FFD: “Nightmare” or “I’m too young to die?”

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For a long time, with the mind-set of a “hardcore gamer” I shunned gamers who played games on lower difficulties. I believed they robbed themselves of the proper experience of the game. For the most part, I still do – but only with some games. Some games I do still think have to be played on bastard-hard to be enjoyed properly.

Take Metro: Last Light, for example. On normal, or easy, it’s a pretty standard shooter. Play the game on ranger mode, and it’s a game of survival, where every bullet counts. The same goes for The Last of Us, which really highlights the survival aspects in its grounded mode. Diablo III (on consoles, at least) only really becomes fun once you can set the difficulty up to eleven.

That said, as I grow older (which seems to be happening at a rapid rate these days. I’m sure Time operates in a strange way we’re yet to fathom) I’ve started softening on that. Maybe it’s because I have a family and far less time to play the games I play for my own pleasure, but I’m happy to dial down the difficulty on some games, purely to experience them.

What difficulty do you play on? Do you look down on filthy casuals who play on sissy mode, or are you a big tough gamer-mans  who dials everything up to its toughest?

Read  DOOM leaps over to Nintendo Switch early next month

Last Updated: October 10, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Cadis Etrama Di Umar

    Depends on the game. Artificial difficulty is extremely off-putting. A lot of games are just too unfair on harder difficulties. That said I wish that games would find a way to have dynamic and natural difficulty curves like The Last Remnant for instance. The enemies got harder as you got stronger.

    • “A lot of games are just too unfair on harder difficulties. ”

      Says the n000000000000b 😉

      • Cadis Etrama Di Umar

        Lol Go play Fifa you casual gamer!

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

        huehuehuehue

  • Matewis Jubilai

    Like you said, it depends on the game. Take Quake IV and the first Unreal for example. They’re no fun on the higher difficulty levels since all that changes are the enemies’ hit point as far as I can tell. Where an enemy took 2 shotgun blasts on normal, it now takes 4 shots. In such cases I just play on normal, otherwise I go for hard.

    Dead space is one game from recent memory that was far more fun on the highest difficulty level, which you had to unlock by first beating the game (on hard I think).

  • Personally I wish more games acted like FIFA where it ups the difficulty level automatically depending on how you are doing in the game… if you are dominating the game should recommend you up the level to enjoy it more

  • Grant [_G_] Hancock

    Normally play shooters on hardest … only dropping if reeeaaally necessary. Makes me feel like I’m good at something 🙂 … then I play multiplayer anything and get my arse handed to me 🙁

    • CAE9872

      Yip

    • Ceyber, Hans

      AI is predictable, you know which corner it’ll be coming around, as opposed to erratic human behavior and thought patterns.

      This one time, at BF4, I was five meters in front of a tank and dodged every single shot. While that’s mostly luck due to a buggy game, it’s also intuitive guesswork.

      Putting your feet in your enemy’s shoes gives you the upper hand against human opponents. The simpler you are to read, the easier you are to kill.

  • Bob the Zealot

    I agree that it depends on the game. For me, if the game has an epic story I like to focus on that in my first playthrough so I generally play it on normal or one up from normal. Second or more playthroughs are on the hardest difficulty because I enjoy seeing me rage (stupid alien sectiod killing my general with ONE shot!).

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Heh, I actually played Doom on all those difficulty levels, working my way up. That’s what you do when you only have 1 game.

    • Hammersteyn

      Did the same.

    • Matewis Jubilai

      without saving during a level? then you know you’ve really beaten a level. http://doom.wikia.com/wiki/MAP27:_Monster_Condo_%28Doom_II%29 used to be the most difficult one for me to beat without saving on nightmare

      • Mark Treloar

        Did doom have a save feature?

        • Matewis Jubilai

          You’d be kind of screwed if it didn’t 😛

    • Mossel

      Don’t lie, you used these magic codes like the rest of us.
      idkfa
      iddqd

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Nope. I suffered my way through it. There’s a reason it was called Nightmare! difficulty hehe. I did the same with all those old ID shooters like Wolf3D & Blake Stone.

        • Mossel

          Blake Stone! O_O Damn I forgot about that!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I played it again last year for some awesome retro gaming. It’s still got it!

          • Matewis Jubilai

            All I remember about that game is running along the walls furiously bashing spacebar

        • Skyblue

          This. Did this again recently. Ammo is the only challenge but this game is still just sooooo smooth and fun to play.
          I use GZDOOM and play a bit of Brutal DOOM. Both are excellent.

      • Viking Of Divinity

        If I recall, the cheats didn’t work on Nightmare difficulty. A message popped up “You’re too good to cheat” or something….

  • oVg Definitive and Remastered

    I always start on easy so I can enjoy the atmosphere, learn the skills and soak up the Narrative.
    Starting a game on hard just ends up making the first play unenjoyable and frustrating.

    Then after I have got everything down I jump into GROUNDED Mode to have my bitch ass handed to me.
    Also as you said, the difficulty can add a totally new dynamic to the game. Like The Last of Us is a totally new and refreshing experience on Grounded mode.

  • Hammersteyn

    I play on default, that allows me to learn the games mechanics. If I really enjoyed the game I’d give it a bash on higher difficulties.

  • Mossel

    I almost always play on the hardest difficulty. Unless it needs to be unlocked, in which case I might skip it because I probably wont play the game again. That said, older games just remain way harder than their newer versions. ME1 final battle was crazy difficult compared to ME2. Also Bioshock Infinite was a breeze on 1999mode compared to Bioshock 1. When I heard those Big Daddies approaching a started freaking out!

    • konfab aka derp

      The final battle in ME1 is only difficult if you don’t have a good squad build. Get your whole squad spectre weapons and see how long that reaperised POS lasts.

      • Mossel

        Lol that might have been my problem. I gave them all the scaps and ended up having to revive them the whole time! Also I played Infiltrator and that stupid swaying crosshairs is quite shit.

        • konfab aka derp

          You monster

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          I played infiltrator class. That just means you can’t aim. ;P

          • Mossel

            lol hey I aimed a lot better in ME2!

          • konfab aka derp

            *slowmo

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    I tend to go for medium – now & again I’ll go for a higher difficulty. I want to play, have some challenge, but not be frustrated & have to repeat things over & over because I keep dying every time I encounter a single low-level enemy. It depends a lot on the design. Played MP3 on hard difficulty & it was very frustrating.

    B2 is a good example for me, 1st play through is really easy, 2nd has more of a challenge, 3rd is just stupid – playing solo that is, maybe it’s different co-op.

    • Matewis Jubilai

      Media Player Classic has a difficulty setting??

      • Hammersteyn

        lol

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        lol – it does the way I use it. Still looking forward to the MP4 sequel, hear it has amazing cut scenes. 😀

        • Matewis Jubilai

          Mass Peffect 4? Modern Parfare 4? oooohh wait, Max Payne?
          yeah I still need to play 3, but I kind of first want to give 1 and 2 second playthroughs

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            3 is good, has a cool story. But yes, don’t play on hard difficulty first time around hehe.

      • Mossel

        It’s called Afrikaans music. Very difficult to listen to.

        • Hammersteyn

          Depends on the genre

          • Mossel

            Agreed. When I say Afrikaans I mean any song that has the words bokkie, rokkie, sokkie, trokkie in them.

          • Hammersteyn

            That music is like a koeksister dipped in honey and rolled around in sugar to my ears. I can feel my soul rot when that plays.

          • Mossel

            haha yeah man! The horror. I’m going to “Afrikaans is Groot” for my mom’s 60th birthday. The things I do for love…

          • Hammersteyn

            Drink, drink a shit load. It helps soothe the pain of your ear holes being raped.

          • Admiral Chief 0

            Sterkte!

          • HvR

            “Afrikaans is Groot”, here you go

          • Matewis Jubilai

            or “spieeltjie”…

          • Admiral Chief 0

            EWWWWWWW

          • HvR

            O bokkie ons gaan fokkie, o a a
            Lig op jou rokkie en klim op my trokkie, o a a

          • Captain JJ Underleyened

            Magical.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            There is a massive subgenre of afrikaans music, perhaps 80% of it that uses exactly the same beat. That genre in particular is awful. Like that one guy’s ‘songs’ with the black jacket and his bruised balls judging by how he always stands in his videos.

          • Hammersteyn

            Hahaha I think he’s Nicholas Louw. He’s gotten fat over the years as well.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            and that one guy standing in a fountain for some reason singing about mirrors…

          • Hammersteyn

            Dafuq? Dunno about that one.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            Sigh, I envy you

          • Hammersteyn

            You know what irony is – Kurt Darren singing “Kaptein span die seille” and ends up wearing an eye patch like a pirate

          • Matewis Jubilai

            hahaha good obervation!

          • R1ker

            Lol – you sir may have my up vote 🙂

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Why am I getting 80’s TV boereorkes flashbacks? 🙁

          • Matewis Jubilai

            Childhood trauma?

          • Hammersteyn

            Also Spies en Plessis, yeah, I’m that old.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            That was awesome though 😀 Those tapes need to be preserved

          • Hammersteyn

            Satan… I mean SABC has a youtube channel, believe it or not they uploaded it in parst for some reason.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Me too *sigh*

            I’m old enough to remember when Cruy-Cruy looked like this. Wait… he still does :/

          • Hammersteyn

            HAHAHAHA, They say every time he blinks the universe stops in it’s tracks for a while

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            They say he can even see into a ginger’s soul.

          • Hammersteyn

            But they don’t have souls, unless it’s too tiny to register.

          • Hammersteyn

            They say he once mistakenly reported on the death Chuck Norris and Chuck got a stomach cramp that day.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            lol

          • Sageville

            Science has made great strides in animatronics, Cruy-Cruy is proof.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            What was that children show about the guy with a mielie spaceship? Also, I have vague memories of this asshole who when he drank milk became super strong and started bliksemming two unfortunate misfits that hang around a forest.

          • Hammersteyn

            I remeber Mannemarak but he didn’t fly a mielie. Looking at it now my childhood is a but ruined, WTF were they thinking?
            http://www.vintagemedia.co.za/sites/default/files/television_images/Mannemarak2.png

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Interster was the boss. I don’t want to know what it’ll look like now.

          • Hammersteyn

            lol

          • Matewis Jubilai

            Casper de Vries once did a piece on one of those shows with those ‘realistic’ puppets such as in Interster. Man, I got stomach cramps from laughing so hard. They show a bit of it in a youtube blooper video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN0_5PmJBXM&feature=player_detailpage#t=618

          • Admiral Chief 0

            BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          • HvR

            Aaaahhh, that thing still give me the creeps.

          • Captain JJ Underleyened

            Holy crap dude. Just had a flashback moment.

          • Hammersteyn

            The cat that drank milk was in Mina Moe & Kie. He would punch the two evil germs so hard they would leave earths orbit and land on the moon.

          • R1ker

            Miena Moe

          • Matewis Jubilai

            Oo ja

          • Dutch Matrix

            I remember the Mielie Spaceship. Mielie Malie Maantuig I think it was called. Starred Dana Niehaus amongst others…

            http://image.tmdb.org/t/p/h632/93gFbFUY8uPg88FhDdaDerWZ7eF.jpg

          • HvR

            Followed by the very cool translated from German Misdaad, the national anthem and a test pattern.

          • Hammersteyn

            Look how far we have come.

          • Captain JJ Underleyened

            I remember that. Loved it.

          • Dutch Matrix

            Round about that time, you could still hold your head high when it came to Afrikaans entertainment. We had some amazing story tellers to be honest…

          • Hammersteyn

            Very

          • Matewis Jubilai

            Konings and 5* comes to mind

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Vyfster was good. And that theme tune!

          • HvR

            You can actually buy a standard set of backtracks for Afrikaans music.

          • HvR

            Worst is Afrikaans attempt to dance music; I feel I should report these guys they clearly abducted the girls in the video from nearby primary school.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            Jeez, that’s so horrid it even makes pretville look good, although it’s still a couple of notches above Liefling…

  • Admiral Chief 0

    Always start on normal, then later hard

    First the experience, then the challenge

    • Ceyber, Hans

      Looking forward to the days when AI matches your skill and strategies, regardless of actual player skill level. Now that’s immersive.

      • konfab aka derp

        What is immersive about that, real life combat is about unfair advantages

        • Ceyber, Hans

          Before the unfair advantages comes strategy. Better strategy and faster adaptability win every time.

          Yes, tools help a lot. But superior tactics always win. There are plenty of examples, such as Vietnam and most Middle East conflicts.

          “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a thousand battles.”
          – Sun Tzu

  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

    On a first play through I tend to play on a medium – hard difficulty. It allows a challenge but without causing you to have to battle and hate the game. Once I am either through a first playthrough or feel comfortable enough with a game I then bump up the toughness to really challenge me.

    I don’t play on easy though. At one point in my life I did and I agree with Geoff. Playing on easy robs you of the experience. It also makes the game go by too fast and you are left feeling as if you haven’t played a game so much as having watched a poor movie play out in front of your eyes

  • konfab aka derp

    I only like the harder difficulties if they make the game more realistic in its context.

    A good difficulty system IMO is one where the amount of damage a player takes changes, not the enemy health. That and making the AI smarter.

  • Hammersteyn

    Playing games online day one. The biggest challenge of the current generation.

  • CAE9872

    As many have said – play on a lower difficulty, get to grips with game, story, etc. Then start to ramp it up and then start my challenges.

    Finish a mission on Legendary in Halo for example without dying! I managed to finish Combat Evolved back in the day with all missions on Legendary without dying…took me a decade but hey!

  • Tarisma

    Well it depends on the game does harder mean more skill or more grind

  • Sageville

    In general I play the level just above normal. I do this for the challenge and also in a lot of games where you get trophies for play throughs at each level, atnd that way you get 2 trophies in one playthrough.

    I dont go max hardness off the bat because on first playthrough as it can be soo frustrating that id put the game down.

  • Sageville

    I do prefer games that manage the difficulty based on your gameplay.

    SHADOW OF mordor does that have a difficulty setting?

    • Hammersteyn

      Are you struggling? If it had multiplayer I could baby sit you 😛

      • Sageville

        You!

  • AchtungBaby_

    I’ve always played games on normal the first time and if I enjoyed the game enough to play it again I’d go up to the hardest difficulty. I don’t think I’ll ever play a game on hard the first time because 1- I get too frustrated and annoyed with the game and might stop playing alltogether 2- I’m too busy nowadays to spend endless hours playing a game.

  • Ross Woofels Mason

    Depends on the game.

    Personally I like starting on normal, if I find normal too easy then I bump it up to hard. End of the day I still want to have fun with a game and while fun does involve a challenge and getting your ass kicked a-bit, so that when you do beat it you feel freaking awesome.

    Having something that’s so difficult that it just frustrates you and takes the fun out of it, then there is no point in playing the game. Difficulty levels are not the same for everyone either anyway, I may find playing fighters on Hard mode or more easier because I play a lot of fighters.

    Someone who does not play a lot of fighters normal might be plenty difficult for them, difficulty is relative to the person.

    • CAE9872

      Now you bring up good point. I love fighting games but suck at them as I dont have the time/ability to learn all those combos. So finishing it on highest difficulty is usually beyond me.

      And online – well people looking to boost their rank come to me as I am a rollover…sigh!

  • zeemonkeyman

    I used to always put them up too hard but for a while I just played them on normal and it felt like i was just going through the motions.

    so I’m back to putting them up one notch from normal.
    I don’t really go any higher than that, theres too many games to play and too little time to be tackling insane difficulty!

  • I used to play FPS on normal, until one day I was about to play Cod: Black Ops 2 (first CoD game for me) and while comparing achievements, I saw a buddy of mine had finished BLoPs 2 on “Hardened”. So, because we’re good friends I decided to go with “Veteran” and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

    Since then, I play games on either the highest or second highest difficulty setting.

    For example; Wolfenstein: The New Order — I can’t imagine the game being a real challenge on anything other than “Über”.

    • Rags

      Yeah, only the final boss was a bit of a challenge in the new Wolf on Uber. I died about 4000 times trying to reach a sniper rifle ammo box on the broken bridge. Falling off the pillar thing the whole time. That was the most challenging moment of the game for me 😛

      • Man, in that final fight I had my ass handed to me on repeat and shuffle >_<

        • Rags

          Same here. I died. A lot.

  • Rags

    Shooters I play on hardest, because playing Quake 3/Live for years on end makes you feel as if you are playing in slow mo with godlike aim in any other SP game. 😛
    Playing through Mass Effect series again with a Vanguard on Insanity and its quite a challenge though. Halfway through ME2 now.

  • zeemonkeyman

    One thing I really dislike is games that have save points too far between! I know some people think that regular saving is a cop out but I just don’t have enough gaming time to play ten minutes of a level over and over and over again just to get to the part that I keep dying on! Lol.

  • Kensei Seraph – Staff

    I generally play on normal or medium.

  • Captain JJ Underleyened

    Absolutely depends on the game, since I tend to suck at FPS.

  • house_hero

    Most shooters on the hardest difficulty are manageable… however I remember COD World at War grenade spam on veteran was enough to test any man’s patience.

  • Kikmi

    Hard or GTFO.

  • HvR

    Depends on the game; if it encourages different strategies I tend to go for the harder difficulty levels (time permitting); if higher difficulty level just means I need to button X 300ms faster I quickly drop down to easy.

  • loftie

    Strategy games – Normal
    FPS – Hardest
    RPG – depends
    Racing/Flying – Hardest/Simulation mode

  • Jedi Consular Kromas

    Story Story Story. If you play ME on easy I will have no beef with you even though I pretty much only play it on Veteran. Same for TloU.

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