Poll: What sort of game difficulty do you prefer?

Tick all that apply

  • 1. Story mode.

    Votes: 4 15.4%
  • 2. Easy.

    Votes: 4 15.4%
  • 3. Medium.

    Votes: 19 73.1%
  • 4. Hard.

    Votes: 11 42.3%
  • 5. Git gud el1te h4x0r min max speed runner.

    Votes: 4 15.4%

  • Total voters
    26

BFG10K

Lifer
Aug 14, 2000
22,014
1,128
126
I like a consistent straightforward challenge with occasional failure / death / blocking so I don’t get sloppy or complacent, and have to think a bit.

I don’t like:
  • A constant exhausting struggle, or trivially easy with no risk or adversity.
  • Excessive medkits / money / ammo / skill points / etc that collapse the game’s economy and make them worthless to pursue.
  • Extreme difficulty spikes, balance issues, or BS mechanics that come out of nowhere in the context of the game.
  • Unfair save system.
I voted medium / hard.
 

DeathReborn

Platinum Member
Oct 11, 2005
2,475
398
126
There are some games where it is all about the story but those are rare and don;t tend to have any difficulty options. Normally I crank up the difficulty but when all that does is activate AI cheats it becomes pointless and I put it to Medium. If I can turn off things like reloading keeps unspent ammor or auto regen health I do so With games like Diablo I go Hardcore as soon as I can, I like the permadeath options in Roguelike games but in things like Far Cry, Assassins Creed etc where missing a jump kills you permadeath just doesn't work as well.

In some games I do my own "rules" like only using certain weapons for the entire playthrough or not going down a research path in Civ, normally just to see if I can do it that way, so sometimes we can add our own difficulty on top of what the game offers.
 

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
14,535
426
136
All other aspects being equal, I like a hard game. Something that takes grinding/skill. I don't think everything needs to be dark souls tier in difficulty, but many games these days seem to just hand hold you most of the way and that doesn't usually interest me too much, even if the story is compelling.
 

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
4,021
2,601
136
I will basically always play a game on Normal/Medium if given the choice. I'm a busy guy and generally don't have time to "git gud" at a lot of games, nor do I like how harder difficulties will often simply turn a game into a slog by just nerfing your damage output while increasing the health/damage enemies have.

Additionally, I figure the game will likely have the most playtesting happen around the normal/medium mode, and that such a difficulty setting is sort of the developer's vision for how the game was supposed to be played.

For some games, this means things are painfully simple/easy, and that's fine. For other's that might mean the game is just punishingly difficult by default and will be harder than normal even on easier settings.

I'd wish there was a voting option that included "none". I'm playing Hollow Knight right now, and there are no difficulty settings at all. The game is definitely tougher than your average, but its also extremely fair and there are very few "**** this game" moments I've encountered so far thanks to things being solidly balanced around the one standard difficulty the game offers (in the standard story, anyhow).
 
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lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,481
213
106
I hate getting lost and getting my fanny shot off at the same time, therefore I prefer a game to be fairly easy the first time through.

After getting the lay of the land I like to replay on harder and harder difficulty settings.

So I like them all!
 
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Stg-Flame

Diamond Member
Mar 10, 2007
3,200
332
126
It honestly depends on the type of game.

But I think I can boil it down to a very typical: Normal for first play-through, then I'll ramp up the difficulty if I enjoyed it enough to play again. For other games that I've already played before, I'll ramp the difficulty all the way if possible - especially if I already know a lot of methods to cheese the game. For example, I've played through all of the Bethesda Fallout games so many times, I already know where to acquire powerful guns so unless I impose certain challenges on myself, there's no reason for me not to go pick up the better guns as early as possible. I also know many different methods to abuse the trade systems (the engine is just broken for trading) so money is never an issue. I think this is the reason I'm so drawn to the vast array of randomizers out there simply for the fact that they change everything about the game that I already know and turn it into a new challenge every time.
 

Oyeve

Lifer
Oct 18, 1999
21,368
480
126
Really depends on the type of game. For instance, Elden Ring would be a crap game if it had an easy/story mode. The main reason of the game is its difficulty. Games like Fallout 4 is a game that's still fun even in easier modes because there is a lot going on and sometimes I don't want to hunt around for hours trying to survive and just want to go in guns blazing and not die in a split second.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
15,317
5,461
136
I often start on normal and work my way up, but with the XCOM games I've stayed on normal so far (but I've played with the second wave settings to up the difficulty in interesting ways). The problem with the XCOM games and their difficulty level setting is that it doesn't make the game a more interesting trial simply by lowering the chance of a hit, at least IMO.

With 'Hades' I've stopped turning up the heat at 13 because for me it became more of a trial than enjoyment.
 

CP5670

Diamond Member
Jun 24, 2004
5,065
310
126
It depends on the game. I do medium for games that lack saved games (sometimes easy if the checkpoints annoy me too much) or which I want to go through quickly. For RPG-type games that I plan to invest a lot of time into, I play on hard. In those games your character becomes unstoppable later in the game anyway.
 

DigDog

Lifer
Jun 3, 2011
12,462
1,449
126
i almost always go 1 tick above medium, and almost never play easy, unless it's one of those games where easy means hard, and medium means impossible. FTL had easy = normal, medium = hard, and hard = basically all luck based.
Also, not too fond of super-high difficulty because it tends to be either a challenge mode (Doom's Nightmare where mobs respawn and you are just supposed to run through the level ignoring them), or just mobs becoming bullet sponges.

I do love when a few games have increased difficulty for the player AND the monsters, like STALKER has - the higher the difficulty mode, the more damage ALL bullets do, mobs AND yours.
 

Borealis7

Platinum Member
Oct 19, 2006
2,867
170
106
it was debated a lot in Path of Exile which is an "online single player" game where you can't choose the difficulty. as years went by and more content was added into the game, the "power creep" kept going up and old content could be done easily by newer builds. so at first the developer made bosses basically one-shot you unless you have a really insane build. i didn't like that at all, its not fun for me to get one-hit-killed by bosses. the situation has improved somewhat, but you still die to some ridiculous mechanics that have nothing to do with how good a player you are.
 

BFG10K

Lifer
Aug 14, 2000
22,014
1,128
126
Titan Quest has severe difficulty spikes as well, especially random trash mobs that can shred you in a second. Even "normal" difficulty seems to be balanced around the assumption of a min/max character with 80% resists and uber gear. Otherwise be prepared to quaff multiple healing potions per mob.
 
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GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
4,021
2,601
136
Titan Quest has severe difficulty spikes as well, especially random trash mobs that can shred you in a second. Even "normal" difficulty seems to be balanced around the assumption of a min/max character with 80% resists and uber gear. Otherwise be prepared to quaff multiple healing potions per mob.
- A lot of ARPGs and looter shooters are like this and its god damn aggravating. Its essentially understood that co-op multiplayer and grinding are part of the game mechanics that are the fulcrum that everything else is balanced around which can make things incredibly frustrating from a single player perspective.

Its really more refreshing to find an ARPG that can be solo'd than not.
 

Stg-Flame

Diamond Member
Mar 10, 2007
3,200
332
126
Titan Quest has severe difficulty spikes as well, especially random trash mobs that can shred you in a second. Even "normal" difficulty seems to be balanced around the assumption of a min/max character with 80% resists and uber gear. Otherwise be prepared to quaff multiple healing potions per mob.
- A lot of ARPGs and looter shooters are like this and its god damn aggravating. Its essentially understood that co-op multiplayer and grinding are part of the game mechanics that are the fulcrum that everything else is balanced around which can make things incredibly frustrating from a single player perspective.

Its really more refreshing to find an ARPG that can be solo'd than not.
My experience as a solo ARPG player is completely different from this. I played Titan Quest when it first came out and many more times throughout the years and I can't recall ever running into situations where you had to min/max or become a potion junkie. I've sunk over 1,000 hours into Grim Dawn and every single second of that game has been solo and the only issues I've ever ran into are the actual secret bosses that explicitly require very specific builds to fight them - but then again, Crate also labeled them as raid bosses and not something casual players could solo.

Same goes for the looter shooters like the Borderlands series. I always felt like those games (haven't played 3 yet) were very balanced in that the enemies you were fighting were a challenge, but it didn't require co-op or grinding to beat. Maybe I'm not remembering everything but if they had difficulty spikes like you guys describe, I doubt I would have continued with them that much since random difficulty spikes/forced grinding really irritate me. I will say there is an exception with Borderlands 2. When going from TVHM into UVHM, the game forces you to use slag for everything. Normal weapons are no longer viable and you are absolutely required to use slag if you want to continue to breeze through like in normal and TVHM. That did irritate me to no end.

I will say for future me when I come back and read this that I typed this on very little sleep so it's a very good possibility that I'm forgetting a lot of key moments with some of those games and maybe something gets jogged from my memory later. If that's the case, future me will be happy to edit this.
 

BFG10K

Lifer
Aug 14, 2000
22,014
1,128
126
I played Titan Quest when it first came out and many more times throughout the years and I can't recall ever running into situations where you had to min/max or become a potion junkie.
First two minutes alone, 10 healing potions + 1 death to random trash mobs. Later in the same video it takes him about 1 hour to kill Typhon after countless more potions and deaths:


One of the world's best Diablo 2 players getting rekt in the very first starting area by common boars:


This is on normal difficulty. Normal. That's not normal. TQ has absolutely horrendous game balance and difficulty issues compared to other ARPGs like Torchlight 1/2 or Grim Dawn, where normal enemies absolutely melt with even the most basic characters.
 
Last edited:

igor_kavinski

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2020
3,187
1,742
96
I want progressive difficulty where the better I get at gameplay, the harder it gets but not to the point that it becomes an impediment to story progression.

Easy / Medium / Hard / Ultra / Insane etc. difficulty levels are so 90s. Let us create our own difficulty levels, like we are able to do in car racing games.
 

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
4,021
2,601
136
My experience as a solo ARPG player is completely different from this. I played Titan Quest when it first came out and many more times throughout the years and I can't recall ever running into situations where you had to min/max or become a potion junkie. I've sunk over 1,000 hours into Grim Dawn and every single second of that game has been solo and the only issues I've ever ran into are the actual secret bosses that explicitly require very specific builds to fight them - but then again, Crate also labeled them as raid bosses and not something casual players could solo.

Same goes for the looter shooters like the Borderlands series. I always felt like those games (haven't played 3 yet) were very balanced in that the enemies you were fighting were a challenge, but it didn't require co-op or grinding to beat. Maybe I'm not remembering everything but if they had difficulty spikes like you guys describe, I doubt I would have continued with them that much since random difficulty spikes/forced grinding really irritate me. I will say there is an exception with Borderlands 2. When going from TVHM into UVHM, the game forces you to use slag for everything. Normal weapons are no longer viable and you are absolutely required to use slag if you want to continue to breeze through like in normal and TVHM. That did irritate me to no end.

I will say for future me when I come back and read this that I typed this on very little sleep so it's a very good possibility that I'm forgetting a lot of key moments with some of those games and maybe something gets jogged from my memory later. If that's the case, future me will be happy to edit this.
- I ran into this issue a lot with D1/D2/D3 where every new area came with just a brutal spike in difficulty and usually by the time you reach "act 3" the spike becomes almost insurmountable solo. I'm sure this is informed by build type etc but its been my personal experience with ARPGs. Co-Op and suddenly nearly all difficulty disappears.

Torchlight 1 & 2 actually do quite well here and I've beaten both solo but the game's overall difficulty is much lower than other ARPGs to begin with.

Have Grim Dawn and TQ Anniversary edition in the library, so I'll get around to those eventually and see how I do.
 

Stg-Flame

Diamond Member
Mar 10, 2007
3,200
332
126
First two minutes alone, 10 healing potions + 1 death to random trash mobs. Later in the same video it takes him about 1 hour to kill Typhon after countless more potions and deaths:


One of the world's best Diablo 2 players getting rekt in the very first starting area by common boars:


This is on normal difficulty. Normal. That's not normal. TQ has absolutely horrendous game balance and difficulty issues compared to other ARPGs like Torchlight 1/2 or Grim Dawn, where normal enemies absolutely melt with even the most basic characters.
I'll have to try out the AE then because I replayed through the normal game not too long ago and I remember just walking through and one-shotting damn near everything with normal white weapons.
 

DAPUNISHER

Super Moderator and Elite Member
Moderator
Aug 22, 2001
23,913
6,466
146
I hate getting lost and getting my fanny shot off at the same time, therefore I prefer a game to be fairly easy the first time through.

After getting the lay of the land I like to replay on harder and harder difficulty settings.

So I like them all!
This ^

There are a few games where I feel like the people that choose the highest difficulty, must be into self harm.
 
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igor_kavinski

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2020
3,187
1,742
96
Some people just think too highly of themselves. Like a guy once told me that he never reads any manuals coz he figures everything out himself. So these gamers that choose the highest difficulty, they are like, "everything except Ultra difficulty is for mortals. I'm immortal!"
 

DAPUNISHER

Super Moderator and Elite Member
Moderator
Aug 22, 2001
23,913
6,466
146
Some people just think too highly of themselves. Like a guy once told me that he never reads any manuals coz he figures everything out himself. So these gamers that choose the highest difficulty, they are like, "everything except Ultra difficulty is for mortals. I'm immortal!"
Had a friend stay with me a few years back. Jumps into Shadow of War I think it was, on hardest setting. Proceeds to become extremely frustrated and starts blaming the game. I have many lulz at his expense. I was like - turn the difficulty down. He replies that it isn't the problem, the game is. :D I laughed harder after that. When I got on and played on normal, all those supposedly broken game antics suddenly vanished.
 
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Auroraa

Junior Member
Apr 5, 2022
5
5
36
I usually do medium first time through or hard if i'm familiar with the series or confident I can do well. I honestly think it's arbitrary and it's lame when the only difference in difficulty modes is the enemies having more health, i like when they become smarter and have better strategies that require more creative critical thinking.

It's quite satisfying conquering a challenging game in hardcore more or such, but like in stuff like minecraft I just fell down a hole behind my castle one day that I couldn't see and then bam the whole world is dead.

that's just masochistic really or forces you to cheat lol
 
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Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,193
756
126
I usually play around Normal to Hard depending upon the game. One big thing though is that the game can't feel cheap in its difficulty. For example, turning enemies into bullet sponges in an FPS isn't fun in regard to difficulty. If I can say, "Okay, I screwed up there", then that's fine. I know there were times when playing Ori where I would make a mistake in some tricky pathing, and it was my issue.
 

nakedfrog

No Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
54,155
6,727
126
I like a consistent straightforward challenge with occasional failure / death / blocking so I don’t get sloppy or complacent, and have to think a bit.

I don’t like:
  • A constant exhausting struggle, or trivially easy with no risk or adversity.
  • Excessive medkits / money / ammo / skill points / etc that collapse the game’s economy and make them worthless to pursue.
  • Extreme difficulty spikes, balance issues, or BS mechanics that come out of nowhere in the context of the game.
  • Unfair save system.
I voted medium / hard.
That's pretty much where I'm at. Any game with "survival" in the description is an instant pass for me though.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,481
213
106
I prefer a game to be fairly easy the first time through.

After getting the lay of the land I like to replay on harder and harder difficulty settings.
Spoiler alert for Alyx...


Doing exactly this now on Alyx. It is easier now on hard than it was playing on easy the first time because now I know what I'm doing.

First time through I didn't know about the unlimited supply of free xen grenades.

I kill armored crabs 🦀 with one shot now.

Blue antlions are easily dispatched with a couple pistol shots.

Got a strategy for dealing with the 2 lighting dogs by staying in one corner and avoiding the rest of the map until the dogs are dead.

Avoid some fights all together to conserve ammo just run into the new area.

Run back and forth and let soldiers kill antlions without firing a shot. That should be an achievement. Hmmm maybe it is?
 

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