The current generation of gaming consoles have demonstrated an unprecedented level of success in terms of customer sales. Games have a mass appeal. Gamers are drawn to the technical spectacle and the potential challenge each game presents. It is in that depth of challenge, that willingness to chuck hour after hour of playtime into a single that defines the player’s relationship with games.
A few developers like From Software, Bethesda, Capcom, and Konami (until recently) have stood out from usual triple A pack by releasing games catered to the patient, methodical gamer. These particular games feature numerous systems and mechanics to master and dozens sized chunks of gamers’ lives are spent in devotion to games. A task as simple as a player wielding a spear can be featured in three game mechanics simultaneously.
Games with features appealing to the nit picking aspects of a gamer’s personality, those that will discern the tiniest detail, will freely change tactics to occur in order to clear seemingly insurmountable goal.
These gamers are more patient than others. These gamers need to learn and adapt many mechanics and systems into their play style to properly engage the challenge developers align together for their target audiences.
But what makes a game worthy of the label “hardcore?” What makes a gamer a“hardcore gamer?” Are numerous mechanics too hard for the casual gamer to learn or are some gamers just not patient enough? Do games ever cross a line beyond “casual?” If they do what makes those games susceptible for the “hardcore” label to be bestowed upon them?
5: Dark Souls: Gaming became firmly established in the mainstream by the third console generation of major consoles. The series that became synonymous with the term “hardcore gaming” ended up being From Software’s Souls series and Bloodborne by extension. Contending with any From excursion means a sacrifice is needed in terms of patience.
I remember what it took for myself to undertake an odyssey like Dark Souls 2, my first Souls experience. Prior to playing Dark Souls I sunk in hundreds of hours of Monster Hunter and some of the movement and attacking felt similar while juggling the stamina gauge with every move. I still did not anticipate the sheer volume of deaths my character experienced, no the death I experienced.
I think straight up dying over and over revealed a masochistic side of myself to appear that I did not know to have existed. Part of me liked dying to a massive extent. Part of me had to shrink into little bitch size and be punished over and over for a while in order to beat Dark Souls 2. I remember being cornered by those three Sentinel Knights in the boss fight and my college roommate at the time laughing his ass off at my angry screams. At times the challenge was a boss, an obstacle in a level, a gang of enemies but I did not know a time where I thought I had defeated the biggest challenge upon defeating any given enemy.
Divulging the weakness of an enemy may mean utilizing slashing damage instead of impact. What it means is sacrificing a favored weapon in favor another with the goal of the developer to train a versatile player. Introducing constant, varied, and most of all difficult challenges to overcome in an operation of simple minute-by-minute experience. Even low tier creeps pose a threat when a player approaches with a reckless blade.
Such an experience begs a question for the casual gamer: “Why bother?” The constant scepter of death may seem imposing. Indeed death happens much more than the average game. Some choice game3rs possess the willingness to try a different tactic after much repetition but most will be off putted. Attention spans are shortening and brands like the Souls series are at risk of attracting new gamers if attention spans decline any more. Rest assured any thing else From puts out will be met with the same reverence as any of their other games. From has not been known to disappoint.
4. Fallout 4
I would argue Fallout 4 appeals to a wider range of gamers than Fallout 3 beyond merely casual gamers because of the introduction of many mechanics. The Fallout 4 crafting and upgrade loop mechanics are enough to keep the hardcore players happy while they finagle with dozens of perks juggling many more mechanics. Dense upgrade systems are fresh meat for hardcore gamers have been known to sink their teeth in these for hundreds of hours.
The difficulty isn’t evident until the extreme “survival” setting. This lack of difficulty might defuse any notions of calling Fallout 4 a hardcore game but I disagree. The game appeals to the hidden control freak hidden in a lot of people. The Rupe Goldberg devices are an OCD dream. Yes, I would argue the game appeals to those with certain mental illnesses. The thousands of items can be arranged in a room to the gamer’s own specifications.
3. Monster Hunter
Veteran developer Capcom have been trucking with a relatively under-the-radar hardcore action RPG for over a decade now, even longer than any From Software production. Monster Hunter, the current, most well known variants, are the 3DS titles.
The franchise has roots in the PS2 era and it took to the PSP for a while with a few good games before really taking off on the 3DS. The integration with Nintendo proved to be a natural fit and with another 3DS iteration comes several additional layers of complexity are added. Recent layers have been a nifty overworld map and an entire frontier space where players can encounter random monsters in the wild. Plans are in motion to move the system back to PlayStation.
For newcomers the tutorials are essential to understand the numerous mechanics. Every piece of gear a hunter might need become essentials in Monster Hunter. The player has access to traps, bait, cat companions, bombs, poison throwing knives, etc. The player needs to maintain the life and stamina bar and then there are the monsters.
Each environment has mechanics of its own. Deserts drain health. The Tundra saps stamina. Collectible items are stashed in dozens of locations in the 10 or so zones on every map.
The monsters are notoriously difficult to put down. Included are giant birds of prey, giant dragons, wyverns, and all a matter of dino creatures and paleo mammals. They are all spectacularly animated and possess endless strings of attacks and beam attacks and states of rage. If the player or various player and cat companions slaughter the critter than they can carve it up a few times and buy gear to hunt bigger critters.
The player has access 14 weapon types and 4 different styles to choose from (6 as of most recent version released in Japan for the 3DS) and special hunter arts (think of hadoken-like fighting moves) and many combo combinations to learn. The tutorials do an okay job of welcoming newbies into the active fold of gamers. To understand to the level of an “expert” one might look online at the numerous sites devoted to MH knowledge, there’s a few cool apps to download to facilitate easy searching.