have some of your own and I would love to hear from you. Do you enjoy ragdoll effects as much as I do? What games come to mind that you feel nail the ragdoll effects? Let me know in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this post be sure to give it a like. Until next time, stay beautiful 🙂

Why I grind in video games.

So to start this off, maybe you already know what it is but I better answer the question just in case. What is grinding? I can assure you it isn’t the dancing kind. Instead, grinding in video games refers to repeating the same or similar actions, in order to earn something as a result, whether it be loot, experience, but usually something of value.

Now, to someone who hasn’t heard of or engaged in grinding, you may think it’s silly, I’ve certainly had my moments. But the reality is grinding takes many forms, has varying degrees, and is something that is very common in games. It can range from killing the same monsters over and over in an MMO to level up, to trying to get headshots with your newest gun in Call of Duty. The first time I can remember grinding in a game was in Pokemon Gold as a kid, after getting my starter and catching a new Pokemon I trained them up in the early routes until the first gym leader didn’t stand a chance (Whitney’s Miltank was still a nightmare though).

So why do people do it?

Surely if you are just repeating something over and over again it’s bound to be boring, and sure, maybe it does get boring every so often, but if you are grinding, the benefits almost always outweigh the negatives.

While I definitely can’t speak for everyone, I can at least speak for me, and perhaps a couple of my reasons will resonate with you. But without further ado, let’s jump into it:

1) The reward

Perhaps the most obvious and straightforward reason, but generally when you are grinding, you are doing it to achieve something or get something out of it. I could go on and on about this, so I’ll try to keep it brief. As I mentioned earlier, this may come in the form of experience so that you can level up and become more powerful. It might also be a certain special piece of loot that only drops from a particular enemy, and/or has a really low drop rate. Maybe you just really like doing the same thing over and over again and that’s the reward for you.

But to give an example, in Borderlands 2, certain legendary guns and equipment have a higher chance to drop from specific enemies, so the best way to get them is, surprise surprise, to kill the respective enemy that drops the item you want over and over again. Thus the grinding begins. I can confidently say I have spent more time grinding gear in Borderlands 2 than I care to admit, but to this day whenever I see an orange rarity drop my heart still skips a beat in excitement.

Either way, leveling up or looking for gear, it’s designed to make your character stronger, thus allowing you to proceed through the game with relatively more ease than before, or even get past a part that had you stuck prior. In some games, grinding may almost be a necessity to progress, and in others, an optional means to make the game a bit easier. Overall it’s that satisfaction and enjoyment gained from reaping the fruits of your labor that drives grinding, and makes it rewarding and fulfilling.

2) It resembles real life

Think about, what do you do in real life? You go to work/study day in and day out, which possibly doesn’t vary drastically on a day to day basis, until one day you get your paycheck, a promotion or a pay rise or an awesome exam result. Sound familiar? Because it parallels what you do in games when you grind for that experience or loot.

Of course, this assumes your day to day life doesn’t vary much, and mine doesn’t, but perhaps what I’m getting at is being able to relate to real world experiences. If you are conditioned in the real world that repeating something productive over and over again yields results, surely that would translate over to a gaming situation.

Even beyond just work and study, learning skills follows the same pattern. Learn. Repeat. Profit. Well, something along that line anyway. Life is full of examples I’m sure, but I like to think that when I get into a game, grinding is an almost instinctive thing to do just because of how well it follows and reinforces this pattern.

3) It provides a good platform for learning and experimenting

This may be stretching it as far as what grinding includes, but you can let me know. Taking a while a stop and do some grinding against the same enemies gives you an opportunity to test out new equipment or skills, while at the same time reaping the benefits of grinding, as well as not progressing further into the game. Certainly sometimes before I want to proceed into what may be a pretty difficult part of the game, I will make sure what works and what doesn’t, and what to watch out for. For this, beating up the same enemies I know that I can take out without too much danger over and over again seems to be an effective method of testing, as well as learning.

Practice makes perfect, and the more time you spend learning how the game works, the better you will get at it. In this way you aren’t even just leveling up or finding better loot, but you can also become a better player. It’s a win win.

4) It’s low stress

Sometimes just sitting back and not having to think too much about what I’m doing can be a good way to relax. Combined with the earlier reasons and in the right situation, repeating the same, usually non-difficult task over and over can almost be therapeutic in it’s relaxation, even more so if there is something that I am trying to accomplish by the grinding.

 

But I am just one person, and these are a few reasons I can come up with, I would love to hear from you. Why do you grind in video games? And what are your thoughts on grinding in games in general? Let me know in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this post, be sure to give it a like. Until next time, stay beautiful 🙂

Do graphics in games matter?

Games are an art, they are a canvas for a developer to let their wildest dreams come true, to create something special and unique that other people will enjoy, a lot like a movie. As with any technology, as time goes on, technology becomes more advanced, it becomes better, faster, harder, stronger, and this is reflected in games,  most obviously and close to surface, in graphics.

Year after year, the newest titles in gaming shock me with how damn pretty they are. I can still remember playing Battlefield 3 and thinking “Well there’s no way games can look much better than this”.Well six years down the track, I can safely say I was wrong. Very wrong. Many stunning titles have come it in the last year, reminding me that there are always ways to create more beautiful worlds.

But keeping in line with the title of this post, do graphics in games matter?

For me, while I can certainly appreciate games becoming more pretty, it’s not such a big deal. I mainly focus on the gameplay, as in, when I am playing the game, is it fun and I’m having a good time, or not. Graphics don’t really play much of a part in that decision for me, they don’t normally affect how I feel about the game that I am playing. At the same time, while some games focus on looking hyper-realistic, other games tend to go with alternative art styles. Whether it be pixel art, cel shading, cartoony , I love all of them in games, and I believe that when it is done well, I prefer it to games that go for a more realistic look.

One of the great things about graphics is the impression they can leave on you, and power that they can have in games when done well. Take Skyrim for example, it was released 5 years ago and still some of the views are just breathtaking when you are wandering the vast world it has to offer. As for a game that has less realistic graphics, the graphics in Terraria always inspired and made me fall in love with pixel art.

What matters to me when it comes to graphics, is the execution.

I want to be able to play the game that I’m playing, without the graphics intrinsically getting in the way of the fun. But that’s too vague, what specifically gets on my nerves is when there are glitches ,when I have to strain to see things, or when the graphics are just confusing. A recent example of glitches getting in the way might be Assassin’s Creed Unity, upon release it was filled with graphical issues and bugs that lead to people with no faces, one of many graphical slip ups I’ve heard from that game. In my opinion, if a developer goes for a particular art style, and doesn’t at least do a decent job or if it just doesn’t synergise with the game that it actually ends up hindering the gameplay, that’s when graphics start to be a problem for me.

Otherwise, the graphics aren’t so much of a factor. If I am planning to buy a game, I will rarely consider graphics in my decision, for me I mainly want to know how it plays, and how fun it is, because if isn’t my kind of game and I’m not going to enjoy it, whats the point. However, in games where the atmosphere plays a big role, such as more narrative or explorative games where graphics may be a key part to enjoying the game, then it will be something that I consider, but even then not much.

The good news is that there are a lot of great games out there, whether it be Crash Bandicoot 2 released some 20 years ago, or the newest Battlefield game, I think they are both pretty. Certainly, graphics in games are only going to improve and move in interesting directions, and I am excited to see what weird and wonderful art styles we will see come to life in the future.

But these are just my thoughts, and I’m just one person, I would love to know, do graphics in games matter to you? Are there any games that stand out to you as having memorable graphics? Let me know in the comments below, and if you enjoyed reading this, be sure to give it a like. Until the next post, stay beautiful 🙂

The difficulty setting dilemma

Chances are if you have every played a video game before and you have started a new game, you have been presented with the question “What difficult would you like to play?” in one shape or form.

Not something I’ve given a whole lot of thought, but after my last post about self-imposed challenges in games, I reckon now is the time to write about this. Fair enough too, I’m sure most people don’t think about the difficulty setting they pick in games, especially because a lot of games, or at least of the ones I’ve been playing, don’t even have a difficulty setting.

But really there is a plethora of things to consider each time this decision occurs. Each difficulty has it’s own merits, and caters to particular games, people, moods, situations, whatever. Especially at a younger age people were very good at pointing out how bad at games I must be if I played on easy, and how awesome I must be when I beat it on hard.

Easy difficulty is a no brainer, I pick this either because it’s a brand new game and I don’t want to get wrecked right off the bat, or I just want to feel invincible for a little bit. The main problem with easy is that it offers no challenge, and if you are not in a ‘wanting to be invincible’ mood, being able to cruise through the game can get quite boring. A game that offers little challenge means you don’t improve either, being on a lower difficulty can only prepare you for higher difficulties so much. But sometimes once you are good enough at a game, you just want to tone it down to an easier difficulty and feel like a god, you know, just feel good about yourself. Finally, playing on easy can be a lot less stressful when compared to harder difficulties, which can be preferred when you have a particularly stressful job or just having a rough day, we all do.

So on the flip side of the coin, there are the harder difficulty settings, which offer more of a challenge, and require you to be on point to beat it. Hard difficulties are a balance between the game being hard enough that you still need to think carefully and play well in order to beat them, but not so brutal and punishing that it is unfair and infuriating. This varies wildly between games, even games within the same franchise, for example, Halo 3 had a difficult legendary difficulty in my opinion, but Halo 4’s was a bit easier. Most of all though, playing on the harder difficulty settings is rewarding. When you get through each area, each level, and eventually when you beat the game, you feel like an absolute bad-ass, and this is the main reason I’ll pick higher difficulties. Even when I first pick up a new game, either I will pick an easier one, or just go straight to hard, not just because of the reasons mentioned earlier, but because it takes longer to win, and hence I get more out of the game.

However, the balance between it being too hard and too easy is vital. Obviously there are many games out there such as Dark Souls and Bloodborne which are just intrinsically punishing, and while I haven’t played either of them (so feel free to correct me), I feel the reason games like that are fun is because they are (to an extent) fair. I mean this as in, each time you die it feels like you were the one that made the mistake, not the game, and you learn something new to help you survive next time. No question, unjustified or unfair deaths in games are bound to happen, and they suck, but it’s when they outnumber the fair deaths that a difficult game goes from fun and rewarding, to more torturous. Admittedly even dying numerous times fairly in a particularly hard part of game can be rage inducing, but at least it doesn’t feel like it’s the games’ fault. The reason that I enjoyed Halo 3’s legendary difficulty so much is that when I died, I always felt there was somewhere I could improve, something that I could do differently to avoid dying again, and that’s why I kept playing.

But what about games without difficulty settings? I mean there are plenty of those out there. It certainly makes the process of picking a difficulty easier, as in, you don’t even need to pick. Instead usually, the game starts out easier, and eventually gets more challenging as you play through it, which is nice, because it means that all the previous challenges have prepared you for the more difficult challenge you are currently facing. This to me is a powerful driver, because it makes me feel as though I am progressing and getting better without even needing to manually up the difficulty. Pokemon games execute this formula exquisitely. Even in games without difficulty settings though, it’s always possible to make it harder with self-imposed rules, but that’s different.

However this is just me, I would love to know, what difficulty do you normally play games on? Do you start with the highest or work your way up? And why? Let me know in the comments below, and if you enjoyed reading this be sure to give it a like. Until next time, stay beautiful 🙂