Mass Effect 2: What difficulty should I select?

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poprocksandsoda

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I'm about to start my first play though of Mass Effect 2. What difficulty setting should I select? I'd like a good challenge to keep me engaged but I don't want to be frustrated. Thanks in advance.

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The_Tribunal

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Go the one below nightmare. It will keep you engaged with the party mechanics and provide a stiff challenge. Be prepared to use all abilities. Also, you could always turn it down mid-game.

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ll_Exile_ll

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#3  Edited By ll_Exile_ll

Hardcore (second from the highest) is what I'd recommend. Insane is pretty difficult and should really only be attempted when you have full understanding of the game and its combat mechanics and some foreknowledge of the encounters and enemy makeup for each mission. Hardcore is still pretty challenging, but is manageable for a competent player on a first playthrough.

The core dynamic of the combat is the rock/paper/scissors mechanics centered around the different types of tech and biotic powers vs. the different types of defenses (barrier, shields, and armor). With each higher difficulty you'll be seeing more layers of defenses on enemies, to the point where on insane pretty much every enemy has at least one layer of defense.

You're still going to be seeing lots of defenses on hardcore, but not quite as much as insane. You'll also be more resilient than you would be on insane. So you'll certainly have a challenge that will require you to plan your squad configuration and have a grasp of what abilities you should be using against what enemies, but it shouldn't be too frustrating.

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Justin258

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Normal is what I always play it on. I'd start on the one above it and bump it down if you feel like it's too much.

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MetalBaofu

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#5  Edited By MetalBaofu

Yeah, I agree with the other posters. I beat it on all difficulties(for the achievements), but always found the hardest difficulty to be far more frustrating than an enjoyable challenge or anything. Especially 2. It was the hardest, if I remember correctly.

If you wanted to try the hardest difficulty out at some point, it might would be best to try it in new game plus anyways since you'll know your way around the game better.

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xanadu

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The nightmare difficultly is literally a nightmare and there's no reason to play on that other then for achievements.

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CecilPhilpot

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#7  Edited By CecilPhilpot

@ll_exile_ll: This is excellent advice.

The key to Mass Effect 2 on higher difficulties is knowing what mix of enemies you'll encounter in each mission and which squadmates to bring to counter their defenses. For example, if you're fighting geth, you'll be facing shields and a bit of armor; if you're up against collectors, it'll be barriers and a lot of armor. (When in doubt, you can't really go wrong with Miranda, since she can overload shields and warp barriers.) Of course, it also depends on which class you're playing (sentinel is the most versatile and is surprisingly tanky with the tech armor).

So it's a good idea to play through once on normal or hardcore before attempting a playthrough on higher difficulties. Personally, I really enjoy the combat system of Mass Effect 2, so I found it quite satisfying to eventually clear it on insanity. There are a few fights in the main questline that can be difficulty bottlenecks, but if you're a completionist and do the available sidequests first (especially the DLC missions, which give you great upgrades without advancing the main story), you'll be powerful enough to handle those encounters without too much frustration.

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thatdudeguy

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Just posting for completeness's sake, I played all three games on Normal difficulty, but I'm currently running through ME2 (and ME3 soon) for nostalgic purposes and playing on Easy mode. Normal mode, as I remember it, required a few instances of staffing up for particular missions, but I'm really enjoying my Easy mode playthrough of ME2. Choose whoever you'd like to hear chime in on current events, the combat will be a cakewalk no matter what. I always played these games for the story, not the combat, so it makes sense for me (though I might totally be missing out on interesting mechanics by doing so.)

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Zirilius

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Yeah, I agree with the other posters. I beat it on all difficulties(for the achievements), but always found the hardest difficulty to be far more frustrating than an enjoyable challenge or anything. Especially 2. It was the hardest, if I remember correctly.

If you wanted to try the hardest difficulty out at some point, it might would be best to try it in new game plus anyways since you'll know your way around the game better.

ME1 is the most difficult if you picked the wrong class. There are certain enemies with huge amounts of shields that you can barely get down if you are playing something like Vanguard. Veteran is probably my preferred difficulty if you aren't going for difficulty achievements but man 1 made me hate Vanguard so much that I switched over to Infiltrator. Then 2 came out and fixed Vanguard...........oh well.

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mozzle

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Mass Effect 2 is my favourite game, but I always play it on easy or normal. There are just too many shootouts in that game that can really throw off the pacing of the story. Which is what I play those games for. Especially because the a game play in 2 is good. But nothing amazing or exciting.

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Nodima

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I would play it on Normal. While I quite enjoyed the combat of Mass Effect 2 and 3 (as a Playstation user I couldn't play 1 until after 3 soured me on the idea of a series replay...maybe if they remaster it in a bundle...) I'd play them on Normal so the story can remain your primary focus. I find Normal always offers enough a challenge in games these days that you can bulldoze most of it and stumble into a road block when you least expect it (such as a random Gargoyle guarding a treasure in Witcher 3 and you get over confident and forget how hard they hit you) that reminds you you can't just go brainless into battle.

From what I remember of Mass Effect 2, combat would've gone from fun and occasionally challenging to challenging and occasionally fun if I'd played it on a harder difficulty.

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TanookiSuit

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Normal or Hardcore. Hardcore will definitely keep battles from getting too stale since you have to use most of your/squadmates powers to take down multiple enemy defense layers.

Nightmare was fun after I played through it once on Hardcore but stopped being fun at a very particular point for me, which I won't spoil here.

Either way - Enjoy it - It's a fantastic game!

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richyhahn4

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#13  Edited By richyhahn4

man...I might screw up and play through mass effect again...I'm a little afraid to play though another time and ruin my love for the series

And yeah, Nightmare is balanced for a new game plus shepard but it kinda depends on what you are importing from the first game, I know you get a serious resource boost at the start of ME2 if you imported a complete save...

I looked this up from the wikia page if you are curious to what gets brought over

  • A portion of the character's Paragon/Renegade points (up to 190 each, which requires the bar(s) to be 50% full[1]) are transferred over.
  • Importing a level 1 through level 49 character will grant 1,000 XP (the player starts at level 2), 20,000 credits, and 2,500 of each resource.
  • Importing a level 50 through level 59 character will grant 2,000 XP (the player starts at level 3), 30,000 credits, and 5,000 of each resource.
  • Importing a level 60 character will grant 4,000 XP (the player starts at level 5), 50,000 credits, and 10,000 of each resource.
  • Having the "Rich" achievement from Mass Effect will grant an additional 100,000 credits.
  • The import bonuses will stack with the Mass Effect 2 completion starting bonuses (200,000 credits and 50,000 of each resource).

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MetalBaofu

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#14  Edited By MetalBaofu

@zirilius said:
@metalbaofu said:

Yeah, I agree with the other posters. I beat it on all difficulties(for the achievements), but always found the hardest difficulty to be far more frustrating than an enjoyable challenge or anything. Especially 2. It was the hardest, if I remember correctly.

If you wanted to try the hardest difficulty out at some point, it might would be best to try it in new game plus anyways since you'll know your way around the game better.

ME1 is the most difficult if you picked the wrong class. There are certain enemies with huge amounts of shields that you can barely get down if you are playing something like Vanguard. Veteran is probably my preferred difficulty if you aren't going for difficulty achievements but man 1 made me hate Vanguard so much that I switched over to Infiltrator. Then 2 came out and fixed Vanguard...........oh well.

I went infiltrator for my first character(the main one I carried through all 3 games, and the one I played on the hardest difficulty with). I don't remember much issue with 1. I just remember dying so many times at various parts in ME2.

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Zirilius

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#15  Edited By Zirilius

@zirilius said:
@metalbaofu said:

Yeah, I agree with the other posters. I beat it on all difficulties(for the achievements), but always found the hardest difficulty to be far more frustrating than an enjoyable challenge or anything. Especially 2. It was the hardest, if I remember correctly.

If you wanted to try the hardest difficulty out at some point, it might would be best to try it in new game plus anyways since you'll know your way around the game better.

ME1 is the most difficult if you picked the wrong class. There are certain enemies with huge amounts of shields that you can barely get down if you are playing something like Vanguard. Veteran is probably my preferred difficulty if you aren't going for difficulty achievements but man 1 made me hate Vanguard so much that I switched over to Infiltrator. Then 2 came out and fixed Vanguard...........oh well.

I went infiltrator for my first character(the main one I carried through all 3 games, and the one I played on the hardest difficulty with). I don't remember much issue with 1. I just remember dying so many times at various parts in ME2.

Infiltrator actually had one of the easiest times in ME1 due to how good sniping was in the late game. The only fight somewhat difficult is Indoctrinated Saren at the end but even he is a breeze compared to my vanguard play through. I stuck with Infiltrator throughout all the games though and never once looked back.

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JaguarJK

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I played in normal

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inevpatoria

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MetalBaofu

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@zirilius: I lucked out with my choice, then. I don't usually play sniper characters in games, so I'm not sure why I went infiltrator.

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OurSin_360

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#19  Edited By OurSin_360

Normal and then on second play through the hardest one, or second to hardest one. That's what I did anyway since i always ran two characters in that series, one paragon one renegade, on infiltrator one vanguard etc.

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csl316

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Hardcore, as Insane has some stupid difficulty spikes.

The combat system is fun when you have to dig into its intricacies, but potentially frustrating when you're stuck on a checkpoint for two hours.

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Teddie

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I just went through 2 and 3 on Insanity for the first time and had a lot of fun with it. Would never recommend doing that your first time through, but it kept me engaged enough that I went straight into 3 after not even expecting to play more than a few hours of 2.

Some specific parts are really rough, but then they only took me a couple retries anyway. Having the Infiltrator's power to turn invisible so you can regroup (or just totally bypass some fights by sprinting past them) was invaluable. Also, since your shields/health basically drop to nothing in a second no matter what, you can focus all your points/abilities/weapons into pure damage and tear through everything.

Mass Effect 3 on Insanity was a cakewalk after 2. Honestly the only fight in that game that gave me any trouble was Marauder Shields.