Of Dark Souls and Gatekeeping

Dark Souls

Disclaimer – I am a veteran of the Dark Souls/SoulsBorneKiro series. I imported Demon’s Souls before 90% of you even knew what a Souls game was. I ain’t no “casual scrub” – 1v1 me, bro

You know what boils my piss? Gatekeeping. It sucks more than a cocaine-addled Hoover. To me, it doesn’t matter what gate is being kept, because, for the most part, it tends to be a bit douchey. As a gamer, these guarded realms are everywhere. You can’t go more than three finger-swipes on Twitbook before stumbling across some cock-womble defending the sanctity of their favourite game. None, however, are more prevalent than the portal being vehemently watched by the ever-vigilant Dark Souls community – specifically concerning the difficulty. Souls-keepers will defend the lack of an Easy Mode to the death. The question, therefore, is why?

Like the eternally ambiguous world of Lordran, and its many iterations, the answer is neither black, white, simple or clear. The go-to defence used by most watchers goes something along the lines of: 

“Why should developers include features that don’t fit with their original vision.” 

Joe Souls

This, honestly, is a rock-solid argument. I don’t disagree in the slightest. Artistic vision should always be respected, and if developers don’t want to include more accessible difficulties, then more power to them. Nobody should be forcing them to do anything. But that isn’t the real reason most of the old guard still watch the arch. No, this a front; a ruse; a lie. It’s a line spun to seem selfless – a thin veil to cover true motives. 

Nah, the real reason is that they don’t want their superiority complexes to be diminished should their game be more accessible. It’s ultimately about throbbing e-dongs. If their super difficult game got an easy mode, it would seriously impact the size of their thunderous inter-shafts. The concept that somebody can dare to enjoy a game they enjoy, in a different way that doesn’t directly impact their enjoyment, somehow directly impacts their enjoyment. 

Dark Souls

“These games are fun because of the challenge of overcoming insurmountable odds.” 


Another argument that, unlike the first, rings closer to the truth. But some people just like the world, or the lore. Heck, some people might just enjoy the more grounded combat system and bullshit hitboxes. None of that actually matters because it ignores one fundamental truth about challenge – like this article, it’s mostly subjective.

What is easy for me, might be difficult for someone else. If I beat a game on its default setting, which, let’s say for the sake of argument, I found challenging, and a lesser human beat it on a reduced difficulty and also found it challenging, then we both experienced the game how it was intended. What was oppressive, grim and dire for me was equally so for the casuals.

All of this ignores the issue of accessibility though. The world we currently live in is all about making things more accessible to a wider audience. Some people simply can’t play Souls on default because of legitimately hindering circumstances. A more accessible difficulty could open the series up, which, in turn, generates more income for FromSoftware. As a fan of the series, this sounds like a win to me.

But let’s be honest here – none of this will change anything. A large subsection of the Dark Souls community is dead set on keeping the series locked down tighter than a COVID-19 hotspot. The very concept of undeserving casuals being able to play their game ruins their own experience. It tarnishes their viscous pool of video game viagra. Does the series NEED an easy mode? No. Do the developer’s NEED to add one? No. Are the underlying reasons for an easy mode not being included ludicrous? For the most part, yes.

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