The best games have the smartest learning curves

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It looks like There is nothing more controversial in the gaming world than difficulty. Everyone has strong opinions on this topic, usually along one of two lines: firstly, games should be played by people of all skill levels, or secondly, that anyone who wants to call themselves a gamer needs to have the stamina to win. . .

However, there is another take on this discussion that makes games accessible to less experienced players without making them too easy for those willing to challenge: smart learning curves. All games have some a form of learning curve, naturally, but there’s a way to build them that doesn’t leave so many people in a position to die all the time without knowing why; one that, through clever design, teaches them game mechanics and maneuvers, even if they make mistakes.

Case in point: Rise of the Tomb Raider, the middle installment of the well-received Square Enix reboot of the Lara Croft franchise. I die on average every 10 minutes or so when I play, but after five hours of play time, I’m still having too much fun to stop.

Unlike the game ancient ringwhere i died six times in the first half hourevery death in Rise of the Tomb Raider seems instructive. Many people support ancient ring not too hard, because frequent death is intentional and should help you learn to overcome (or run away from) challenges. Is not. Death in the game seems to be random, and it’s frustrating not to know if it’s caused by low levels, magic, or ignorance of the available weapons and skills. This is very frustrating. Growthon the other hand, allows you to see where you went wrong and correct it.

To make it clear Rise of the Tomb Raider in some way there are difficulty settings ancient ring no, and easy mode is actually easy. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Most of the game consists of jumping, running, sliding, avoiding obstacles and figuring out how to avoid booby traps. As far as I can tell, none of these mechanics are affected by difficulty settings, which means I need to figure out how to get through Lara’s blood, sweat, and tears.

But here’s the thing: I’ve actually never died more than once in any particular task. Often I don’t know what’s going on or screwed something up, but when I die, I see exactly what I did wrong and how to fix it. And because the game brings me back to where I was Correctly before I died, it’s very easy to solve this and move on to the next one. It doesn’t feel like repetition, and the game doesn’t force you to replay five to ten minutes (or longer, ugh) to solve the one thing you didn’t understand the first time around.

Every time I die, I learn something, and the lesson is delivered gently enough that I write it down rather than get upset. (Gentle sounds like an odd word for a game that has brutal death scenes – too many times I’ve seen Lara impaled – but in this case it’s accurate.)

There’s something to be said for a game that throws you into its own world with no tutorial or explanation on how to play and expects you to figure it out as you progress. Some people like such a challenge, such an exciting experience. These people are not me. I prefer a smooth learning curve that teaches me what I need to know but doesn’t overwhelm me. die in Rise of the Tomb Raider helps me build my character, not destroy my self-confidence. This gives me what I need.


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