What difficulty level do you play games at?

I was thinking of this as I finished Dead Space 2 and it offered up the hardcore level (limited health and only 3 save points allowed). I’ll admit it right now, I don’t like too much of a challenge and preferred the game on the easy level. In fact, I always move games to the easy level. I grew up in the Atari and NES era. I served my time playing Ghosts 'N Goblins for hours and hours just trying to keep clothes on my knight.
In my older age now, I guess I prefer the journey to not be so frustrating and thus repetitive after dying every 30 seconds to have to start over again after watching the cutscene again for the 80th time.

That’s just my preference. What level do you prefer and why?

It depends. For example, the “Impossible” setting in the Heroes of Might and Magic series has almost always been winnable for me, unless I get rushed by the AI sometime in the 3rd-5th weeks, when my gold has been pumped into new buildings and I have scant left over for creatures. But in the Civ games Deity is truly impossible for me, and I dislike having to do all the gamey things you need to do to beat it.

I always start on normal and raise the difficulty as I get better/they become available.

Playing on easy is, IMO, a waste of time because if I’m not being challenged, I may as well be watching paint dry. I don’t begrudge anyone who prefers a more casual game play session; they’re just not for me.

That said, I hate games that cheat to increase the difficulty rather than having the AI be smarter or better. I have no problems losing (well, I hate it, but I can accept being defeated by good, honest play), but don’t override internal physics or otherwise cheat to make it harder on me or I’ll just stop playing altogether.


I’ll admit I play on ‘easy’ or ‘normal’, mostly because I’m not as good at games as I used to be, so they’re still a challenge. I have never tried to play on ‘insane’ or ‘realistic’, I’ll save my masochism for other pursuits.

I usually start on Easy if it’s the first time I play the game, at least until I get the hang of the format and controls. Otherwise I play on normal, and if I’ve mastered normal, I move on to difficult. I always play Heroes of Might & Magic 3 on Impossible mode (unless it’s a small map) and still gives me enough of a challenge to keep the game interesting.

However, on FPS games (especially the id ones), playing on anything other than the easiest mode gave me a really hard time (pun intended). I’m not sure if it’s because I suck at the genre, or if they were assuming that everybody would choose easy and made that the “normal” difficulty?

Some games are just a JOKE when playing in easy mode. Gradius 3 comes to mind…almost no enemies anywhere, but then when you go to difficult mode, the screen gets so full of bullets that the game slows down!

For my NES-A-Day challenge, I always choose normal difficulty, except for Double Dragon 2, where you can only access the last 4 stages when playing difficult mode.

I play games for fun. If the challenge of a game is mental, like puzzle solving or strategy, I don’t mind to bump up the difficulty. If it means my reflexes have to be orders of magnitude faster, then I won’t. I am not well coordinated in my fingers and often find myself pressing wrong buttons when I have to work quickly. That isn’t fun.

I can outsmart an AI, but I can’t outgun one.

I usually play on one harder then whatever the default is. I get bored of even very good games if its really easy, and I find that normal difficulty in a lot of games is often set to make it pretty hard to die in the earlier levels.

Ditto. If I tried to play on one of the more difficult levels, I’d never play at all because I’d derive no joy from it.

Like fusoya, I always start on ‘normal’ the first time around*. This means that I get to play a second time (or more) by bumping up the difficulty, raising the challenge and making the game especially replayable.

  • Unless the game has a reputation as being particularly difficult/challenging. F’rex, I’m fairly sure I started STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl on the easiest setting due to its notoriety for having a punishingly difficult first level, with a single crappy weapon and tough opponents. I was glad I did or I’d’ve never made it.

Christ, I thought I was the only one on Earth that still plays HOMM3 (I still play it very frequently). Once you’ve gotten around, Impossible level is required to get any kick out of the scenarios, but Impossible in the campaign can be tiresome, as most of the campaign scenarios are very unbalanced (and a lot of times have unclear objectives, or parameters).

As Difool said, Civ tends to cheat a lot, so I never got higher than Prince level I think it was called (on Civ 4). The good thing with the diff levels in Civ 4 is that they defintely change some major parameters of the game (like villages never giving you a settler/worker or advanced tribe past a certain level; the aggressiveness of the barbarians -one of the major flaws of the game, there’s a point where the barbarians could take out all the civilizations, yet they choose to concentrate their fire on you and only you).

Easy. I’m pretty crappy at video games but like the plot of RPGs, so I also like ones that let me pause a lot, direct my characters, etc.

I’m a replayer: I’ll regularly pick up a game again that’s even 10 or 15 years out of date. My first time through, I usually pick normal, so I can learn what’s what (not just the controls and gameplay, but the layout of the maps and such). Once I’ve gone through once on normal, I’ll generally crank up the difficulty. Usually, I like to go to the top difficulty (and if that means taking a long time to finish, so be it), but there’s a few games where the top difficulty is just so absurd that there’s no point (like Doom, with the monsters respawning every five seconds), so for those I’ll play on the penultimate difficulty.

Civilization is an exception. I can and have beat it on Emperor difficulty, but it starts feeling less like a game and more like a chore. So I usually play on Monarch, which is near the middle of the scale (though still slightly into AI cheating territory). I’ve never even bothered to try anything above Emperor.

EZ mode all the way; currently running through Dragon Age and I’ve wiped a few times even with the training wheels on.

Dragon Age’s normal difficulty was fairly hard though, assuming you just played normally instead of tilting the camera and casting firestorms through the walls. Which just shows you never really know what you are going to get when you choose your difficulty setting - normal can mean anything from “bloody difficult” to “completely trivial”. I usually try normal first and then maybe change it one notch, though with games that take really long time to play through and have no option to change the difficulty once you are midway through I usually just stick with it.

Playing the Witcher on easy now contrary to my normal habits since I don’t really like the action RPG click-fest combat. Mainly just cruising along to see the sights.

Oh, and as for Civilization games, I used to get my ass kicked on Prince or higher but with the stacks of doom gone in Civ5 and the combat more the sort of tactical warfare I’m good at, I’m easily winning on King … though at that level the constant happiness struggle starts to be close to being a chore. Somehow, the fact the age-old difficulty setting memories I had from Civ1 onwards (Warlords is easy, Prince is hard) were redone made me sort of sad, even though I like Civ5 otherwise.

Depends on the game. If it’s a new game with unfamiliar mechanics, I usually start on Normal. (e.g. Bioshock, Mass Effect). However, if I replay a game or play a game’s sequel, I will ramp it up to Difficult or even Insane (e.g. Bioshock and both Mass Effects).

I find easy usually to be boring.

I even have to go as far as to go into the editor and give the HOMM AI more bonuses (else they’ll effortlessly fritter away what troops they get).

I start off in easy. if I beat the game and like it, I step up one level. If I win and still like it, i will go up one more.
Games have a learning curve. When you start out you are clumsy and vulnerable. After you become more adept, you wonder how you could let an ogre inflict damage at all. Everything becomes easier.

I used to always go with Normal - because Hard and Impossible just meant Doom-type ridiculousness. Now it means actual smarter and more interesting AI, so I go with Hard. I will very rarely, if ever, venture on to go with Impossible. I did beat Uncharted 2 on its highest difficulty - but I don’t think it was as hard as other FPSs are because of it’s platforming component.

I usually play games on Normal, though I always play Doom/Doom 2 campaigns on Ultra Violence (hard).