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Thoughts on Difficulty Settings

Posted on 22nd Apr 2010 at 10:42 by Joe Martin with 72 comments

Joe Martin
I may as well start off by saying that I don’t usually like my games to be too difficult and that, if I’m sitting down to play a game for my own enjoyment, I’ll almost never, ever put it on Hard difficulty. In fact, I’m more likely to play it on Easy.

There’s a lot of people who’ll baulk at that; the type of people who label themselves as ‘hardcore’ gamers with an inflated sense of pride and dismiss the majority of titles as ‘baby-games’, most likely. Despite what they think though, I think my reasons for opting for a lesser difficulty are pretty good ones.

It comes down to a matter of taste and what you’re looking for – and what I usually look for in the games I play at home is a good story and the chance to have some fun. Sticking the game on maximum difficulty is something that’s more likely to get in the way of that than facilitate it and the worst fear I have with any new game is that I’ll play it on Hard, love the story, reach an impassable boss and then get stuck. In that situation I’d be more likely to put the game down and move on than to replay on a lower skill setting – and I’d hate to miss out on a tale I’d otherwise enjoy.

Thoughts on Difficulty Settings
Piece of cake

That’s not to say that I never up the difficulty though, if I think it’s worth it or if I’m trying to get something new out of an older game. I’d definitely play Deus Ex on maximum difficulty (and would create play restrictions to liven it up too), for example, and I’ve just finished Mass Effect 2 on Insanity difficulty. When I review games I never play them on Easy either – I always opt for the Normal skill setting as a matter of principle; it seems the way that the game is supposed to be played. It’s what the developers think the majority of players will want.

There have been some times when I’ve been really disappointed with how games support difficulty levels. When I first finished Half-Life 2 on Normal I immediately went back and tried it on Hard because I’d found it a bit easy on the whole and had determined to play it again anyway. In the end though, I couldn’t actually notice a difference between Easy, Normal or Hard. The same number of enemies, the same placements, same approximate of bullets required. Boring.

There are only two games I can think of where the difficulty settings have been perfectly implemented – and they are practically polar opposites too; Thief and Serious Sam.

The way Serious Sam tackled game difficulty was to make an option for every single type of player possible, with the usual Easy, Normal, Hard settings bookended by more inventive modes; Tourist and Mental. If you could successfully gun your way through Serious Sam’s huge hordes of horrors then Mental mode would be the ultimate challenge for you; your attacks would do half damage, enemies would do double and they were all invisible to boot.

Thoughts on Difficulty Settings
Hardass

If you were struggling with the usual selection of settings though then Tourist made the game a walk in the park; you’d do double damage, enemies would do half and your health would regenerate. You couldn’t fail even if you eschewed the minigun and rocket launcher and opted to rely only on the knife.

Thief’s approach was a bit different and was the only logical response to the increasing difficulty that didn’t require guards to have super-hearing and x-ray vision. When you’ve built such a tense and brilliantly balanced game why would you want to ruin it on harder settings by making enemies react unconvincingly? You wouldn’t, so the best way to make the game harder would be to give players new things to do – which is what Thief did. On Easy you might only need to run in and grab one bit of loot, but on Expert mode you’d need to pilfer many more pockets and make a successful escape in the process, usually without killing anyone too.

It’s a shame that most games can’t or don’t follow those examples, because increasingly I find myself dissatisfied with the way that games handle the process of challenging the player – probably a side-effect of making modern titles ever more accessible. Having to click the crosshair an extra once or twice to win a fight isn’t a real increase in challenge – or not one I’m interested in anyway.

72 Comments

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Fizzban 22nd April 2010, 10:57 Quote
I always play the game on normal the first time around. If I really enjoyed the game then the next time I play it I will crank up the difficulty. Recently played Mass Effect 2 on normal..then again on veteran and now I'm on my 3rd (yes 3rd) play through on hardcore. Next time I play it will be on insanity.

Just wondering Joe, what class did you play through ME2 insanity with? Like I say I'm on hardcore and I'm using a Vangard and some of the battles have been a bitch lol.
CardJoe 22nd April 2010, 11:06 Quote
I played as Infiltrator the first time around (Normal), then Soldier the second time (Insanity). I remember Soldier was by far the easiest in the first game and I wanted to be able to use all the weapons (since you can learn added biotic powers through research etc).

Insanity mode in Mass Effect is a bitch though, whatever the class. Rock hard, in fact. But then, that's the point, isn't it?
Fizzban 22nd April 2010, 11:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
I played as Infiltrator the first time around (Normal), then Soldier the second time (Insanity). I remember Soldier was by far the easiest in the first game and I wanted to be able to use all the weapons (since you can learn added biotic powers through research etc).

Insanity mode in Mass Effect is a bitch though, whatever the class. Rock hard, in fact. But then, that's the point, isn't it?

Thanks for the reply. I did my veteran run with a Soldier. Both normal and hardcore was with Vangard as I seem to favour that class. Perhaps I should play next as an Infiltrator or Sentinel. And yes, insanity should be frustratingly hard.
Toka 22nd April 2010, 11:13 Quote
Civ4 on settler makes me cry...

Mind you, so does Deity.
CardJoe 22nd April 2010, 11:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fizzban
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
I played as Infiltrator the first time around (Normal), then Soldier the second time (Insanity). I remember Soldier was by far the easiest in the first game and I wanted to be able to use all the weapons (since you can learn added biotic powers through research etc).

Insanity mode in Mass Effect is a bitch though, whatever the class. Rock hard, in fact. But then, that's the point, isn't it?

Thanks for the reply. I did my veteran run with a Soldier. Both normal and hardcore was with Vangard as I seem to favour that class. Perhaps I should play next as an Infiltrator or Sentinel. And yes, insanity should be frustratingly hard.

Infiltrator is my preferred class, purely because I'm a sniper type of person when it comes to games. The sniper rifle, especially with slow-down, does unbalance the game a bit though. On lower difficulty it's constant one-hit kills with auto slow-motion. On anything above Veteran you're cut down by the time you've drawn a bead. Not a class I'd recommend for high difficulties. What you really want is Assault Rifle + Domination ability.
pimlicosound 22nd April 2010, 11:23 Quote
I found the Sentinel class easier than Soldier in ME2. Cranking your class power and tech armour up to full gives you incredibly short cool-down times on powers, meaning you can spam area-throw all over the place, which gets a bit hilarious.
yakyb 22nd April 2010, 11:40 Quote
difficult on e really and will very much depend on the game

Serious sam i played on normal (as its not overly difficult anyway)

dragon age i stuck on hard immedaitely

whist i would start skirmishes on RA2 on easy 1v1 then move to 1v7 on easy then 1v5 on 3 normal 2 easy then all the way through to 1v7 on hard ( and yes i did win)
Gunsmith 22nd April 2010, 11:42 Quote
I grew up on a Neo-Geo so im used to having games try to **** me sideways, rather then whine at the developers to make it easier I simply just got on with it, its certainly made me a better, more skilled gamer.
adam_bagpuss 22nd April 2010, 11:56 Quote
ive noticed on MW2 co-op the plane graveyard level on Veteran are SUPER accurate with assualt rifle on full auto from sniper distances. they know your there too and shoot through planes as you approach (maybe a bug that bit though)
mikeuk2004 22nd April 2010, 12:09 Quote
I used to play all games on normal but since the introduction of acheivements, I find now I jump in straight at Hard so I unlock easy normal acheivements all in one go.
javaman 22nd April 2010, 12:13 Quote
I normally play on easy but have started playing on normal since easy is sometimes a joke. Take fifa where players don't tackle, it just becomes a joke. Least on easy I learn the game before normal. I agree about half life 2, I've just started a replay of it on hard and its too easy. Crysis is a good example of difficulty. even RPGs, your difficulty is determined by time you put in leveling. Fallout 3/oblivion on normal was difficult enough until level 6ish when you had weapons and skill. After that it became too easy again.
SinxarKnights 22nd April 2010, 12:14 Quote
Games like Crysis are just way too easy on the hardest setting (Delta) I played through once on normal, ever since its been Delta everytime. And when I got Warhead, straight to Delta, those games are just way too easy.

But one game I never did beat on the hardest settings was Ninja Gaiden for Xbox. Now that was hardcore. Barely beat it on Hard, but Very Hard was just too much for me.
lacuna 22nd April 2010, 12:27 Quote
I would say that difficulty settings make a difference in a whole range of titles. Try playing a RTS game such as warhammer on the hardest setting for the first time and you will get your ass handed to you, same with a fighting game such as Tekken.
SimoomiZ 22nd April 2010, 13:09 Quote
Agreed, it's difficult to see what impact selecting the hardest difficulty setting has on HL2. IIRC from Ep 2, (some time ago now) the Antlion guardians do require more hits to take down. They must get 3x the health of the lowest setting or whatever.

Personally though, I've never played HL2 with a competitive mindset, prefering to just savour each episode -to string it out as long as possible, rather than racing through it. I mean heck, why not take in every pixel of their hard work. They make players wait too long to try to turn it into a two hour wonder.
veato 22nd April 2010, 13:13 Quote
I tend to play most games on Normal. I do remember playing the original Bioshock on 360 coming to a level with a lot of quite powerful splicers shortly followed by a Big Daddy. I'm not sure what mode it was but I got my ass kicked every single time. I put the difficulty down one setting though and ohmygod it was easy to the point of providing no challenge at all. I never could quite work that one out.
DeathAwaitsU 22nd April 2010, 13:22 Quote
Hard - everytime. I iz hardcore you see :D
Draksis 22nd April 2010, 13:29 Quote
With Thief 3, I always used to try and get 100% loot, and all the special loot items and only sap the guards, never kill - and on top of all that, only to sap the guards i could absolutely not sneak past.

I thought how useless the guards must feel if, at dawn, the entire home/warehouse/what ever was devoid of all valuables, and only 18 out the total 20 guards were still awake and on duty!!
Hustler 22nd April 2010, 13:54 Quote
Halo on legendary.......an exercise in masochism.
devilxc 22nd April 2010, 14:02 Quote
FPS shooters are boring if they are too easy; I like having to hide behind cover and pick people off. So I normally stick to hard for them.

Most other games I start at normal and as I get better I increase the difficulty to keep it a challenge.
Bauul 22nd April 2010, 14:04 Quote
I used to be one for going at it on hardest possible settings, but over time and with age, I now almost always play it on easy.

Why? Because every time I have to redo a section, that's a bit of fun gone. Every time I get fustrated and find a part difficult, that's a bit of stress I tried to avoid by picking up the game in the first place. I know the challenge often can be the fun, but I like to build up to that challenge. If I find a game too difficult too early on, I simply won't play it any more.

Thankfully, many games have difficulty settings you can change on the fly these days, which is a godsend.
Zurechial 22nd April 2010, 14:11 Quote
Generally speaking I'm happy as long as a game actually *has* difficulty settings.

I always felt that Crysis' implementation was pretty good with its 'Delta' mode because it didn't simply change some numbers - It did things like make the KPA soldiers speak Korean instead of english and remove the HUD warnings for nearby grenades.

My typical difficulty choice varies depending on the genre. I usually go with 'Normal' in RPGs, 'Easy' in RTSes and the hardest I can get in FPSes.
Mind you, I went with normal in Bad Company 2 because of the reports of how frustrating the singleplayer campaign was and I'm glad I did.
Any more instant-death headshots out of nowhere than there were in 'Normal' and I'd have just given up on the singleplayer portion.
xaser04 22nd April 2010, 14:15 Quote
What difficulty setting I choose depends very much on what game I am playing and what mood I am in. If I just want a quick blast of FPS action I will play L4D (1 or 2) on normal. If however I want more of a challenge I will break out COD2 (old I know) and wack the difficulty up to Veteran.
ambrose 22nd April 2010, 14:16 Quote
who plays sigleplayer games? zzzz give me an opponent with a brain
nah not really i always found hitman to be more fun replaying on harder and harder settings, and trying to get through withot being seen is HARD :P
runadumb 22nd April 2010, 14:32 Quote
Yeah I tend to always play on normal to first time with a few exceptions. F.E.A.R 2 was just a cake walk on medium, red faction done my head in and I eventually put it on easy just to finish it. If I ever get just cause 2 I will play it on easy as I hear its more fun that way.

I think its really important developers add a "Muppet" difficulty setting so people who maybe don't play games can be very gently introduced. My sister used to try and play games then give up as they where to hard for her. It shouldn't be like that. Portal got her back into gaming and now she easily holds her own in L4D but every game should have a setting that even a moderate gamer could breeze through to give total noobs a chance. Everyone should be able to finish a game they bought...unless its something like Braid...thats different.
zimbloggy 22nd April 2010, 15:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by runadumb

I think its really important developers add a "Muppet" difficulty setting so people who maybe don't play games can be very gently introduced..

I agree with that. Of course, there's always cheat codes/trainers...
Sutters 22nd April 2010, 15:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeuk2004
I used to play all games on normal but since the introduction of acheivements, I find now I jump in straight at Hard so I unlock easy normal acheivements all in one go.

I like your thinking

* makes mental note *
Xir 22nd April 2010, 15:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathAwaitsU
Hard - everytime. I iz hardcore you see :D

Easy, as I iz a tourist :D

Naah, depends really, as there are so many games, and so little time, i started going from normal to easy.
Just so I can see the end of the game story without cheating or spending months.

More importantly, most games don't allow you to change the difficulty in game, which would be usefull.
So instead of staggering to a halt at about 2/3 through a game, i start on easy, cos I can't be buggered to start a game again, and repeat 40+ hours just for changing the dificulty.

(note to self, must switch from esay-to-normal in Mass Effect 2 as it really is TOO easy) :D
Pete J 22nd April 2010, 15:28 Quote
Good article!

Balancing difficulty is an art as far as I can see. As you point out, Half-Life 2 was incredibly easy (even on 'hard'). On the other hand, I found games like Aquanox 1+2 and Freespace 1+2 a challenge even on 'very easy'.

Then there are games which have massive jumps between difficulty levels. Take Supreme Commander, for example. Normal mode is piss easy; hard mode destroys me in a matter of minutes (and sometimes seconds).

Personally, I like the system implemented in COD MW - the assault course that judges how good you are. I played through a few times and was recommended the 2nd hardest mode. The game was perfect on this mode for me and I had a really good time playing it.

I charged straight into Mass Effect 2 at 'Insanity'. It was mostly perfect, bar the odd b*stard hard bit.
CharlO 22nd April 2010, 15:52 Quote
By me L4D has a nice sistem, by cutting the ammount of health, ammo and supplies, and providing more sombies, because by me it wouldn't make sense to let them stand after twelve bullets to theri head.
FelixTech 22nd April 2010, 16:11 Quote
Although in many respects those are all obvious changes, the only difference being that it's controlled by the director rather than the level designer. I think the just of the article was that something more inventive would be nice, like harder routes through the city etc. L4D is still a bitch sometimes though :P
thehippoz 22nd April 2010, 16:37 Quote
hmm you don't consider yourself a hardcore player? you are pretty much as hardcore as they come joe.. I'm kind of the same way- play it on normal have a good look, then on hard

I like difficult games though.. like trine had me laughing my ass off- there was a friend who I'm pretty sure had to go back and play it through on easy to see the ending XD he was bitching about the last level.. then like 3 days later he finally beat it miraculously (so I say easy or cheated)

I had no problems myself- took a couple of trys but I found it a lot of fun the way they designed that last level.. I love choke points just for the roid rage.. makes a good game and separate the men from the mice- quake 2 multiplayer was the pinnacle (in my book at least) of letting a good gamer stretch his legs out as the jump physics were insane- almost unlimited the amount of tricks you could pull off.. some games are so limiting in scope nowdays, everyone is on a pretty level playing field.. it's boring but I see why they do it- there's money to be had

oh yeah mass effect was one of my favorites.. so not all the new games are like that- but halo.. come on gimme a break and look at how successful that is
Farfalho 22nd April 2010, 17:20 Quote
I played Cod4 on Hardened, full of myself and my abilities as player, needless to say that I had come to a wall, couldn't get past the mission where you play as Price and his senior, took me more than 2 weeks. Okay, when I've finally made it I went ballistics but in the end I gained nothing.

I have a thought that I would only play a game on a harder difficulty if it unlocks something special. Did it for GoW and MW2 so I could get all the "easter eggs" and all achievements, respectively. GoW2 had nothing on harder and GoW3 I'm founding a time to got through the A*s-R***ed mode. [shame] I had to use Pro Action Replay on GoW to finish the game on God Mode [/shame]
yakyb 22nd April 2010, 17:44 Quote
gameplay restrictions are where its at, like hardcore mode on Diablo


or completing golden eye only using the pistol or doom only using the shotgun
Chombo 22nd April 2010, 17:59 Quote
The only games I play on the hardest settings are the realistic shooters like ARMA.. Otherwise its normal or easy. Especially easy if its a game I just want to clear from my backlog.
Gunsmith 22nd April 2010, 18:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehippoz

oh yeah mass effect was one of my favorites.. so not all the new games are like that- but halo.. come on gimme a break and look at how successful that is

even sh*t can be successful if you've never seen or smelt it.
Fiyero 22nd April 2010, 18:21 Quote
I always used to play on easy, just to enjoy my way through the game stress free.
I've only in the last year or 2 started running straight through on normal instead. (Apart from Ninja Gaiden II, that game is soul destroyingly hard regardless)
Mostly because easy really was a bit too easy nowdays, so took some of the enjoyment away in the end. A bit more difficulty and "intelligence" from the game and things are much more entertaining. Plus achievements are really a great motivator for considering the harder difficulties.
The only downside to that is some require you to be on a specific difficulty to get ANY achievement.
A few weeks back I completed my first ever game on it's hardest setting. MW2. Which was a pretty fun challenge actually. Some really frustrating sections at times though.
I actually didn't think halo on legendary was so bad. The only bad part is the final level where you really need to memorise the warthog run which is long and REALLY annoying. Hence never finishing it.
Psytek 22nd April 2010, 18:31 Quote
For me it's a question of how much time I have to put into a game.
If I just want to experience the story and then move on, I'll usually go with normal or easy. But If I've got a lot of time and I really want to make the most of a game, I'll go through it multiple times on various difficulties.

Games like MGS 1,2 and 4 I played tens of times, to get all the different unlocks and to try the different difficulties.
But games like MW2 or BC2, I just play through the campaign once on easy or normal and then move onto the multiplayer.
knuck 22nd April 2010, 18:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunsmith
even sh*t can be successful if you've never seen or smelt it.

watch out there, don't provoke the Halo players or else they will try to provoke you by taunting you about how **** games can be unsuccessful too (by referring to Crysis) [those would be their words, not mine. I didn't really give a chance to Crysis]

I personally always play games at their hardest settings simply because I like the challenge. In easier games, when I can, I make sure I have an handicap. If I can't then I simply aim for a perfect game. I even use a "cheat" in Tetris Attack on the GameBoy to be able to play VS mode at SuperHard because I got too good and Hard is just not a challenge

I believe however that the hardest mode anyone can choose is called "Multiplayer"
Star*Dagger 22nd April 2010, 20:01 Quote
You need to think about who your audience is, I know you guys have been taken over by the corporate mentality, but if you want anyone to read your articles you need to stop posting articles that are sure to offend the hard core gamers in your audience.
WildThing 22nd April 2010, 20:40 Quote
I always used to play on normal as I thought that's how it's meant to be played, and I also used to look down on people playing games on easy or with cheats the first time through. The important thing though, is to have fun. So recently I have been playing a lot of games on easy, because after a day at work, the last thing I want is to be repeating the same section of a game over and over again. Also, ever since Mass Effect, I have realized there are some games that are not about challenging gameplay, and that actually focus more on immersive story telling. So I prefer to play those games on easy.

The thing I don't like about some modern difficulty systems is, when harder modes simply equate to enemies having more health, therefore requiring more damage to die, and you having less health or being weaker in some way. Ideally I would like a system (for FPS anyway) where the AI was major factor in the difficulty. For example, on every setting, a head-shot killed but on harder settings, the AI had better aim and would evade/use cover etc, and on easy, they basically stood still and couldn't shoot a thing. In this case I would more than likely chose hard every time. Crysis came pretty close to this, I have to play that on Delta, but then that's mostly because I like to hear the more authentic Korean.

I just really hate grinding and repetition.:( I game for fun!
eternum 22nd April 2010, 21:02 Quote
I play for the escapism, not for a tough challenge, personally. I usually play a new game on easy just so I can soak up the story and not worry as much about resources (ammo and such in FPS games). I find I enjoy the time spent more than if I were to set the difficulty higher (some games get changed to normal if they are TOOOO easy of course). That being said, once I know the mechanics and general layout of the game, I always turn up the difficulty on subsequent playthroughs. The story is no longer new, and with the knowledge gleaned from the first run, you have an advantage that can be offset by upping the difficulty. Ideally, I like it to be a challenge the second time around since I at least have the confidence of understanding the obstacles I'll face and setbacks are less likely to be as frustrating. I don't mind a challenge, but the frustration and stress of playing games "hard-core" just isn't worth spending my free time on - I get enough of that in the rest of my life owning a retail business and raising a toddler...
tron 22nd April 2010, 22:53 Quote
The reason I usually put difficulty levels high is not due to much of a hardcore ego, but simply because 'easy' levels are usually unchallenging, boring, and give no sense of achievement.

Any racing game I play, the first thing I do is search the menus for any driver assists that can be switched off.
logan'srun 22nd April 2010, 23:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe

Infiltrator is my preferred class, purely because I'm a sniper type of person when it comes to games. The sniper rifle, especially with slow-down, does unbalance the game a bit though. On lower difficulty it's constant one-hit kills with auto slow-motion. On anything above Veteran you're cut down by the time you've drawn a bead. Not a class I'd recommend for high difficulties. What you really want is Assault Rifle + Domination ability.

That's interesting really, I did 'Hardcore' as a vanguard (continuation of my ME1 character) and thought it was extremely difficult. I did another run on Insanity and tried Infiltrator to see if I would like that class, and found that it was actually easier than hardcore.
I felt once I got the Widow Sniper and bumped my class score to a 4, that the rest of the game became fairly easy (easier I should say). IN fact, for me the final stages was a world of difference between the two settings as Vanguard took forever to do, but I managed all final levels on first go, half the time, no deaths. IMHO Widow Sniper was way overpowered and made Insanity feel like Normal.
Aragon Speed 23rd April 2010, 07:16 Quote
I'm a bit like Joe, I tend to play games on the easy setting most of the time, and only cranking it up a bit when I find that too easy.

Ironically I am Playing Borderlands for the first time, and while I am enjoying it, I wish I could change the difficulty to an easier one. Currently the enemies seem to be getting tougher at about double the rate I am. XD
AshT 23rd April 2010, 07:29 Quote
I play on easy as well. It's not always been the case. There was a time when I'd play all my games on hard or insane, whatever the highest level of difficulty is for whatever game. I loved the challenge and wouldn't let games beat me. However, I have a life now, other interests. I also like playing lots of varied games. So, to make sure I get to play as many games as possible in as shortest time possible I now play on easy levels.

Confessing that is like confessing to being an alcoholic ... I feel much better.
Xir 23rd April 2010, 08:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AshT
However, I have a life now, other interests. I also like playing lots of varied games. So, to make sure I get to play as many games as possible in as shortest time possible I now play on easy levels.

I for one welcome you to the "Old Gits" section of Bit-Tech. Please hang you "Hardcore" hat on the stand and come over an have a cuppa cocoa with the rest of us
DbD 23rd April 2010, 10:24 Quote
Worst difficulties are rpgs because they have such trouble keeping the difficulty level consistent as you level. I ofter start at say hard, and find it hard, but then as I carefully level the game gets easier till it's a walk in the park. However if I start at insane I'll take half an hour to kill the first rat.
GiantStickMan 23rd April 2010, 10:24 Quote
I usually game after work to blow off steam (the joys of working in a demanding role where you are underappreciated and often abused) so whilst I like a challenge, I hate being forced to do the same thing over and over when I can't get it.
I've played a few games that give you the option to change the difficulty or make an enemy/boss easier after a few retries if you can't get it. I like that idea, the people who want to soldier on can, but the people who just want to get past it can drop the difficulty down for that section.
Da_Rude_Baboon 23rd April 2010, 10:28 Quote
I would to see a set of sliders in games which would allow you to tweak the difficulty to your tastes along with the normal easy, normal, hard settings. For example in a FPS you had sliders for enemy health, AI, awareness (how easily they spot you), accuracy etc, along with sliders for your health, amount of med kits, ammo and so on.

That way you could adjust the challenge to how it suited you.
CardJoe 23rd April 2010, 11:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
I for one welcome you to the "Old Gits" section of Bit-Tech. Please hang you "Hardcore" hat on the stand and come over an have a cuppa cocoa with the rest of us

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_nhfDD_GGElU/SONJ-kDEPDI/AAAAAAAAAxs/pmvpkeeayis/s400/ackbar.jpg
MartyEF 23rd April 2010, 11:38 Quote
I think difficulty settings should have a real meaning. If every game would have settings from "complete newbie" to "ultra over the top hardcore gamer" setting, games would be more accesible to all players. I respect hardcore gamers, but it should take the fun away for newbies. Some people play a game for its story, others because they want to beat it. Both types of players (and everything in between) should be catered for.
tad2008 23rd April 2010, 12:44 Quote
I have always played games on Normal for the first time through, if the game then has enough merits to make it worth playing through again, then I crank up the difficulty to take account of my knowledge of the game and to give me something more to work at.

Playing on easy just for the story is I am sad to say, rather lame, especially, since normal is where the developers have targeted the main focus on the overall quality and atmosphere of the game. If it's just the story you want, go watch a movie.

Replayability is about more than just the story, it's about raising your personal bar, increasing challenges and overall accomplishment.

That said I do agree that only a handful of games have truly grasped the concept of sensible difficulty settings in much the same way as other games give you a different story arc when replaying.
M3G4 23rd April 2010, 13:37 Quote
I appreciate difficulty settings on games. I played Dead Rising on the 360, and I must say after a few hours I'm left screaming at the 360 for mercy.

I'm an occasional gamer, and I'm not going to lie - I'm terrible at most games. I play most (if not all) on easy, and still manage to fail at some of them - but they're not so frustrating to the point of not wanting to play any more. Dead Rising is so ridiculously hard, no matter what settings you play it with. Some of the areas are so thickly covered with Zombies that I wonder if even talented players could get through some of the parts - and this is only a couple of hours after playing. The sheer lack of save points, and lunacy of having to restart the ENTIRE GAME after being killed is unforgiveable. It wouldn't be so bad if there was some degree of replayability, a slight variation perhaps, but no. It puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose again.

I understand that hardcore gamers need something challenging, but to make a full price game all but inaccessible for the light-dabbler is inexcusable.

I have to say I don't agree with tad2008:
Quote:
Originally Posted by tad2008
Playing on easy just for the story is I am sad to say, rather lame, especially, since normal is where the developers have targeted the main focus on the overall quality and atmosphere of the game. If it's just the story you want, go watch a movie.

I feel that if it's a good enough game, the story, atmosphere and quality should shine through no matter what difficulty setting you play it on. That's like buying a car and being told you can only use the first 2 gears until you're 35 years old.
Scootiep 23rd April 2010, 13:39 Quote
Thief still gets my vote for most original game of all time. I still vividly remember using all 5.1 channels of my Alltech Lansing ADA880R's for that game and loved every second of it. They took the whole concept of stealth gameplay to a level beyond groundbreaking.
mighty_pirate 23rd April 2010, 14:57 Quote
I remember being absolutely livid about the difficulty settings in Dawn Of War. I just couldn't work out how the AI beat me all the time, especially since their tactics weren't all that clever. It wasn't until I watched a few replay videos with a stopwatch & a finger on the pause button (because I'm cool, you understand) that I discovered the AI wasn't getting smarter on higher difficulties, it was just cheating. FPS difficulty can focus more on realism (a single bullet can kill you, etc) RTS difficulty in particular needs to be smarter, the cheating just feels unsavory. I'd like to see more intelligent RTS AI, it's the area in which I feel the genre should, but doesn't really, spearpoint advancement.
GiantStickMan 23rd April 2010, 15:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by M3G4
I appreciate difficulty settings on games. I played Dead Rising on the 360, and I must say after a few hours I'm left screaming at the 360 for mercy.

I hear you on that one, those convicts in the park with the giant jeep mounted gun and all you have to take them on with is a wimpy handgun and a bottle of OJ. Stick with it though, once you level up a few times and get extra health and item slots, the game really shines.
Focussing on only saving survivors and not doing the story missions on the first play-through is a great way to level up fast.
Sadly you have to invest a lot of time and effort to get an enjoyable return but it is REALLY worth it.
MSHunter 23rd April 2010, 20:51 Quote
try Diablo2 LOD on Hardcore and survive the lags till Levels 90-99. Now that is challenging.
VaLkyR-Assassin 23rd April 2010, 21:06 Quote
I only ever play games on easy these days, as I like to take in the story and avoid the occasional annoying boss battle. Some games are quite playable on a harder difficulty, then all of a sudden a single impassable and over the top difficult bit can ruin the game. I can never understand why the developers do this.
D-Cyph3r 23rd April 2010, 21:06 Quote
SupCom against multiple Supreme AI's can be fairly brutal, with constant experimental attacks after the 20-25min mark.

L4D2 on expert realism is outright sadistic though, spitter splits the group up, charger runs away 1 team mate, smoker drags another off, jockey runs the last into a group of infected and your on your jack with a hunter about to pounce on your face. :S
Rogan 23rd April 2010, 21:51 Quote
This thread needs more Goldeneye pimpage.

The first game to break the LOL MAKE THE ENEMIES FASTER LOL precedent.


Goldeneye.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mighty_pirate
I discovered the AI wasn't getting smarter on higher difficulties.

It's a lot to ask of something like an RTS game, really. For a start you'd need to have a load of different levels of strategem. To be honest we're lucky if they can path the units to attack or defend, never mind organise hundreds of them to fight intelligently. I suppose that's why Starcraft is such a popular MP game, there's so much more a human can do in comparison to AI.
Sloth 23rd April 2010, 23:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mighty_pirate
I remember being absolutely livid about the difficulty settings in Dawn Of War. I just couldn't work out how the AI beat me all the time, especially since their tactics weren't all that clever. It wasn't until I watched a few replay videos with a stopwatch & a finger on the pause button (because I'm cool, you understand) that I discovered the AI wasn't getting smarter on higher difficulties, it was just cheating. FPS difficulty can focus more on realism (a single bullet can kill you, etc) RTS difficulty in particular needs to be smarter, the cheating just feels unsavory. I'd like to see more intelligent RTS AI, it's the area in which I feel the genre should, but doesn't really, spearpoint advancement.
The other thing that somewhat bothers me with RTS AI is their completely inhuman ability to perform multiple actions simultaneously. Watch a round of Starcraft start, for example. All of the AI's worker units immediately get to gathering on separate mineral piles as the ComCenter/Hive/Nexus starts instantly producing another. Watch as multiple units activiate abilities at the same time yet with different targets, or battles are fought on two fronts with full attention to each. All within the natural limits of the game, human limitations and input devices are the only things stopping you from doing the same.

But like Rogan said, we're lucky to have any AI at all. It must be a huge hassle. Perhaps some day we'll actually have an AI 'playing' the game with simulated input devices, only advantage being superior intelligence.

I like Demon's Souls method of implementing difficulty methods: there are none, it is always hard :D
mighty_pirate 24th April 2010, 01:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogan
It's a lot to ask of something like an RTS game, really. For a start you'd need to have a load of different levels of strategem. To be honest we're lucky if they can path the units to attack or defend, never mind organise hundreds of them to fight intelligently. I suppose that's why Starcraft is such a popular MP game, there's so much more a human can do in comparison to AI.
Well yes, that's my point, we're lucky if they're competent, let alone challenging. But RTS is a game where I would dearly like to see more intelligence. AI in general shoot em up's seems to be advancing. We see flanking, baiting, etc. on the more difficult levels. But RTS difficulty levels seem to have gotten lazy. When strategy is in the name, you expect to see a fair bit. Imagine if Chessmaster (people still play Chessmaster!) just started moving pieces wherever it wanted, ignoring the rules. The very point of the game is lost. It kind of feels like that to me.
crayfish 24th April 2010, 14:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by devilxc
FPS shooters are boring if they are too easy; I like having to hide behind cover and pick people off. So I normally stick to hard for them.

Most other games I start at normal and as I get better I increase the difficulty to keep it a challenge.
I play on easy and still hide behind cover just for effect! LOL!
der_george 25th April 2010, 01:08 Quote
Quake 3 on Nightmare. Last Level against Xaero. Took me a couple of months to beat him. Loads of people (Gamers) don't beat him in a lifetime. Thats the hardest I know. Most fun... hmm probalby Swat 4 COOP on hardest setting. Recent most fun.. I'd say a tie between easy L4D2 COOP slaughterung and hardest difficulty MW2 COOP.

COOP games on hardest difficulty are nearly always fun, aslong as you have a nice bunch of peaple you play with.
Rebourne 25th April 2010, 07:55 Quote
Too hard is annoying, but too easy is boring.
Tulatin 25th April 2010, 22:06 Quote
To be fair, Deus Ex on Realistic is a lot of fun mainly because it levels the playing field. JC no longer has super health, but then again neither does the AI. Plus they aim appropriately for their rank
metarinka 30th April 2010, 22:56 Quote
I skimmed but i'm surprised no one mentioned unreal tournament. It had an "adaptive" skill level where depending on how well you did the bots would either go up or down in skill. it meant that eventually it would level out so you would be challenged and not bored. of course you could "game" the system and turn every crushing victory into a close call, but that would be more time.

I'm surprised so few games have any type of adapative system where they get harder or easier depending on how well you play. fighting games sometimes have them still.
Sloth 30th April 2010, 23:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by metarinka
I skimmed but i'm surprised no one mentioned unreal tournament. It had an "adaptive" skill level where depending on how well you did the bots would either go up or down in skill. it meant that eventually it would level out so you would be challenged and not bored. of course you could "game" the system and turn every crushing victory into a close call, but that would be more time.

I'm surprised so few games have any type of adapative system where they get harder or easier depending on how well you play. fighting games sometimes have them still.
I believe the reason this isn't common is to prevent people from leaving the challenge level they enjoy. Some people just enjoy the challenge, or enjoy rolling through easily. A dynamic difficulty ruins this by forcing all players to play with the same relative difficulty. Also sucks that you'll all have to start out on the same level, some players will be forced to frustratingly die repeatedly while others will be bored until it gets tougher.
GravitySmacked 1st May 2010, 12:32 Quote
I play games for entertainment which, for me, does not constitute hours of frustration by dying all the time. I mainly play on regular but I have, on occasion, dropped it to easy.
Kiytan 1st May 2010, 16:05 Quote
My ideal difficulty setting is where i will have to try a couple of bits of the game over again, but get through the majority of it first time.

Dragon age seemed unfairly difficult the first time i played it, until i realised you did actually have to make use of the pause button, then it became much, much easier.


Stuntman still holds the record for most "ARGH DIE IN THE PITS OF HELL" level of difficulty, ignition wasn't quite as bad, but still, getting 5*'s was still tricky as hell.
lacuna 14th May 2010, 13:06 Quote
Recently started Killzone 2 and decided that 'Veteran' was the appropriate difficulty. I have had my ass handed to me so many times! Tempting to start again on normal but I think I will stick it out.
Lockon Stratos 14th May 2010, 15:45 Quote
difficulty is more of a subjective thing IMO, back when i was at college back in 2001 we were playing unreal tournament across networks that we built to test that the network was indeed working (it was my tutors idea - his stance is the best way to test a network is to run games across it) started as a 2 people playing against bots & we set the difficulty to auto, so the difficulty would change depending how many kills you got etc. I did custom a few bots to have full stats & behaviour that would make them 'bunny hop' all over the place which made them very very difficult to kill. but me & my friend were still **** scared of even 1 bot on godmode, we're not average players. weve been playing shooters for longtime. but this one bot on god mode would totally own both of us. after that people started getting more interested in what we were playing so we stopped fighting against bots. after a long while when everyone had dissapeard me & my mate went back to the game & set the bots back on godmode & for some reason god mode just didnt seem really scary anymore. & even though we didnt come top of the list at the end of the game. our scores were still quite good. but we did barricade ourselves in a small room & blasted anything that walked across the door :P :P so... its a subjective thing.
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