It’s ok if Elden Ring gets some sort of easy mode at launch

Elden Ring Community

Elden Ring getting an Easy mode is just the continuation of the conversation about the difficulty in Dark Souls and whether or not future installments should have said mode. People have fought for ages regarding this topic as these two camps, the hardcore vs the casual, cannot come to understand each other very well in this case. One side wants games to be more fun and accessible while the other side relishes the “challenge” that comes with a Dark Souls kind of title.

As someone who appreciates a good challenge, I understand the love for some good difficulty settings, especially when an entire game is designed around only one. However, as things have changed over the years, I understand that different kinds of people, such as people with disabilities, play video games and like to have the same experiences as everyone else. It’s difficult for devs to figure out what the right balance is for game difficulty, but I do think that it’s something worth looking into.

Git gud, but not at the cost of fun

A character casting some sort of spell in Elden Ring.
Looks like they’ve found the secret easy mode. Don’t tell the fanboys!
Credit: From Software

I like pretty much all of FromSoft’s modern library and have at least finished a couple of games in full. I can say that the appeal of these games is equal parts world-building and the level of immersion the gameplay imposes on the player, by way of making them feel like part of a larger world. The difficulty of the Souls series has always been predicated on subjecting the player to seemingly insurmountable odds, whether it’s the number of enemies or location you’re fighting them in that usually dictates the challenge.

Coupled with controls that aren’t super tight (specifically in PS3 Demons Souls and Dark Souls I and II), and you’ve got a specific kind of difficulty. It seems like Elden Ring is trying to do something different by allowing some concessions that are normally in other games but have not been in FromSoft games traditionally. You won’t have selectable difficulty modes, but fast travel, stealth options, co-op summoning, and alternate paths are among the many choices players will have to curb the difficulty.

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In any of the other games, such luxuries are either non-existent, cumbersome to use, or incredibly limited; case in point, fast traveling in the original Dark Souls takes a while to unlock and even then doesn’t let you fast travel to every location in the game. Stealth hasn’t been much of an option until the release of Sekiro, and even then, the game won’t discourage you from going into situations loud. From the looks of things, Elden Ring seems to encourage players to use these accommodations more often.

While the FromSoft faithful might take issue with some of these changes to the usual formula, I think it’s a nice compromise for people that feel like having an easier time with their game. With Dark Souls III, the formula had grown a bit stale, as while there were some improvements here and there, it was still much like the previous games. With the release of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, it definitely seemed like FromSoft had gotten the urge to change things up (maybe not entirely in that direction).

Softer Souls

The Dancer of the Boreal Valley from Dark Souls III.
The Dancer is one of the most “not easy mode” things in the entire game.
Credit: From Software

Elden Ring is a definite departure with its new emphasis on player choice and accommodation; one can only hope that the implementation leads to a better experience for new players in the future. An easy mode for Elden Ring won’t lead to a worse game, without a doubt; to anyone that feels that way, all I can say is that there’s nothing wrong with more people enjoying a game. Easy modes are optional and aren’t for everyone, but they exist so that more casual players can enjoy a similar experience as everyone else.

Take it from me, I almost never touch the easiest mode in any game; whenever I go back to the original Doom, I can’t play the game on anything below Ultra-Violence, because otherwise, the game feels too easy. If someone wants to play the game on an easier mode, that’s no skin off of my nose and if someone wants their Elden Ring experience to be easier, then they should have the choice to do so. “Getting gud” is not mandatory to enjoy a game, and it doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, so such high expectations shouldn’t be heaped onto other players.

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If you have such a chip on your shoulder from other people enjoying the game their own way, then you should definitely rethink why you play video games. I love the SoulsBorne series and am always down to recommend these games to people, but I don’t expect others to jive with these games right away, if at all. We all play video games to relax, unwind, and immerse ourselves in a different world; becoming godlike at a game isn’t on everyone’s list when they play a game.

FromSoft’s approach to game development has been lauded as respecting the player’s intelligence and forcing them to adapt to insurmountable odds. As time has gone on, however, it definitely seems like they’ll have to change things up if their games are to continue being successful going forward. Different kinds of players enjoy playing, so they need to be thought of as well if we’re going to get more Souls-esqe games later on.

The world won’t end if Elden Ring has a selectable easy mode at launch.