I just started playing Quake Champions since it was free during E3 weekend, and I’m loving it. But a weird thing I’ve noticed is that every stream and youtube video says without fail that Quake is a “hard” multiplayer game. It’s not even in an elitist way most of the time because people are trying to get others to actually stick around, but “Quake is a hard game” gets thrown around with no examination or explanation. For a game still trying to build a stable community, this seems like a fast way to scare everyone off. I personally avoid self proclaimed difficult games, but I don’t want to do anything but play more Quake right now.
And yes, I suck at it. But it doesn’t “feel” hard because it rarely punishes failure. Quake Champions’ skill ceiling is astronomical, but the community and tools provide a clear path to reach. I never lose progress for mistakes and getting fragged just means a near instant respawn. The best comparisons I can make are platformers like Celeste and Super Meat Boy that provide absurd tests of skill and ingenuity, but never make the player regret death. Quake doesn’t punish players for sucking. To me, “difficult but forgiving” seems like a much more approachable and accurate description of the game than just “hard.”
I know I can come to places like here to discuss all the super interesting and important aspects of game difficulty. But I’m frustrated that I’ve probably been scared away from games I’d love because I don’t know if their version of “hard” will appeal to me or set off my anxiety.