Elden Ring is going to be one of the best games of 2022. With so much excitement around the game there have been a lot of people buying it just so they can see what the hype is all about. Unfortunately, these people are quickly discovering something: Elden Ring is extremely difficult, perhaps too difficult for the average player.
Anyone that’s aware of FromSoftware and Elden Ring director Hidetaka Miyazaki was fully aware that this was going to be a challenging game going in. With games like Dark Souls, Sekiro, and Bloodborne under their belt, the studio is notorious for making really difficult games. None of those games had the mainstream appeal that Elden Ring has right now, though, which is why so many people are commenting on the difficulty.
In an interview with the New Yorker, Miyazaki was asked about the difficulty of his games. He explained his reasoning for why he chooses to make his games the way he does, and that while he’s apologetic for players not being able to overcome them, he doesn’t have plans to change them anytime soon.
Still, for every vanquisher of Miyazaki’s monsters, there’s another who glumly sets down the controller. “I do feel apologetic toward anyone who feels there’s just too much to overcome in my games,” Miyazaki told me. He held his head in his hands, then smiled. “I just want as many players as possible to experience the joy that comes from overcoming hardship.”
Miyazaki’s work is often invoked by the latter camp, as it suggests that challenge, not escapism or uplift, is the medium’s crucial quality. “It’s an interesting question,” Miyazaki told me. “We are always looking to improve, but, in our games specifically, hardship is what gives meaning to the experience. So it’s not something we’re willing to abandon at the moment. It’s our identity.”
Excitement through overcoming hardship is absolutely a key part of the Elden Ring and Dark Souls games experience — it’s difficult to describe the feeling of joy that washes over when a challenging boss is defeated — but the problem is that the joy of that experience doesn’t always outweigh the frustration of failure. There’s also an entire other discussion to be had with creating games that people do not find accessible.