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Wednesday 29/03/2017: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink

November 25, 2013

Why Is Easy Mode So Despised?

I'll admit. I'm an Easy Mode user. Start throwing your tomatoes.

What's Easy Mode? Some video games have chosen to incorporate a difficulty selection into their programming. You can pick betwen Easy, Medium, Hard, Childish, Intense... Whatever. The whole point behind this is to offer numerous possibilities depending on the player's own abilities with the game. That way, everyone can enjoy the game by playing it at their level of capability. However, among groups of gamers - the kind that is too stubborn to accept other people's opinions - don't hold Easy Mode in high regards. Who wants an easy game?

In fact, some games straight-up MOCK you if you play in Easy Mode! Really, I'm not kidding! In other cases, some of the game's content are unavailable if you play in Easy Mode (probably to encourage you to try the harder difficulty levels). The final parts could be removed from Easy Mode, which means you have to beat the game on harder modes if you really want to get the whole thing. I really have to ask: Why is Easy Mode so despised?

No, really, this kind of hate is pretty intense towards Easy Mode. But why? I mean, what's so good about Easy Mode? I'd say, in a constant attempt at gaining more people who'll buy their games, developers put in an Easy Mode so that newcomers can get the hang of teh game before facing the cruel reality of the other difficulties. It offers a first playthrough so that the gamer can learn to play, or at least become familiar with the game. In some cases, it's pretty much the only way to go. Admit it, you've been a starting gamer someday, and if your first games had no Easy Mode, you surely often found yourself wishing for such a thing. Unless the earlie levels were really, really easy. It is also very useful when you're playing a game of a genre you basically never experimented before. Last but not least, there are Easy Modes that are actually unlocked when you show your complete incompetence at playing a level; in which case, the game helps you by showing what exactly has to be done.

What are the arguments against it? Well, for starters, there's no prestige associated to beating Easy Mode. It's the easiest difficulty. It's made to be simple. If you claim you've beaten a game on Easy difficulty, no one will congratulate you. No merits, no gifts for someone who has done what everyone else can do. Things spice up starting at the second difficulty level, and it  rises from there until it gets really, really difficult. A child could beat this mode. Normal, it was made with this kind of gamer in mind.

Another argument? In many cases, Easy Mode isn't even required. The game starts off with simpler levels, and you can get used to the gameplay mechanics in the earlier parts; all the things you need to know will  usually be found in those places. Why would an Easy Mode be required in this case?

In fact, there are just so few games to which difficulty selection can be applied without it seeming like an unnecessary addition. In many cases, it's almost not needed. Games have to be balanced. They start easy, they end hard. And it's supposed to be that way, too. Or else there would be serious complaints from the gamers. The difficulty increases as you progress, and it's perfectly normal! Therefore, a difficulty selection mode is not needed most of the time.

Easy Mode has another problem. The levels are often watered-down versions of themselves on higher difficulties. More enemies, or harder enemies, are found in those levels when you wind up trying the harder modes. In  this case, while the Easy Mode could theoretically prepare you to face some of the threats - more notably the field ones - it will not prepare you in facing the true challenges.

I can see the reasons why Easy Mode is hated by so many. I agree, it's something we can't have everywhere. Yet, as I said before, its still something we need, as some sort of self-imposed tutorial before going against the real deal. After all, it's also opening the door for new gamers every time, as they go through simpler versions of the game and then go up the ranks before reaching the status of grand gaming champions. We shouldn't all be complaining against Easy Mode; after all, when it's there, it's usually your choice, your choice alone, to select it and play it. You can go to Hard Mode right away if you wish. No,we should be complaining more against tutorials that you cannot skip, even if it's your second or third playthrough and you freaking damn know how the game is played.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of tomato bits to wash off.