The 10 Hardest Games This Generation

August 13, 2020

A few years ago, it was commonplace to see players discussing the fact that games were simply too easy. The trend towards casual titles led developers and publishers to reduce the challenge in favor of other aspects. 

However, in recent times there has been a resurgence of more difficult experiences. Franchises like Dark Souls showed that players are more than willing to play through hard games. This means that the current generation of consoles has seen some truly challenging titles. 

The Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One might all have some of the hardest games ever made in their catalogs. But have you been able to beat any of these entries or did you struggle to finish them?

Here we count down the 10 hardest games of this console generation.

10. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

The Monster Hunter series has always had something of a reputation for being hard. Featuring long stories, tough battles, and an unrelenting combat system, 2018’s Monster Hunter World: Iceborne continues this tradition. Unlike many other RPGs, this game does not feature a leveling up system that makes you more powerful. The only thing that can increase your abilities is crafting new items. Add in a very steep learning curve and it’s easy to get overwhelmed very quickly. In such a long game, which can run to hundreds of hours, it can become something of a slog.

9. Enter the Gungeon

Enter the Gungeon is a 2016 rogue-like title that changes every time you play it. The aim is to get as deep into the dungeon as possible, battling enemies and bosses along the way. There are plenty of extra weapons and items to add to your collection. But none of them make the campaign that much easier. With each room filled with dozens of different enemies, each moment demands that you evaluate the situation carefully. Only then can you decide who to focus your attacks on and dodge incoming projectiles.

8. Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls is pretty much the franchise that started the trend towards games becoming tough once again. So when a third title released in 2016 fans knew they could expect yet another hard game. This time around, the experience was not quite as bad as it had been in previous titles. Players just know what to expect from the series. That doesn’t make it an easy game, though, and there is still a satisfying sense of accomplishment that comes from beating it.

7. Remnant: From the Ashes

Remnant: From the Ashes is yet another Souls-like game that was released in 2019. The only difference is that it is a co-op title that requires teamwork. Regardless of whether you play with friends or on your own, though, it is a frustrating and testing campaign. Unlike other similar games, Remnant: From the Ashes uses a more trial and error approach. This only adds to the difficulty, forcing you to keep trying over and over again to beat encounters. 

6. Darkest Dungeon

The 2016 title Darkest Dungeon is a role-playing dungeon crawler. It sees players traversing a mysterious and creepy dungeon filled with traps and enemies. Things get tough because of the sheer amount of obstacles that are always in your way. The fact that a burning torch constantly needs to be monitored also creates even more tension. If you don’t prepare properly for each run, then players will definitely die one way or another. Yet, even when playing well and taking the right approach, things can still easily go wrong. 

5. The Surge 2

The fact that The Surge 2 is a hard game should not come as much of a surprise. After all, it takes a lot of inspiration from the Dark Souls franchise. However, in this case, the 2019 game switches the fantasy setting for a futuristic sci-fi one. While the gameplay is still melee-focused, players have to concentrate on attacking specific enemy limbs. That way they can weaken opponents by chipping away at them. At first, the game goes by pretty smoothly but the difficulty soon ratchets up and becomes incredibly challenging. 

4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is essentially Dark Souls set in ancient Japan and with a focus on parrying. FromSoftware sets the 2019 action-adventure game apart from its other titles by getting rid of most of the role-playing elements. The studio also switched up the gameplay so that rather than avoiding attacks, players have to counter them. Of course, the combat still requires patience and expert timing. But this just adds a new feeling of intensity to the action. Like its predecessors, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice retains the trademark difficulty, making it tough for even experienced players.

3. Ikaruga

Simply loading up Ikaruga (2001) will give you the sense that it will be a difficult game. That’s because it is part of the bullet hell genre. These types of titles are based on quick reflexes, memorizing complex patterns, and precise control. Not mastering any of those elements almost always means failing to complete a level. Ikaruga adds a new mechanic in the form of switching between two polarities. Players have to carefully manage which form their ship should be in according to the enemies on screen. It’s a thoroughly demanding and exhausting experience.

2. Hyper Light Drifter

2016 title Hyper Light Drifter takes inspiration from classic 2D games in more ways than just its pixelated aesthetic. The title is also tough-as-nails and gives players hardly any guidance. That makes it a game of trial and error. Players have to experiment and patiently try and figure out how to defeat enemies and get past obstacles. But it is the combat where the real challenge comes in. Even the most basic opponents can easily kill you if you are not careful. Ultimately, you have to be patient, precise, and constantly aware to progress in this game. 

1. Cuphead

Cuphead went from being an obscure indie game to a show-stealing headliner at conventions like E3. The 2017 2D shooter features hand-drawn animation and an old-fashioned cartoon visual style. The game essentially acts as one big boss rush, with each level being fiendishly difficult and requiring perfect execution. Anything less will almost certainly result in death. Cuphead is just so chaotic that it ruthlessly punishes mistakes. Getting to the end is a tough ask on its own. Doing so on the hardest difficulty while also completing the challenges is nigh impossible.

What do you think is the hardest game of this generation? Sound off in the comments below!

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