When it comes to his upcoming video game projects, Hideo Kojima likes to keep things close to the chest. This is most true for his latest upcoming project, Death Stranding. Not much is really known about the game and only scant details have been revealed about the plot, which appears to revolve around the main character, played by Norman Reedus, traveling to far away colonies for some unspecified reason. There’s even more mystery about the gameplay as all we’ve seen is Norman Reedus fighting people, using his creepy baby capsule to detect monsters and, well, peeing after waking up, which got a really strong reaction when the gameplay demo was shown!
There is one bit of information Hideo Kojima has revealed about Death Stranding, though, and it’s that it’s going to have a “very easy” mode. He mentions that, while most games already have an “easy” mode, “very easy” mode will cater to those who just want to experience Death Stranding and, more specifically, for movie buffs who don’t regularly play video games… because these guys would also want to watch Norman Reedus pee, I guess.
Now, for all of those “hardcore” gamers, this might sound like an incredibly awful idea. After all, what’s the point of playing a video game if you’re not going to “beat” the game? Why bother playing it if you’re not going to challenge yourself?
A part of me does think of this since, while I’m not all that good at playing video games, I do feel the rush of satisfaction when I do beat a level or finally take down that boss that’s been giving me trouble. It’s just not the same when you dumb things down. This is no doubt why a lot of gamers take pride when the finish a game that’s supposed to be uber-difficult like the original Castlevania or beating Mike Tyson in Punch-Out. Heck, I went up to Mr. Sandman and I just couldn’t beat him! I blame the lag! It’s the lag, I tell you!
If you really think about it, however, adding a “very easy” mode, especially to a game like Death Stranding and, more importantly, a game produced by Hideo Kojima, is kind of a good idea.
When you think of a Hideo Kojima game, what pops into your mind? You’ll probably think of something innovative and something totally unique like only Hideo Kojima can dream up. You might focus on how many 4th wall breaking elements it might have or the callbacks to his other games. That’s fair. When I think of a Hideo Kojima game, however, I always get drawn to the story and how cinematic it all feels. Most of his games feel like they would be a plot from some epic movie or groundbreaking television series. This is especially true when you remember all of the cutscenes his games have. Not that I mind. I really love the cutscenes as they come off a little rewards for doing well.
“Little rewards.” That’s the operative phrase, though, isn’t it? Whenever I play a Hideo Kojima game, I beat the stage or get to a certain point in the mission, I am rewarded with a really fantastic cutscene that moves the plot forward and shows more character development. They’re like a carrot at the end of a stick, propelling me forward and enticing me to continue playing the game. By the end, I feel like I’ve experienced some mind-bending story that’s something that I couldn’t have experienced any other place. It’s a great experience that you can’t completely explain to someone who doesn’t play video games.
In a way, I kind of feel sorry for non-gamers as they have not experienced some of the epic stories that only can be found in video games. Oh, I really mean “experienced” because, when it comes to video games, the stories have more impact because you’re in the thick of things. You’re the plumber saving the princes and overcoming all the dangers. You’re the anti-hero who pulled off the huge bank robbery. You’re the lowly farmer who rose up the ranks to become the hero of the realm. You can tell the story but it won’t have the same impact as if you actually were part of the story. That’s only something that you can experience while playing video games. I guess it’s possible to still enjoy the story by watching a Let’s Play… but you know it’s still not the same.
In this respect, Hideo Kojima adding a “very easy” mode to Death Stranding is allowing people who don’t usually play video games the chance to experience the same highs and lows we do. We play and then we get to the cutscene, that little reward we enjoy for playing up to a certain point. Honestly, I think this would be good for the gaming community at large as video games are still widely misunderstood by most outsiders. We’re still thought of a basement dwelling introverts who are too invested into a childish hobby. If even a small portion of these outsiders do try to play Death Stranding and enjoy the experience, maybe the general stigma would be relieved, even just a little bit as they would finally understand why we like video games so much.
At the same time, there is a big part of me that does believe that a “very easy” mode is rather off-putting. Like I mentioned before, a lot of gamers play video game, not only for the story, but for the challenge. There is definitely a rush when you beat a boss or a wave of relief when you finally reach a checkpoint after an incredibly difficult level. There’s this flood of endorphins we get because of trouble the game put us through… but we managed to beat it! Of course, the opposite can be true when we aren’t able to pass a level because it just prove too darned difficult and we just want to scream and throw the controller into the television screen in frustration.
This is part of the gaming lifestyle. Every gamer has definitely felt like this at one point. The easiest solution is to, of course, lower the difficulty settings and, while that’s a option, a lot of gamers don’t do it because of pride or whatnot. I personally try to hold off lowering the difficulty as much as humanly possible until I just figure out that I’m not skilled enough to beat it, which is when I will bite the bullet.
Will the casuals who play Death Stranding on “very easy” mode understand why we enjoy playing on the more difficult settings? I doubt that. They probably won’t understand since they just want to experience the story and, while I get that, they just don’t get why it can be fun to feel so frustrated as well. There’s always a part of us that wants to prove we can do it and that goes to non-gamers as well. Maybe it’s something as simple at throwing a piece of trash from a good distance and tossing it right in the middle of the basket. I mean, you’ve seen a lot of people, when they miss, run up to get the trash and then run back to their original spot to make a second attempt, right? We just have to prove we can do it!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I totally get what Hideo Kojima is doing by adding a “very easy” mode in Death Stranding. It’s a great way to attract more people who are intimidated by video games and an even better way for them to understand why video games are so great. On the opposite side of the coin though, their understanding of why playing games because of the challenge is going to be very limited. Even so, I will take that little bit of understanding over them just saying video games are stupid.
What do you think of Death Stranding’s “very easy” mode? Let me know in the comments section below!