How hard are the Soulsborne games?

Are the Soulsborne games really hard, or do games today hold your hand so much that they just seem really hard by comparison?

Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying the games are easy, but I do think their difficulty is overstated. Once you learn a boss’s patterns, they’re not THAT hard.

What do you think?

I agree to an extent but some parts of them really are bullshit regardless of how good you are at the games.

The reason the Capra Demon of DS1 has such a reputation for deadliness is that you fight not only him (who hits like a Mack truck), but also two dogs who can stunlock you AND the camera which has trouble with the tiny space the fight takes place in. I’ve fought him multiple dozen times, I know exactly what to do, hell I’ve farmed hundreds of his brothers down in the lava without taking a single hit… but he still kills me way more often than he should. The Bed of Chaos is another bitch move from DS1 - no matter how good you are at the game or how many times you’ve dealt with him, his wonky hitboxes WILL graze you and push you into a hole. I took an hour or so once to learn the grenade trick so as to never have to deal with him fairly ever again. And I don’t care how good you are, Smough & Ornstein will push your shit in quite a few times :slight_smile: (if only because, again, the camera is an enemy in that fight).

Another thing is that, for how great they are to play when you know how they work, they are absolutely terrible at telling you how they work. Which is very puzzling because the levels and enemies themselves are expertly placed and paced to teach you various things over the course of the game ; but nowhere does it tell you what poise does, what timing you should go for on a parry, that there are like 8 different parry windows depending on what you’re parrying with or how long the parry animation effectively lasts etc etc etc. Everything is opaque and requires a Wiki to even realize it exists as a mechanic and that’s questionable design that makes things difficult for the wrong reasons.

Kobal2 is abso-f*cking-lutely correct!

They are not very difficult as much as they are repetitive and frustrating. It really is just a different type of game and beating it once is enough. You have to re-create strategies so many times and just when you find something that works or you think does, you’re killed which is normal for many games but having to restart and go through the tedium of repeating all of your actions up until to point that you die/lose, over and over, is agonizing and boring. The learning the patterns of the enemies over and over is irritating. . They are deliberately designed to be games of luck and memory, not chance and skill which IMO is not very fun and does not make for a good game. The game’s tag line doesn’t even deny it; “Prepare to Die”.

Games should be enjoyable, not frustrating. If the game feels like a chore at all, it’s not a good game. Just my opinion on it.

By the way, if you like Dark Souls or are just a masochist, play “Lords Of The Fallen”… its a clone of the soulsborne games, with the added benefit of buggy sluggish/delayed controls and a camera that doesn’t properly work. You’ll be out in the garage with the game disc, pliers and a blowtorch in no time.

They’re hard in a way that’s based on rote memorization of the outcomes of blind trial and error.

You go into Room 1 and stand on the right.
There was a trap on the right. You die.

You respawn. You enter Room 1 and stand on the left. You don’t get killed by the trap.
You go into Room 2 and stand on the left.
There was an ambush on the left. You die.

You respawn. You enter Room 1 and stand on the left. You don’t get killed by the trap.
You go into Room 2 and stand on the right. You don’t get killed by the ambush.
You go into Room 3 and stand in the middle.
A deadly projectile goes down the middle of Room 3. You die.

You respawn…
I think this type of gameplay is popular at least in part because Asian education emphasizes memorization and repetitive execution. It would certainly explain the popularity of Starcraft and World of Warcraft.

I have to admit I love the Soulsbourne games. They are not impossibly hard, rather challenging. For me their appeal is threefold:

-A beautifully crafted game world. For me nothing beats the original Dark Souls and Bloodbourne for atmosphere.

-Challenging, but never unfair mechanics. The mechanics may seem unfair and random at first, but the point is you learn and you get that satisfying feeling of being able to easily beat something that at first seems impossible.

  • One of the cleverest and best implemented multiplayer systems in any game.

Couldn’t disagree more there. Or at least, it may appear that way at *first, *and it may remain that way for players who can’t learn ; but after playing a while you learn to just read new levels and enemy placements because the game itself tells you exactly what it’s going to do (with a few exceptions). What your own “this is ambush country” sense doesn’t solve, your itchy dodging trigger will 90% of the time.
Just be wary at all times. Move slowly. If you see an enemy that’s not moving even though you’re in aggro range, assume he’s got friends waiting out of sight. Chuck bombs/spells at anything suspicious. Give the chests a wallop as a mimic check. Look up. Etc…

I struggled a lot with DS1 (and that was with some LP experience of the early zones). I was comfortable enough in DS2. I breezed right through DS3 and Nioh. And that’s not just me “gitting gud” at the combat either, because each of them has different parry timings and stuff that keeps fucking with your muscle memory ; and Nioh has a whole bunch of specific mechanics.

Saying it’s all down to rote memorization of levels and enemy patterns is just flat wrong and selling the level design way short. That team really knows their shit (and also really knows how to build pure bullshit levels. I’m looking at you, DS3’s snow DLC)

This is so far from my experience with the Souls games as to sound like a different series entirely. The games don’t demand memorization - they demand attention. That trap on the right? There was a raised floor panel that triggered it. And two rooms back, there was a similar raised floor panel that triggered a much less lethal trap, so you should be looking for raised floor panels. That ambush? There are five different ways to avoid it or fight it off, depending on the way you’ve built your character.

The games are hard, because they:

  1. Demand constant attention. You can never relax. The humblest enemy can make you dead if you lose focus;

  2. Reward caution, preparation, and deliberate action, which are not traits rewarded by most games; and

  3. Punish failure very severely.

The actual minute-to-minute difficulty can vary widely. That’s one of the things that make the games so repayable (for me, at least - I’ve put well over 100 hours into all five of the games in this series): a boss, sequence, or challenge can be nearly impossible with one kind of build and trivial with another. A sorcerer playthrough of Dark Souls 3 is almost literally a different game than a heavy-weapon focused playthrough, which is in turn a completely different game from a light-weapon focused playthrough. That first guy will struggle to whittle down the Crystal Sage, and need to execute perfectly, while the second guy will probably beat the Sage on the first try. But that first guy can take down the Nameless King pretty easily, while the second one might need fifty tries.

And, of course, there are a few memorably difficult sections that people remember: running up a flying buttress the width of your feet while archers that you can’t touch fire arrows the size of spears at you still kills me six times out of ten and I’ve done it at least fifty times.

I forgot to mention the combat - unlike most action RPGs hacking away won’t work, you’re forced to learn how to dodge and parry and think about each fight, otherwise you will be killed by the weakest of enemies. What’s more combat is fun and satisfying, and the characters and weapons feel like they have the appropriate mass (unlike say Elder scrolls). Also the difference between different weapons, armour and other equipment is much more profound than in other games, with each weapon having its own mechanics requiring different approaches to combat, despite the fact there are a lot of different weapons in the game.

I was wrong, never mind.

I got relatively far in Dark Souls with just hacking; for example, I never parried a single attack. After all, you can get stronger gear and better ability scores by grinding, up to a point. Eventually I got to a point where I couldn’t figure out where to go to next, so I gave up. (Actually, I gave up when I first bought it a few years ago, then I retried it more recently and I gave up again at a later point.) I could always look for a walk-through on the internet, of course, but exploring was the only fun part of the game for me so that would kind of defeat the purpose.