Am I the only one that doesn't care about difficulty spikes/no balance in RPGs?

#1Dr JackalPosted 3/23/2013 6:46:35 PM(edited)
I see people use poor difficulty balance or difficulty spikes as a knock on certain RPGs. I realized that I have never really cared about it much in RPGs. If anything, I kinda prefer it that way. I think natural "difficulty progression" is boring. You know the enemies in the last dungeons are going to be hardest(assuming your leveling is up to scale of course). I like when I'll be at some random dungeon in the middle of the game and enemies pack a wallop and you don't expect it. I think it shakes things up a bit. You always have to be on your toes because you can breeze through a good 5-10 hours, but the next dungeon may be significantly more difficult out of nowhere.

Generally, I find maybe 1-5% of all RPGs I play hard, so maybe if I played a game that had difficulty spikes make the game unplayable, I would think differently. But in RPGs you can almost always grind your way out of trouble, so I don't even imagine how that would be a problem.

To me difficulty spikes are much more egregious in action games. Action games are much more about settling into a comfort zone and a certain style of play, and if halfway in there is a huge difficulty spike, it can throw you for a loop. Plus grinding doesn't do much in action games.
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#2shadowysea07Posted 3/23/2013 7:33:52 PM
depends on the spike and how you can adapt to it. grinding isn't always an option in some games or it can be worthless to.
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#3ParominPosted 3/23/2013 8:13:25 PM
Grinding should never be required for the main game. Which also means grinding should never be used as an excuse to justify a difficulty spike in the main game. Ever.

That said, I don't mind a difficulty spike that punishes people who have been making mindless decisions with customization. Within limits of course. If the game has been super easy up until the last dungeon, a difficulty spike at the last boss is just silly. If a developer is going to do a difficulty spike do it early and often, don't wait until the end of the game.

If there's a quick way to restructure your party then difficulty spikes are fine too. I don't want to grind for an hour to get a useless/subpar skill that suddenly becomes necessary. I also don't like artificial spikes caused by forcing certain party members against story bosses. Like some crappy character/s are mandatory in the next boss battle, where they can't do **** because I didn't bother to use them ever because they suck and the system for XP distribution is bad.
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#4XeonGQPosted 3/23/2013 8:34:11 PM
Paromin posted...
Grinding should never be required for the main game. Which also means grinding should never be used as an excuse to justify a difficulty spike in the main game. Ever.

That said, I don't mind a difficulty spike that punishes people who have been making mindless decisions with customization. Within limits of course. If the game has been super easy up until the last dungeon, a difficulty spike at the last boss is just silly. If a developer is going to do a difficulty spike do it early and often, don't wait until the end of the game.

If there's a quick way to restructure your party then difficulty spikes are fine too. I don't want to grind for an hour to get a useless/subpar skill that suddenly becomes necessary. I also don't like artificial spikes caused by forcing certain party members against story bosses. Like some crappy character/s are mandatory in the next boss battle, where they can't do **** because I didn't bother to use them ever because they suck and the system for XP distribution is bad.


This is pretty much how I feel as well.

Tsugunai: Atonement had a totally ridiculous difficulty spike at the last boss; I managed to beat it only through a combination of grinding, luck, and spamming items that revive your character when he's killed. You basically have to focus on nothing but staying alive while your summons very slowly whittle the boss down.
#5Dr Jackal(Topic Creator)Posted 3/23/2013 9:51:05 PM
I kind of agree with that basic premise.

If they wait until the last boss, then yeah. Especially if you can't backtrack out of the final dungeon.

That said, I kinda like inconsistent difficulty in general. Like in Lost Odyssey one of the toughest bosses in the game was one of the earliest bosses. Then after a little while past that there is a dip in difficulty. Then some tougher bosses in the meat of the game. I don't mind that at all. I like when random dungeons and bosses are tougher than anything up until that point. But I agree tha waiting until the final boss is lame.
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Undefeated lifetime.
Currently playing: Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite, Metal Gear Rising, Far Cry 3, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, Ni no Kuni
#6AkazoraPosted 3/23/2013 9:54:59 PM
To be honest as much as I bring up the futility of numbers or imbalance of RPGs, I find that the real staying power in them isn't about game balance but always having an attainable and material goal to work towards.

In fact, high difficulty in turn based RPGs is practically synonymous with tedium - Normal encounters that are like boss fights are fun for a while but tend to wear on you faster than ones you can just AOE down on the first turn.

Imbalance can make a game boring and make me stop sure, but having nothing to look forward to tends to be the real killer. Just ask people who played Far Cry 3 - Its not that the side content isn't fun once you beat the game, its just that its meaningless and thus all motivation for it is lost.
#7SunderwearPosted 3/24/2013 6:14:53 AM
I prefer the difficulty spike being more unknown. The ones I really hate are when the generic enemy is way harder than the boss, the kind where they just 1 shot kill or party kill/control even though you know you grinded and most fodder are a breeze for that area.

But other than that, I've never found a problem with difficulty spikes in general otherwise it'd be the blah-blah-blah kind of game.

The only way I can think of to remove general statistical difficulty spikes is to just remove the part of how characters levels and/or equipment make all the numbers difference. Make it so your levels/equipment don't mean too much in a raw numbers value. Unfortunately this may mean that character skills/stats and the sort may have to more fixed on your progression in the story, but this part has is merits too.

Other than the numbers difficulty, the game would just have to turned into a more skill based game. However doing that has already proven some issues with playability for certain cases but I guess that can't be helped. But you still gotta avoid the design of ultra-aggressive and chicken-butt methods as viable tactics.
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#8ZenithianHeroPosted 3/24/2013 7:36:34 AM
I'm okay with them if I have means to prepare, and if the said spike is common in the game as opposed to just final dungeon.
I like the imbalance of ecosystem. Have stronger enemies mixed in with weaker ones feels natural.
#9Guts_LeonheartPosted 3/30/2013 6:44:30 AM
As long as you can suddenly adjust to the spike, I hated it when I lost over an hour of progress from a sudden difficultly spike where I realized what was going on but I couldn't adjust in time ie you can't set things up accordingly in combat etc.
#10shadowysea07Posted 3/30/2013 8:15:53 AM
I think the dumbest thing to do is have over powered enemies just running around in the very first sections of the game with the weak ones. especially if they are reskins. okage and blue dragon have these and it was so annoying that while i was chaining some enemies and gathering chests and such random monsters appear that deal 8x more damage than my characters hp.
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You've been taking writing tips from stephanie meyer haven't you? oh you poor thing.
Nuns? Nuns threw soap at me? Nuns think i'm a bad mother?