Posted by FreddieFiasco (121 posts) 8 months, 16 days ago

Poll: What difficulty do you typically choose when playing a game? (345 votes)

Easy 9%
Medium 66%
Hard 20%
(The intimidatingly named harder than hard difficulty) 6%

I know this can change between games, but simplify yourself for the sake of research. Which one do you like to play in most situations?

Note: This has probably been done before, but I used search and couldn't find anything similar.

#1 Edited by Pr1mus (4087 posts) -

Normal. Or casual if this is what they call easy because i don't want to play on easy but have no problem if it's casual instead. The psychology totally works!

#2 Posted by FreddieFiasco (121 posts) -

@pr1mus: Haha. Isn't casual usually the difficulty that is easier than easy?

#3 Edited by Village_Guy (2743 posts) -

I usually go with the second hardest, so if there are [Easy, Normal, Hard] it'll be Normal, but if there are (the more and more popular) four options as in your poll, I'll go with Hard.

#4 Posted by BigSocrates (478 posts) -

I don't have enough time to play 10% of the games I want to play as it is, let alone if I extended the time by playing on hard all the time. I will ocassionally play on hard to test my skills, or if the game is known for being particularly easy on normal, but I have no interest in getting stuck on some difficulty spike for 45 minutes.

#5 Posted by brutushayesosu (149 posts) -

Start on hard and go down in difficulty if the enjoyment becomes hindered based on the setting.

#6 Posted by IroN1c (588 posts) -

It all depends on what it's called and the genre, really. If it's a singleplayer, story driven game I like to enjoy them the 'way the developer balanced it', but usually that's putting too much trust into the devs. So what I mean is, like Halo for example has a difficulty where it explicitly states 'this is the way it's meant to be played. We balanced it for this difficulty.'. I really like when devs do this, so I can have dumb action setpieces where I feel like the action hero and some parts that are challenging. I often replay games on higher, if not the highest difficulty setting but always start on the intended 'Normal' one. If it's not a game about story, but pure gameplay (let's say, uhh, racing games) I usually start on hard.

#7 Posted by SomberOwl (841 posts) -

If there are trophies attached to the difficulty levels then I'll choose the highest one. Which is most games. Sometimes though, it's so refreshing when a game doesn't make you play on the hardest difficulty to get all the trophies. Like Far Cry 3 was a good example. I hope Far Cry 4 and more games do this. Stop tying trophies to difficulty levels.

#8 Edited by Draugen (749 posts) -

Medium. Always medium. Except for when I'm playing an FPS on console. Then I turn it down to easy. I'm awful with a controller in a 3d space.

#9 Edited by FreddieFiasco (121 posts) -

@somberowl: *Said in the nicest tone possible* Maybe you should try to change yourself instead of waiting for them to change. Stop caring so much about trophies/achievements. They're worthless clumps of pixels on a TV screen/computer monitor.

#10 Posted by Corevi (6795 posts) -

Normal or Easy depending on the game. I've done a few first playthroughs of games on Hard when I've heard they are super easy (Alan Wake being the one I remember).

#11 Posted by Wolfgame (969 posts) -

@somberowl: *Said in the nicest tone possible* Maybe you should try to change yourself instead of waiting for them to change. Stop caring so much about trophies/achievements. They're worthless clumps of pixels on a TV screen/computer monitor.

maybe he enjoys the challenge of getting all the achievements though.

#12 Posted by KentonClay (270 posts) -


Generally, the mechanics of a game don't change on different difficulty levels, and most games are designed and built around what will ultimately end up being the "normal" difficulty setting. If there's any evidence that a different difficulty setting is the "true" experience though, then I'll go with that.

#13 Posted by Slag (5359 posts) -

Whatever the hardest difficulty is that I think I can beat especially if there are trophies/cheevos attached to them.

For some games that's max, for some that's minimum.

#14 Posted by Vanick (333 posts) -

The majority of games I play on Normal. If I hear a game is easy before I start playing I'll bump it up to hard. There is the occasional game I'll drop down to easy if I'm not a fan of the way it plays.

#15 Posted by Nux (2509 posts) -

Normally I start out on normal then if I replay the game I'll switch to hard. If I'm playing a game in a series I'm familiar with like Fire Emblem for example I'll just start out on hard.

#16 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (6234 posts) -

I used to always start on easy, but I eventually moved to normal.

#17 Edited by forkboy (1285 posts) -

I usually jump straight to easy. I'm entirely comfortable with that fact.

#18 Posted by Clonedzero (4206 posts) -

Usually normal. If i find it too easy then i might bump it up to hard. I replay games alot and i typically always go with hard if im replaying it.

If its a shooter or franchise/series i'm familiar with then i'll bump it up to hard. Or if it's a game series i'm familiar with that doesn't have difficulty settings i might impose restrictions on myself to make it more fun/challenging. For example, AC4 i didn't upgrade Edwards gear at all (well not counting the forced crafting tutorial)

#19 Edited by FreddieFiasco (121 posts) -

I just realized I called the medium difficulty "Medium" instead of "Normal". I think it's usually called normal. Thank you, everyone, for not mocking me for that one.

#20 Posted by fibabanchi (52 posts) -

Easy all the way.

#21 Posted by grapesoda (40 posts) -

Unless its a genre I rarely play I usually pick the hardest mode I can, its one of my bad gaming habits. Xenonauts is the only recent thing I can think of where I chose normal instead of diving straight in the deep end.

#22 Posted by Video_Game_King (36567 posts) -

Damn it. I had the perfect Billy and Mandy clip for this thread, but it's not available on YouTube. So I'll just list my answer as normal and put a replacement clip here:

#23 Posted by JadeGL (1004 posts) -

Medium. The only times I play harder is if I am used to the game and know what to expect, like Halo. I'll play that on Legendary with other people since I know what I am getting into. Also, I'll play harder difficulty levels when the game is something that is meant to be played repeatedly, like Diablo 3, Marvel Heroes, Torchlight, etc.

But I mostly stay to the medium difficulty levels.

Moderator Online
#24 Posted by Teoball (660 posts) -

I usually start out on normal/medium but will take it down to easy if I die a few times and don't feel like playing the same sequence over and over.

#25 Posted by Evermoore (31 posts) -

Imo, the only time "hard" is interesting is if there are differences more meaningful than "you take more damage" implemented.

#26 Edited by csl316 (10345 posts) -

I start on hard, which gets me to dig into the mechanics but doesn't usually force me to hit a difficulty wall for an hour.

If I go through a game again, then I'll go for the highest difficulty available. By that point I should have an understanding of what I'm doing, and if I already know the story I'll just have videos or podcasts going in the background. A second playthrough for me is pure gameplay.

Personally, I skip easy and normal just because I end up glossing over parts of the combat design in action games. I feel like I'm missing out on something.

#27 Posted by VorlonGod (13 posts) -

Whatever the default is. If there is a new game+ I may kick it up a notch if there is some benefit in doing so.

#28 Posted by me3639 (1984 posts) -

Hard. I dont know the reason to play if there isnt any difficulty.

#30 Posted by Zeik (3027 posts) -

Normal, unless I'm familiar enough with a game to know I want differently. For example, when I got Persona 4 (PS2) I picked Hard from the start, since I already knew what to expect after playing P3. I rarely go below normal unless I simply don't enjoy the gameplay enough to want to put up with the difficulty but there is still some other quality keeping me playing. (Dragon Age: Origins for example.)

For the most part I prefer to save the harder difficulties for subsequent playthroughs, because by that point I know with more certainty that I actually enjoy playing the gameplay enough to want to challenge myself and I'm also familiar enough with the mechanics that I'm not fighting the learning curve in the process. There aren't enough games that know how to do a hard mode right that I would ever want to instinctively start there.

#31 Posted by kerse (2179 posts) -

Whatever the default is.

#32 Posted by xCobraCommander (14 posts) -

I'll play the easiest difficulty because I don't care for a challenge in a game. I want to play and experience the game without having to die, restart, rewind or do whatever. Racing games are a little different because I'm pretty good at car handling and I'll set those at a more difficult setting for simulation capabilities

#33 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (2027 posts) -

If it's the type of game where challenge is part of the appeal, I usually go for one of the harder difficulties. For story driven games though, I typically stick with normal for a first playthrough. However, I am someone that replays games a lot, so I usually go for a higher difficulty on a second playthrough.

#34 Edited by Raven10 (2039 posts) -

For most games I start at normal/medium and will bump it up to hard if there is a New Game+ mode I want to play. For some hard shooters I'll play on easy on consoles as I suck at console shooters. Also for some very complex strategy games I'll either start or eventually drop to easy. Like Europa Universalis I tried so many times to play on normal. Mostly ended up not making it more than 20 or 30 years before being reduced to a vassal if not outright defeated. Eventually I accepted I wasn't going to pull off anywhere close to a full campaign on anything but easy so I went with that. I very rarely start on hard. I honestly can't think of the last time I did that. I'll play the Halo games in co-op on Legendary with some great teammates but Halo is also one of the few games that actually changes enemy placement and behavior with increased difficulty.

EDIT: Also I always play Metal Gear Solid games on the easiest difficulty since I am only playing to see what hilarious(ly terrible) twist Kojima will come up with next and could care less about the actual gameplay.

#35 Posted by smcn (949 posts) -

I've only recently started going with harder difficulties, but only in genres/franchises I'm intimately familiar with. Mass Effect 3 I've never played anything but Insanity (though I had a head-start on the combat thanks to the multiplayer beta), and Last of Us I started on Hard, but something like X-Com Enemy Unknown I played on Normal.

#36 Posted by onarum (2485 posts) -

I usually go with normal/medium or the equivalent, unless I read somewhere that the game is too easy even on normal.

#37 Posted by Zevvion (2651 posts) -

I can't stress enough how much this depends on the game.

Usually, I pick the hardest difficulty. Mass Effect? Insanity. Splinter Cell? Professional. Darksiders? Apocalyptic.

However, the games where the difficulty usually matters most lock it behind completion. Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, Revengeance... all amazing games that really suit to my preference. However, at best you can pick 'Hard' or equivalent right out of the gate and you have to unlock the harder difficulties by completing the game. For the types of games that they are, that works really well and is very smart. 98% of people who would try a harder difficulty would not be able to finish it and if they did, they wouldn't enjoy it. Whereas they'd have a blast with it on a second playthrough.

It is something I think XCOM could have benefited from. I tried Classic out of the gate, but it was way too hard for me. I was unfamiliar with the progression of the game and it made me mess up a bunch. Luckily, I loved the game so much that I still tried it on Normal and then moved on to Classic and later Impossible once I got the hang of it.

Shooters, I usually pick something like Normal or slightly higher. I'm not very good at them. Same for racing games. With the exception of very arcade style games for both.

Overall, I feel I am very contra to the preference of most of the crew of Giant Bomb. They seem to not like replaying games much. I often find I have the more fun on a second, third, fourth etc. playthrough compared to a first. Dependent on the game again, for obvious reasons.

#38 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5726 posts) -

I start on normal usually. Every once in a while I will play a game on hard first.

#39 Posted by Budwyzer (739 posts) -

I voted Normal, or Medium, but sometimes if I just want to chill out with game and absolutely not get pissed about anything then I put that shit on easy and have myself a nice relaxing time.

#40 Posted by paulmako (117 posts) -

Pretty much normal non-stop. I presume this will be the most balanced and most play-tested version of the game but it's hard to tell.

One exception should be additional options. I definitely played Fallout: New Vegas on Normal but with Hardcore Mode turned on. I had already played Fallout 3 so new what to expect and heard it was worth the challenge.

#41 Posted by Lost_Remnant (158 posts) -

It depends on the game itself, but normal is usually my go to for most games and then do a second play through on hard. Although, for stuff like Devil May Cry or character action games I'll go hard since I enjoy the increased challenge from those games. I find most of the time the challenge in harder difficulties on a devil may cry or ninja gaiden makes me use more of my move-set since harder difficulties on those games tend to punish you for using only moves you feel comfortable with, making you have to mix it up a bit more.

As in where a lot of FPS, not all of them mind you but a good many I have played hard is generally just you take way more damage and the enemies suddenly have god level accuracy which is not much fun.

#42 Posted by FriendlyPhoenix (496 posts) -

Typically I go with whatever the default is, which usually means normal/medium. If I'm having trouble I'll knock it down, if it's so much of a cakewalk that I'm getting bored I'll up it a level. Which is why it really bugs me when you can't change the difficulty unless you start a new game.

#43 Posted by ShaggE (7018 posts) -

Usually Meejum, with a second+ run on Hard. Some games I prefer to be on Hard right off the bat, like horror games or the Arkham series, but for the most part I just go with the default.

#44 Posted by impartialgecko (1742 posts) -

Whatever the default difficulty is. I take the view that it's the way the developers feel the game should be played.

#45 Posted by Capum15 (5075 posts) -


Unless I've already beaten it, then it can vary between anything depending on how I'm feeling at the moment.

#46 Edited by natetodamax (19415 posts) -

Normal, but for shooters I'll usually go with Hard first.

#47 Edited by Fredddi43 (407 posts) -

Normal in most games, Hard in shooters.

#48 Posted by Jazz_Bcaz (272 posts) -

Hard, because I presume the games are designed with that difficulty in mind, except Catherine. Jesus that game is a ball breaker even on easy.

I just find hard difficulties to be way more consistent between games, whereas normal can vary between challenging or completely trivial. I can always knock it down if I need to. Hard just forces me to engage more deeply with the game, which in turn leads to it being more immersive.

#49 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (4006 posts) -

I'll usually go with hard, specially if there's an achievement involved. Unless it's a game that I wanna burn through fast just to see the story. Or if I know hard is a real mothereffer to get through.

#50 Posted by Zevvion (2651 posts) -

Hard, because I presume the games are designed with that difficulty in mind, except Catherine. Jesus that game is a ball breaker even on easy.

I just find hard difficulties to be way more consistent between games, whereas normal can vary between challenging or completely trivial. I can always knock it down if I need to. Hard just forces me to engage more deeply with the game, which in turn leads to it being more immersive.

Yes, completely agree. I also think the notion a lot of people use that 'Normal should be the default so if it's too easy the dev messed up' is a strange one. They may have messed up, but you are the ones playing the games. How many games are you going to play and have them be too easy for you before you stop complaining and just bump them up a notch?

It just makes no sense to me when I see someone complaining how easy a game is and not switching to a harder setting but just continue to not be challenged and have less fun because it's normal and they feel it should be challenging.