Mega Man 11 offers a variety of difficulties to support different types of players, and one of its strong points is definitely how it tries to help players in a way that doesn’t seem patronizing.
When Mega Man 10 re-introduced the option of an Easy Mode, what it did was add blatant additional platforms to help players from avoiding instant deaths via pits. It basically removed all the obstacles sans instant death spikes out of the way of finishing a stage, and also made it obvious to players that they were playing the easier difficulty. It’s like I Wanna Be The Guy making The Kid wear a pink bow in Medium difficulty.
On the other hand, Mega Man 11 does have a lot of saving features for newcomers to the genre, but lets new players try out the platforming challenges for themselves, making it so that going from Newcomer to Casual, for example, doesn’t mean a sudden difficulty spike.
For example, Newcomer Mode has Beat on-call at all times, in order to fish Mega Man out of death pits. Meanwhile, spikes will hurt, but not kill Mega Man. Do these offer an easier option for players? They do, but they get to learn how to properly take on the challenge of the stage, instead of skipping the challenge altogether. It takes the punishment of the regular difficulty and turns it into a cautionary tale.
There are also some subtle differences that aren’t noticed at first glance. For example, Mega Man’s shots are no longer limited to three on screen at a time, while the Double Gear system is takes longer to fill up and cools down quicker, enhancing Mega Man’s capabilities while leaving room to experiment freely. Items drop more easily, and some regular item pick ups turn into better versions.
Checkpoints are also plentiful, meaning that instead of being set back half a stage, now you’re set back every other room. Again, this is an example of lessening the punishment without losing sight of teaching people how to play.
Jumping from Newcomer to Casual Mode, I found that while some of Newcomer Mode’s features were kept, Mega Man is back to a three-shot limit, and that instant kills such as spikes and pits now will work as intended. However, it still provides nearly as many checkpoints as Newcomer Mode, and still keeps an increased item drop rate. I found it to be the much-needed middle ground that was missing between Easy and Normal difficulty that was missing last time.
Overall, I’d say subtlety is key: I find that making it less obvious you’re playing Easy Mode, such as even the act of naming it Newcomer Mode instead, lessens the mental barrier around choosing such a mode. Mega Man 11’s Newcomer and Casual Modes provide a great way to try out the series’ traditional platforming challenges, without just completely cutting them out altogether.
Mega Man 11 is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A demo is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.