Anathema of Balance — Dark Souls 3 Aggression Mod

Jack Leavey
2 min readFeb 8, 2023

FromSoftWare’s Dark Souls series carries some notoriety for its perceived difficulty, especially in the early titles as they went against the industry standard of avoiding challenging the player. However, some masochists do not want to explore a challenging but intentionally crafted series of combat scenarios, and instead would rather be reduced to mulch by a cacophony of enemies the moment they spawn into a zone. Enter the Aggression Mod, which makes every enemy on the level move to attack the player at all times. This excessive display of contempt of one’s own health and safety is nonetheless and interesting challenge in its own right.

This modification provides an excellent example of counter-gaming, as the player has intentionally traded away the carefully constructed battle arrangements provided in the original game for a madhouse of chaotic contest that does not offer a balanced experience. The exploration and combat loop of the original title is no longer a cycle, but rather the first few minutes of a level are utter anarchy, followed by long periods of no enemy engagement. This does not provide the player with a long-lasting flow state, as the engagement is all frontloaded.

Mods like these tend to fall under the internal masochism of the Dark Souls community at large. Rather than serving as a criticism of the game’s design, it is more appropriately thought of as a challenge or entertaining obstacle to overcome. The argument could be made that these mods are critiquing other titles for their laxidasical difficulty; by pumping the difficulty on an already notorious game even higher, outside titles by comparison look even further from offering the player genuine challenge. All in all, these types of mods are generally good for a laugh and a mix up on the gameplay loop of the title they spurn, and the community at large cherishes these optional and crazy experiences.

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Jack Leavey

I am a software engineer with years of experience branching into game development, specifically in Unity. Follow along for guides on creating game mechanics!