Easy Mode: to Guide or Not to Guide

I spent a lot of time playing Borderlands 2 with friends last week while I was working on my review (and then after I finished my review because let’s face it – it’s difficult to turn off!). One thing that a certain friend became a little obsessed in finding was Vault symbols. Several times he was on the other side of the map scanning cliffsides while we were battling psychos. Helpful.

At one point we were all looking for Vault symbols and I mentioned that we could just find the rest online later, which was met by a resounding NO over the chat. They told me “that’s cheating” and it “takes the fun out of finding it yourself.” Which got me thinking – is it really wrong to resort to guides?

There are pros and cons to absolutely everything, and the “helpful hint” divide is no exception.


1. Some people need help

Let’s face it: they sell game guides for a reason. Guides are great for when you want to see what skill trees are coming, or what weapons you’ll have access to, or even get some helpful hints on spells that bosses are resistant or weak against. Guides help you find your way through a game in the order the developer intended you to go through, and keep you from missing things along the way. Some gamers, myself included, need guides occasionally to find my way through weapon synthesizing or maps. I don’t have the patience to do it myself, and I always get sad when I realize I’ve missed something I can’t go back for. Om my last playthrough of Final Fantasy IX, I missed the Chocobo sidequests beginning, and by disc 3 it was just too late.

2. It can keep you from quitting

Let’s say you are stuck. I mean REALLY stuck, and you can’t just get past something in the game. If you don’t go get help somewhere (either an official guide or the internet), you’re going to quit.  Some puzzles seem next to unsolvable, and trying to find every single feather in Assassin’s Creed can make you want to pull out all your hair.


1. You’re not getting the full experience

The downside to help is, well, you needed help. You didn’t do it yourself, which means you aren’t getting the full experience of the game as it was intended. This is the reason why my Vault-hunter friends were so adamant that we don’t look online to find the few elusive symbols. The whole point of them being hard to find is to hunt for them – looking to the internet to find them takes all the fun and all the exploration out of it. This is the same reason why some people are opposed to the addition of an ‘easy mode’ – it’s taking away from the full challenge of what the developers wanted you to experience.

2. You’re essentially cheating

Now, it’s no cheat code or unlimited money cheating, but you are kind of cheating yourself. I used a guide to find all the gold bricks and character tokens in LEGO Harry Potter. I could have looked myself, but I didn’t have the patience, so I found a guide online and crossed them off as I went along. If you want to full deal and you don’t want trophies or achievements for things you didn’t earn alone, then resorting to guides is cheating, and it’s going to take away from the proud “ding” moment.

Honestly, this all comes down to personal preference. If you have the patience to hunt down all the different collectibles in a game without the aid of the interwebz, that’s fantastic, and pretty impressive. However, if you are like me and have a hard enough time just finishing the game without snapping a controller in half or giving up, then sometimes turning to a guide or a cheat video is the little push you need to get through. I don’t think it takes away from your experience. Hell, even if you used a guide for every step you took, if you are still having fun and enjoying your gameplay, then do what works for you, and don’t worry about what other people think.

What do you think about using guides to help you through? Yay or nay? Leave ‘em below!

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