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I never thought I’d say this…but after playing Dark Souls and Minecraft, having a game hold my hand isn’t so bad after all.
After beating Dark Souls on new-game-plus-plus and obtaining all achievements, I don’t have a sense of accomplishment. Completing 100 percent of a game normally gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, but not this time.*
I would probably feel that sense of accomplishment if I didn’t have to look online for tips so often. I know; I know. Dark Souls is meant to be difficult, but I don’t see how someone can attain every rare weapon and join every covenant in the game without consulting a guide.
During my first time playing through the game, I missed out on a few optional areas and boss fights mainly because I read no tips nor watched any gameplay videos whatsoever. This was expected.
However, upon looking up what to do to complete certain side quests, I didn’t respond with "aha!," but with "what?!"
For instance, in order to join the Blade of the Darkmoon Covenant, the player has to have the Darkmoon Seance Ring equipped while standing in front of a certain statue in Anor Londo. That isn’t difficult…except for the fact that the game doesn’t even hint at the player to do this. The ring’s description reads:
This ring is granted to adherents of Gwyndolin, Darkmoon deity and last born of Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight.
Grants additional magic attunement slots. The Dark Sun Gwyndolin is the only remaining deity in Anor Londo. His followers are few, but their tasks are of vital importance.
Optional side quests or not, there’s no way I would’ve figured out what to do when all I’m given is some cryptic lore to work with.
Other side quests and shortcuts require the player to strike some not-so-obvious breakable walls; do some platforming (in a game clearly not meant for platforming); kill key, friendly, non-player characters; and to even quit out the game after dropping specific items.
The game’s multiplayer allows players to write messages that appear in other players’ worlds. For the most part it works well, but it still doesn’t cover some the obscure side quests, nor does it do anything for offline players.
Perhaps I’m just dumb or inattentive, but From Software could have thrown me a bone.
Minecraft could divulge some more info as well. The game’s achievements do a good job of getting a newbie started with the basics, but there were still plenty of things I had to look up to understand.
Friends of mine called me foolish for refusing to look at any Minecraft wikis as I first started playing the game. This attitude puzzled me.
Why should I have to read an external wiki to understand a game’s fundamentals?
For a long time, I had no idea you could create a portal to the Nether, the game's underworld. I’m sure it was mentioned whenever the Halloween update hit, but how are new players supposed to know that a four-by-five obsidian structure could transport them to another world, especially when nothing else in the game behaves that way?
Hell, why wouldn't you tell players about this?
I enjoy discovering and playing through games on my own as much as the next guy, but every minute spent looking online is one better spent actually playing the game. Developers don’t have to — nor should they — give away every secret. Side quests and secrets should be hidden enough to provide satisfaction but not be so inaccessible that they require gamers to stop playing and look online.
The next time a game marks a side mission with a big blue waypoint for me, I won’t mind so much. Sure, I’ll feel like I’m being babysat. But at least I’ll fight my way through bad guys instead of Google searches.
Should gamers be able to figure everything out from within the game itself? Do you think it's more satisfying to go through a game with help from the community or on your own? Feel free to share your thoughts and stir the pot below!
*I understand that truly achieving 100 percent in Dark Souls means beating the game 8 times.