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With Dark Souls III out now, we have seen a major influx of folks taking up the challenge and fighting their way through hordes of enemies in a dying world. The Souls games have become renowned in the gaming world for its purposeful difficulty and meticulous gameplay design, to the point where the cries of “git gud” towards detractors has become the unofficial slogan for the series. Dark Souls III, much like the other Souls games, is a pure power fantasy in that regard, scratching the itch for anyone looking for a power gaming challenge that RPGs often provide. 

However, with so much focus on the difficulty of the Souls series, we lose a lot of the flavor and drive that keeps people playing—the contextual backdrop that supports the gameplay completely. While I have already discussed how the Souls series is not my cup of tea due to its focus in design, the Souls series nonetheless has fascinating backstory to it; a world that is decaying, doomed to rot away regardless of the actions of stalwart heroes trying to turn back the tide of darkness. Without saying much, it is bleak and depressing, where heroes don’t fight for glory or goodness, they fight to delay the inevitable.

All of this context, which offers a frankly amazing setup for the series and makes your actions ultimately heroic, is often drowned out by the main focus of the games design: its challenge. Of course fans of the Souls series know this context very well; it serves as the motivation for the game’s very existence, but for many, the title is defined more by its mechanics. The Souls series is a power gamer’s dream. It requires you to optimize, strategize, and through perseverance and trial and error, memorize what comes next. In this way, Dark Souls III is an excellent role-playing game, but in another, it highlights a character flaw most RPGs suffer from, the power gaming aspect that embodies the game’s perception.

Of course, it would be useful to define what power gaming is, although in practice that is quite difficult. For most RPGs, power gaming is finding the exploits and synergies of the game’s built in system, often exploiting it for maximum gains and returns to make the game easier to play. This can come in many forms. Min-maxing, for example, is a common tactic during character creation, where players optimize their primary stats for a character build to offer maximum returns in-game. As graphics have become more complex and role-playing games tend to eschew numbers for more abstract mechanics, power gaming has changed its definition to encompass optimized strategies or methods of play, such as maximizing invincibility frames in the Souls series.

Do role-playing games suffer from power gaming? Such a thesis is of course ultimately subjective, but power gaming in RPGs has gone hand in hand with game design since the first Wizardry titles. Much of the framework for early RPGs is about party configurations, with balanced parties arguably becoming the most effective methods of persevering through challenging scenarios. During the 1980s, most RPGs, save some exceptions like the Ultima games, were designed for power gaming because the best recreation of tabletop mechanics was always through in-game systems. Your character sheet—how well you construct your characters via stats, equipment, and abilities—was more important than your overall role in the world.

In tabletop parlance, there is often a difference between what is considered “Role-Play” vs. “Roll-Play,” terminologies. It is an old argument, one that is impotent in explaining anything other than being a buzzword for the style of gameplay you may encounter. Both styles, one that is focused more on narrative and purposeful character interaction, and one where players detached from their characters focus on their stats, are ultimately both valid ways of playing tabletop RPGs. It stands to reason that role-playing video games should follow a similar principle, but a video game ultimately has limitations that a tabletop game lacks, namely through design and scope of the product you are playing.

For video games, these differences ultimately have a bit more weight to them from a design standpoint. In an article for Gamasutra, author John Harris discusses how early tabletop games, most notably the original versions of Dungeons & Dragons by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, did not even consider “role-playing” as part of the game’s design. Even common terminology such as role-playing was absent from the game, which Harris notes is an important detail regarding early CRPGs, important because of how proscriptive a term like “role-playing game” is.

“It implies that players, to an extent, personify their characters. D&D arose out of a marriage between wargaming and fantasy fiction, so narrative is in its blood, but early on the most frequent type of adventure was a simple free-form dungeon crawl. If you count OD&D as a role-playing game, then you necessarily have to admit that RPGs don’t have to be games of storytelling, or at least not games of “top-down,” DM-driven storytelling. (RPG’s have always been games of what we might call “storywriting.”)

In this sense computer versions have more in common with early social roleplaying sessions than later ones. Few people play CRPGs with an eye towards acting out their characters’ roles.”

Harris is correct in assessing that not all RPGs have to contain a narrative or context; early RPG titles such as the aforementioned dungeon crawlers like Wizardry, were minimal when it came to plot and progression. The reward for playing was not a narrative denouement, but a personal triumph of overcoming a difficult challenge. The original Dungeons & Dragons is what directly influenced early CPRG design; character death was commonplace, narrative was simplistic, and how you build your character is purposeful to your chances of survival over narrative conceits or quirks.

These design choices would make their way to some of the first video games to emulate the tabletop experience. It would take a long time for “role-play” to make its mark in the RPG market, as the rule of thumb for many games was power gaming out of necessity for maximum enjoyment. It was about outsmarting the game through optimization over progression, with players becoming the custodians of their own characters, essentially making up quirks and flaws for them or simply ignoring that aspect and focusing on their build first, characterization second.

This, of course, begins to change by the early 1990s. The glut of CRPG titles with poor design, mechanics, or simply coding led to a major decline for a time, while the console market saw a major surge in role-playing games such as Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Dragon Quest. Other PC stalwarts, such as the Ultima series, would also see success in the 90s, but that was arguably due to their already hybrid-design of character progression. These games, however, would finally introduce the “role-playing” aspect of RPGs, to mixed success in the RPG community.

Many have argued, sometimes stemming from the WRPG/JRPG debate, that console role-playing games are simplistic because of their more linear progression. Where there is truth to that in one sense, it is important to note that console RPGs still contain a healthy amount of choice in their design, just in a different way from before. It is easy to power game in a title like Final Fantasy, but doing so actually made the game less fun, mostly due to pacing and narrative conceits already baked into the game’s design.

This can be seen as a flaw in some games by role-playing fans. By systematically “beating” the game at its own design through glitch exploits, min-maxing, or other forms of manipulation, the inherent problems with the game, along with its challenge, become a focal point of discussion—usually in negative terms when players find an RPG that doesn’t allow for conventional power gaming, or rely on manipulation to power game in the first place. Of course, this is rarely a measurement for how easy an RPG can be. Outside of in-game difficulty settings, which is a more recent trend in general for video games, manipulation of the game is exploiting the weaknesses of its inherent design over actual challenge.

This also doesn’t mean power gaming is inherently a bad connotation. Many have argued that power gaming stems from an elitist position, which resides in an all-inclusive club of few players are worth their salt by their skill. The “git gud” phrase becomes a stereotype of the power gamer—a person prideful in their abilities over others, often called the pejorative “Munchkins” in tabletop circles for their over reliance of power gaming and strong-arming tactics against what they considered outsiders.

In some respects, this fulfills a power fantasy in its own right; after all, having skills and abilities beyond the majority is a sense of wish-fulfillment, and video games can provide that sense of escapism quite easily. There is more to it than that, however. Sociologist Mark Silverman argued that power gaming stems from a social construct called “Serious Leisure.” Serious Leisure refers to amateurs and hobbyists who become engrossed into the machinations of their interest, acquiring special skills and expressing them through their knowledge and experience in that particular field.

Taking this concept of Serious Leisure, Silverman compares it to “Casual Leisure,” which is a more passive, but still fledgling interest in a topic or hobby. An amateur photographer, for example, would be considered Serious Leisure because they would know more about inner workings of light, contrast, shadow, and camera angles. Contrast this with a more Casual Leisure hobbyist, who gets the same satisfaction from taking pictures with an old camera, sometimes without the technical know-how of getting the perfect picture.

This of course is ultimately up for debate, as it boils down to semantics, but power gaming is synonymous in design for a reason. For many, it is the choice to “git gud” and play a game through that lens. In RPGs, the choice to power game is deliberate because of the degree of choices RPGs offer mechanically—optimized equipment, character builds, even conversation trees become based solely on the promise of achievements, useful rewards, or both.

In its wake though, it leads to the problem inherent with titles like Final Fantasy: they were not built for power gaming. Narrative driven role-playing games, emphasizing the role-play aspect that is found in modern tabletop RPGs, are deliberate in progression since it is fully tied to a narrative, not the progression choices of the player. Many RPGs have taken this approach even further. Modern popular titles such as Dragon Age, The Witcher, and the Tales series try to have their cake and eat it through design that caters to both the hobbyist and amateur, often with mixed results. Complaints about a lack of challenge, about “story mode” difficulty, or Mary-Sue protagonists become rampant for these games because they ultimately don’t deviate from their narrative mandate, contain narrative flaws, and become more pronounced because optimized character building contributes to the uneven character progression.

The Souls series is the polar opposite, reveling in the power gaming design, and it is not alone. The Elder Scrolls series had popularized the “power fantasy” well before Skyrim was released, not due to difficulty but due to player agency, as have a myriad of sandbox RPGs and MMOs such as Monster Hunter and World of Warcraft. In terms of design, these games are successful not because of narrative or cohesiveness of design, but because of progression and small-choice optimization. Skyrim, for example, has a janky narrative that freezes the game world in place until the player interacts with it; events only happen in a vacuum because you are involved in them. Likewise, the thrill of Monster Hunter becomes the preparation for a hard battle against a massive creature; preparation that takes time, a precious commodity for games, to do correctly. Even World of Warcraft has been lampooned for their passionate guilds filled with power gaming aficionados, using spreadsheets to shave .4 seconds off their casting time against a drawn-out dungeon delve.

Yet for all of these perceived flaws, games like Skyrim and Monster Hunter continue to be popular because of the opportunities they present players. Roll-playing is after all a choice, usually one done by the player when they first create their character. Power gaming comes in many forms this way, and in its wake it can lead to games becoming subpar overall or at the very least, feel incomplete to role-players. This of course doesn’t preclude dominance of one sphere of ideals over the other; to say that the narrative-driven focus of Final Fantasy is not a good example of a role-playing game is missing the point entirely, likewise dismissing the likes of Skyrim for being purely a power gaming haven. Both games ultimately fulfill a niche in the role-playing space; a niche big enough to be inclusive for different ideals.

It is the happy medium between the two that is the ultimate future for role-playing video games. The nostalgic days for hardcore challenge have changed; difficult RPGs from the 1980s will never become a mainstream success (nor do they have to), but players can fulfill that itch by playing the Souls series, where the penalty for failure is to keep trying until you succeed, only with smoother gameplay interaction and an environmental narrative to enjoy in the interim. Likewise, more narrative driven games can provide enough of a challenge and attention because of how their mechanics are built. Power gaming works well in some games, and poor in others, but to power game every RPG you play in and of itself is a common mistake leading to such frustrations. 

Whatever difficulty you choose, at least the game gives the player a choice.

Whatever difficulty you choose, at least the game gives the player a choice.

This is why the inclusion of “story modes” or “hardcore” difficulty, while a recent development for RPGs, should be a welcome one. From a design standpoint, how you make a game easier or harder is usually through tweaks to AI protocols, health and abilities, and even character placement and regeneration, which doesn’t necessarily change the narrative or design philosophy of a said game, it only changes the challenge behind it. A few games—most notably The Witcher 3Pillars of Eternity, and Mass Effect 3—have experimented with these diverging difficulties, offering a narrative-driven experience directly tied to mechanical challenge, or divorced from it at the leisure of the player. While not fully fitting the power gaming schema perfectly, it is a step in the right direction for providing more options for players. A casual or difficult to play experience depending on what the player wants in their role-playing experience is a fair compromise to games wishing to cater towards the wider RPG audience. 

Ironically, it is usually the “story mode” that receives the most criticism, often tied to the simplification of role-playing games on the whole, despite hardcore modes being introduced simultaneously. That attitude from power gamers, along with the attitude towards power gamers, presents the eventual problem. Power gaming is not going to go away, but as role-playing games continue to evolve and new players become introduced to RPGs, the power gaming mandate will continue to occupy the Serious Leisure sphere, not the general audience sphere. There is nothing gained or lost by fans dedicating time and effort to something they love, but criticizing players to “git gud” is antithetical to what role-playing games have become. In the same token, so has dismissing power gaming outright as well, leading to a final problem of perception over an actual problem of design.

So is power gaming a problem? Well, it really depends on how people act about it. Tabletop gaming has discussed this issue between “role-play” and “roll-play” by leaving the players in charge of their own amusement, by encouraging both sides to enjoy themselves, over worrying about what constitutes a proper playstyle. Esoteric debates within the tabletop circle over the issue become one of casual discussion, over a serious belief, and one conclusion is to encourage players to practice both methods—to role-play while power gaming. Role-playing video games would do well in following some of these footsteps, encouraging players to make the same choices in a way where perpetuating stereotypes stays in the realm of nonsensical discussion over serious accusation, and providing the choice for players in what gameplay experience they want, in most instances.  

In other words, players need to stop taking these questions seriously and just enjoy the game in how they play it.  The Souls series, despite its deficiencies in clearly showcasing the environmental narrative to an outsider, is still appreciated by the hobbyist as much as the amateur in the end, even if the said hobbyist may have no interest in playing it because of the challenge presented. That form of inclusivity is what role-playing games should be about; after all, part of the allure of enjoying RPGs on the whole is how different styles of play exist in the first place. 

I hope you guys enjoyed this article. It’s been a while since I have done a Playing Roles piece, these are quite hard to do sometimes because of the research and preparation involved, so thank you for your continued support. If you have any questions on comments, please leave them below, or send me a message via twitter @LinksOcarina. See you next time. 

Robert Grosso

Staff Writer

A game playing, college teaching, erudite-minded scholar who happens to write some articles every so often. Have worked as a journalist, critic, educator and blogger for over five years now, with articles published (as user editorials) on Game Revolution and Giant Bomb as well as a contributor for the websites Angry Bananas and Blistered Thumbs. Now making TechRaptor my home.

  • Cy

    I’ve always been a “role player” in RPG’s. I hate having to micromanage stats and I can’t stand having to memorize level design and enemy placement and have perfect reflexes to get further in a game. None of that is fun to me, and it takes away from what I’ve always thought the whole point of an RPG is: the story. I like games that are easy and fun and have a good narrative, with massive bonus points if I can influence that narrative. And I think it’s kinda funny how many people get so *pissed* when I say that, or when I suggest these super hard games should–or even could–have some kind of easy mode. So I can’t be as evenhanded as you were in this article, but it was nice to be able to get a dispassionate look at how “the other side” sees things. I still have no idea how power gamers have any fun at all, because it seems super stressful and ultimately kinda silly, but I enjoyed reading about it. Good article b^_^

  • Zepherdog

    I think not everything has to cater to everyone, lest it’s spreads too thin and alienates everyone (as it’s happened more often than not).

    A Dark Souls story mode for example would be ridiculously boring because Dark Souls for the most part has *no* story. The fun of the game is not merely overcoming the challenge but also in the rewarding exploration and rich atmosphere; you’re not experiencing the game’s story, you are mostly uncovering it, and it’s rewarding because of the effort you put on it.

    As for the powergaming side, you can always finish the game at Soul Level 1 with a broken sword but that would require you level up *yourself*, which a lot of people do. An easy mode would ultimately undermine the design choices the developers implemented in the first place; The story, atmosphere and lore of the game is so hopeless and depressing to *serve* the unforgiving gameplay, not the other way around.

  • SomeCollegeStudent

    It’s weird we say that Dark Souls shouldn’t have an easier difficulty mode and yet it has mechanics that enable players to have an easier time. For one, monsters are not balanced around ranged combat and often times a mage or ranger can exploit the enemy’s pathfinding. You can also summon allies and while they do make the enemies slightly stronger, they are nowhere near 2 or 3 times stronger. I think because these mechanics are so well integrated into to the game and you’re given the freedom to not use them that players don’t realize that Dark Souls is giving them a way to lower the difficulty.

  • Zepherdog

    I think most of the ‘rage’ coming from people you mention stems from saying the point of an RPG is the story, which is just as silly as saying the point of it is the mechanics. I think both powergamers and so called ‘role players’ are diametrically opposite extremes but both suck the fun out of RPGs, whether videogames or pen & paper.

    Whenever I play an RPG I want a good challenge AND I also want a good story to accompany it. To cather to either side too much undermines that, as much as trying to appease both sides at the same time while also alienating and gentrifying them.

    The problem here is, when it comes to videogames, powergamers at
    least can enjoy and exploit the mechanics or a game while paying no
    mind to the story, or they can move to another game that allows it, whereas role players cannot conform or put the effort to the mechanics of the game in order to derive enjoyment from the story thus demand the game cather to them.

    That’s what I personally don’t understand, as well as the need to exclusively attach the issue of ‘enjoying the story’ to videogames and RPGs when there’s far, far better narrative media out there. Then again, reading a book also requires effort on the reader’s part I guess.

  • Kev Lew

    I find that I am willing to resort to power-gaming methods only when the built in game balance or progression tends to force me to, I often don’t care about equipment or level caps until I am being actively punished for not optimising my character for maximum, tank/spank/support. As soon as the game flips that immersion/progression switch/barrier, I tend to go from ooh pretty/fun into ~time to overpower my squad and blast through this BS~. Until then I tend to be content to run around, take on all enemies and generally throw myself head-first into any location/mission I find.
    Best examples for general gameplay balance tend to be games with linear gear/stat progression or games with a fixed set of gear variance. I.E. counterstrike, D&D, beat-em-up games and RTS.
    Anything built on a gear progression system I almost always refuse to PvP in or play until I hit the mindless-farm stage then move-on. Borderlands, MMOs, team fortress 2 (the number of items went crazy and required farming), Warframe (I don’t PvP), diablo and JRPG tend to fall on this side of my tolerance for needless timesink.

  • Zepherdog

    There’s a difference between using the tools the game gives you and is designed around and outright having a easy mode. Dark Souls, specially III, IS designed with ranged combat, spellcasting and coop in mind, that’s why most bosses have tens of thousands of hit points and are resistant and weak to specific kinds of damage, and the AI that’s unrelenting compared specially with Demon’s souls and the first Dark Souls, and with the second game to an extent (which was also designed with coop in mind from the start). And that’s without going into player invasions.

    In the third game ‘cheesing’ the game with ranged attacks is particularly non-viable since you cannot carry more than a handful of arrows anymore and enemies take little more than scratch damage AND can respond in kind. It also does take skill to manually aim while being on the receiving end of a volley of arrows and not in lock-on range, which is also unreliable.

    Besides, even with three phantoms and a min maxed character you can and WILL die a lot if you’re just waltzing through or don’t know what you’re doing; the game may have mechanics to make it easier, but it doesn’t make it *easy*.

    EDIT: I also forgot to mention several bosses scale both their defense and damage output according to the number of phantoms the player has summoned, not to mention this scaling does not lower if the phantoms happen to die during the fight, making the fight actually harder when they do. Examples are the Fume Knight in 2 and several bosses in 3, such as the Dancer of the Boreal Valley and the Lords of Cinder.

  • Cy

    I wasn’t talking about the response I get when I say the point of RPG’s is the story, I can understand how that could annoy people. I was talking about the pissyness I get when I even mention that I like games that are narrative based or don’t immediately shit all over the idea of an “easy mode” over “gitting gud”.

    You’re wrong though, power games complain all the time about story and cutscenes that they can’t skip. I’ve seen that complaint multiple times, and it’s almost always followed by someone saying that all video game stories are terrible, like that’s some kind of magic phrase that suddenly means their opinion is fact.

    And yeah, some games have bad stories. But so do thousands of movies, books and plays, yet no one says people shouldn’t “get hung up on enjoying the story” of a movie just because books tend to have better narratives.

    You’ll also note I never once demanded games cater to me. Would I like every single game ever to be made specifically for me and to my tastes? Of course, who wouldn’t. But it’s pretty ridiculous to expect that. Do I get annoyed when a game that looks interesting turns out to not be my thing? Sometimes. But I don’t demand the game change so that I can enjoy it. If anything I’d prefer to realize right after a game’s revealed that it’s not my cup of tea than to waste time getting excited for something only to find out it doesn’t deliver. None of this changes the fact that I like narrative based games, especially RPG’s where I can make choices and roleplay a character. I find story to be more fun than grinding and micromanaging a stat screen and worrying about whether I should use Weapon A because of the DPS or Weapon B because it has a higher critical hit chance.

  • Zepherdog

    The unskippable cutscene complaint I can understand specially if it’s a cutscene that’s going to be repeated more than once (a long cutscene before a difficult boss fight or segment where you’re expected to die often is specially damning), and it’s not a complaint only ‘power gamers’ have. But I concede you do have a point in that sometimes these complaints are not entirely valid or honest.

    I was talking in a general sense in that when people complain about difficulty in games most of the time is not to suggest an easy mode, but to make the overall game easier. Besides, it may not be the intention of the developer, for whatever reason, to include it, and it should remain that way.

    My point is not that all books or all films are good, but as a purely storytelling medium they’re strictly better than videogames, since videogames do narrative better through their gameplay. Take too much focus from the gameplay to push it towards the plot defeats this purpose.

    I’m not saying all narrative-driven games suck, but the narrative and story elements should serve the game or at the very least they should compliment each other, otherwise you end up with a slightly interactive movie or book.

  • Cy

    Yeah that’s the only situation where I agree with the unskippable cutscene complaining, and I’d usually be right there with the complainers. I’m talking about the people who complain about any cutscene being unskippable, regardless of whether or not you can skip it after you’ve watched it once.

    If a developer says they don’t want an easy mode then that’s totally fine. My problem is the people who act like you just kicked their baby when you even suggest an easy mode. If a game can be more accessible without losing its entire identity (and there’s definitely a debate to be had about that when we’re talking about Souls games) then I don’t see the downside. It mostly just seems like people are so scared about having their bragging rights taken away from them.

    “I just beat ________ in under ten hours with my starting weapons.”

    “Oh please, you probably just played it on easy, pleb.”

    And I disagree that books and movies are automatically a better medium. I’ve played games that told amazing stories, with great characters and great writing. I refuse to believe that they’re somehow less than just because they’re being told in a video game. I also disagree that the narrative needs to serve the game. Walking simulators are a great example of a genre that’s entire point is to show the player a narrative. Do they *need* to be games instead of TV shows or whatever? Maybe not. But it’s a lot of fun to experience a story by walking yourself through it and discovering it on your own. Sometimes even more fun than just watching a movie. RPG’s are another example, because being able to roleplay a character while effecting the story is an experience you can only get in games, whether they’re PnP, LARPing or video games. And that experience is no more or less real or valid than the experience of reading a great book or watching an amazing movie.

  • Zepherdog

    While I don’t agree walking simulators being entirely games, as they’re more akin to toys or popup books, I don’t denounce the genre in it’s entirety, as there are several good ones like Yume Nikki, Goat Simulator or LSD; there also happen to be a whole lot of bad ones out there that don’t even tell an interesting story or have any sort of progression or exploration whatsoever.

    I guess my gripe with the walking simulator is what it’s come to represent, how it’s regarded as THE pinnacle of story-telling and narrative by people who don’t even like video games and everyone who doesn’t appreciate them are neanderthals and morons.

    But that’s an entirely different matter.

  • Kamelguru

    Fundamental flaw in applying the concept of power-gaming: There is no combination of stats and gear that will compensate for player skill and investment. In most other games, D&D included, you can have someone tell you “As a fighter, put 18 in strength and get this and that gear, and pick these feats/perks, and you’ll do fine”. In Souls, you need to learn the game first and foremost. Certain enemies will kill you almost regardless of gear if you don’t learn their tells/move-set/patters.

    And if you tone down difficulty, then everything that makes the game good goes away. No more tension, no more need to take in details, no more point to the meticulous enemy placements and no more depth. Just another bland power fantasy where you play unkillable self-insert on his/her merry slaughter-trip through a scenic realm of mobs only there to die by your hand.

    Think of it as cooking. To make truly great dishes, you need to invest time and do it right. A tv dinner you pop in the microwave will never taste as good. And if you don’t want to invest time or money to learn how to cook, you won’t experience what a passionate cook does when his/her food comes out perfect.

  • Kaspar X.

    I feel that dark soul itself escapes your schema of powergaming or role-playing in that it represents both sides to the extreme – hear me out. It kinda feels as if you are missing the point – like someone listening to a genius piece of music and saying “oh, it sounds pretty.”

    The difficulty is a feature. Instead, of the game conforming to the player, it drives personal change. You are presented with challenges and are expected to die. For some, this barrier may be very low or very high. This correlates with your character being undead – it comes back after every death; moving ever forward to the kiln of the first flame. The only way to lose the game is to quit or “go hollow”.

    You learn techniques and skill – instead of just your character leveling up – you yourself are leveling up after each encounter. I think that is the appeal in the game. Whether you use optimized builds or a wooden spoon in the game is up to your discretion, but personal judgement and skill is the main factor; a decent player wielding the best weapons/ stats can still loose to someone who is just messing around but is very skilled. The best damage in the game does nothing when it can’t hit. Nothing compares to that moment when you learn to judge the best course of action, dodging boss attacks by walking past them and striking weak points – punishing other players for their mistakes in pvp.

    There is great agency in dark souls that is lacking in other games.

    Futhermore, the story is something you must excavate and derive – it is not something that is forced down your throat. It leads to a sense of mystery and exploration.

    Dark souls is a very unique game in it is one of the very few games that act as a very transformative experience. It comes in a very nice package of gameplay.

  • Kaspar X.

    Eh, the hardest “monsters” are the players – while magic can cheese pve, pvp is an entirely different story – you will see many lamentations of magic not being viable in pvp as your standard weapons.

    There comes a point when the game doesn’t feel hard at all, and then you start to pvp – hoping to find a “master” player to fight against. Players have many improvements to their “AI”.

    Unless you plan to play without the internet off, you will have player interaction. Invasions keep the game running nicely.

  • Kaspar X.

    In essence, you are the one being tested, not your game character – I feel many game developers are missing the point here.