Difficulty has been an essential part of videogames since their birth. It has evolved from the point where games were really hard, being that your only option to play it and without new opportunities if you fail, to the point where they have different difficulties you can choose from or even games that are very easy no matter what. This helped games being more accessible to more people without marvelous gaming skills, making the industry a mainstream. The Nintendo Wii is a great example; just a small tutorial on how to use the motion controller and you can start playing. Even more core games held by Xbox360 like Halo have difficulty options, so if you are not a master of FPS you can start the easy way and get involved into it. Other games just take the approach of getting harder as you advance through it, being the case of Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed just to name a few. As you can see from all the written above, difficulty is very important when we talk about traditional games.
Maybe now you are asking, what the hell has this to do with MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games? You are in a MMO Website and you come here to look for things specifically related to the genre so that’s a fair question. My point here is that difficulty is way different in MMOs than it is most games’ genres. Being more specific, I’m going to talk about MMORPG and MMOFPS Games, which are the most popular genres inside the MMO world.
MMORPGs are a very special genre in the gaming industry, proving that one single game can be profitable in the long term, expanding itself to the point of being a very popular genre for gamers. This is why when someone talks about MMOs needs to talk about their RPGs, and I’m not the exception. Is there really a difficulty IN MMORPGs? In my personal experience, I will say no with little exceptions. The first thing you do in every single game is choosing a class (rogue, warrior, wizard, etc). For the people who investigate a little bit about each class before starting the game will know that a lot of wikis recommend some classes for beginners. You could say you select a difficulty by selecting a class, but the people who have played most classes in one game would agree with me that all classes are good if you give them some dedication and effort.
About the gameplay, it’s all about killing a certain amount of mobs; get a certain amount of items from them or just delivering things from one NPC to another. As you level up you get new skills, buy or manufacture new armor and weapons to face new challenges. But leveling up and doing quest is just a matter of learn how things work in the game, how to use your skills to create good combos, which mobs are harder for you requiring to buy some potions. When you create your general strategy to move through the game, specially the killing part, you will do things the same way. You don’t improve your gaming skills as you move forward, you become more wiser in the game, and for me, difficulty is more a matter of skills than to know more about the game.
Finally in player interaction with other players, you adapt your strategy of how to work with a squad in an instance or how to fight other players to keep yourself alive. For me this is what makes a MMORPG more difficult, especially in PvP, but other players aren’t more skillful they are wiser.
An exception to this is Shaiya. In this game you can choose Easy or Normal mode. When you reach level 40 on Normal mode you can unlock Hard Mode, and reaching level 40 on hard mode will unlock Ultimate mode. Each difficulty makes mobs and bosses harder to kill, and in Ultimate mode if you are not resurrected in the next 3 minutes, your character will be deleted forever. Now this is difficulty in a MMORPG.
In few words, there isn’t a real difficulty in MMORPGs once you start getting used to the game and how it works. It’s more about getting wiser than getting skillful in it.
Another very important genre inside MMOs are MMOFPSs, These games are all about interaction between players so others are the ones who set the difficulty for you. As you play through the game, get some achievements and gain experience by killing other players, you level up through ranks, making easier for the game to allocate you with players of your same skills and making the experience more enjoyable and fair for you. If the game doesn’t have any filter to allocate players according to their ranks, that could make the game a really pain in the ass. Each match in MMOFPSs are a new experience in which you will have different challenges and difficulties, so yes, these games have difficulty based on how other players set the bar for you.
In contrast, MMORPGs are all about getting wiser on how everything in the game works and how to deal with each situation as you level up, while MMOFPSs make you more skillful as you advance through ranks and play with others. To answer the question I asked after all the explanation before, MMORPGs doesn’t have a real difficulty throughout the whole game, while MMOFPSs gets more difficult as you earn ranks and have to play against more skillful gamers.
That’s all folks, I hope you enjoyed and leave your opinions bellow. If not, also leave your opinions bellow and let the ranting begin.