FromSoftware’s games have long been part of the debate concerning game difficulty. Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Sekiro, and now Elden Ring, have all had detractors who called for FromSoftware to add difficulty settings to its titles. Despite this, studio president Hidetaka Miyazaki says it’s not going to happen.
Why are FromSoftware games so difficult?
In an interview with The New Yorker, Miyazaki explained his views on difficulty in the Souls games and Elden Ring:
We are always looking to improve, but, in our games specifically, hardship is what gives meaning to the experience. So it’s not something we’re willing to abandon at the moment. It’s our identity.
However, he does view Elden Ring’s design as a compromise. While the game keeps all the hallmarks of the Souls games, its layout gives players more room to bounce back from defeat. Instead of being locked to a certain path, you can head out and explore the world for a solution to your problem.
Opinion: Elden Ring is the first mainstream Souls game
The FromSoftware’s previous titles have been very successful, but they’ve only occupied a (large) niche. Many that tried the Souls games immediately bounced off and didn’t bother to try again. However, Elden Ring’s looser structure is much more welcoming to players who are new to the genre.
In games, death is almost always a bad thing. We grew up playing games like Mario, where you had finite lives. Lose too many, and it’s game over. Souls games aren’t like that, though. Death is a teaching tool. You’re supposed to fight a foe and learn its tricks, and if you die, you still retain that knowledge. To really enjoy a Souls game, players have to deprogram that old outlook on death in games being punitive. Elden Ring helps that by making exploration a more prominent factor and rewarding players who pick themselves back up after a death and set out to get better.