Dealing with Ultra Difficulty - How Often is Patience the Answer?

I'm normally a bit of a wimp when it comes to difficulty. I generally just roll with the default setting, sometimes dipping into the "easy" or "casual" territory depending on my enjoyment of the game and whether or not I'm getting my ass handed to me on normal.

So yesterday I ordered the Bioshock Ultimate Raptor Edition on Amazon. (God I love that first game. I'm itching for another play through, and since I'm a new Xbox 360 owner, it's the perfect game to work on my gamer score too!) I've played the first Bioshock at least 5 times. I've played it twice on the PC (one playthrough each for saving all the kids and one for harvesting them all) and 3 times total on the PS3. (Platinum, baby.)

That got me thinking about my playthrough at the highest difficulty with vita chambers off. Damn that was tough. Big Daddies on the highest difficulty don't fuck around, AND they don't go down. It took me some time to get through that, and I realize what got me through wasn't "skill" or "being better" so much as just being patient. Play the game slow, play it methodical. Clear rooms thoroughly, don't take any chances. Make sure to investigate every crevice and pick up every shotgun shell.

That reminded me of my crushing playthrough on Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. It was the same deal. Horribly, horribly difficult. Practically broken difficult. But I got through sections like the plane in the tree level by being slow, methodical and patient. This same philosophy applied to Uncharted 2. Far Cry. Hell, it even applies to Xcom. How easy is it to clear each "level" in that game if you just don't let any of your squad members get too far ahead and isolated? Hmm.

So is that all you need to do in FPS games? Take it slow? Strategy, RPG, whatever. Is the answer always just take it slow? And if that is the case, am I okay with that? What are some other strategies to deal with ultra difficulty settings?

13 Comments
13 Comments
Posted by Pr1mus

I rarely bother with the higher difficulties in games. I did the first 2 Uncharted games on crushing though.

The first one could be frustrating in spots but manageable. 2 was much better, i definitely got the feeling i got through that one because of skills and not just luck or patience. In 3 there is no such things. Encounters are so poorly designed that it just becomes an exercise in anger management.

Basically as soon as a game starts depending luck or extreme patience i won't bother. That's just no fun and i play to have fun. A game also needs to have a good curve for its difficulties. Too many games have too much of a jump between some difficulties. I think XCOM is a good example. The jump from Normal to Classic is brutal. The game could really use a Hard difficulty in between. I don't think it's a good thing to be able to finish Normal Ironman extremely easily without loosing any soldier and countries and being destroyed on Classic.

Edited by believer258

Yes, being more conservative with your limited resources of course makes a game far easier. Knowing when, where, and how to strike is vital to finishing pretty much any action-heavy game on the hardest difficulty. Being patient and searching every nook and cranny is a big part of skill in finishing games like the ones you mentioned. I wouldn't expect to be able to run out in the middle of a big battlefield in any shooter and win.

Oh, and luck plays a part in pretty much any and everything you do in life. I beat Matador, an incredibly hard boss in Nocturne, last night, and I thank my lucky stars that he didn't use an attack that levels nearly your entire party. But that doesn't change the fact that instead of continually going at him with the same tactics and dying over and over, I was instead patient and I went to go find different demons to fuse and different tactics to use until, finally, I figured out that using Uzume really helped, among other things.

What I mean to say here is that thinking about your actions before committing to them, and making sure you have the proper resources to do something (i.e. scrounging, and being stingy with what you have) is most of what skill is.

Posted by Irishdoom

What I mean to say here is that thinking about your actions before committing to them, and making sure you have the proper resources to do something (i.e. scrounging, and being stingy with what you have) is most of what skill is.

Absolutely. Like in Bioshock on the hardest difficulties, if you can conserve your "big guns" for the Big Daddies you'll be much better off. Use that wrench on the regular baddies! :)

Posted by HerbieBug

Making sound tactical decisions is very much a component of skillfull play. I`ve been dipping my toes into Mega Man 9 recently and have learned very quickly that trying to speed run the damn thing before I know the layout just isn`t going to happen. :D

Posted by gogosox82

I guess dying a lot doesn't really bother me that much. It also forces me to learn all the game mechanics and use them well which is a skill in my book. So if dying alot bothers you, i could see why you would only play on normal or easy but personally i find it fun to play on the hardest difficulty.

Posted by Ubersmake

Patience is great because when game difficulties increase, time usually doesn't become more pressing. Health will regenerate. Intervals will appear where you can take a clear shot. And despite having you outnumbered and outgunned, AI enemies will never realize that they can flank you, flush you out, and shoot you dead. Of course, most games that put you in this situation don't really give you a choice. They'll make you walk down that corridor or into that enclosed arena, and few games I can think of actually give you the freedom to choose your approach.

Edited by Irishdoom

Yeah, thankfully there was no timer to contend with in Uncharted. I would have never gotten through if I had a time limit.

Posted by Grimluck343

I had a really interesting experience with Halo 4 on Legendary. I beat the game on Heroic on my first playthrough and died probably a dozen times because I was just charging into enemies and generally making a mess of things. When I switched to Legendary I played much more methodically, much more patient, and got half way through the game without dying. So sometimes it is just a matter of taking it slow and being more conservative.

And then sometimes it's just luck/perseverance (I'm looking at you, Call of Duty).

Edited by Sooty

Good games make it so that difficulty isn't just increasing health/damage of enemies while reducing the players, unfortunately nearly all games take this route so I find higher difficulties a boring affair.

I enjoy the Persona games on higher difficulty because the combat for the most part has a lot of tactics to it. (some BS / dice rolley stuff though)

Call of Duty on the other hand and Gears of War are just examples of the worst types of difficulty balancing. I finished Mass Effect 2 on insanity and that was pretty dumb too, just a lot of cover camping and waiting for cooldowns. Yawn. I think Killzone 2 actually had superior AI when you raised the difficulty, I recall enemies being more 'careful' and using cover better.

Demon/Dark Souls and other RPGs are generally about patience and superior item management, FPS is usually just banging your head against a wall until you get through.

Basically AI kind of sucks in the vast majority of games so difficulty rarely makes games harder, it just makes you extremely weak and enemies overpowered. (and in the case of fighting games the CPU borderline cheats if you try and play 'normally')

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@believer258: I wouldn't equate patience with grinding until you're overleveled, but your point remains valid all the same. Nocturne is no joke, and it encourages the use of status effects, stat boosts and other things that you use exactly once in different RPGs but are practically required in that one.

Another prime example is Dark Souls, obviously.

Posted by Mirado

Patience is usually rewarded. Usually.

I don't consider myself a crazy good video game player, but I usually crank up games as hard as they'll go on my first play-through. I'm not the kind of person who will replay a game (unless it's designed for you to do so), so if I choose normal and the game winds up too easy, it damages the only experience I'm going to have with it. I'd rather get two or three missions in and have to start over (or turn it down, if the game supports that on the fly), than burn through a whole game and yawn at all the fights.

As a general sample, I did ME2/3 on Insanity, XCOM on Impossible (that took a few restarts), and SC2's campaign on whatever the hardest setting is. And I certainly took my time while doing each one of those; that being said, I know I had to turn at least a few games down....but I cannot remember what they were.

I don't get frustrated because I remember the NES and SNES days where you rented one game and that was your weekend, and most of those games didn't have a difficulty setting (and if they did, it went from Insane to Hard). Games have trended to be easier, at least when compared to my childhood collection.

Posted by Brodehouse

I actually don't like games where difficulty is primarily about patience. I like games where the difficulty is completely in performance, and the game is structured in such a way to make that rewarding. It's why I love Super Meat Boy but hate the Souls games. One is all about performance and doesn't punish failure, the other is all about patience and punishes failure about as brutally as you could expect. RPGs and shooters where hard difficulty just comes down to camping and exploiting... I'll put it on easy at that point.

Posted by jdh5153

That sounds incredibly boring to me. I'd rather have it on easy and blindly run and gun.