‘Elden Ring’ creator Hidetaka Miyazaki talks balancing difficulty with accessibility

"We don’t want players to feel like the game is unfairly punishing"

Dark Souls and Elden Ring creator Hidetaka Miyazaki has explained how FromSoftware has tried to balance delivering a challenging game without making it too off-putting for new players.

Earlier today (January 28), Playstation Blog published an in-depth interview with FromSoftware director Hidetaka Miyazaki. Around halfway through the interview, Miyazaki is asked how discourse surrounding game difficulty and accessibility has affected FromSoftware’s development of Elden Ring.

Miyazaki says the team has tried to be more mindful of accessibility in its games, and says it’s a “valid discussion”.

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“We don’t try to force difficulty or make things hard for the sake of it. We want players to use their cunning, study the game, memorise what’s happening, and learn from their mistakes. We don’t want players to feel like the game is unfairly punishing, but rather that there’s a chance to win a difficult encounter and make progress,” explained Miyazaki.

“We understand that Souls-like games are regularly associated with impossible levels of difficulty with high barriers to entry. But we try to design the games to make the cycle of repeatedly trying to overcome these challenges enjoyable in itself. So we hope that with Elden Ring and the new options it provides, it will be a success in that respect.”

Elden Ring
Elden Ring. Credit: FromSoftware

Continuing, Miyazaki says FromSoftware has “not intentionally tried to lower the game’s difficulty,” but he thinks that “more players will finish it this time.”

“As I mentioned, the player’s level of freedom to progress through the world or return to a challenge later are all elements that I feel will help people get through the game at a more leisurely pace. Also, there isn’t a focus on pure action. The player has more agency to dictate their approach against, for example, the field bosses in the overworld and how they utilize stealth in various situations. We’ve even reduced the number of hoops that you have to jump through to enjoy it in multiplayer. So we hope the players embrace that idea of receiving help from others. And we feel like the overall clear rate will go up this time because of these things.”

Miyazaki also confirmed that as well as still being difficult, Elden Ring will also include other features like New Game + and multiple endings that FromSoftware’s past titles have included.

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Outside of Elden Ring, Miyazaki said that he recently had time to play It Takes Two, and said that it “really left an impression” on him. Miyazaki also said that “it’s continually fun to play and felt extremely fresh to me right up until the end, which was impressive to me as a fellow creator.”

In other news, Eidos-Montréal said the studio worked on Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy because of a shared “underdog” mentality.

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