Edit: I now consider some or a lot of this long post to be outdated, as I now attribute a lot of the lowering of 'fun high difficulty' with the current gameplay balance to the snap-dodge being too easy to use currently (which might work for easier modes or options as long as there's enough incentive to play it harder, as hardcore / difficulty enjoying consumers might have been some of the people this game was going for). As a move that was useful even when it was difficult, being extremely useful now means it replaces a lot of situations where you have consider doing something else, and doing that other thing more accurately / with more effort put into it. Safely finding openings after enemies attack or getting behind them is now effortless, thus eliminating many other options when all you're looking to do is win (which you will take the most effort efficient strategy to do, whether it's fun or not). Snap-dodge timing could also be a difficulty option variable because you're looking for situations where it's easier to perform than figuring out other ways to solve them.
Edit: If it's difficulty done right, you can still have lots of freedom with it still being hard, which almost all of this game is set up to have. Paragraphs in parenthesis below might not matter. Also, burst fire is fine.
(I'd like to start this off by saying I'm a low budget gamer and tend to
cherish the small things, and also hope people don't mind my sloppy writing too much considering how quickly I wrote this up.
A few things I'll touch on here involve melee weapon tac-dodging and the current lack of sword fights
or any long fight with enemies who possess tac-bars (since you can just slice 'em in one shot), as well as a lack of ability to control a full-auto / burst
fire weapon like it has semi-auto, and the current system for snap and dive / flip dodges, and how I think the whole game was way cooler
when all those things worked the way they did before.
Also, being able to able to do a timed momentum-counter on tackling merczerkers was pretty cool, as it opened up yet another option
for dealing with them if you were facing their direction, and took a bit less time than shooting them dead if you just dodged their attack when coming
from behind. In other words, you didn't even have to aim if you knew how to fight these guys.
Everyone may have differing opinions on how the game should play, and these
are just ones I've strongly stood by for a long time.
I also regret previously being so enthusiastic for just 'difficulty', without
realizing that it could be something that appears in nerfs, restrictions, and removed ability
that made early levels and the whole game fun instead of just being twists on challenges
in later levels and new bosses that you can eventually adapt to (that naturally were
added into the game). Learning how to beat a new thing is more fun than 'move
exactly this way forever'.)
Couple of gameplay spoilers ahead.
So I bet there's a lot you can do with missions and sets of objectives, level layout generation, and overworld generation, if any of that will be a thing.
Maybe even sets of story beats, or even arcs could be generated, or messages and logs alluding to nearby weapons or enemy types could be a thing,
and part of an effort to create a bit of procedural narrative.
I wonder if there will be extra rare bosses that show up out of nowhere when you least or half expect it.
Emphasis on rare because it makes you keep playing the game if you want to see it again, and it comes back with switched
up patterns, slightly different vulnerable moments, different weapon combinations and an amped up fight overall to keep it from
getting stale. I bet there's a gameplay shepard tone / infinite staircase loop of more intense / progressed seeming boss encounters
you can make by recombining elements and boss room map layouts, and it being amazing despite a few people saying relying on an algorithm
sounds lame. Maybe I'm going a bit far with the generated boss fights, but a generated level could definitely work that way,
keep you addicted, and give you a story worth telling to take back home from it.
Here's the part where I might try defending having easier difficulty settings.
While new players won't find out what's been pared down,
I feel like one of this game's selling points might have been
the amount of control it gave you, which is intimidating but graceful
once mastered in any game (Elite Dangerous, or the extra parkour,
grapples and dual wield free-form combat in Prince of Persia:WW, etc).
It might be worth playing with a few different tweaks to see
how fun things are, and whether replaying old content or playing to
see new content is more work or more fun, and seeing where
you'd like there to be freedom instead of just working to find
out what to do / how to do things in a rigid manner.
Even the first quarter of the Sheriff's fight before figuring
out what you have to do to instantly end it was way more fun
before these changes, imo (the arena inside the building).
A game being 'easy' doesn't mean it has to be less complex,
less tense, or run out of walls that halt or road-bump your progress
before you learn to overcome them. It may even make the game way
Around the first time I saw Merczerkers spawn in a map
and I acquired the timed counter move, I felt it may be intuitive to counter or
grapple their tackle (which I can't currently rebind from my broken mouse
wheel which I broke by spamming the grappled punch buttons too fast).
He's a guy blindly charging in, and you have the one move that counters
poorly timed enemy attacks.
Now while it doesn't make too much sense to full-stop
a charging guy with one hand and stay stationary, he was the easiest
guy to to use that counter on, and it was the easiest way to take that guy out,
which you needed to face his direction to do but it takes a split-second less
time than just shooting him dead while he's on the ground after dodging
him, and gives you a break from just slashing or dodging everything
(dodges which you used to have two choices of at the start for
either faster recovery or a moment of less vulnerability),
and multiple best ways to take out one guy based on the direction
you're facing or what you want to do.
Edit: Burst is fine. It puts more focus on the other parts of the gameplay. Might want to ignore the below paragraphs mentioning it,
and the tac-bar level being harder to discern before (I don't know what to say about the Tac-Bar part I said before).
(Having more control over full-auto weapons was slightly less my gripe before,
but something I noticed someone else mention on the forum. It's another intuitive
skill you might have learned before playing the game that you can rely on
as an extra layer of defense while figuring out how to get through
a level before it beats you (and go you for having an understanding
of simple ammo conserving shooting tactics, an extra bit of knowledge you get rewarded for).
The problem I now realize with the game letting you blaze through all that ammo with
an always burst-fire if not holding the trigger shows that you don't have to be careful
with your aim, fire and movements and can just laugh at the game by burning through
all that ammo and picking up new guns, instead of the game just secretly being
that way and scaring you by giving you more wiggle room to think your
every move could be a mistake on first impression, especially when there
aren't any roadblocks as you can now just melee down all tac-bar enemies in
an instant. Instead of 'what do I do? Might as well try everything', you
instead get to assess what gets cut / smashed and what's a bullet sponge
to get shot a lot, and being unarmed clearly helps way less because now
any melee weapon goes through tac-bars.
Less of a mystery to scare you with when you can just see how
everything works, and that a simpler skill / toolset works on it,
and even the tac-bar showing you how much it will get drained
with the purple part / residue showing how much damage was
done to you / enemies and your seconds of invulnerability left.
Maybe that last part is going a bit far, but it still contributed a
lot of mystery and tension to climb over before the
damaged segment was shown.)
Edit: Doing fewer Snap-dodges makes blocking either slightly or much more useful,
so these paragraph(s) about blocking might not be useful or make sense.
(I also think blocking either is or is almost completely useless now that
it doesn't stop enemies from tac-dodging your melee weapon attacks
(tac-dodges that looked cool) now that they get hit by those attacks
regardless. Maybe blocking once could apply a temporary auto-hit
and other buffs while a story-mode or high leveled player character always
gets hit if not blocking, snap-dodging or WASD moving (or just not blocking
or out of the way of slow attacks or all melee attacks or however it was before),
or however you want to do it.
Currently, enemies rarely block and they attack slower than your top-leveled
guys, so there's barely anything for you to bypass or gain by blocking their
attacks for counter-attacks or other rewards instead of just attacking first).
The game doesn't have to be much easier, but having more control over what
happens makes a world of difference and helps make it more of a power
fantasy than a slog. For the snap-dodge timing, I forgot that the frequency at
which it was used before the change might really have (not) made it a genuine artificial difficulty
problem (I said something that made me later think it was accidentally rude around the time this was first posted, and something to do with game journalists).
Maybe a different means of separating the dodges could be
holding the heavy attack button + pressing the dodge button for a flip / dive, and the snap could be the default
dodge move (or if possible, even have an assign a key / controller button to combine with the dodge button, or be the extra dodge
move button sort of deal). I don't mind how either would be altered for balance, but just find it really neat to perform
either at the start. I was also going on some weird tangent here about how much I love.
WASD movement, but I just recently edited that out.
Edit: Nevermind, artificial difficulty isn't a thing here. This move was useful to do before, so the easier it is, the easier the situation you'll use it over other moves / tactics / strategies will be. Being able to move anywhere while avoiding most danger in a game where distance and position based advantages can overcome all others will make the game easier the easier it is to use and control. Adjusting the difficulty of it could make it a very useful variable for Story Mode difficulty modes, or an overall game difficulty option.
N.Gin's boss fight in Crash Bandicoot 3 is
arguably the best in the trilogy because of all the ways you can approach it
by taking on any of his mech's many weak points any time you want.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kncIep-gGyw
The difficulty in it is more lack of intuition than timing,
and having to figure out what to shoot and what to dodge.
It's really a mixed bag of difficulty types, but your spoils of
war after learning how to beat him is that it becomes a kind of
easy but fun and long fight that occasionally catches you off-guard.
(Some people might say Crash Bandicoot games are
easy. It's mostly timing and direction, and 3 gives you
powerups that extend the timing, and a bazooka).
In my 'boring' mod for M:PN1 (some other people find it boring but I seriously
play that sh a lot on the extra easy mode I recently added), I made the episode 1.5
final boss vulnerable to more attack types, but you have a chance to get
slaughtered instantly when first entering most levels while not paying attention.
Check out Videogame Dunkey's review on Mario 64 and his explanation on the
amount of freedom you get from learning its movement system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MQO2STCbbY
So yeah, I guess I'd say my favorite way to play a game is by having
tons of freedom and flexibility and occasionally getting shot out
of the sky, or having a tension build-up that suddenly make you
work harder. The problem with having lots of control is
that it takes a concentrated effort to learn how to master
all of it, while the end result is having all the fun
you could ever want afterwards and still occasionally
(or often) have a challenge thrown your way.
Ridiculous and over-the-top is this game's signature
in action, story-telling and gameplay. Now I feel
like it's less that for the gameplay, and more of
a tight funnel than stops and resets you more often
than 'holy sh, what do I do with all these controls!?',
and the sweet reward of ease that comes from that
after mapping it in your larger gray matter
rather than always straining with your
reflexes each time you play. You can never
really train up your reflexes, never as much
as you can train how to react differently
to situations. It will always take effort and a means
of anticipation to react quickly to unexpected things,
but it can take little effort to react to one thing in different
complex ways that you've learned over time when you have enough free space to.
Fight-or-flight responses are formed to make you act unpredictably
to avoid the strain of taking a situation head-on (unless you want
to take it head-on), or that's how it seems to me.
To give more possible evidence and emphasis on what I'm
saying, take your first boss fight / encounter
with Church and Jorge in the Merc area. Before, that thing
used to be a whole fight, and even though Jorge's well-aimed
sniper fire was slow, distractions like getting swarmed by
mercs and Church would catch me off-guard to get hit or almost
get hit by it, driving me into cover (not the cover mechanic, but these large
walls where you could hide from him) where I'd eventually get swarmed more
easily and driven back out of cover. From what I see, this fight
was designed to make you use all your tools, moves and tactics, even
grenades on clustered crowds while it moved you all around the map.
But now that Jorge seems to aim faster
and you only start with a snap-dodge you need to use before
transitioning into the i-frame dive, it seems like there's no room
for creativity and it's just a mental pain to deal with,
making me instead fetch the two large gunners' mac-10s from the
previous rooms and refilling them so I can use all the ammo
to end the Church and Jorge boss fight the instant I walk into the room.
It feels like a whole fun and intensely meaningful section of
the game was just cut right out, and it's much less
of a game now. Who else feels this way?
I think when you've made your own game the one you want
to play the most, you've hit a good mark. There's a lot you
can also do with RNG to mix things up without instantly
killing the player.
Also, my final thoughts on the melee system is that I prefer the old
version where you and other high lvl enemies could passively tac-dodge
them but get hit by one or more counters after someone blocks, or something similar
that works with the high level swarms of guys you face near end-game in story-mode.
I loved getting in epic long, drawn out sword or gun fights with A.A.H.W.
soldats or Merc sergeants and captains before. Now I just kill the fun
by finishing them with one, two or six sword swings while stun-locking them
before a fight begins. No sword fights allowed at the moment it seems,
besides the short one with J. No 1v1 gun fights either since any
melee weapon you bring is superior in every way and you can close
the distance easy. Melee weapons were mostly ammo conservers,
but now they do everything.
Edit: I wrote a paragraph here about how I (probably wrongly) thought challenges in some
later levels required the dodges to be conjoined for some reason in order to meet the challenge,
and went on about making it so some things could still hit you mid-dodge, and / or having a smaller.
window of time within that dodge that makes you invulnerable to more things (though it seems like a small enough
window already), or the laser forcing you to keep snapping away, as it can hit your dive (or not, since trying to time
the dive past it is also risky), or make some enemy types improve their aim and damage if you dive or flip too often,
as it's a move that gets visibly predictable. The dive / flip doesn't have all the room for error, so it on its own could
make things enough of a challenge already while having a separate way of activating it without all that Jazz
I wrote in this paragraph.
Maybe I just replay games too much.
There are tons of neat, even cheap but hard to figure out tricks
that entertainers, artists and developers can use to keep people hooked to one piece of work.
The human brain usually keeps up to 10 items in working memory,
so having 20 notably different things happen / have a chance to happen at a time could momentarily.
surprise someone 50% of the time or more.
There's probably also ways you can play with peoples' forgetfulness or have
such a wholesome variety of things going on that it's hard to want to play anything else, but introducing
something new to an existing product is the only surefire method I know of so far that you can
use to hook people to it. I'm still wondering what could replace that constant need
for innovation. Some people really like Dwarf Fortress and have been playing that