With less than two weeks till the launch of Elden Ring, there are a lot of people who are curious as to what extent the game will sustain the challenging difficulty that’s become a From Software tradition. In a post on the official PlayStation blog, director Hidetaka Miyazaki weighed in on this, a topic that is the subject of much online discourse.
In recent years, the matter of difficulty has been the subject of intense debate. An overall push towards accessibility in video games has summoned many thoughtful conversations about how games that are meant to be challenging can be designed for inclusiveness. There are many people who are attracted to the worlds and lore of games like Dark Souls and Sekiro but are put off by their reputation.
Of course, there are also die-hard devotees of From Software’s design history. They disagree with the need for accessibility options and difficulty settings, arguing that not only does the identity of their games rest on cryptic design choices and combat that demands precision and a high skill floor but that their not meant to be for everyone.
In general, From Software has stood by that argument, that players embrace the challenges that their games before them so they can feel a sense of pride in their mastery and the reward of satisfaction that comes with hard fought victory. Which isn’t to say that Miyazaki has dismissed the conversation. “It’s a valid discussion,” he said, adding that difficulty doesn’t exist for the sake of it.
Miyazaki believes that the difficulty of Elden Ring will be different, saying that design choices they’ve made will lower the barrier of entry. “We have not intentionally tried to lower the game’s difficulty. But I think more players will finish it this time. As I mentioned, the player’s level of freedom to progress through the world or return to a challenge later are all elements that I feel will help people get through the game at a more leisurely pace.”
“The player has more agency to dictate their approach against, for example, the field bosses in the overworld and how they utilize stealth in various situations,” Miyazaki said as he got into specifics. “We’ve even reduced the number of hoops that you have to jump through to enjoy it in multiplayer. So we hope the players embrace that idea of receiving help from others.”
With these changes, Miyazaki felt confident enough to say that the overall clear rate or completion rate for Elden Ring will go up.
Miyazaki also confirmed that New Game Plus mode and multiple endings will feature in Elden Ring, two things that have become a core part of the appeal and longevity of From Software’s games for their die hard fans.
After moving up from its previously announced release date of January 21, Elden Ring finally launches on February 25, 2022. It will be available for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on the Microsoft Store. Pour one out for Glaive Master Hodir.