Dark Souls is intense.

I make one last check of my equipment at the campsite. I think it’s the first safe place I’ve been that wasn’t my cell. The loitering human near the campsite suggests that there are two bells that exist and not just one. Maybe they’re one and the same? I decide to think about that later. I pull my magic glove tight in my hand, pick up my axe and buckler, and begin find a way into the castle across the ravine.

The path is blocked nearly straight away. Those who are Hallow insist on impeding my progress. One stumbles towards me and I ready myself to counter its first and last move. It raises its sword arm. I immediately counter and riposte. I do the same to the next one.

And again.

And again.

I keep searching for the bells and those in Lordran who hold my fate in their hands, though I don’t know where to go. I’ll steal it back from them.

Dark Souls is an important game in this day and age of more modern gaming design not because of its graphics or at design, but its difficulty.

From Software’s creation is brutally unforgiving and massively rewarding. The smallest forward motion is achieved by the most careful preparation and the highest sense of constant awareness. No matter what class a player chooses or what weaponry is used, without precise action, the game’s difficulty curve can never be overcome.

I picked up this title during a sale on Xbox Live for $5 USD and I feel like I need to write up a post like this even though I haven’t been able to complete it yet.

What keeps me playing the game is the sense of achievement that transcends any reward that can be found from the game’s achievement system. Whenever I find an efficient path or defeat a difficult enemy, I feel like I’ve won the game… but I haven’t. Not yet.

Looking forward to the end of it when I do.

XCOM: Enemy Within is intense.

The campaign is going well, in my estimation. We’ve been consistently pushing the alien advances, once thought to be insurmountable, back steadily. I am constantly juggling the whole operation.

I mentally review the calendar as my operations and control center use the satellites I put into orbit survey for alien attacks. My mind computes the medical reports, preliminary research timetables, and the days since the last encounter and returns a result I wanted to avoid: the probability of an attack during the next week seemed certain.

Will there be enough time to put this research into laser weaponry through its paces and into the hands of my operatives before the next attack? Will my veteran sniper, whom I just gave a commendation to for her clutch reflexes in saving a comrade, recover from her injuries in time to lead the counter-attack for the next incursion? If not, can my untested reserve soldiers survive their first encounter?

I’m not even factoring in the terrorist network of alien sympathizers I have a sinking suspicion are trying to ascertain the location of the XCOM base of operations or the near constant teeter-tottering of a relationship I have with some of the more unfortunate member-nations of the Council. When I only have one team to send out on a mission during simultaneous attacks in France for the fourth time, China for the fifth time and Nigeria for the first time–is it wrong to spurn the French over the Chinese and not even give Nigeria’s first encounter a second thought? Do I dispatch aid in the form of valuable resources to Brazil so they can strengthen their response against the aliens, or do I spend those same resources courting intelligence on the EXALT cells that might be seeking to end the human struggle against the aliens?

I might be over-dramatizing the meta of XCOM: Enemy Within, but that’s really the meta a player will consider within the span of a couple of minutes explained in a nutshell. This game is intense.

“You play EVE Online?”

Here’s a typical conversation regarding my playing of EVE Online with another gamer. She’s a pretty cool person that I follow on Twitter from back when Pownce was a thing. Random conversation picked up from resisting the call of the recently released Grand Theft Auto V into a mention of the iOS 7 beta breaking a lot of games. The conversation continues:

Now, I know that I’m not the best person that could possibly describe EVE Online to a non-player because I am pretty low on the ladder of respect in the community of the game as a whole partially because of what I’ve chosen to do with my time in the game. However, I think I hit the nail on the head in two major ways.

First, the actions that are sanctioned in a game like EVE Online could be considered to be a breach of other games’ terms of service, including owning multiple accounts and scamming. Owning multiple accounts is typically an indication that you wish to cheat the system of other MMO titles to benefit one particular character. For instance, doing multiple daily quests in WoW while sending all of the rewards for these quests to a main character. In EVE, this strength in numbers is an important part of being able to operate in the game world and trust is a pricey commodity. So the solution is simple: own multiple accounts so that you can run multiple instances of the game to have more efficient and/or more secure operations. Scamming is a huge part of what makes the upper end of the EVE universe move. Where particular high-level hulls cost on the order of billions of ISK to manufacture and tens of billions of ISK to purchase outright, one would assume the most precautions are taken in these deals. However, the game’s interface combined with a few tricks could make understanding these deals difficult, if not impossible, therefore rigging the game in favor of the scammer. If things go the right way, it becomes the most profitable activity in the game.

Second, that in the case of EVE Online, time and experience are two different things where they are the same thing in other games. Unlike WoW, where leveling up requires a player to constantly adapt to stronger enemies thanks to the difficulty curve known as the grind, EVE Online’s “leveling system” requires a certain amount of time to pass before a player is certified for a new class of ship or new variant of weapon. It forces the player to do something in the meanwhile—it forces a player to experience what the game has to offer as an open world. This is more important for players who are new to the game and have not traveled outside the relative order that is empire space.

Like I said, I’m sure that’s not really the best way to look at the game when trying to tell someone who doesn’t play about it, but it’s the truth. It’s not a game for everyone, in the same way that not everyone like comedy films compared to a live performance: one is formulaic in an attempt to be funny to everyone while the other can change from day to day and is generally never the same show twice. While some of the jokes might not change, it’s always a new experience.

That and comedy films are the absolutely worst form of entertainment that I can think of.