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Screenshot: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The creators of the PlayStation 5 hit "Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart" jettisoned old ideas about game difficulty — and even made a previously "unthinkable" design decision — to help players get through their new game, its creators told Axios in an exclusive interview.

Why it matters: Some game designers are rethinking the virtues of making a challenging game vs. those of making games that more people can get through.

  • "We have sort of shed this conventional wisdom that games kind of need to be a hardass in order for you to get satisfaction out of it," "Rift Apart" game director Mike Daly told Axios, of his team's new approach to game challenge.

Between the lines: "Ratchet" games have never been the hardest games, but this new one gives players more help.

  • These games star a furry humanoid hero who acquires and shoots an arsenal of cartoony guns while exploring colorful enemy-filled sci-fi worlds.
  • A selection of traditional difficulty settings for all this action in "Rift Apart" is complemented by an expanded "ping" and hint system, which offers lost players a nudge toward objectives.
  • Between all the shooting, there are puzzle levels, a series staple, but in "Rift Apart" players can skip any with the press of a button. ("That would have been unthinkable three to five years ago," Insomniac's Mike Fitzgerald said.)
Screenshot: Sony Interactive Entertainment/Axios

The biggest boost "Rift Apart" gives players comes through a unique PlayStation 5 feature called "activity cards," which appear on the console’s home menu and had been inconsistently and unimpressively used by other games on the young system.

  • For "Rift Apart" the cards are used to signpost in-game tasks, including missions players can complete or hidden items they may want to track down.
  • The cards offer text hints and, for those who click, short how-to videos.
  • They even show time-strapped players how many minutes each task should take. Insomniac revealed to Axios that those counts are customized for individual players.
  • They're derived from an estimate set by developers that is then compared to other players' average completion times for the task pulled by the online PlayStation Network — and then further personalized with a check of the player's pace playing the game.

The bottom line: Daly says his team's work on making the new game more accessible transformed their mindset about making the game more approachable.

  • "We no longer think about, like, 'What will make the most elite players feel good about themselves?' And more like, 'What will enable everybody to have the experience they want to have?' Because that's sort of the most important thing to us."

Go deeper: Sony wants more PlayStation cross-play

Go deeper

"Grand Theft Auto" trilogy coming in November

Image courtesy of Rockstar Games

Rockstar is celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Grand Theft Auto III" with news that its upcoming bundle, "Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy The Definitive Edition," launches Nov. 11.

Driving the news: The Trilogy — which packages "Grand Theft Auto III," "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," and "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" will be available via PlayStation Store, the Microsoft Store on Xbox, Nintendo eShop and the Rockstar Games Launcher.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.

Senate Republicans block voting rights bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Jan. 18. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' voting rights legislation from coming to a final vote on Wednesday in what was largely viewed as a doomed effort from the start.

Why it matters: The failed vote underscores the Democratic Party's current uphill battle to pass sweeping legislation in a 50-50 Senate.