Friday, November 02, 2012

Games and Difficulty

One of the things I like about Roguelikes is that you can lose. I mean, really lose.

Most modern games are carefully balanced so you can pretty much use the same set of tactics throughout the whole game. You might lose, but it lightly respawns you a few seconds back and lets you win using the same tactic again.

Borderlands 2 reminded me of how much I like having to struggle at a game. I don't know whether it was on purpose, or just because they aggressively balanced for multiplayer, but sometimes the game throws situations at me that are very close to impossible. You're in a pitched battle against a colony of groundsquids and suddenly a badass varkid evolves into a super badass varkid that you literally cannot kill. Even just stumbling across a constructor miniboss is a serious challenge that can't be approached head on.

So I find myself scrambling to find a tactic that might work. Sometimes, I just sprint by and depend on the enemy's pretty low follow radius. Other times, I back off and snipe from an excessively long range. Other times, I use my power, run around dodging like mad until it regenerates, use my power, repeat.

It's really a lot more intense and interesting than the bevy of boring "carefully balanced" games I've played recently.

Minecraft is hard, too, but it's not the same kind of hard. Minecraft is very much a "you die instantly and lose craploads of progress" sort of game. Borderlands 2 is a "well, that didn't work, let's try something else" kind of game.

Borderlands 2 is not perfect at this by any stretch. It's got some very aggravating flaws and the design is not built to take advantage of this kind of occasional overly hard challenge. But when it comes together and offers you a situation you know isn't scripted, and you know they aren't going to pull your fat out of the fire at the last second, and you know you can figure out some way to get past... it feels really great!

Boy, I really miss games like that.

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