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Ubisoft slams ‘easy mode’ in video games

By: Moses Abaortae

  |   September 4th, 2012   |  
Sony Computer Entertainment America E3 Press Conference 2012

Assassin’s Creed 3’s lead designer, Alex Hutchinson, believes that too many games are ruined by the lack of challenge, i.e. ‘easy modes’ but assures fans that Ubisoft’s games are more about balance than difficulty.

Video games are seen by many as a past time and then there are those who take them as a challenge. The former usually play a game no higher than the ‘Normal’ or ‘Regular’ difficulty level, as it provides them with the right balance of enjoyment and accomplished. There are also gamers who do not rest until they finish the game on the highest difficulty and see if they can overcome everything the game has to throw at them.

Demon Souls and Dark Souls are two games that show no mercy whatsoever towards the player, however, that game appeals to a niche segment in the market and although many mainstream gamers gave it a chance, they left the game soon after.

On the other side there are the easy modes in games such as Call of Duty and the ‘very easy’ mode in the Uncharted games, which pretty much allow the player to become invincible, able to take a truck load of bullets before going down, and Alex Hutchinson believes that these modes break the game.

He explained, “A lot of games have been ruined by easy modes. If you have a cover shooter and you switch it to easy and you don’t have to use cover, you kind of broke your game.”

Hutchinson went on to give an analogy, “It’s like if I picked up a book and it said ‘Do you want the easy version or the complicated version?’ (game designers) can simplify the language, you know, we can make it two syllables.”

For those who do not know, the Assassin’s Creed games have never come with a difficulty option and is the same game for whoever plays through it.

What the developers do implement are challenges, which appeal to the more skilled players. These basically are extra tasks that players will have to complete, almost like secondary objectives. These include using a particular weapon or type of attack on the target or reaching the target unseen or even completing the kill within a certain time period.

This varies things up for the different ‘levels’ of gamers and provides a balance, which is something that Hutchinson believes is of paramount importance in the Assassin’s Creed series.

He said, “We’re not trying to make a brutally difficult game, so we go through all the playtest data and make sure it works.”

However, Assassin’s Creed and a handful of games apart, the difficulty option looks certain as if it is here to stay.

But what about the readers; what difficulty do they prefer to play on? Let us know in the comments section below.