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Reasonable Challenge

February 10, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

On occasion, when I want more out of a particularly entertaining game, or when the allure of achievements encourages me to do so, I play some games on the highest difficulty setting. Unfortunately, from time to time the difficulty of these experiences can feel artificially inflated. Let’s take Mass Effect 2, a game I’ve recently been playing on Insanity, as an example. I’ve noticed instances where expected gameplay elements no longer apply. For example, enemies shoot with perfect accuracy, or know where the player is despite his being in cover, or AI squad members are impressively stupid, or a couple of enemies walk straight toward us, ignoring cover, and gun down my teammates (this really happened once!). In moments like these, enemies have gained powers to the point where they may ignore common sense and normal strategy. This means that what might seem like reasonable strategies for countering realistic enemies are likely invalidated, rather than challenged for improvement.

So what is the alternative? Use sensible adjustments to the higher difficulties. Add more enemies, in more places. These enemies should be skilled, but not perfect. Maybe even give them some extra special abilities to mix things up. But under no circumstances should enemies be allowed to horribly break gameplay by inexplicably, and unavoidably, destroying you without regard to reasonable strategy or tactics of their own.

What are some of the games you’ve hated or loved on higher difficulties? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Paril
    March 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    In my opinion, if you have to:
    1) Increase everybody’s health/damage and reduce your armor
    2) Break gameplay by having enemies completely “ignore” their common sense nerves

    then the AI is badly programmed to cope with harder difficulties.

    Honestly, I’m always looking for AI that actually gets smarter with difficulty; not dumber to the sense where they ridiculously out-rush you. Or where they just make everything do more damage; that pisses me off more than anything.


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