Screenshot from Elden Ring

Do the Difficulty Settings of Elden Ring Make It an Unenjoyable Game?

While the game's limited features turn some players away, others choose to see it as an opportunity to git gud.
March 17, 2022
7 mins read

Since the release of Elden Ring in late February, it has seen nothing but success across all platforms. However, the unchangeable difficulty of the game appears to pose an issue for even the most experienced of players.

Game Breakdown

Elden Ring is a new action role-playing game (RPG) that allows players to explore, fight and loot in an extensive open world. The third-person fantasy game is set in the fictional world of Lands Between, a large magical realm ruled by demigods. The Lands Between is riddled with many creatures for players to fight, level up their skills and collect rare items.


While the game is an open world, meaning players are free to wander wherever they would like at any point in time, there is still a basic storyline for players to follow. The storyline is only a boss fight list and is more of a suggestion. However, following the list helps players collect items needed to partake in more intense battles, allowing them to reach even more treacherous parts of the fantasy world.

When players first start the game, they must choose a character base from 10 different classes. These classes feature various skills, allowing gamers to tailor their character to their specific playstyle. As players progress in the game, they can level up these skills. They are not stuck with the chosen playstyle for the game’s entirety.

To ‘beat’ the game, players must defeat all bosses. Elden Ring developer FromSoftware stated that average players should expect to put in around 50 hours of gameplay before reaching this point. As always, some outliers (also known as speedrunners) strive to complete the game as quickly as possible. Regardless, each playthrough of Elden Ring can differ, with players having complete control over their character’s choices.

Other Games by FromSoftware

FromSoftware is no stranger to action RPGs. The company has seen widespread success from prior RPG franchises such as the Souls games and Bloodborne. They also created the action-adventure game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which notably won The Game Awards’ Game of the Year award in 2019.

While other games developed by FromSoftware do not correlate with the story of Elden Ring, avid FromSoftware players and fans will find themselves at a slight advantage when playing the game. Many game controls, narrative structures and themes are similar to those found in previously released games.

Elden Ring was directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director responsible for Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Dark Souls III and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, among other games. Miyazaki collaborated with well-known fantasy author George R. R. Martin, creator of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, and author of the titular series on which the famous “Game of Thrones” television series is based.

Together, the two artists crafted a compelling and extensive storyline that dazzles players regardless of their FromSoftware gameplay background.

Game Difficulty

Like the developer’s previous games, most infamously Dark Souls, there is no way to alter gameplay difficulty. PC and console games offer customizable difficulty levels to appeal to a broader audience. Such range allows amateur and professional players to enjoy the same game.

However, offering various difficulty settings can drastically alter the games’ intended structure because certain features must be removed to make gameplay easier. While this allows players with different experience levels to play the same game together, the changeable difficulty settings can potentially ruin certain aspects.

FromSoftware has a reputation of forcing gamers to play at the same difficulty setting. This has a lot to do with the wishes of Miyazaki. When asked why the Dark Souls games cannot be completed on different levels of difficulty, he stated, “We don’t want to include a difficulty selection because we want to bring everyone to the same level of discussion and the same level of enjoyment.” Miyazaki would later say that it is their goal to challenge each player to progress through their games in ways that best suit them.

This lone factor has caused some gamers to avoid FromSoftware games as a whole. On the other hand, some gamers cherish the fact that everyone is playing the same game and fighting the same bosses without any discrepancies in difficulty from player to player.

Elden Ring Reviews and Future

Elden Ring has been an enormous success in the world of gaming. The game had the highest profits during the first week of release of any FromSoftware title. The game’s massive popularity speaks volumes for its lack of customizable difficulties.

Elden Ring’s popularity has also affected gamers who favor first-person shooter games, who have dropped their guns to wield the countless weapons provided in this new game.  While there is a combination of reviews ranging from fantastic to disappointing, it is safe to say that more players lean toward the fantastic side.

Popular game and entertainment website IGN has given the game a 10/10.  The YouTube channel Game Informer said Elden Ring is “one of the best games of all time.”

While the unchangeable nature of Elden Ring could propose a slight problem for some people, it has also inspired and intrigued many to persevere to the end of the game. Elden Ring is easily the most popular game of 2022 at this moment and may hold onto that spot for quite a while.

Janey Schmidt, Columbia College Chicago

Writer Profile

Janey Schmidt

Columbia College Chicago
Bachelor of Arts in English

I have always been an avid reader no matter the format. I am especially eager to read, write, and talk about all things fantasy!

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