Gamers looking for a challenge need look no further than From Software, a studio who no doubt enjoys toying with their player base through their difficult Souls games and last years cult hit Bloodborne. These games have a way of beating down a player, forcing them to adapt and learn from defeat. The tagline of the first Dark Souls game was “Prepare to Die” and frankly, that could not have been more true.
I’m a person that gets frustrated easily so naturally, these games and myself are at odds. It’s not for a lack of trying however as I worked diligently to embed myself into these gothic horror worlds, to no avail however, even after a number of my friends fell deeply into the experience. Perhaps it was getting clubbed over the head over and over from enemies hidden by a clever camera trick, or the numerous unfair enemy placements that did me in.
For all of the grief that players experience however, one common theme I continually hear is the sense of achievement that is felt for overcoming seemingly impossible tasks. For as much as I wanted to experience that, it never happened. I was never able to find out for myself what so many others had seen and felt.
Until the other night.
As many of you probably know, I’m fully entrenched in The Division these days. While the game can be played solo, I have found that later missions will really test you and are probably better served in a group. A couple of buddies were looking to tackle a story mission based within the local Police Academy. Having just beaten that the other night, I offered my services as I knew the layout and was a higher level so I could tank a bit as well.
The two of them ran off ahead while I wrapped up a nearby Medical based encounter. What none of us noticed at the time is that they ran in the wrong direction and accidentally started the Lexington Convention Center story mission. The issue here is that this mission was designed for level 20+ characters and the three of us were currently sitting under that at 18, 16, and 15. No doubt, we would be up against insurmountable odds with level 20 enemies.
Since we were already there, we decided to roll with it and as expected, we had a difficult time getting through it. Perseverance was key here as each failure made us reevaluate what worked and what didn’t. Before running into the room again, we’d come up with new tactics and surprisingly, we began to make serious progress against a tough set of enemies. Before long, we had pushed into the main room itself to square off against LaRae Barrett herself, leader of the Rikers Gang.
As expected, this area was the toughest and most intense of the entire mission. LaRae was supported by two veteran level snipers and two elite heavies which took an ungodly amount of bullets. Needless to say, with all three of us being under leveled, we took a beating. It got to the point where I didn’t think we’d be able to pull it off as the odds were wildly stacked against us and nothing seemed to be working. It was getting really late and I had considered jumping off, but the fact that we were at the end kind of motivated everyone to continue pushing.
We started to adapt and try new tactics. I decided to rush the snipers considering they’re lethal at range but extremely weak up close. As it turns out, that plan started to work, with the snipers gone, we could move around more freely without fear of taking immense damage. Our level 15 guy stayed back to take pot shots at LaRae, knowing she left the arena when her health dropped below a certain point. As for the two heavies, their weakeness is that they’re slow, so with the ranged enemies gone, we were free to continue moving and shooting.
Clearing out those heavies was a massive accomplishment for us, but to our surprise, the fun wasn’t yet over. LaRae returned with additional enemies in the last phase of the fight. Thankfully, these were common type enemies, which were easier to deal with. LaRae stayed on the bottom level, allowing us to shoot down at her and soon enough, we finished the mission and felt like we had done the impossible. We all leveled up basically twice for our hard fought efforts as well.
It took a great deal longer than we imagined and we were aided by a bit of luck but managed to pull off the upset and it felt amazing. That sense of triumph and accomplishment, developing tactics on the fly to counter the enemy and a little bit of luck thrown in for good measure. I think I now have a better understand as to why people enjoy games that provide an immense challenge or how games like the Souls series use defeat to try and teach the player how better to react to situations.
The feeling really was powerful and it felt so good that it almost makes me want to go out and preorder Dark Souls III before it releases next month. Almost.