The Pros of Difficulty

This weekend has been amazing! Orbus is a seriously enjoyable game and I can’t wait for the next beta and launch. With that said, one of the top reasons that the game so addictive is that it’s difficult. When something provides a challenge and you overcome that challenge, you’re filled with some pretty serious feelings of accomplishment.

Take away the challenge and you take away the feeling of accomplishment. Once you no longer feel accomplishment you’re only playing the game for it’s content and not playing because of the way it makes you feel. Content runs out. Challenge doesn’t have to.

I read a lot of posts about the game being too hard. Some players saying they can’t kill a single mob (which I’d have to see to believe). The game SHOULD be this difficult. When out adventuring, my group would often get attacked by more enemies than we intended. This created chaos and sometimes we kept cool heads and won. Other times we lost. But because we COULD lose, those moments were exhilarating! They were a serious challenge. We KNEW they were a challenge because we had lost them before. Those were my favorite moments and the reason I’ll keep playing the game.

I guess my take away is this; think twice before you ask for the game to be made easier. It’s a slippery slope. If the challenge is reduced, the feeling of accomplishment goes with it. Once you take the feeling out, then the only reason you play is content. And that will run out.

Thanks for listening!


I agree with this completely. One of my majors was psychology (specifically for marketing), and so much of the human behavioural aspects we studied apply to gaming (especially social MMO games). Asking customers/players what they want rarely works well, because people usually don’t understand what it is they want. They have a vague idea of the feelings they want an experience to evoke, but not the exact attributes that will lead to those feelings. It is instead the job of the business/developers to understand what the players want and create this experience for them so they keep coming back to it (even if they logically hate it).

Making a game easier is a clear example of this. The animal part of the human brain wants a reward for as little effort as possible. But if you make them wait and work for a bigger reward, they get a much bigger ‘buzz’ out of it. It’s like a long, intense romance that you have to really work for versus a short, empty, one night stand with someone you’ll never see again. The former takes far more work, but you’ll remember it for the rest of your life!

A successful MMORPG is also a very different animal to a solo player game. It is designed to encourage player interaction at every opportunity (without forcing it down people’s throats obviously). All of the game design should be planned with this in mind. Making PVEs more difficult to kill encourages players to interact and ask other players for assistance. So it’s really great to see you are taking that route! :smiley:


Glad to hear that my ramblings have some scientific theory to back them up. It seems like the dev team for Orbus understand this concept. Though over this beta I’ve seen them give in to the requests of the community when it comes to difficulty. I hope that’s not a common trend. Because as you said, what people actually want and what the ask for are not at all the same thing.

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Being a Max level player and someone who leveled with others this weekend I’d like to point out that the whole combat system was going through a balance this patch including the itemization system. I did not see the Dev just “give in” to people’s request this test. The beginning experience needed to be rebalanced and the high level content is even harder now than previously. I don’t think difficulty is something y’all need to worry about.


That is great to hear Sour! Thanks for the input. And you’re right, “give in” was perhaps not the right choice of words.

There’s a fine line in balancing challenge. Yes the game does get boring if there’s no challenge (as we’ve seen with nearly every other MMO out there), but also if you make it too hard then a lot of players simply won’t play it, and what’s an MMO if there’s no one on.

Keep in mind that this being a VR game, the community for it is already really small, and it’s in the devs interest to get every player that can play it to do so. The more players that decide that the game is too hard, the harder it is to get groups for dungeons, and the less players you’ll have to recruit for your fellowship, etc.

I do completely agree though that there should be a level of difficulty, and I’ll say that in many places I’m seeing that slip. At level 1, I was unable to kill mobs that were more than 1 level above me. Now at level 10-11 I’ve been looking for and soloing mobs that are either red X or Pink star (4-5? levels above me) because mobs my level are ridiculously easy for me to kill.

One thing that I’d like to point out is that the games difficulty should be derived from the abilities of the monsters, the stats, the levels, the strategies, learning how to only pull one mob at a time. However, the game difficulty should never be derived from bugs/glitches, lack of information/training, or class imbalances. The difficulty should be even across the board for all players, and these kinds of difficulties only make it hard for some while others may experience no difficulty at all from them.

Indeed, finding the right balance is what we’re working on. I’m still not totally happy with where it’s at but we’ll keep playing with it.

I do think it’s important to note that when we made changes during the test, we didn’t drop the difficulty overall for the whole game, but rather we changed the difficulty so that it’s more of a curve…so basically now 1-5 is much easier, 5-10 is a little easier, 11-15 is about how hard it was originally, and 16+ is actually a little harder.

I think it’s also important to keep in mind the different mob types may present different challenges to different classes. Warriors may have a tougher time with mobs that can heal because they can’t burn them down as quickly, while they have an easier time on mobs that can jump to your position instantly, whereas Runemages may have the opposite problem.

Anywho, I would say in general we’re looking to make the game “difficult but not impossible” while leveling, especially at later levels, but at the same time there are going to be plenty of very difficult challenges in the end-game content if that’s your thing.


Pink Star = Even Match (same level as you), you should be able to kill this solo.
Red X = 1-2 levels above you, it should be difficult to kill, but doable, especially if your class type matches up well with that monster type (e.g. Runemages and things that they can kill before they can run to them).
Blue Star = 3+ Levels above you, should be a very difficult challenge for a solo player

It looks pink to me, but I’m talking about the mobs that are more difficult than red X.

Which ones were Blue Star that you were finding easy?

Maybe I wouldn’t say “easy” but I was soloing them, barely taking any damage to my HP, getting 1k+ XP per kill.

Lizardmen (non-elites), Boars, and Tigers in the jungle. Then Cactaurs, the red chimera type things near the cactaurs, and the tunnelling earthworms in the desert.

I’d say that it’s just the scaling of the weapon damage overall that’s making it too easy later game. I was having no issue killing blue star mobs as long as it was 1v1 as a warrior, but I also watched a mage and a musketeer (who was prolly using a macro because he was shooting like a SMG) both killing enemies before they even got to them.

Okay. Yeah that’s interesting. In theory the higher level you get the more HP the monsters have relative to how much damage your weapon can do. It’s hard to suss out how much of it is just weapon damage scaling being off and how much of it is people just get better at the game when they level up. But I’ll do some more testing on that for sure. You definitely shouldn’t be soloing Blue Star monsters and barely taking damage.

I guess part of that is that as a Warrior you were using your shield I assume which does give you a total of like 3x the HP of a normal person, haha. So it would make some sense that Warriors could take on higher level mobs than most people…it’s just that it should take you a long time to kill it since your damage output is so low.

Anywho, thanks for the feedback on that.

The gun has a cooldown so even if you used a macro it wouldn’t rapidly fire like that, might be something more malicious. I saw something similar but with a ranger shooting inhumanly fast and one instance of them blinking backwards way faster than possible. Killed everything in the desert before it even got halfway to them… and i couldn’t get close to see their name. Figured it was server issues but now I dunno…

I’m not sure, but but he was firing about 10 shots in 5 secs.

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I’d lose about 1/2 HP on the tigers and cactaurs due to them not having an AOE mechanic, but boars and chimeras would just about deplete my shield in the time it took me to kill them.

Okay, if you see it happening again and see their name let me know and I will investigate. I saw some footage and it definitely looked malicious but I wasn’t able to see the name, either.

I will add some additional checking on the server side for those things. I was planning to do it eventually anyway but I guess sooner is better than later.

Everything you said about the benefits of a difficult game are correct, but in this specific case I believe you are wrong.

I think all the posts you saw about difficulty level were likely from first time beta players, like myself, that were level 6 and below. Yes, the game should be hard at higher levels. But the game cannot be equally difficult at early levels when players are still learning mechanics. If it takes 4-5 death runs before a brand new player is able to kill the king stag on the first quest outside the training area then more often than not they will become very frustrated and even quit before they learn the mechanics necessary to get that kill. Now that I understand how to play a Ranger better, I bet I wouldn’t have as much trouble with that king stag at level 1. It may still be a closer fight (assuming the pre-damage boost settings that I originally fought it at) but I bet I could beat it in one try. That doesn’t mean it’s balanced, however.

What I’m saying is experienced players need to remember that their experience playing in Alpha has given them skills and tactics that a new player doesn’t have and that early levels need to be balanced to the skill level of new players, not experienced ones. VR has a harder learning curve than PC because of the physicality of it. Knowing which arrow/orb to use, having the muscle memory required to grab it without looking, instinctively knowing when a cooldown on a skill has finished, proper aiming and timing of shots, all of these things are learned with time and make an experienced level 1 player leaps and bounds more powerful than a beginner level 1 player. Later in the thread Falsedemise talks about easily soloing mobs 3+ levels above them. There may be an actual balance issue there, but I seriously doubt that a new player would be able to do the same if they were given a character with exactly the same level and equipment.

I think Riley and the dev team recognize this (Riley specifically mentions the difference between item stats and people just getting better at the game as they level up) and that is the reason for the balancing you saw over the weekend.


I’m in favour of a challenge too. However, @Falsedemise summed it up with:

There’s a fine line in balancing challenge

Case in point for me is Wildstar. I loved that game, but it was too hard for most players to adapt to from other relatively easy to play MMOs, and it has a tiny playerbase now :frowning: .

You have to trust the Devs to get the balance right though, it feels OK to me at the moment, but I’ve had limited time in game so far.

I saw this too. But the player is a buddy of mine. He wasn’t doing anything malicious. He was level 14 and had gotten a bunch of gear with the speed stat. He could easily shoot 2-3 times a second. This was towards the last day of beta. It almost seemed like the gun would shoot as fast as he can pull the trigger. It was honestly very ridiculous.

They got a bunch of gear with the speed stat? No gear with the speed stat should be dropping yet, interesting. What’s their in-game name? I’ll take a look and see if I can figure out what happened.

Also for reference the speed stat is not supposed to affect the firing rate of the gun, it affects movement speed. So if it happens again please have them let me know so I can investigate.

Thanks for letting me know!