Will Portal 2 Scare Off Casual Gamers?


Posted August 5, 2010 - By Dana Leahy

E3 2010: Portal 2 Review - 1

For most gamers, Portal marks one of the most enjoyable interactive experiences in recent history. It was a game that stretched our brains, as well as our thumbs, with an engrossing story and fascinating game mechanics.

It didn’t come as a surprise (except maybe to Valve) that something as good as Portal appealed not only to a hardcore audience, but also casual gamers. In fact I, along with many of my friends, encouraged our non-game savvy friends to try Portal in order to show them an example of how great videogames can be.

The wait for Portal 2 is getting shorter and shorter, but as more information is revealed about the game one thing keeps crossing my mind: is Portal 2 going to be too hard? Will it scare off the casual fans Portal was able to pick up?

For some people, Portal served as their introduction into the era of modern gaming. It offered an easy transition by giving players who hadn’t picked up a controller since the NES the chance to learn how to use dual-analogue sticks and offered visceral rewards for outsmarting the puzzles without a bunch of rummaging and collecting. You could explore as much or as little as you wanted in Portal and that appealed to people without a ton of prior videogame experience; however, the game was so good the deeper you went, it also had the chops to satiate the hardcore crowd.

For years we’ve (sort of) patiently waited for the follow up and now it’s coming, but I’m afraid from what I’ve seen that not everyone who enjoyed the first one is going to be able to get down with Portal 2.

Portal 2 E3 2010 Demo Part 2 "Excursion Funnel" »

From the trailers and demos that have come out of E3, Portal 2 appears to pick up in difficulty where the first game ended and then ramp it up from there. The new gameplay mechanics like the gel, Pneumatic Diversity Vents and Excursion Funnel look like exciting challenges, but they also look scary. I’m woman enough to admit that the last few levels of the original Portal gave me some problems. I was eventually able to sort it out, but not before wanting to—in the best way possible—throw my coffee table through my living room wall and make my own portal.

If the initial reports are to be believed, Portal 2 is going to be an excellent challenge, but will it be too much of a challenge for the casual gamers who were drawn to the first game? Just watching the early gameplay trailers have me thinking, “Am I going to be able to do this?” I can’t even imagine what must be running through the heads of less seasoned fans of the series.

Here’s what I think it boils down to: based on these videos, Portal 2 will be hard, but it won’t be impossible. If any other company than Valve was behind this title, I might think all was lost; however, I have such incredible faith in Valve and their talent, that I’m sure the game will teach enough in the beginning to make everyone comfortable. I think if the casual audience can get over the initial shock of the new mechanics, they’ll have an enjoyable experience because Valve will make sure they do.

What do you think about Portal 2? Do you think it will have the mass appeal of the first one?

Also, cake joke.


Will Portal 2 Scare Off Casual Gamers?


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