I have been thinking on this for a little while and am wondering… what difficulty level do you tend to play games on? There are a huge variety of opinions on the matter out there, from the ‘You aren’t a gamer unless you play on Hard [or Hardcore, or whatever the top difficulty is] to the ethos I follow: ‘Play on whatever level makes the game fun for you’. This tends to make me an Easy difficulty player, though sometimes this can backfire.
The way I see it is that I play games to relax and have fun, not to work. If Hard difficulty makes the game feel like a chore, then it isn’t fulfilling its role in my eyes – there are, of course, exceptions due to how different games code their difficulty levels. For me Easy difficulty levels tend to provide the most enjoyment for the time I put in, I don’t care for a ‘grind’ to get through areas/quests/missions – this isn’t always a good route to take though, as there are some games that Easy difficulty just takes away any tiny sense of danger (which I like a little of, though I hate my characters/avatars dying on me – I also don’t care much for a complete cakewalk). One of the games like this is Sacred 2 – in Sacred 2 I always start out on the easiest level (Bronze) but after about 10 levels move on to the next step up (Silver) because then enemies start scaling to your level better (and provide slightly more of a challenge w/ better drops, but not an insane difference). Sacred 2 does its difficulty different from some other games though, you can change difficulty ‘on the fly’ without having to go through the trouble of exporting your character (a standard in the hack and slash scene).
Another game that offers true on the fly difficulty adjustment is Neverwinter Nights – I always start on the easy difficulty here, but I am again amongst the minority on this. In NWN enemies do less damage, and you do more (rather than it affecting their levels or HP amounts) on the easiest difficulties – for me, in this game, it is best to start out like this… however the game is balanced on Normal difficulty so it can seem to be way too much of a cakewalk early on, whereas for me Normal can be frustrating against some of the earlier ‘boss’ enemies.
Other games change the loot drops/rewards based on difficulty – reserving the ‘best’ loot for the higher levels; I can see the reasoning behind this (Risk v Reward) but it also means that I will never see the best loot in many games, which rankles a little bit; though I have no plans on changing my gaming style just to get better gear in a game. The upcoming Dragon Age: Origins will have a friendly fire mode that is off on Easy, on w/ 50% damage in Normal, and fully on from there – this has put me in a quandary. Why? Well, because I actually like the strategy behind not roasting my own team mates w/ an AoE spell… but I don’t necessarily want to deal with the increased grind of a higher difficulty level. This game will cause me to at least try Normal difficulty to start with I think.
Now, don’t get me wrong – if I ‘beat’ the game on one difficulty I will indeed try it on another level, though it has to be a good game to get me to try it again to begin with; If it is a game that gets me attached to the character, there is more of a chance of replay on a higher difficulty – though that leads to a catch 22: If I get attached to a character then I don’t want to see them die… c’est la vie eh?
Now to my couple of readers that drop by now and then.. what difficulty gamer are you?
(You don’t have to comment, you can use the poll in the left hand corner)