Starbreeze On Syndicate: “There’s No Easy Difficulty.”

It seems that games with punishing difficulty is becoming a thing of late. Last Year’s Dark Souls codified the trope with a game that has been described as being so hard to beat that it actually becomes boring. From Software has since kind of apologized about that, but it seems Pandora’s super difficulty box can’t be closed. Starbreeze’s upcoming reboot/relaunch/re-imagining of Syndicate might not look it, but it’s going to be really hard.

The reason has to do with the decision to reinvent the real time strategy classic as a first person shooter. In attempting to capture the flavor of an RTS game with a FPS, they have emphasized player cooperation and coordination as essential to survival, aspects Syndicate lead co-op programmer Lars Magnus Lang discussed at length with Eurogamer. “It’s hardcore in the aspect of if you try to play it as a shooter straight on it will be really hard,” Lang said. “You need to take a different approach from other shooters where you try to really cooperate and heal and revive each other, almost like an MMO experience. We have taken some inspiration from MMOs with the breach applications and the healing and reviving. It’s a mixture of those elements with the shooting experience.”

But does this mean you can’t play the game as a simple, straight-up shooter? Not necessarily. “You can still play it as a full on shooter,” Lang continued. “You can do the tank priest concept. But the best thing is when everyone grasps the concept of healing and reviving and everyone is doing it.” Wonderful, but there’s just one catch. Syndicate doesn’t have an easy setting.

What it has instead is a difficulty system, denoted by stars, ranging from normal, to insane. The game’s emphasis on co-op play means that if you’re playing alone, one star is likely to kick your ass. “One star, we don’t want to call it easy because it’s not easy, so instead we said, let’s start at normal. There’s no easy difficulty. Three stars is really tough. We can complete three stars in the office when QA play. But in two days there will be players that are better than I am at this game. That’s for them, the ones who want that really tough experience.”

Yikes. Sounds daunting, particularly after watching the GameFront crew playing the demo in a video we posted yesterday. And Starbreeze knows it. “We’re in constant fear we made it too hard.” Well, you know what they say: to ask the question is to know the answer. If the developers think it might be too hard, expect amazing difficulty to ensue. Better make sure you have a party organized when this thing drops on February 24th.

You’ll need more than a perfect attendance record to climb this corporate ladder. Join Game Front’s text and video walkthrough for Syndicate.

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