Hold on a second while I put on my Old Fart Hat here: you kids have it so easy these days when it comes to video games. Get lost? Don't know what to do? Hit up GameFAQs. Can't beat a boss? Adaptive difficulty will understand when you're getting curbstomped and let you win.
Honestly though, I'm grateful that everybody gets to play games. I love this hobby and I love having more people to talk about it with, but it does make me kind of sad that white-knuckle challenges being the standard are generally a thing of the past--raising the difficulty level doesn't count.
Outspoken Gears of War designer Cliff Blezinski has a similar mentality, and feels disappointed by the direction a lot of today's games are taking in regards to difficulty:
"It feels like in this current console generation that we've taken a lot of steps to grow the audience and what I think's happened is that the games have become more linear and easier, so it feels like a lot of quick-time events."
Looks like somebody never played Dragon's Lair. Blezinski also talked about From Software's infamously ruthless Souls series:
"The more I play games [that aren't challenging], the more I [get] turned off to them and just want to get back to systems interacting with systems, and get back to a game that, you know, when was the last time a game really challenged you and asked something of you, right? There's a reason why Demon's Souls and Dark Souls have taken off lately. It's because they really require you actually try."
While Gears of War wasn't exactly the balls-out challenge of, say, Contra 4 or The Red Star, it did have its moments--and there's always Horde Mode. Regarding the upcoming Gears of War: Judgment, CliffyB promised that it would not let gamers rest easy:
"Casual mode will still be casual, whatever, if you just want to see graphics and you don't want to die. But every other mode will be hard in this game and you will die…If this game doesn't make you sweat, we haven't done our jobs."
Always nice to hear! As a game I play regularly with friends, ramping up the challenge in Gears is definitely a welcome thing--something I wish more games would do. The funny truth is that most classically-hardcore games have moved to the handheld space, but many gamers don't even think to look there, which is a shame. Barring a few examples, many of today's console games have taken steps to become more accessible, and while I think that this is the way things should go, it's always nice to see developers throw my type of gamer a bone.
And then make us work for it.
What do you think? Are video games today just too easy? Are all the concessions made to increase gaming's audience coming at the cost of challenge and replay value?