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"You do know that the easy way is usually mined."

"You're being optimistic. The shared mythos of ground troops throughout history indicates that the easy way is always mined."

When a video game presents you with multiple paths or options, you should always take the most difficult looking one. Don't know where to go? Look for the door with the most Spikes of Doom near it. Need a Pokémon that can actually hurt something? Start leveling your Magikarp. Want the super powerful, glowing Infinity+1 Sword? It'll be at the bottom of a three thousand floor Bonus Dungeon, guarded by the Bonus Boss that takes three hours to kill. In the video game world, doing it the hard way is the only way to get the best rewards.

Often a cause of Useless Useful Stealth. See Short Cuts Make Long Delays for when the game actively punishes you for doing it the easy way. Related to Sidetrack Bonus.

(If the game allows it, or if you intrepidly convince it to, usually the best thing is to take both paths via backtracking.)

The webcomic supplying the page quote references a real world military aphorism, as this can be Truth in Television in combat. The easy route through terrain is the most likely to lead straight into an ambush.

Examples of Path of Most Resistance include:

  • Shows up on the "Detour" on The Amazing Race. Teams must choose between two tasks. In these cases, one is scary or physically challenging, but fast, while the other is safe, but tedious and time-consuming. Used very frequently on the first four seasons, but not too often anymore, as teams never took the longer option.
  • Cave Story. You get the chance to get an upgrade of your single-shot, puny gun two times in the game. If you skip both times you get a super gun which can deal upwards of 100 damage in one shot. Also, if you skip getting the jetpack 0.8, you get the 2.0 version later on.
    • It's not entirely obvious during the booster scene that there even is another way to do things. The only real clue is an obscure hint in one character's diary that is called out with mysterious music. Or a FAQ.
  • In plenty of The Legend of Zelda games, the door that's easy to get to will be locked. The hard thing to get to will be the Interchangeable Antimatter Key.
  • The Awesome series video Resident Awesome- Leon is trying to go through a clear, safe path to an objective, but the game diverts him to a path filled with multiple zombies and the beast from Ski Free.
  • In the first gym of Pokémon Red and Blue, you can choose to either go through the easy way and avoid the trainer that guards Brock, or you can go through the hard way and fight the trainers and thus, be rewarded more so in the end by leveling up your 'Mons.
    • In that case, a similar argument can be made for Blaine's gym, in which you can answer a multiple-choice question to open the door to the next room -- getting it wrong will force you to fight the nearby trainer, but you could just fight the trainer in the first place for the EXP.
      • Or you could solve the puzzle and then talk to the trainers to battle them anyway.
    • In Sabrina's gym with the teleporters, if you go to the first teleporter and, from there, only use the teleporter directly above or below you, you will eventually make it to the gym leader. The trainers are in the middle of the room, so you won't trigger a fight unless you cross the room horizontally.
      • This is actually commented upon in the fourth generation; in Roark's (oddly similar to Brock's) gym the trainers praise you for taking the hard way, while in Fantina's gym, (where the right door is marked by a simple maths problem, and you have an in-game calculator) a trainer guesses that you probably chose the wrong door deliberately to fight them.
  • In Deus Ex you do not receive experience for killing, just for getting further in the game via any of the alternative routes. There is nothing stopping you from visiting all the alternative routes to the same target and cashing the reward for all of them though.
    • Example: In Hell's Kitchen for the first time, your objective is to just find an NSF base and infiltrate. First of all, there's like a half-dozen ways in. Double-backing and going through multiple entrances can get you items and extra experience, but that's not all. 'I know we're all in a hurry here, J.C., but my buddy has been kidnapped.' 'Have you seen my daughter? She's around here somewhere.' 'I think that guy at the bar is a spy for the other side, J.C.' All of which nets you extra experience during a 'time-sensitive' mission to shut down the NSF's operations.
    • Deus Ex Human Revolution continues the tradition with the "Ghost" experience bonus for completing objectives without alerting or touching enemies. It is often bigger than the amount of exp you get for hunting down all the enemies.
  • Deus Ex was, however, making a noble effort to avert the general RPG tendency to primarily reward fighting, and fighting harder foes more. That convention, in turn, gives all PCs a solid push to become Blood Knights - combat with the biggest of badasses really is the only way to improve, and using perfectly reasonable means to avoid it really does make you weaker.
  • Shinobi 3 has a level near the end in which taking the wrong door sends you back to the start of the level. As you can guess, all the safe looking ones just send you back, while the ones that actually take you closer to the end have all kinds of death traps, jumping puzzles, and ninjas in front of them.
  • Dumnestor's Heroes had 'Blackeye' Susan taking the apparently-disused path to avoid the grues.
  • Taking the back-door of the National Archives in Fallout 3 nets you much more loot (things you can sell to the person who gave you the mission, weaponry, ammo, other stuff), but is heavily infested with special super mutants.
  • La-Mulana is made of this. The hard path will have pitfalls, deadly foes, and lasers. The easy path will have inescapable deadly spikes or just trap you forever.
  • Discussed and subverted in the comic strip FoxTrot. Jason (the video game fan) is having an impossible time getting past a certain boss, and Paige (who has very little interest in video games) discovers that if you don't attack, you can just walk right past him with nothing to stop you. Jason finds this quite hard to believe, and when he does believe it, he remarks that doing things the easy way is extremely counterintuitive.
  • Dungeon Siege 2, like the original, is a fairly linear game where all quests are lined up along a single road that runs from the beginning to the end of the game (with the occasional teleporter to transfer you to a different area, where the "road" continues). However, if you're looking for the really good rewards, especially the side-quests, you need to veer off the road whenever possible. Fortunately, detours are always either cul-de-sac (with loot at the end) or come back to the road not far from where you left off. Going straight all the time will normally cause you to end up with inferior equipment or experience level, unless you spend a lot of time running up and down the road many times to defeat the same enemies over and over again.
  • The Glider PRO manual suggested that users of the Level Editor should strive to create the "Ultimate Room," which would have three possible ways for the player to cross it:

 One way is fairly obvious and simple, but there are no prizes to be had going this route.

The second way is a bit tougher, but there is a clock you could get going that route.

The third way is almost inconceivable, but you have placed an invisible 5000 point down there and an Extra Glider to boot.

  • There are a few times you can avert combat in Dragon Age Origins with the right dialogue options and high enough Coercion. You can avoid fighting the Bonus Boss Ser Cauthrien this way twice. Avoiding the fight deprives you of both exp and the Summer Sword, a powerful unique Greatsword with knockback.
  • One mission of Ace Combat 5 has your squadron escorting a small convoy on the ground that has to reach an air base at a certain time. They come to several forks and each time you have to decide whether to take the short way or the long way. Always going the long way makes you fail the mission by being late, but the short way always has more enemies. Nothing a big bomb or two can't sort out, though.
    • Ace Combat Joint Assault plays with this. One mission has you flying an unarmed 747 through a ravine, which splits up at one point. The longer, apparently safe route has proximity-triggered mines and flak guns. The shorter path, on the other hand, has you dealing with missiles. In a 747 in a ravine. This fact cannot be emphasised enough. Either way, you're still taking poison.
  • The Lord of the Rings has such a moment, when Gandalf wants the company to go through a dangerous mountain pass. When the mountain proves to be too much, they back up and pass through the warm, spacious Moria mines. It does not go well.
  • Hunter X Hunter had an odd subversion of this trope in which the group had to choose between two paths one of which would take hours to complete the other of which would only take minutes. The catch was that in order to take the short path you needed to leave two of your teammates behind. Seeing as they only had 20 minutes or so left to finish the maze it seemed like leaving people behind was the only option. However, they were all able to make it to the end by taking the true path of most resistance. They entered the long path and then, because the two paths were right next to each other, punched through the stone wall so they could go down the short path instead.
  • Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey: From the character standpoint, the Neutral path is the hardest one - you turn your back on both the angels and the demons, siding with humanity alone. This means that you have to fight for all four Cosmic Eggs (whereas Law or Chaos means at least one will fall into your hands without resistance), as well as kill both Jiminez and Zelenin. However, this is the only path where humanity does not suffer the control of outside powers and is free to choose its own destiny. From the player's standpoint, on the other hand, the Law path feels this way, since you must fight both Gore and Mem Aleph, two of the hardest bosses in the game.
  • Sonic Colors challenges the player to follow hard routes which lets them finish the levels faster as opposed to the safer routes, and maybe earn an S-rank as a result. One notable example is Planet Wisp Act 3 where you have to know exactly when to jump and then double jump to avoid the Egg Chasers shooting lasers at you and when to boost to smash the Egg Pawns on the path and prey you don't fall down to the road below before you grab the Cyan Wisp on the upper road, then attempt to stay on the road all the way to the end so you can boost up the ramp at the end and grab the Red Ring in the air. If pulled off correctly you'll be able to use the Cyan Wisp on the prisms ahead when you land to rack up an enormous Color Bonus.
  • Averted in Custom Robo Arena. You need to climb a mountain to meet an Old Master who will teach you an Awesome but Impractical skill needed to progress the story and are presented with 3 opponents, labeled easy, medium and hard. Given you are being tested, you'd expect you have to choose the "hard" foe to proceed. Regardless of you choice, the game moves on and all difficulties are as described. One interesting thing of note is the "hard" foe will have mixed words, telling you many people like you have died on battlefields, while also telling you the expected bravery stuff.
  • Similar to the FoxTrot example above, in Homestuck, Eridan assumes that everything you encounter in a game is there to be killed for rewards and glory, and goes about his merry way slaughtering the angels living on his SGRUB planet. It says something about him that, when the first casualty failed to give any reward whatsoever, he kept killing until the angels started actively assaulting him. The idea that they were put there to help him, and not meant to be attacked, strikes him as ridiculous.
    • Later, nearly all of the trolls are revealed to have been guilty of this, to some extent. While they believed their Denizens were boss monsters, and received their grist hoards by killing them, the truth is that they were supposed to be given some sort of choice.
  • In Bastion, you can invoke a whole pantheon of gods. Every god provides an your enemies. On the other hand, invoking all ten nearly doubles your rewards.
  • In the NES game Blaster Master, the longest path is always the correct path, no exceptions.
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