It's early days in the life of Sekiro, the new game from the people behind the Souls series and Bloodborne, and, as expected, it's rock hard.
But did we expect it to be this rock hard?
From Software's Sekiro offers faster and more fluid combat and movement than the Souls games, but it's every bit as brutally difficult. Maybe it's too difficult.
THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD.
There are some wonderful posts on the Sekiro subreddit from exasperated players who've run up against a brick wall. Some of them are pretty funny, too. Here's a snippet:
When you are stuck General Kawarada in the first area for 4+ hours and you realize he's not even a boss, just a regular enemy from r/Sekiro
I've seen a similar sentiment expressed in our own comments. Eurogamer reader Jonamok wrote:
"I'm on the verge of CEXing this after two days of almost no progress. I've beaten all the other Soulsborne games, but always needed a little help from summons. The core game loop here is more demanding, faster and more punishing of mistakes, and there is never any help coming. I've managed to beat one boss but the next three available are all above my ability set as a player.
"So, yeah. If you struggle with hard games, this will break you!"
In all seriousness, there is an interesting discussion happening right now about the difficulty of Sekiro. Redditor KairoTheOwl says they're enjoying the game, having played the notoriously difficult Dark Souls games and Bloodborne, "But this? This is insane."
"I'm doing my best to work with the new mechanics, but it feels like a total onslaught of my mind and soul from the beginning," KairoTheOwl complains.
"I haven't even gotten to a full boss yet and I feel like I'm hitting a brick wall (specifically at Juzou) and quite honestly having to carefully pick off hordes of enemies over and over to get two hit by Juzou feels like ass.
"Obviously I'll work and get better and beat it eventually, but does anyone else feel like this is way harder than the beginnings of other From games??"
That question is one picked up on by redditor BBQ_TED, who recommended those who are having early days issues with Sekiro take a break, but stick with it.
"Bloodborne was my very first From Software game. Ever. I was absolute TRASH for a WEEK. A week. I literally told myself, 'I really wanted to love the game, but it's just not for me.' I hardly got passed Blood Starved Beast. After some days and cry rage, I restarted, finally grasped how I 'should' play the game. Got through it. Now it's my favorite game of all time and the only PS4 game I've platinumed.
"You guys just got this game. You don't know the areas, the enemies, the moves, the systems. It's a From Soft game of course, but you're treating it as if it's a sequel to Dark Souls or Bloodborne. It's new, and you must learn the game by its own terms."
The suggestion here is Sekiro's early days difficulty is similar to the early days difficulty experienced with From Software's previous games. All that's required, then, is a period of adjustment - and that's something Sayem Ahmed picks up on in our Sekiro tips and tricks for beginners and returning experts guide.
"Unlearn what you have learned," Ahmed writes.
"Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice might be an action game made by the same folks as the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne, but you're going to need to get used to a slightly different approach than relying on your tried and true Souls instincts of waiting for an opening, attacking and retreating.
"Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice instead will punish you for dipping out, as your enemies will regain their Posture, meaning that it will be harder for you to whittle them down for a critical strike later on. If you instead keep up the offensive pressure, you will find that combat encounters will whizz by a lot faster than you think."
Despite its difficulty, Sekiro has proved a monster hit on Steam and Twitch. With over 108,000 peak concurrent players on launch day, Sekiro is the biggest new game launch on Steam this year, and the third biggest Steam launch of a Japanese game ever, behind Monster Hunter World and Dark Souls 3. On Twitch, more people are watching Sekiro than Fortnite right now.
So yes, Sekiro is not messing about - and players - even Dark Souls and Bloodborne veterans - are getting their arses kicked. But, let's be honest: we don't want it any other way, do we?