What difficulty level do you play games at?

Ditto. If it’s one of those sadistic games where NORMAL is f’n hard, I’ll restart at Easy, but generally, first run through will be on Normal.

The next might not necessarily be Difficult, though - I might do another Normal run, especially if it was a plotty game that lead to me ignoring a lot of potential stuff in pursuit of the story. Or Easy, if there was an optional area I was having trouble with on Normal. Or if different difficulty levels give different stuff that carries through to other replays (for example, The World Ends With You, although that allows you to change difficulty within the game - in fact, you need to UNLOCK Easy mode!)

I used to would start on NORMAL, but I consistently found I preferred EASY, as NORMAL meant frustration. And being challenged is not why I play games: I play to follow the story. I’ve been known to just watch a game on YouTube, and feel just as satisfied as if I’d actually played it.

The exception [del]are[/del] is intellectually based games.

I only play chess nowadays, and it’s always set at the bar-minimum easiest. I use Fruit, which is I believe a GNU chess engine. It’s stupid at level 1 (of 10) on all parameters, but it still manages to stalemate or get a draw by repetition even when I grab its queen.

Tetris (the most recent I’ve played is the sort-of crummy version included in emacs text editor, which I don’t recall as having allowed much customization) I prefer to start pretty fast to get in my cardio for the day.

I play very few video games, and the ones I do play, I’m playing for the storyline more than anything else. So I play them on the easiest setting possible, and if I get killed more than 2 or 3 times trying to do a certain task, I hand the controller over to my husband who takes care of it really fast and then I go on to find out more of the story. We generally don’t like the same games, so this doesn’t bother him much. Any repetitive/tedious do-this-10000-times-to-get-the-power-sword type tasks I leave to my husband while I hang out on the internet.

I also unashamedly use walkthroughs and guides when I don’t know what I have to do next.

I like to play a game with the difficulty the designers intended, so normal.

Of course if I keep getting crushed I go to easy pretty quick.

For me, enjoying a game is about dramatic tension*. If there’s essentially no chance of failure, it’s not much fun. I usually play games that are played more than once (think more Left 4 Dead, less Bioshock, for instance), so the only real way of maintaining the feeling that there’s a chance of failure is for there to actually be one. This means losing sometimes, but in a well-made game that includes the possibility of losing, losing is fun too. Since I’m pretty experienced, but not enormously, this generally means I set my difficulty to one above normal.

*I’m not talking about traditionally narrative-driven games here - I don’t really play those much.

Easy. And I love gaming and play a lot. But most of the time I’m here for the story and not for getting killed every 30 seconds.

“Hard/Difficult” for me. I want to enjoy the first run-through without it being too easy and might not replay a game, so I always start on one harder than default. Usually that works well on a four-tier scale. If it gets to be too tough I’ll drop it down a notch. The second time through, if there is one, I’ll actually drop it to Normal so I can do it faster. I rarely bother with “extreme/impossible” because it often is just that.

I think the only game where this proved to be a big change was Thief, in which gameplay is wildly different between the two levels. System Shock had very customizable difficulty but it was pretty easy to see what you might want to tweak (I usually scaled back the combat, but made all the rest tougher).

Way too many to list, but here’s a general idea:

Guitar Hero pre-Warriors of Rock: With very few exceptions, I’ve started at Easy and worked my way up. Yes, yes, I’m better than that, but I want to know HOW much better. Besides, it’s good to have a high score for each difficulty level, especially for challenges that require a certain number of points. I don’t spend a lot of time on Beginner; I find it mostly pointless, not to mention unrewarding (can’t complete any challenges, for one).

Warriors of Rock: I cruised almost the whole way through the Quest on Easy. For Quickplay+, I just pick whatever seems managable since there aren’t separate high scores anymore. If I had to rank them, I’d say I like Medium the most, with Hard a close second.

Beatmania IIDX: I still consider Hyper (FKA 7-Key) the standard, even though it’s shot up quite a bit since at least 4th Style. Of course, I still play Normal (FKA Light 7), but the funny thing is, a few of those songs I enjoy a bit less if I’m under pressure to get a full combo. Hyper has only a few songs where I feel confident I can do that good, so for the most part I can just play and enjoy. For the last two games, however, I’ve actually gone backwards, playing the Anothers first. That’s because I know I’m going to fail a ton of them and want to get it over with.

Pump It Up: I used to be dedicated Hard/Professional (the “middle” level) player. Even after I got good at Freestyle (doubles), I preferred Hard, and I gave up on that execrable “middle” mode (Crazy with fewer pads) after about ten seconds. I once even kept a list of which songs I could clear, which I could get an A or S on, and which gave me trouble. To this day, I distinctly remember what caused me to stop playing it, which game it was, and which song drove it home…becoming absolutely ridiculously hard, barely below the old Crazy, Prex 3, and Bambole. I never cared much for this game after that.

Dynasty Warriors 2: Easy is find for getting the endings and collecting powerups, but for the real benchmarks (i.e. KO’s and points), there’s no choice but to step up. I’ve played several games on Normal, and I’ve found that if your warrior is powerful enough, they’re pretty enjoyable.

Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires: Easy. Always and forever. I find Novice largely pointless (little more than a practice mode), plus it doesn’t unlock options, and anything above Easy results in certain officers and special units requiring a bazillion hits to kill (the thing I hated the most about Dynasty Warriors 3).

Any and all fighting games: I have a basic litmus test. If I struggle horribly on the easiest level, the whole game is too damn hard, conventional wisdom be damned. Over the years, this has been invaluable in teaching me which fighting game manufacturers know what they’re doing and which are hopeless. Capcom got it. Taito never did, which is why they made like two of them and then forgot about the whole genre forever.

So I’m pretty much no-frills. Bottom line, if the game wants me to deal with frustration and aggravation and misery, it had better make it worth it. I get enough of that from the games that don’t offer any choice, thank you.

Generally I’m a “try it first on Normal” person as well. A lot depends on what the differences between difficulties are; I’m more prone to boost the difficulty if it changes the game in more ways than just adding enemy hit points; like more enemies, more enemies using powers and so forth.

City of Heroes, which I play a lot has a multifeature difficulty setting and a wide variety of possible character builds. So the difficulty setting I use there depends on the character I’m using as well as what they are fighting. For example, my Super Strength/Willpower brute to a degree gets stronger the more enemies he’s fighting, so normally I bump up the level of the enemies a little, and set the game to treat him as if he was a mid sized team. Then have fun plunging into rooms filled with nasties from wall to wall. But if he’s fighting enemies he’s weak to I turn it down rather than die repeatedly.

Yet another “start on normal”.

I usually end up clearing the games on “hard” and sometimes “insane” for the challenge, and for the achievements (I play on an Xbox 360).

I’ll give up on an “insane” level if the going gets too frustrating though. Fun is more important than achievement points.

If I’ve had a hard day at work and just want to blow stuff up, I’ll sometimes stick a game on “easy”.

I’ll also replay a game on “easy” if I just want to walk around and admire the details in the level design.

“Wow, I never noticed the murals on the wall here, kinda…”

[enemy jumps around corner] BANG [enemy dies]

“…kinda neat. Those look like real Egyptian hieroglyphs…” etc. etc.

Quoth Dinaroozie:

With me, it’s not so much about the destination as the journey. I like games where I can consistently win, because I like seeing just exactly how I win. The final outcome might not be in much doubt, but everything before that is up for grabs.

I also find it more interesting when the game’s asymmetric. Give me one set of advantages (often, just that I’m smarter than a computer), and give the opponent a completely different set of advantages (more units, more money, whatever), and see which set of advantages is more significant.

Both of which, of course, imply that I prefer to play against AI opponents, rather than against other humans. It’s no fun to totally crush an inferior human opponent, but it is fun to do the same to an AI.

It varies, but on average, I’d say “normal”.

I always play RPGs on normal. With some games, I play a first game at the easiest level, and up the challenge with each succesive game (and typically, I’m fed up with the game and switch to something else before reaching very hard). I play on “hard” when the game is just boringly easy otherwise.

I don’t think I ever played a game at the “impossible” level.

Join the crowd of normal for the first playthrough and harder if I like or replay the game. Most FPS’s stay on Normal where most RPG’s and Strategy games go to hard or nightmare.

Galactic Civ is the only game I can think of that I had to bump back down to easy for awhile until I go the swing of things. I do rarely use cheats on multiple playthroughs to eliminate grind or if I just want to blow through the game for some reason.

If it’s an unfamiliar game type I’ll play on normal. Most FPS games I can play on hard without much frustration. I might play a bit on normal first and then bump it up once I get a handle on what works and what doesn’t. I don’t often play on hardcore/insane, though, because usually at that level it starts getting not fun. For a lot of games, normal is challenging for casual gamers or people unfamiliar with the game type, I think, but if you’ve put in a decent amount of time with similar games, you could probably start on the next tier up, but the highest setting is—in a well-designed game—very challenging for even an experienced player.

Take Halo, for instance. On Legendary, solo is just a painful slog from about Halo 2 on. I soloed the first game on Legendary, but got permanently stuck at a couple of spots on Halo 2 when I tried it. With co-op, Legendary is doable. That’s basically what the setting is for; hard enough to challenge 2–4 decent players. People who solo Legendary without much of a problem are very, very good. I start running out of ammo at choke points and dying repeatedly, so not fun for me. What’s interesting in Halo is that the AI is pretty good. On higher difficulties, it’s not just that the enemies have more life and do more damage, they actually use different tactics.

I usually do my first playthrough on normal, since I figure that’s the experience that the designers intended. I’ll then increase the difficulty on subsequent plays.

I’ve recently become addicted to trophies/achievements, so I’ll usually end up playing through PS3 games on every difficulty setting.

Start at normal and work my way up. When I feel like I’m no longer facing consequences for (relatively) poor play I get bored.

Heh. I wrote out a big response to Chronos about different philosophies of gaming and then realised that it boiled down to “If one of the fun things about the game is that it’s challenging, then I like it to be challenging, but if the game’s enjoyment comes from elsewhere and is rationed out to the player based on their ability to overcome challenges, I’d rather it not be very challenging.” A profound piece of gaming philosophy if ever there was one. :slight_smile: