Technical Difficulties: Player choice and how it affects gameplay

March�s Monthly Musing is all to do with game difficulty. As a new user, I wanted to write a little something on this subject with a fresh twist and an appropriately lengthy, intellectual-sounding title. This twist on the subject is an element I planned to crowbar into this blog post at some point: the element of player choice, and, as the title indicates, how it affects the difficulty of any given game. I�m going to take Obsidian�s stellar action-RPG, Fallout: New Vegas, as an example of how choice can distract the player from wildly uneven difficulty levels and even convince the player to embrace them.

Above - Fallout: New Vegas' Hardcore Mode

I suppose what I�m trying to say is that an element of free reign helps to distract the player from many negative elements of any given game, including gameplay which is slightly too easy or slightly too hard. In many games which are too easy - like Fallout: New Vegas - the player subconsciously pats him/herself on the back for making the right choices to deal with any given situation in-game without recognising that the game itself is too easy for these choices to even matter in the long run, and inwardly kicks him/herself for making the wrong choices - even though these choices also don�t really matter. In a difficult game which hands the player the reins from the start, the player takes the burden of responsibility and feels unable to blame the game�s mechanics because he/she is the one in charge: each individual player has made his/her individual choices and, as such, every death in-game becomes a reflection on that player�s skill.

In conclusion, I believe that, in games such as New Vegas, the player determines the difficulty in many more aspects than simply adjusting the default difficulty settings in the menu and this helps to detract from the set �difficulty� level of any game. You could go for the easiest route, like myself, and choose a sniper class with which to play through the game, or you could create a really punishing class just to push the game to its limits and test out your own skill. The choice, truly, is yours.

P.S - feel free to make a comment, positive, negative or incomprehensible below. Additionally, if you require clarification, please leave a question or query at the bottom of the page. I recognise that my arguments aren�t always clear and can often descend into confusion. Best wishes to all! :)
Login to vote this up!


Lord Death of Murder Mountain   
Sean Daisy   1
HandsomeBeast   1



Please login (or) make a quick account (free)
to view and post comments.

 Login with Twitter

 Login with Dtoid

Three day old threads are only visible to verified humans - this helps our small community management team stay on top of spam

Sorry for the extra step!


About Lord Death of Murder Mountainone of us since 2:06 PM on 03.18.2011

I�m Oran, a fifteen year-old gamer and Scottish native. I�ve been gaming for as long as I can remember and my love for the pastime has grown exponentially (HELL YEAH) since early childhood, back when I was allowed to crap in my pants and I wasn�t mocked for my love of the Pok�mon games. The golden days.

I�m a thoroughly �modern� gamer, and I�m a little ashamed of that. I am most comfortable with games from this generation and the previous, but I�ve played games from past generations, such as Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64 and a few of the Castlevania games.

I discovered Destructoid after purchasing Deadly Premonition, the cover of which boasts a 10/10 rating from Jim Sterling. I visited the website to check out the review, and accidentally stumbled upon the Community Blogs. Previously, I had been experimenting with GameSpot�s blogging feature but I quickly tired of that and, thusly, the Community Blogs presented a perfect alternative.

I�m hoping to break into gaemz jarnalizm. I feel I have a serviceable command of the English language and I realise that I have plenty of time to hone my mad skillz, blud. I follow the gaming industry with avid interest and I have the ability to formulate convincing arguments; arguments which I take care to support with fact. I�m going to stop whoring myself out now, but if you know of anywhere a budding writer can test his skills -- other than Destructoid itself, of course -- then please let me know. I will love you eternally.

Obligatory list of favourite games (in no particular order):


Virtually every Pok�mon game

PC (thanks, bbain!)

Chzo Mythos
L'Abbaye Des Morts
Digital -- A Love Story


Burnout 2
Downhill Domination
Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil -- Code Veronica X


Destroy All Humans!
Destroy All Humans! 2
Deus Ex: Invisible War
Evil Dead: Regeneration
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Hitman: Blood Money
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
The Suffering
Thief: Deadly Shadows
TimeSplitters 2
Tom Clancy�s Splinter Cell

Xbox 360

Alan Wake
Armored Core 4
Assassin's Creed
Blue Dragon
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Dead Rising
Dead Space
Deadly Premonition
Eternal Sonata
Fable II
Fallout 3
Fallout: New Vegas
Gears of War
Gears of War 2
Grand Theft Auto IV
Half-Life 2
Just Cause 2
Left 4 Dead
Lost Planet
Mirror�s Edge
Project Sylpheed
Saints Row 2
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion