Games Get Easier When You’re Struggling
Some games have adaptive difficulty, even when they don’t explicitly state it — Max Payne and other shooters subtly change how much damage you take (and do) if you keep dying, while others like Dead Space procedurally generate more ammo (or less) depending on how much you’ve got in your inventory.
Resident Evil 4 goes a little further. After dying and reloading a save file, the game actually spawns fewer enemies. Sometimes the opposite is true too — games like Left 4 Dead will prioritize the best players on a team with zombie attacks.
The Last Few Shots Do More Damage
To really make your last shots count, games will increase the power of your weaponry’s last shot. In the Gears of War series, the last bullets in your magazine always do more damage than the first. In System Shock, your final bullet does double damage every single time — but that’s extremely helpful in a survival horror game, where ammo is extremely limited.
Sometimes the first shot is more useful too. In Half-Life 2, the shotgun always has a perfectly accurate pellet on the first shot — that way, if you’re aiming for something specific, the first shot will always land. Complete randomization isn’t always fun.
The developers of Gears of War used a devious trick to help beginners have more fun in online multiplayer. The devs discovered that 90% of players would quit forever if they lost their first multiplayer match. In Gears of War 2 and 3, first-time players get a host of buffs to ease them into the match, literally giving them an unfair advantage. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve had beginner’s luck in a video game — it might be because the devs wanted it that way.
Speed Is An Illusion
Video games are about spectacle. They want you to feel excitement when you blast enemies — and they want you to feel like you’re going fast when you hit that afterburner button. In games like Need For Speed, your boost actually doesn’t increase your speed that much — but the change in FOV and effects make you feel like you’re going way faster.
The biggest example of this is in Mass Effect. Your sprint doesn’t actually make you move any faster in combat. Seriously — the sprint helps you move faster outside of combat, but when the fights start the sprint does nothing at all. It only exists to make you feel like you’re running.
Destroy the illusion and discover some of the most fascinating ways developers trick us. Get more on the next page.