Harris59's Blog - Jan to Mar 18 (4 followers)

PermalinkOverrated Difficulty
Hey there, so I was casually browsing YouTube, something I haven't really done for some time and I got stuck in one of those endless binges of Top 10 videos, you know the kind, things like WatchMojo and all the others. As I was clicking from video to video eventually I landed on a "Top 10 Hardest Games of All Time" video, intrigued to see what games I knew of made the list I clicked it, only to be greeted with random average AAA titles such as Call of Duty games and the like. Now this is to be expected in this rushed, under-researched quick click videos that these channels churn out every day but it got me thinking about other videos, articles and forum discussions on hard games and about some games that get very frequent mention and are treated in such high regard despite not really being all that difficult. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying any of what I'm about to mention are easy or heck, even moderate, the term overrated is so commonly misunderstood. Some of these games may have genuine nuggets of difficulty contained but are just given a far too prestigious reputation for what they really are. Bare in mind also that difficulty is of course subjective and for the individuals preferences but, looking at gaming communities as a whole and how people can deal with the difficulty compared to how it's presented in reputation is my main kind of focus here I suppose. This definitely isn't some kind of "games people find hard but I don't" boasting blog.

So let's kick things off with an achievement rather than an entire game, but one that is probably the worst offender when it comes to featuring in damn near every list video and forum discussion on the internet I've seen despite, in this case, actually being something rather average, especially by modern standards:

Mile High Club - Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Haven't heard of this before? Then you've probably been living under a rock. An achievement that predates the PSN trophy system but can be seen on XBox. This achievement tasks you with taking on an additional level on the games Veteran difficulty mode.

Now, do I understand how this reputation began? Yeah actually, I get it. This game was launched back when yes, shooters existed long before this but not in the same abundance they were after this game and not in the same way as those that followed the formula once massively popularised, so much so many of what this game delivered is now pretty much completely universal among shooters. Not only that but this game, along with the follow up of the series Modern Warfare 2 brought a lot of people into the franchise and even gaming as a whole. So what does that mean? It means that at the time of this games peak it's being played predominately by people who either A) Haven't really played a game before, B) Haven't really played a shooter before or C) Even if they've played shooters before then pretty likely not in the same style. When something is new to them it takes people and communities a little while to adjust and learn the mechanics so just beating the game first time around probably resulted in a few deaths, let alone on some additional challenges such as Veteran difficulty.

So, I perfectly understand with a combination of absurd popularity and a somewhat new take on shooters in the mainstream environment for its time how word gets out of this achievement being so prestigious, it makes sense, of course people are going to think this is hard and for the most part they're probably right... for the time that is... However, it's not 2007 anymore and the abundance of shooters following the exact same formula for the past decade means any modern day gamer has played and understands how these games play on a basic fundamental level, even if they're not very good and usually finish bottom in multiplayer matches. Meanwhile average levels of play standards are so much higher over the years, if you could travel back in time and take a high-end player from the Modern Warfare era and pluck him into a low-average game of WWII... They might be lucky to even get a couple kills.

I remember all the talk years back when I used to dabble in the series myself was that Call of Duty campaigns got easier and easier every year but it seems to me more like community progression and increased standards of the shooter playerbase.

Let's take a quick look at Modern Warfare Remastered which to my knowledge hasn't changed the difficulty of the achievement or the main campaign and... Well, would you look at that, 11.15% rarity on PSNProfiles, that's actually more common than a fair amount of achievements in the follow up games, the follow-ups however get nowhere near the amount of attention and are regarded as "easy platinums" on trophy forums. The data seems to suggest that as a populous, today's audience is much more capable of running through that level on Veteran without a problem so that begs the question: Why is it, to this day, still credited as one of the hardest achievements of all time? When in reality, this would genuinely be considered easy by the community. How does a more than 10 year old dated opinion still stand?

To me, this is probably the single most overrated example I can think of and I'm glad I've got that one out of the way, because, that one should most definitely be considered easy by today's standards. If Mile High Club is still, genuinely considered one of the hardest achievements of all time then that means literally EVERY shooter released in the last, say, 5 years that has an achievement for its hardest difficulty should be considered one of the hardest of all time too by default, just because of how they compare...

But enough about Call of Duty, I'll never get through this rambling today if I get stuck on just on part of this topic, moving swiftly on from a single achievement to a full games worth of achievements and probably the most controversial simply for the reason that people definitely will misunderstand the term overrated here...

Platinum Trophy - WipEoutHD

Now please, PLEASE read this second clarification: Calling a game overrated in terms of difficulty is NOT calling the game easy. To get 100% in WipEoutHD can definitely be called a challenge even to this day for the average player and as with the Call of Duty example earlier could even be worthy of its "one of the hardest achievements of all time" accolade for its time. Unlike Call of Duty however, this has not become "easy" due to player skill standards because unlike Call of Duty this isn't a game that created a massive mainstream shift into a specific genre centric gaming landscape. This game however, is simple dated by the fact that it was an early game in the PlayStation trophy system and while prestigious compared to such a small line-up of games it is just small fry in today's larger pond of big, bone crushingly difficult completions. Yet, similarly to Call of Duty, people seem to refuse to drop its incredibly outdated and untrue reputation.

So, stats, everyone loves stats and one of the major pushes for "well it's clearly still a big deal" is the slightly over 1% PSNProfiles completion rate. Let us dissect that for a moment. As one of the larger games in terms of game owners on the site (only on the 2nd page when ordered by most popular) lower rarity is a given, but, understandably that's not the end of the story as many games there aren't rare completions. Well we have some interesting inflation factors to consider. At a basic starting level this game, as an earlier PS3 game when there wasn't many recognisable names around obviously got a few buys as a safe bet, but used for more casual play until other games come along after that we then have to consider the many times it was given around FREE over the years through both PlayStation Plus as the services debut game and as a free gift to apologise for the downtime when PSN a got royally fudged by the infamous hack. So we have a largely inflated playerbase who may not be that interested or committed, we all know how that effects rarity based on PlayStation Plus games in recent times as well.

Trophy hunting is a minority and when a game is thrust to a large playerbase most people won't go out of their way to complete it to 100%, which is especially true if completion is considered "out of the way". WipEoutHD requires you to pretty much play all types of ships, all the modes to a high degree and some multiplayer stuff. And when people do actually try it is probably fair to say it would be hard to most players, granted, but hardest all time? In today's world? Not even close. In a world where Super Meat Boy wouldn't even make top 10, what makes people think WipEoutHD would be anywhere nearer?

Additional fun fact, WipEoutHD has 3,900 achievers of its platinum trophy, that's more than some well established trophy whore games and puts it only on page 13 of 88 (the same page as The Smurfs lol) on PSNProfiles for platinum trophy rarity when sorted by highest achievers, probably the single highest achieved "hard" completion of all time. This is not prestigious, this is not "hardest of all time". This is just an old dated reputation.

Moving onto the next one, this time not just a game but a series!

Souls-Borne Series

Now this ones an interesting one because I don't have a great deal of experience with this one through personal play but I do feel like it's not as difficult as people make out and even if it was, the fact everything "hard" is compared to Dark Souls would probably still make it eligible to be considered overrated anyway *cough* Crash Bandicoot - the Dark Souls of platformers xD.

So, I've only played Demons Souls, fun game, I enjoyed it but not quite completely my cup of tea, I'm giving Bloodborne a crack from PlayStation Plus to see if that satisfies me a bit more. From my Demons Souls experience I didn't actually die much in my playthrough, I can even vaguely remember where I died in the limited number of times I did. One was early game when this thing rolls down which, if I was more aware of my surroundings I should have really seen coming and the other was also near the beginning, after killing the first mini-boss(?) guy at the start of the game you then greet a boss (which you meet later in the game, so maybe you're supposed to die here) who just instakilled me when I walked in the door, there may have been a brief moment or two where an enemy got the drop on me but I know that I never died on a boss fight. This could just be that Demons Souls is the easiest of the games perhaps(?) or it could also perhaps be that I could be well suited to these kinds of games as so far in my Bloodborne playthrough I've taken each boss first try and have so far died twice over the course of the game so far, once to some dude up on a turret you climb up a ladder to fight and another to... Uh, gravity, let's not talk about that one though...

But, my playthroughs aside, personal experience isn't what drew me to the overrated conclusion especially having only fully played one game in the series, actually, what really drew me to it was other people playthroughs, especially on Twitch. There have been a lot of streamers I've seen play Dark Souls at least once, it's like the obligatory playthrough for a streamer to go through and not once, even with the most unskilled of players, did I ever see anyone genuinely seem to struggle to progress in the game at a reasonable pace. Yeah, some died a solid amount but I've never seen anyone genuinely get stuck to the point you'd say this is an extreme level of difficulty, yet, despite this, even they continue to claim it one of the hardest games they've ever played. But I think to myself, I've seen them die probably more in the story for some average game than this, so why is it regarded so highly in difficulty despite having comparatively less failure among the playerbase. You'd have thought if it was that hard, then people playing for the first time would fail a lot more at it than they do.

It's hard to understand where this reputation actually spawned, was it a case of it being the only mainstream game that was difficult during the era it was launched? Was it just the lack of handholding and not telling you what to do being less common in mainstream titles? Was it just marketing nonsense influencing people's thoughts as they played? Because if someone dies just once in Dark Souls they'll talk about how hard it is but if they die 10+ times trying to get to the next checkpoint in some Lego game or something there's never a mention of that being hard. It's like a pre-existing reputation dictates people's outlook, but how did that reputation even begin?

Anyway, those are just some thoughts on some supposedly "most difficult" games/achievements of all time and how they come across way too exaggerated and overrated. Please let me know of any examples you can think of as well that you feel have a huge reputation but don't seem to deliver on it, and be sure to slap me if you disagree with the inclusion of any of these and why you disagree.
Posted by Harris59 today at 22:57 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkPro Profile Masquerade
So, hello there, I don't really tend to write blogs at all on here or create much of a discussion these days but I whilst I was looking through the achievers (yet again) for a particular confirmed unobtainable trophy (currently there are now 8 achievers) I started thinking about both hackers and other examples of false accounts such as egregious boosters online and exploit abusers/trophy buyers etc.

So, my mind started to casually drift around deciding whether I, or anyone, should really even give a shit about this behaviour blah blah blah, and how it's pretty much "whatever" if it isn't directly effecting anyone else etc. But while I was randomly thinking about this for a brief moment a comparison came to mind which made me question the entire mentality of why anyone would even bother do such a thing in the first place and also I suppose adds to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter to anyone but themselves.

We all knew THAT kid in the playground of your primary school right? You know the one? That kid who would jump into your playground chatter you're having with friends about how you just got the new exciting cool platformer game that's been in all the latest games magazines and would proclaim, without any hesitation "I've beaten that game, 100% and all the bonus levels". You all look at each other, you know, your friends know and that kid probably even knows you know but no one says a word... The unspoken realisation that kid most definitely doesn't even have the game, let alone beat it. Over time in the conversation the most obvious tells start to show, there is more to beating a game than just a "well done" stamp at the end, a person who's beaten a game, especially if very recently has all that knowledge and information freshly squeezed into their brain, all those little nuances of their playthrough that come through in conversation so naturally and you can smell a liar of completion a mile off.

But hey, achievements are here for to save the day and put an end to the awkwardness and inability to just say "you're lying, dum dum, and your daddy is stinky", now proof they haven't is right there, it's the modern equivalent of bringing your 100% save file memory card to your mates house to show off to them all your unlockable skins and bonus FMVs (only to accidentally leave it there at home time). But, it's only a matter of time until a system has a loophole, a way to break and deceive it. For your memory cards you had cheat codes, gameshark and asking your dad to do the tough bits to get those precious fake stats saved on there to show your mates without doing the work and for today's world we have boosting, exploits, hacking and buying achievements. But despite all this, one thing remains unchanged, no matter how many systems of evidence are in place and how many of them are eventually broken to deceive... It's that unspoken feeling between people, when it is so apparent they haven't done it remains... As I said before, there's just no way around being void of that experience, people can just sense it, and it doesn't matter how many wikis you read up on and how many playthroughs you watch on YouTube, just speaking to a person who hasn't actually done something shows so clearly.

So to the point, why do people bother keeping up this facade. After all, we are not primary school kids anymore (well, I suppose some are I guess, lets not rule them out), the whole idea of compulsive short term unconvincing lying for attention or to impress should be long since grown out of them. As I've said, it's that same moment as in the playgrounds, we all know and I'm pretty sure they know we know, so why do they feel compelled to continue lying to themselves and the rest of the world when we all, unspokenly, know the truth?

I understand, even in adulthood people try to lie and be deceptive and we probably can all think of someone in our social circles who's a bit of a compulsive liar but I feel like this kind of behaviour is distinct and separate to that, because, like I mentioned it's the kind of lie that everyone's unspokenly aware of and continuation and commitment to such a lie is usually only a trait in young primary school age children.

So, why is it that such accounts and profiles exist across all games and platforms, what is the motive and am I missing something? If it's not an inner child-like self what could it be that compels this. Could it simply be the craving of conflict, do people do such blatant acts of deception because they are aware that everyone knows eventually at least someone will call them out on it so they can argue about it and try to proclaim innocence just because they crave conflict so desperately? Aside from that possibility I just can't get my head around the mentality behind it, I'm trying to get in their heads but nothing makes sense to me.

Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Any ideas as to why people feel compelled this way?

And if you somehow got some interest out of this blog, I don't really write blogs, so let me know if you do since I always love a good rambling and could easily plop out some more written diarrhoea another time.
Posted by Harris59 on 11 March 18 at 04:59 | There are 3 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.