I don’t remember that last time I went somewhere and was asked how difficult I wanted my journey to be, but in virtual worlds, difficulty settings are becoming the norm.
Games like SWTOR, WoW and the upcoming Guild Wars 2, all have dungeon difficulty settings, mainly to allow casual players the opportunity to try out all dungeons without angering hardcore players. However, by doing so, at least in my opinion, it destroys player immersion into that virtual world.
I’ve only experienced dungeon levels in a few games, lastly in SWTOR, and they always felt like they weren’t part of the game. In SWTOR it felt like I was playing a mini-game of sorts, like PvP battlegrounds, that had nothing to do with the actual game itself.
To me, MMORPGs biggest selling point are the virtual worlds themselves, I think that’s why we all play them, to be part of a living, thriving world. Instances are bad enough, but when you add difficulty settings to them, it just completely destroys that sense you’re part of a living world.
The reasoning behind difficulty levels is straight forward enough, it’s to give all players, from the most casual to the most hardcore, the opportunity to try out all the game’s content, but is that right? If you’re a casual MMORPG gamer, do you think you should have access to every single dungeon in the game? Shouldn’t certain areas of the game need a certain level of skill and/or gear to complete?
Now, I’m not a fan of blocking content by gear restrictions either. Meaning, I don’t believe that dungeon A must be completed before it becomes possible to successfully complete dungeon B, but I do believe in some sort of gear requirement. I mean, you can’t walk into an end-game dungeon with average gear and think you’ll be able to complete it.
The difficulty settings seem to be just more rides for the theme-park MMORPG, where pleasing everyone and creating more content without really doing so, wins out to creating a real virtual world. What do you guys think? Do difficulties settings bother you or are you for them?