The Witcher 3's "dark" difficulty setting features permadeath and nail-biting difficulty.
While EA is lamenting that games are too hard these days, The Witcher 3 dev CD Projekt Red argues that they aren't hard enough. Speaking with VG24/7, quest designer Philipp Weber tells us how The Witcher 3 won't be pulling any punches, even on its "normal" difficulty setting. "Normal should be a challenge," Webber explained, telling us that in most games, "normal is easy, and easy is - well, you can be on your phone while playing."
He told us that The Witcher 3 will be "easy to learn but hard to master," and that he really wants players to start to struggle with it towards the end. "There's a nice curve. It gets more difficult the more you progress in the game, but also you will learn more and more things." Enemies do not scale in The Witcher 3, and combat requires precise and accurate timing. Venture too far into end-game territory without the proper experience and you will get slaughtered.
When asked where he would put The Witcher 3's "normal" difficulty setting on a chart, with Skyrim right down the bottom, and Dark Souls at the top, Webber told us it would be somewhere close to the middle. However, when asked about the game's punishingly difficult "dark" mode, well, he said that wasn't even on the same chart.
"Dark difficulty is something that many people in the company are very passionate about," said Webber. As well turning the difficulty up to its very highest setting, Dark difficulty also features permadeath. "[Many people] want a real challenge. If you die five minutes before the ending, it's over. There are actually people who have already done it."
In a world of hand-holding tutorials and games that literally have a mode where you can just watch the cutscenes while the game plays itself, it's good to see devs like CD Projekt Red stick to their guns and actually make games that are challenging.
Call me an old man, but back in my day, games were supposed to be hard. That was the whole point!