In 2020, RPGs Still Have a Huge Problem Balancing Difficulty

The RPG genre is one of the most beloved in all of video games. Compared to other genres, role-playing games have incredibly loyal fan bases, with many RPG buffs following franchises over multiple console generations. Their extravagant storylines and unique characters make for some of the greatest adventures in video game history. However, RPGs still have their fair share of problems.

As it stands, the genre has an ongoing issue with difficulty. RPGs have struggled to find the right amount of difficulty ever since the genre emerged on video game consoles, veering between wildly difficult and far too easy.

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A lot of gamers are complaining that the Bravely Default II demo is far too hard. Enemies are so strong that one wrong move could take out your entire team, and many players felt they were ill-equipped right from the start of the game. Not being able to see the move order makes things even more difficult. This turns many players off, especially if they are new to the RPG genre. Of course, Bravely Default II is far from being the first RPG to suffer from these problems, and it won’t be the last.

Role-Playing Games can be very complicated if you aren’t used to them. Many require players to take the time to figure out all the nuts and bolts of the game. The complex nature of RPGs cause them to be somewhat of a niche genre, as they’re not the type of games you can just jump into and expect to understand quickly. They take time and dedication to fully appreciate, which can be overwhelming for newcomers to the genre. Knowing when to use a certain spell or what equipment to put on your character can be strenuous. If you haven’t taken the time to figure out the game, it can be extremely frustrating.

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It’s hard to please everyone, though, as RPG fans are a very diverse group of people. Some want challenging dungeons with an in-depth story, while others want a more relaxed experience with a focus on stat building. This can put developers in a rough spot. They want to please the die-hard fans without pushing away the novice players. No matter how hard developers try to please everyone, there is always someone who won’t be able to pass a specific part of a game.

Final Fantasy VII Remake also suffers from difficulty problems but goes in the other direction of Bravely Default II. Many fans believe the game is way too easy. It wouldn’t be surprising if Square Enix dimmed down the difficulty to make the game more appealing to newcomers. After all, the Final Fantasy franchise is perhaps the most popular RPG series for people just getting into the genre. The developers didn’t want to ramp up the difficulty knowing a lot of new players will likely pick up the game. This might have displeased avid fans, but probably helped create more fans of the series.

Developers are in somewhat of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. They can target a specific hardcore RPG audience, but run the risk of driving off potential new fans. On the opposite end, if developers make the game to easy, they can upset the already established fanbase. Backlash is sometimes unavoidable, especially when you are dealing with niche video game genres with extremely loyal fans. The everlasting battle to find the perfect RPG difficulty continues, and it doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon.

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RPGs are often criticized for being too hard or too easy. Even in 2020, the genre still can't seem to find its perfect balance of difficulty.

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