Director Hidetaka Miyazaki is regarded as a master of the craft when it comes to games that are difficult and challenging to players. If you’re playing Elden Ring, the latest game by FromSoftware, you’re all too familiar with the type of game it is. A sandbox-style game of exploration featuring a deluge of punishingly hard gameplay with players experiencing death seemingly at every turn.
Continuing a tradition that had been set by 2011’s Dark Souls, Elden Ring has some of the most crushingly hard bosses that have ever been imagined from Miyazaki and his team. Players have learned that, despite all of the spirits that can be summoned and the game’s cooperative multiplayer element, Elden Ring is going to be one difficult game to finish. “I do feel apologetic toward anyone who feels there’s just too much to overcome in my games,” Miyazaki said in an interview with the New Yorker. “I just want as many players as possible to experience the joy that comes from overcoming hardship.”
Miyazaki went on to say that the difficulty is the secret to these games. “We are always looking to improve, but, in our games specifically, hardship is what gives meaning to the experience,” he said. “So, it’s not something we’re willing to abandon at the moment. It’s our identity.”
The question of how hard games should be is closely tied to the question of whom games are for. There has been an argument for as long as video games have existed that games should be accessible to any and every gamer no matter the genre or style of the game. On the other side of that argument many say that it’s the prerogative of the creators and developers — not every game has to (or should be) for everyone.
“I’ve never been a very skilled player,” Miyazaki explains. “I die a lot. So, in my work, I want to answer the question: If death is to be more than a mark of failure, how do I give it meaning? How do I make death enjoyable?”
Elden Ring does not have any sort of conventional difficulty option and FromSoftware has no plans on patching the game to incorporate one.
Should Elden Ring have options to adjust the difficulty to meet the players’ taste? Should studios develop their games with difficulties that can be more appealing to all gamers?
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Elden Ring is currently available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X | S, and PC.
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