An Open Letter to ZOS About 'Difficulty'

Ch4mpTW
Ch4mpTW
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ZOS, I wanted to say that I love the game but I also strongly dislike the game (bordering hate). The combination of things such as: Bugs, exploits, lag, RNG, etc. all irritate me to no end. But, that's not what I wanted to discuss with you all today. I wanted to discuss you all's view(s) on what makes 'challenging' and 'difficult' content.

ZOS... Why is it that when making content that you all view to be 'challenging', it consists of: Bosses and mobs with high amounts of health, bosses and mobs with high resistances, content that is very long for no apparent reason (VDSA and VMA), usually involves a one-shot mechanic(s) that takes ridiculous (in my opinion) amounts of time to learn, RNG-oriented, and adds that do high amounts of damage? I'm not saying that things be faceroll easy, but what you have implemented isn't actual difficulty by 'normal' standards. But rather "artificial difficulty".

Here, I'll explain. "Artificial difficulty" is when a developer utilizes half-assed means of in a sense tweaking things to try and make the player spend more time at it out of laziness. It's different as in the actual difficulty is in a sense something that causes it to challenge the player mentally in a traditional sense. A few great examples of 'challenging' video games would be: Contra, Ghouls and Ghosts, the Ninja Gaiden franchise, the Mega Man franchise (both pre-X and X series), Bloodbourne, the Devil May Cry franchise, the Dark Souls franchise, and like Castlevania. Those are all 'challenging' games in a sense of traditional difficulty.

Now, I'm not saying that you all should follow the trend made by other gaming developers and go from there. However, I just don't seem to understand the logic behind you all's decisions when creating the difficulty aspects for your content. It makes no sense, and hopefully we can get some feedback from you all as to why you go about doing things like this.

Side Note:
If you (the reader and potential commenters) are curious where this post came from, and what drove me to write it — it came from playing Double Dragon, Devil May Cry 3, Mega Man 8, and Shinobi (PS2) recently and wondering WTF is up with the supposed difficulty in ESO. VMA to date is still the hardest content I've ever experienced in a video game (for all the wrong reasons), and I've played a lot of the 'hard' games in existence just about that went mainstream somewhat. In fact, Sub-Zero: Mythologies isn't even as hard as VMA. Nor any of the classic 6 Mega Man games. And those were labeled as incredibly challenging by many. :|
Edited by Ch4mpTW on October 7, 2016 7:25PM
On the count of 3, everybody say, “Salami!” 1, 2, 3...
  • GazettE
    GazettE
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    Its called ZOS Logic
    561+ CP

    Sorcerers - Stamina - Magicka - Stormproof

    Templar - Magicka - Healer

    NightBlade - Magicka - DPS
  • Ch4mpTW
    Ch4mpTW
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    AuldWolf wrote: »
    They're repeating a lot of the mistakes that Champions Online did, honestly, and it worries me. Bending over backwards to appeal to smaller demographics (PvP, 5-man groups), adding Borderlands-style bullet-spongy enemies instead of actually thinking something up that requires tactics and quick-thinking, et cetera. The further ESO goes, the more like Champions Online it looks and it really does worry me. It's like a curse. Why does every really good PvE game have to go down this route?

    Sigh. I am worried for them. If they had their heads screwed on straight, they'd be looking at bosses that use clever tactics instead of just testing the player's endurance, adding more variety to the game (jumping puzzles, actual puzzles like The Secret World's, minigames like lockpicking, et cetera), appealing more to the roleplayers and casuals that make up 95~ per cent of their community, and so on. They seem to be doing the opposite of that, currently, which is the mistake CO made. CO is now a ghost town.

    Difficulty can be killing you because you weren't thinking and/or paying attention. It can be because you didn't notice that there were valves to turn on fire jets in that dwemer dungeon in order to take down that giant frost atronach you're fighting. That sort of thing. There's so much they could be doing better.

    I love ESO, but I think they're heading in wrong directions, too. I wouldn't voice my concerns if I didn't love this game.

    Agreed. I mean, we all have our own sense of what is 'fun' to us. However, things like: VMA (when it first was released), VSO, VMoL, VWGT (when it first was released), etc. we're not fun. Because the difficulty was ridiculously hard. It's still somewhat hard to your average player, and damn near impossible to your 'casual' player. I mean I still hear stories about people who've yet to beat VICP and VWGT, let alone VMA. That's crazy. Now granted I can complete that content no problem, and a buddy of mine is actually working on solo'ing VWGT matter of a fact (@Vaoh), but bruh. The content in "end-game" parts of ESO is hard for all the 'wrong' reasons, in my opinion. And the glaring flaws with them are driving people away.
    On the count of 3, everybody say, “Salami!” 1, 2, 3...
  • idk
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    @Ch4mpTW

    I stopped reading with your comment that Zos didn't introduce difficulty but that it is artificial difficulty.

    What is the difference with a game that's an artificial world? Everything in this game boiled down to one of two things. Actually a combination of the two. 1 and 0.

    With all that, there should be some challenge to the game. vDSA was a challenge when it was first released but after a group got it down one could clear it within an hour. We got comfortable being 2 levels higher and it became an absurd experience where a tank was no longer needed for much of not all of it.

    Finally Zos is made the content worth playing again for the challenge aspect.
    Really, idk
  • Ch4mpTW
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    alpehans wrote: »
    It's the "easy way" of increasing difficulty that sadly a lot of gaming developers take.
    I really don't get why ZOS is making all the same mistakes that other games have made. It's like they refuse to learn from others and have to learn by doing :(

    Lol. You hit the nail right on the head. Perfectly.
    On the count of 3, everybody say, “Salami!” 1, 2, 3...
  • Mitoice
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    the new dungeons just make you stay longer fighting but have the same difficulty as the normal ones, the other day i soloed a group delve in craglorn, this game needs an increase in difficulty RUSH!!! it needs a challenge,
  • Ch4mpTW
    Ch4mpTW
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    out51d3r wrote: »
    You are complaining about artificial difficulty, yet you are telling them to be more like Castlevania, Megaman, Contra, and Ghouls and Ghosts? In most of those games, you miss a jump, and you are straight up dead. And you are given a limited amount of lives and continues. Those games were FULL of artificial difficulty. The reason why: they were developed by people who started out on arcade games, where their goal was to squeeze players for more quarters.

    I'm not saying these games were bad. I've finished all of them in my youth, and I still go back to the Castlevania series once in a while. Saying that they aren't artificially difficult is pretty crazy though.

    While true to a certain extent, those games really pushed you as a player via: Puzzle solving, reflexes, and overall mechanics comprehension in a fun sense. There was no RNG-oriented deaths just about. If you died, it was because you performed poorly. Unlike the numerous RNG deaths in ESO that exist. Not to mention that the mechanics weren't 'hidden', and took days to figure out. It was fluid.
    On the count of 3, everybody say, “Salami!” 1, 2, 3...
  • Brynmere
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    alpehans wrote: »
    It's the "easy way" of increasing difficulty that sadly a lot of gaming developers take.
    I really don't get why ZOS is making all the same mistakes that other games have made. It's like they refuse to learn from others and have to learn by doing :(

    ^ This and I hear what you are saying OP. While I appreciate the time taken to revamp a lot of the dungeons and zones, my first run of doing the Undaunted last night left me with mixed feelings. I liked that there were new options of dungeons to run but also disliked the boss fights. The ones I encountered just now take a lot longer to kill because of their 4 million plus health and one shot 22k-45k hits. Let alone the endless waves of adds that keep coming. Booooooo. I wish the challenge was more creative in the map layout (maybe make the group split into two groups down seperate hallways clearing mobs for a specific reason) or make boss fights different than the usual bash interrupt inductions, roll dodge and dps only. Just a couple of thoughts I had last night. The real challenge was self-imposed because I ran it with just one other friend and we had fun trying to figure out how to do it 2 man while wiping a lot. To be honest I am a fair player at best.

    Oh well.
    Edited by Brynmere on October 7, 2016 8:33PM
  • RazorCaltrops
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    Ch4mpTW wrote: »
    out51d3r wrote: »
    You are complaining about artificial difficulty, yet you are telling them to be more like Castlevania, Megaman, Contra, and Ghouls and Ghosts? In most of those games, you miss a jump, and you are straight up dead. And you are given a limited amount of lives and continues. Those games were FULL of artificial difficulty. The reason why: they were developed by people who started out on arcade games, where their goal was to squeeze players for more quarters.

    I'm not saying these games were bad. I've finished all of them in my youth, and I still go back to the Castlevania series once in a while. Saying that they aren't artificially difficult is pretty crazy though.

    While true to a certain extent, those games really pushed you as a player via: Puzzle solving, reflexes, and overall mechanics comprehension in a fun sense. There was no RNG-oriented deaths just about. If you died, it was because you performed poorly. Unlike the numerous RNG deaths in ESO that exist. Not to mention that the mechanics weren't 'hidden', and took days to figure out. It was fluid.


    Except VMA round 7, there are no RNG related deaths in any of the "challenging" content in this game.

    But spreading out/stacking when needed is somehow too difficult for some people.
    PS4 EU
  • Sigma957
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    You can't compare a single player game to a mmo. ESO has to cater for so many players all with different levels of expertise. The way its done is so a low level players can play with his/her friends who may be at cp cap and do content together and have fun in doing so.
  • Doctordarkspawn
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    AuldWolf wrote: »
    They're repeating a lot of the mistakes that Champions Online did, honestly, and it worries me. Bending over backwards to appeal to smaller demographics (PvP, 5-man groups), adding Borderlands-style bullet-spongy enemies instead of actually thinking something up that requires tactics and quick-thinking, et cetera. The further ESO goes, the more like Champions Online it looks and it really does worry me. It's like a curse. Why does every really good PvE game have to go down this route?

    Sigh. I am worried for them. If they had their heads screwed on straight, they'd be looking at bosses that use clever tactics instead of just testing the player's endurance, adding more variety to the game (jumping puzzles, actual puzzles like The Secret World's, minigames like lockpicking, et cetera), appealing more to the roleplayers and casuals that make up 95~ per cent of their community, and so on. They seem to be doing the opposite of that, currently, which is the mistake CO made. CO is now a ghost town.

    Difficulty can be killing you because you weren't thinking and/or paying attention. It can be because you didn't notice that there were valves to turn on fire jets in that dwemer dungeon in order to take down that giant frost atronach you're fighting. That sort of thing. There's so much they could be doing better.

    I love ESO, but I think they're heading in wrong directions, too. I wouldn't voice my concerns if I didn't love this game.

    Dont worry, you'll be called a filthy casual and told to kill yourself for voicing your concerns reguardless.

    ..But no seriously. Your absolutely correct. Their appealing for the hardcore crowd, a very small audience that is not something we need to be pandering to, and it's coming at the expense of -everyone- else. It's silly.

    I really do not want this game to die, but if they stop making content for -me-, and refuse to even consider me as a player, We no longer have any buisness to conduct. I play games to have fun, damnit. Sitting here tearing my hair out having to conform to ZOS's broken game design to have a chance at a game they conciously chose to ruin by removing the original teams limiting measures (Soft caps, et cetera) isn't fun. Sitting here, suffering because most of this years endgame/group content designed by the dev team is pandering to the 1%, isn't fun.

    The hardcore crowd, the PVP crowd, these are fractions of a larger whole, and the devs need to stop pandering to them, and clearly lable who the content is for so not only are the people who are not interested do not waste money, but so that you can also establish a checklist of the demographics you have -not- made content for yet.

    Hint. Casual PVE players is one of the ones you ain' made content for yet in a long time.
    Edited by Doctordarkspawn on October 8, 2016 4:49PM
    PAWS (Positively Against Wrip-off Stuff) - Say No to Crown Crates!

    To me, the measure of a man is whether or not he fights for his principles. It does not matter if you never had a chance to begin with. The deck could be stacked, the game rigged against you. You fight to the bitter end, because it is worth fighting for.

    NA-PC Tank player only.
  • darthsithis
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    Wgt is an example of a dungeon with fun mechanics. The first harvester and then the planar inhibitor are a blast.

    Lord warden as well!

    Everything else tho I agree is kinda like "uhhh heal us while we burn it and throw down some shards plz thx. O hai rez got one shotted"
    Edited by darthsithis on October 7, 2016 10:24PM
    Message me if you want to do trials/dungeons, or need a trading guild! Flawless conqueror magsorc with a bad sense of armor fashion.
  • Mic1007
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    Wgt is an example of a dungeon with fun mechanics. The first harvester and then the planar inhibitor are a blast.

    Lord warden as well!

    Everything else tho I agree is kinda like "uhhh heal us while we burn it and throw down some shards plz thx. O hai rez got one shotted"

    White-Gold Tower is simply perfect; that is a dungeon they got right. Lord Warden feels like a chore though. The portals, the orbs, the meteors, the shades, the pew-pew-pew (not sure what else to call that. :D)... it becomes rather annoying.
    @Mic1007: https://eso-database.com/en/user/mic1007
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    Boethiah's Scythe (post-Dragon Bones), Shehai Shatterer and Mageslayer

    PAWS (Positively Against Wrip-off Stuff) - Say No to Crown Crates!
  • shadoza
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    AuldWolf wrote: »
    ...Sigh. I am worried for them. If they had their heads screwed on straight, they'd be looking at bosses that use clever tactics instead of just testing the player's endurance, adding more variety to the game (jumping puzzles, actual puzzles like The Secret World's, minigames like lockpicking, et cetera), appealing more to the roleplayers and casuals that make up 95~ per cent of their community, and so on. They seem to be doing the opposite of that, currently, which is the mistake CO made. CO is now a ghost town....I love ESO, but I think they're heading in wrong directions, too. I wouldn't voice my concerns if I didn't love this game.

    IF, ESO adds platforming to this game, our relationship would end. Platforming doesn't work for those folks with lower-end graphic cards or slow ISPs. As for the TSW, I play that game as well and the idea of having to stop playing to research for a quest is beyond annoying. I do not want mini-games in my MMOs.

    I do agree that testing endurance is not a balanced way to design a fight.
  • Publius_Scipio
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    I'd really hate for there to be any nerf to PvE difficulty to be honest with you. For me, with One Tamriel, PvE feels the best it ever has. Solo feels just right and group content feels just right (of course just my opinion). And I am not knocking you, I understand that for you things feel frustrating. My advice would be to hang in there and just grind xp (more CP) and higher level gear.

    With decent gear and the right CP spread, you won't have an issue with the content anymore. You will be having a good time.

    On a side note I like that you brought up Mega Man, Contra, and Ninja Gaiden.
    United States of America /salute

    The Second Son of Cyrodiil
  • Browiseth
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    It's very bizarre that you compare ESO to games like Mega Man and Ghouls and Ghosts.

    that's rather artificial in fact
    i stream eso here
    #argonianswimspeedpride
    #myracehadaweirdpassivebeforeitwascool
    zos pls buff
    zos you have a pts pls use it
    zos pls buff pt.2
    morrowind is not a good game but the expansion will probably be okay haha it ended up being really lame go figure, summerset is p good though
  • MakoFore
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    id like if they introduced more skill into the game - rather than making it a game about builds- which is a game of grinding, research and rng.

    for example the aiming system- u can shoot in any direction and hit a player with an arrow- why not make the aiming akin to counterstrike, headshot s count more- make archery and staff use a battle of skills, instead its- my build will outperform his build - unless i stuff up and dont heal or manage my resources....

    fighting bosses similarly comes down to a game of group dps and healing rather than group skill and dynamics...i dunno- i just think its an awesome game that could be improved in very very obvious areas
  • scorpiodog
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    The real problem is that AI hasn't progressed since the mid 1990's. The old games still have as good or better AI than newer games.

    To make a game more "difficult" they do one of two things:

    1 - Turn it into a grind. True this does make it more "difficult", but doesn't require more skill. It just requires more time. A lot of the bosses are like this. They aren't necessarily "difficult" - they just take a long time to kill. Another example of this is horse riding and crafting. It doesn't take any "skill" to become a 9 trait master crafter - it's just a grind.

    2 - Developer cheats. Instakills are one example of developer laziness. Another developer cheat is bosses that make something required in the game a liability. For example, There's one boss I can think of that isn't really difficult, but the Tank either has to sit on the sidelines for that boss or change to ranged DPS in the middle of a dungeon, then switch back again. Another example is to make the whole game stamina based and then make one boss in one dungeon where stamina skills are a liability. It's not necessarily "difficult" - you just have to grind through it at a handicap.
  • Nikkor
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    I played all day long almost every day. I have 4. Max level characters. 653 cp (haven't played since May.

    I was consideered a pretty good player. Had the prison and vwgt tower on farm with friends.

    Vma basically pushed me out. I never completed it. Which eventually led me to not completing v mol. I barely couldn't beat the ice boss with my dark elf mag blade. Oh well no inferno staff for me. Effects dps tests by a few seconds. Just how it goes.

    I still think it could be a little less hard and be a lot better for a lot of people. Meh.
  • SquareSausage
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    It's obviously a bit of give or take.

    Making a boss fight more difficult ie with requiring more advanced techniques to kill is also going to alienate people as a lot of people won't have the skill or reflex or ability to remember every single boss mechanic the game has.

    Increasing HP is the simpler option and more pallatable for the majority of players as its easier to manage resources and sustain than figure out a whole new mechanic for every boss and put it to memory.
    Breakfast King
    PS4 EU
  • Bobby_V_Rockit
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    I'm out of stuff to do in ESO now. Hit cp561, all gold TBS gear, leki weapons, a meta build through and through. I cant beat vMA or any vet DLC dungeons or trials after playing daily for over a year.

    Once 1T hits and everything gets harder, with scaling and more DLC difficulty dungeons, I will have to retire. I simply cannot progress any further while still enjoying myself.
  • Astanphaeus
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    I do dislike how most of the trials now just have a hard mode that is more health. Without changing the mechanics or making certain aspects of the mechanics more difficult, all that has happened is extended the length of the fight. Honestly, most of them are still easy and just take forever to complete now making them even more boring.
  • athanasios
    I don't have many hours available for games, and those I have, are not continuous, so I prefer playing ESO mostly solo, though I do enjoy the group experience whenever I manage to get into one. Also, my equipment is good, but not top of the line.

    I've recently finished the 3rd (gold) part (lvl 320) and I really think I'm just gonna give up the game now.

    The reason ?? The new difficulty settings !!!

    After the new update, I am unable to solo in ALL the areas of the game. I mean, even in Auridon, I cannot get a single boss alone. The game is supposed to be fun for every level and every playre and I get the feeling that I need to get at least lvl 500 and get full golden equipment, in order to continue playing. Since I'm not a hardcore player, I'll probably just drop it...

    Sorry Zenimax, but you blew it this time ...
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