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This is partly inspired from a comment exchange on Joe's Outlast II Review: ( Time Stamp: 09:43 ) I think Joe's criticism is completely reasonable but a lot of people actually said stuff like "Well you're playing on the highest difficulty Joe, sheesh modern gamers are so spoiled, such filthy casuals, why play on the hardest difficulty and bitch that it's hard?" Now... obviously I took some liberties on what was actually said and I'm paraphrasing even though the original conversation was lost somewhere between mountains of "Do more Angry Reviews" and "Del is fat" which are all *obviously* valid criticisms and have never been said before and thus need to be repeated, you can still see examples of what I mean: It's a relatively recent comment ( 1 week ago ) and has a decent amount of likes, which I will personally see as people who agree with his statement. Now with the proper context provided let me try and tackle this criticism, first of all can we all agree that unless the challenge provided by the difficulty is fair it suggests lazy, or bad design? Obviously you can make every game hard if you increase every NPC's health and damage tenfold but is that the best design we can muster for the difficulty, is it even good? Specifically in Outlast II that wouldn't make the game harder because, you can't fight back at all, it's run or hide, so how can we make that harder? Well I pointed out Thief:The Dark Project (Not the ReBoot ) , which as the title suggests is a Stealth game, the difference between Normal and Expert isn't "Guards can now see you through walls and hear you even if you didn't make any sounds" The differences are much more appropriate, such as: Total amount of Gold you need to acquire in the Mission in order to proceed Total amount of Objectives you need to complete in order to proceed, for example on Normal you might find a note suggesting there's a valuable item somewhere around that's not essential or tied to the mission's purpose, and you can choose whether to pursue it as it is a side objective, but on Expert you NEED to do it, as it is counted as a main objective Total amount of Guards in the mission You cannot kill ANYONE, which is largely irrelevant as you literally cannot fight your way through the game, you know... because it's an actual Stealth game... but is an inconvenience admittedly Placement of gems, pouches of gold and amount of gold are altered, patrols may be changed as to prevent easy and convenient routes... Let me provide an in-game example, notice how on anything less than Expert Basso the Boxman is not even mentioned! Now notice how none of those changes alter the AI but still make the game's missions harder and longer without creating any sort of "unfairness"? Isn't that objectively a better way to create difficulty? Since it doesn't make the enemies blind and deaf while also doesn't make them like Superman because they have X-Ray vision and super hearing? Doesn't it also cost less of the budget and is generally faster than fiddling with the AI? I suppose there's still a place for such a challenge in the form of handicap, but I think Thief's difficulty is handles much better than Outlast II. But one could argue that this method is not flawless, as the AI is still competent on all difficulties so even one guard may prove a challenge too great for someone new to the game or genre, there's always one solution though: But in all seriousness I'd counter by asking what being "good" at Stealth games really comes down to? Patience and map awareness, you observe the guard, you take a mental note of his path, wait for him to pass and sneak past successfully, being impatient is actually the source of the so called "bad at stealth" bullshit and people who are impatient are inherently not the targeted demographic of Stealth games, so the problem is non-existent. Now with the hiding covered *ba dum tss* we can move on to running, how can that be made harder? Well, that's fairly easy, there's a whole genre based around making running hard and convoluted, platforming: Outlast II's take is certainly not as good as it could be, I'm not sure if the confusion on where to run to is intended or not but it's unreasonable to deny it's effect on the difficulty "Oh no, I was seen and now I have to run for my life, oh shit this level is deliberately made like a maze so I don't really know where to run towards" that COULD be fun for a specific level, once or twice but not ALL GAME LONG for sure. Why would you frustrate the players like that? Especially when you keep in mind that an angry person is less likely to be scared by the game/movie/ETC, and so your Horror game fails, hard. Why would you create the illusion of open ended levels? I often criticize shitty FPS games like Call of Duty for the linear level design, a literal straight line with one turn along the way with some "enemy intel" and a dead end, but that would have been better for Outlast II, because that path you'll need to run through can have obstacles placed on it, and thus make timing important " Oh I pressed jump too soon/too late and I couldn't get past this branch, now I'm caught and dead... " Anyway I actually wanted to cover more genres of games such as FPS so we could address "Bullet sponges" and such, but I feel this is already too long and most likely boring, but what do you think? Did Thief nail challenge despite being 19 years old? Or am I just overpraising workarounds due to the technical limitations developers had back then, and most importantly, why? Thanks for reading.