Cliff Bleszinski Says “Games Have Become More Linear And Easier”

Epic Games Design Director Cliff Bleszinski thinks that video games are becoming much more linear, and as a result of this, they are becoming easier. Bleszinski also said that a lot of modern-day games feel like a series of scripted quick-time events. Do you agree with his opinion?

“It feels like in this current console generation that we’ve taken a lot of steps to grow the audience and what I think’s happened is that the games have become more linear and easier, so it feels like a lot of quick-time-events.”

“The more I play games like that the more I turned off to them and just want to get back to systems interacting with systems, and get back to a game that, you know, when was the last time a game really challenged you and asked something of you, right? There’s a reason why Demon Souls and Dark Souls have taken off lately. It’s because they really require you actually try.”

107 thoughts on “Cliff Bleszinski Says “Games Have Become More Linear And Easier””

    1. Dude, that means that you played way too much CoD, because NES aren’t that hard. The Mario games aren’t really hard, Metroid it’s not really hard.. .You got the point.

      1. Snes games ARE hard, take Breath of Fire for example, if you indeed manage to beat that game than you my friend deserves a handshake from me…

      2. stfu you ass hole Nes are too hard I can beat them but it takes 50% more effort than a modern day game.. Mario 64 was ballz hard to get 120 stars xDDD

        1. Now that is just a bold faced lie. Call of Duty was hard as all hell, 2 wasn’t really hard but it was still good. The last one they made that was any good was WaW.

      3. Hi, have you met Contra? How about The original Bionic Commando and the ninja Gaiden trilogy? Oh & this is my friend Double Dragon. Yeah. Original NES games/SNES games are WAY harder than anything that’s out there now.

        (I myself have beaten Bionic & Ninja Gaiden 1 & 2 but not 3. And I’ve come close in double dragon but no dice. No game genie, before Rom’s on the original NES system)

        1. Anyone remember adventure island? I used to step outside and scream at the top of my lungs to calm the frustration. It was not a forgiving game. How about section z or the guardian legend or one I wanna say was called legends of the guardian or something like that. Good times.

      4. Battle toads any of them and the arcade one was epic! Tmnt! Milion secret castle! Ghouls and ghost! Super contraaaaa!

        This gen nmh 1&2, demon blade, samurai showdown collection! Sin and punishment 1 and 2… I’m sorry if you want your ass kick buy a wii.

      1. Some NES games make me want to jump off the Empire State Building and land on my head. Take Kid Icarus for example.

          1. I’m right there with Metroid, but Zelda isn’t too bad…now double dragon, I seriously play that game like once every 2 weeks on the VC and I still cannot beat that game, and that one isn’t even that terrible…I’m looking at you battletoads…

            1. I had a game named Renegade for NES. I never beat it. Some fat lady named Kim kept kicking my ass. I have beaten Double Dragon. Double Dragon 2 & 3 are 2 of my favourite NES games.

    2. I think most of the challenge in old games’ the control. I firmly believe the reasons I can’t get though Super Mario is because lack of practise and the fact you “slide” when stopping. Damn bottom-less wells

    1. i think it would be cool if they even went the way of binding of isaac, where the dungeons and map layout are totally random. and make it so you never know what item you’re gonna get in each dungeon etc. that would make for some insane replay value.

      1. As much as I adore Binding of Isaac, I don’t think it’s the way to go for Zelda.

        I agree with Cliff, I see it in all games, but it really bugs me alot in Mario. 64 and Sunshine were a lot more challenging than the galaxies, even though they were nice, the wer very lineair.

        1. galaxy 2 was pretty challenging if you tried to do everything, like special world and the comets and everything. the main reason i brought up the binding of isaac is because it is difficult. it has permanent death on top of that difficulty. if they wanted to make a difficult zelda, that’s how you would do it.

          1. Hmm, but what I want is the main levels to be more challenging. I did it, but for me getting that 100% felt more like a job than like fun. With galaxy games it feels to me like: ”this game is fucking easy, buut to ‘really complete it you have to do certain stuff over and over again.”

            I understand that Binding of Isaac is difficult (which can be nice), but personally; I think it would be sufficient to just get rid of all the tips/hints. That alone would make a great change as far as the Zelda series go.

            1. yeah i definately think they should get rid of hints, im sorry if i came across as making it seemas though i want the gameplay like the binding of isaac, but i do think that randomly generated dungeons would be an amazing thing to do , because even then they wouldn’t be able to give hints on the dungeon and it would, again, add to the replay value.

              1. That indeed would be a major improvement, I think it would be awesome if there were to be both kinds.
                Because I like the idea of random dungeons, and what you say: there will be more replay value and Nintendo can’t spoil it. On the other hand I wouldn’t want iconic locations to be completely randomnized.
                Combo would be cool.

        2. I personally thought that 64 and Sunshine were easier than Galaxy 2, if you’re going for 100% anyway. But the first galaxy game was a cakewalk on 95% of the levels.

          1. I guess it’s different for everybody :P . What I liked most about Sunshine was it’s hub world. I hope Nintendo will bring that back with the next 3D mario.

    2. Yeah…no. How about just make it more like A Link To The Past but with the ability to visit any dungeon in any order.

    3. This would go in line with another good idea I heard someone share: Make a spinoff designed to teach new players the controls. Then the following core title could start in the hub with Link already being an experienced adventurer and in possession of the standard items. For the sake of plot the areas could be arranged in a Mega Man fashion, the player being able to go to any of 3-4 areas in any order, and certain things only become possible to do when you return with the necessary upgrade. After that set of dungeons are done plot progression occurs and 3-4 new areas open up. Third time around would have you return to some areas for story-related quests and newly-revealed dungeons.

  1. Yeah, agree strongly. Even some games on ‘hard’ mode nowadays are easier, that usually just means increased damage from monsters who have increased health. I’ve played Demon Souls and Dark souls, and they’re good examples of a truly challenging game, it should only be hard if you lack the skill. And you feel like you truly accomplished something when you play them and kill a boss/complete it.

    1. The market exploded in 2001. More Casual gamers then core or old school gamers. So for the past 10 yrs games have become less of a challenge on purpose. Though I can’t say the same for Japanese Developers. Though Nintendo’s Mario and Zelda franchises are alot easier then back in the 80s and 90s. Metroid and DKC are on neutral ground for the time being.

  2. “when was the last time a game really challenged you and asked something of you, right?”

    Kid Icarus Uprising

            1. lol thats how i feel every time i die a lot, i’d get up and leave, and then come back maybe an hour later lol

              1. Haha i just found no point annoying myself my playing it. Did the story, was great and fun, leave it at that xD

    1. That’s true, but Kid Icarus Uprising is VERY linear. It’s not just enemies to make a game truly hard, it’s also having to figure it out.

  3. I will concede that video games our easier, generally, but I would disagree with calling them linear. The majority of the early games were exactly that and crazy hard. Battle Toads anyone? There are a bunch of open world sand box games out there now. I would love to get back to the difficulty of yesterday. Without the use of cheap enemy respawning points. Ninja Gaiden, anyone?

    1. NJ3: Razors Edge looks hard as shit, watched a couple of e3 videos, just see the health bar dropping like no tomorrow

      1. Linear games are still out there. Any game that tells a story is going to be linear. But there are a lot of non-linear games, too. Linear does not make a game easy.

        1. I dont think linear games like dead space 2 and bioshock because theyre challanging as well, and it just seems to fit with the game. But games these days just hold your hand through the whole experience. I dont need a game to tell me how to jump -___-

        2. I think you can make a non-linear game with a story. Split paths would be a lot of work, but if you were to take a Zelda game, give players access to a vast world, and give them no hints on where to go to progress the story (making more of the sidequests and subplots available earlier on), then they would have to actually search and talk to people to find out where they can go next, and it wouldn’t feel so linear.

    2. Good point. The games of old (especially in the NES days) were platformers & therefore very linear. I feel like most RPG’s these days-notably some JRPG’S can be pretty linear & that’s a shame, because that’s what made them so great back in the day. They were the perfect balance of difficulty & freedom. We could use some more of that in today’s games.

  4. GOD I want another Xenoblade game, best ever game for me on the Wii, Zelda SS, Twight and Mario Galaxies are my second best..

      1. To be honest, if a game is too hard, it just becomes annoying.
        I actually hate difficultly levels per say, because its just reducing the size of your bullet sponge. Take a game like Deus Ex: HR, theres an achievement to beat the game without killing anyone. I LOVE those type of options, and thats a real challange because you have to actually think about what youre doing, its why Dishonoured is on the top of my wish list this year, because its the opposite of what Cliff was on about, but its not a “more damage” type of difficult

  5. True, and it’s terrible. I want more games like Banjo-Kazooie, Doom, Quake, and Zelda, not more games like Call of Duty.

    1. I love Banjo-Kazooie, I remember how hard Rusty Bucket Bay used to be for me, but I’m a veteran at that game and can cake walk all the levels. Experience people that’s why I was one of the few that didn’t complain about Mega Man 9 being difficult, I loved it haha .

  6. I literally have no idea how you can get “more linear” than a two-dimensional platformer. Games started linear and ahve stayed linear. With the 3D graphics boom back in the 90′s, many games explored a more open world style but botched it completely with sloppy controls, unclear goals, and messy level design. A few games stood out as they always do (Mario 64, Spyro, DK64), which is the only reason so many of us have our nostalgia goggles on. For the most part, huge, 3D sandboxes failed to enhance all but a few franchises.

    From a pure gameplay perspective, how different is Call of Duty from Super Mario Bros.? The objective is to get to a goal by pushing forward along linear path. Enemies and obstacles spring up and it is the player’s responsibility to overcome or dispatch them.

    It’s not a devolution of gaming, it’s just games doing what has always worked. Leave open world gaming to the games that truly call for it; Mario and CoD can do fine without it. There will always be alternatives if linear games don’t entertain you.

    Is this all it takes to be a Design Director nowadays? Stating the harsh, blunt obvious facts about the video game industry?

  8. I know a lot of people complain about the hand-holding in Skyward Sword, but that game is far from linear. I’ve seen people try to play it and become so confused, because it’s not completely linear, they have to quit; which is the sad product of most modern games. “What, you have to go back to progress, and I can’t just waggle my way through. I actually have to try; this game sucks.”

      1. It is incredibly linear. Its hardly Ocarina of Time confusing, i never knew if i was supposed to go somewhere as young or adult Link or both in that game.

        1. “Hardly Ocarina of Time confusing”.I found Ocarina of Time to actually be easier than Skyward Sword, but that’s probably because I beat it a million times. I honestly don’t see how it could be confusing to know where to go as either Young Link or Adult Link as the hints tended to be fairly obvious.

          1. I got into Ocarina pretty late, about 15/16, and there was alot of time that i wasnt sure, but its wasprobably because it was dated (WW amd TP were already out at that point).
            Zelda’s arent half as confusing as metroid though.

            1. Yeah, getting into it late would explain it.

              Metriod is definitely more confusing than Zelda, that’s for sure.

    1. Pretty much, but its more of a “dont be an idiot” game, you know, check your surrounding, down draw attention, reserve ammo, like true survival horror

  9. I agree with the sentiment.

    The beginning of Metroid for NES was a very symbolic sign of innovation, before that, platformers only went from left to right. I have no problem with linear play actually, not every game needs to be a puzzle game. But there are WAY too many linear games now, and the non linear game franchises like Metroid are no longer encouraging non linear play. Case in point Other M. -_- Even the new Zelda games are becoming a lot more linear and story reliant.

  10. Battletoads, Double Dragon, Ninja Gaiden, TMNT, Bart vs. The Space Mutants, Metroid, Super Mario Bros. 2 and nameless others from NES were intense…I also found Super Mario 64 and Sunshine quite difficult, whereas (although very fun) I found Galaxy to be pretty easy. Two of the toughest games I have attempted to play in the last two generations would have to be Killer 7(never beat it), and Viewtiful Joe(one of my top 3 favorite games ever).

    But overall, definitely think nes and snes days were tougher.

  11. Yes, mainstream games are getting easier. But I wouldn’t say linearity is bad, since a lot of games’ concepts are based around it, and many of those games are very difficult.

  12. I have never beaten a single NES game. I can admit that, cuz that’s natural.

    Every recent-gen game I’ve played, I’ve beaten and moved on. It takes something like either Dark Souls or Mass Effect or Fallout 3 to really pull me back in.

  13. It’ll get to the point where the game is just pressing the spacebar to save the princess. And this is directed towards anything but Nintendo IPs.

  14. He’s right. Games have become MUCH more easy since the old days. As far as linearity goes, however, I would have to say that the more open world games have been made more recently.

  15. I have to agree a thousand times, I been feeling like Games has gotten more Linear (Don’t know about easy) and maybe easy. Because of this I think, I been worrying about the future of games. Linearity makes the game too fast and more less worth replaying a lot. :/ And yeah, I notice Zelda and maybe Mario might of gotten more Linear…

    Remember the good old days when games was about Hub worlds mostly and mainly your own order? And that it was mainly mixed with platforming? That is when the games were very legendary and a lot more worth.

    I hope we can go back to that mainly. :/

  16. We have it easy these days cause they are more polished and better built. In the NES days controls and stuff were more stiff and sloppy, and hit boxes where weird… but they are still fun.

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