Do you ever play on Easy?

Do you ever play games on Easy mode, or have you ever switched from Normal to Easy? Or, have you ever tweaked the difficulty level up or down during gameplay?

Some games, especially in RPGs, have difficulty levels ranging from Story Mode to Insanity (or something similar). Some games, like Diablo 2 Resurrected, have different levels of difficulty but you have to play through each one to unlock the next higher level. There are probably games out there that don't even have them. But back to the original question: Do you ever play on Easy, or switch to Easy during gameplay?

My personal philosophy is to have fun in games (as well as in life in general). When starting a game I've never played before I'll start on Normal (if options exist). From there I may eventually tweak that up a notch, or down to easy until I find that "comfort level" of fun but still challenging. I'm not a gamer that has to absolutely play on the highest difficulty available.

For examples: I have no shame in saying that I played and enjoyed Witcher 3 on Easy. I started on normal, but was just getting my head (or other body parts) kicked in. I dropped down to Easy, and had a blast; still challenging but really fun. When I replay the game (if the remaster ever releases), I'll start out on Normal again and hopefully be able to enjoy it that way as I have more experience.

Divinity Original Sin 2 is another example of a game that I started on Normal, but switched to Easy once I hit Arx, and I found that final battle still brutal even on Easy.

In other games, like Skyrim SE, Fallout 4, or Fallout New Vegas, I start on the highest difficulty level and then make the game even more challenging by adding combat enhancement and/or better AI mods. But I'm very familiar with those games, and my "comfort level", that balance between challenge and fun is much higher.

Another question occurred to me as I type: To all you PCG Staff Members who write reviews of games: You're obviously under a publishing deadline when reviewing a game, so how do you set your difficulty level? Do you play it on Normal to get the "base" experience, or drop it to Easy to meet the deadline? I've often wondered how you folks handled that, as I worked for a newspaper eons ago and know publication deadlines can suck.

(Moderators: I seem to have a faint memory of a similar post about difficulty levels in games from months ago, but I didn't find it. If you consider this post redundant, please feel free to reprimand me.)
 
depends on the game tbh. If a game is seriously tough i have no shame playing it on easy. I think like Rainbow six raven shield i played on easy and auto aim as i was supposed to be an elite special forces soldier and frankly on normal i was still rubbish.

other times i play on easier difficulty is when i'm trying to unlock achievements. i've beaten the game and i play on easier difficulty to speed things up.
 
Yea, this is a "depends on the game" answer here. Time is also a factor but if its a game in a genre i find particularly easy even at a higher difficulty, ill play it there. Some games actually separate achievements where it asks you to complete the game on easy and doesn't stack if you beat the game at a higher difficulty. This would go along with people that like to 100% a game, its quicker to get that done just playing the game at an easy difficulty.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Well, I'm playing Gal Civ 3 with all opponents on easy (except the Drengin, which are set to beginner - I like bashing on them ;)). I do that in 4X games a lot when I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing. A few months later, I'll play again on a harder difficulty. Well, that's the plan, anyway. I get distracted sometimes.

Witcher 2 was bad for difficulty spikes. There were parts when playing on 'normal' (or was it hard?) that were way, way too hard. I dropped the difficulty down to easy for those spots. Easy was FAR too easy, though, so I put the difficulty back up again after the spike. I got so sick of doing it that I never finished the game.

I played Gothic 2 on normal and got ripped to shreds. I started over with easy difficulty and got a good challenge, like most RPGs set to normal.
 
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I typically play on Normal to begin with, but don't mind turning the game down to Easy especially if I can achievement farm and whatnot, or if I'm not missing out on any content. I am abysmal at Total War but love the games enough to play on the absolute lowest difficulties, and I don't mind resorting to dirty tricks to bypass the game's difficulty where offline (cheat engines, console commands, etc.)

While I'm not a member of PCG's staff, I have as a reviewer made mention of the moments where I couldn't progress and couldn't comment on the game beyond that point, or decided to lower the difficulty. One of the good things about video reviews is that observant players will notice where you have done this. They'd easily see that I'd been using Godbow in Baldur's Gate II for instance, had I the misfortune of reviewing that.
 
I either play on normal or harder difficulties. Some games might be quite hard on normal, but I like to be challenged and also too bloody stubborn to not know when it might be time to throw in the towel. I'm the kind of guy you will find (hopefully not) on the battlefield yelling:

"Move up soldiers, we can win this!"
Soldiers: "But sir there are only four of us and a thousand of them!"
"We'll make it, push up!"
Soldiers: "We will get ripped to shreds....."
"Not on my watch!...Chaaaaaaarge!"
Soldiers: ...............(sneaks away while I am charging alone)
 
Most games i play only offer one difficulty until you beat the current one and get to next. I recall Sacred 2 had a easy mode but you never played it as things in that game scaled to your level already and it was so easy to over level an area and not get any exp for killing anything. Seem to recall I only ever played it long enough to do a quest to save a band, get some starter equip and then I would restart game in normal with same character. Normal was too easy in that game as is. It had 5 difficulty settings but you couldn't start the game in the top 2.

In the past before the internet I may have played games on easy at first to work out how to play them. Now easy is mainly for journalists writing reviews (lol)
 

PCG Jody

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When I'm reviewing games I play on Normal, but when I'm not I might try others. Right now I'm playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake and hit a sidequest where you fight enemies who have poison attacks. I've never found poison a real interesting challenge, but I did want to complete this particular sidequest so I dropped the difficulty rather than fussing around with my loadout and stocking up on antidotes. Some days you're just not in the mood and there's nothing wrong with that.
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
For me it depends a little on mood, a bit more on the genre, but a whole lot more on whether you can change the difficulty later.

Some games lock you into a difficulty and you are stuck there. This then requires a lot of thought on my part. Am I generally good at this genre of game? Do I actually care enough about the game that if I struggle, I'll stick with it? To be honest, the older I get, the less I'm looking for a big challenge, so if I can't change the difficulty, I'll generally just set it on normal as the safest option. An obvious exception to this would be strategy games that you play over and over. In Total War and Civ I generally play the highest difficulties. I've put many hours into those, and there's just no challenge otherwise. Also, I would be tempted to put a shooter on easy if there were no option to change it, though I played RE Village on normal.

If I can change the difficulty on the fly (and if I'm playing by myself), I'll usually start a game on the lowest difficulty, and I just adjust it upward whenever I decide it's too easy. For instance, I started The Witcher 3 on easy and ended on hard, and I started Wolfenstein New Order on easy and also ended on easy. Just depends.

What I really like is a game like Control (or a lot of survival games) that doesn't have difficulty levels, but lets you fine tune various things.
 
Frequently. I'll almost always start a new game on Easy.
If I don't like it, there's no point in suffering extra before dumping it.

If I like it, I'll replay it, often straight away—this would be the 'real' playthru, now I know what it's about & how it works & that I like it. I'll choose whatever maximizes my enjoyment for the replay—difficulty, mods, gameplay options etc.
 
As a seasoned gamer i go for normal or hard , sometimes like a certain sections of a game where something seems to be overly hard i knock it down a level but then put it back up. Regardless of how hard a game is i always mess around for a day or so to get a feel of how it works. During this time i check to see if you can put difficulty level up or down , i do this because sometimes you cant always alter the difficulty but it does not tell you.
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
I almost never play on easy this days. I did when I was a kid, but now I prefer something more demanding. The most common difficulty level I choose is hard. AAA games are a lot easier now than they were in the past. I compensate that by using higher level of difficulty. There are some exceptions. One of them was the mentioned Divinity: Original Sin 2. I started the game on normal and had to switch to easy later on and on very easy before the final battle. I probably wouldn't be able to finish the game without it. But these are very rare cases.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
D:OS2 on hard was certainly very difficult. You had to do nearly every quest and battle to get enough xp for the next area. You even had to do them in the right order most of the time, or even bounce between them, to get all the xp and loot you needed to continue. If you get stuck at a point where all the battles seem to be too hard, there's likely a quest or area that you're missing - go back and poke around at the edges of what you've explored.

What I really like is a game like Control (or a lot of survival games) that doesn't have difficulty levels, but lets you fine tune various things.
Oooo, I love it when that happens!

Conversely, one of the bad things about JRPGs is that they rarely have a difficulty setting. At all. If you're having problems with one battle or another, you need to find a cheat program (which are often dubious if not outright dangerous) or convince somebody to let you have their save file. If it's too easy, try to find a way to gimp yourself. Blah.
 
Witcher 2 was bad for difficulty spikes. There were parts when playing on 'normal' (or was it hard?) that were way, way too hard. I dropped the difficulty down to easy for those spots. Easy was FAR too easy, though, so I put the difficulty back up again after the spike. I got so sick of doing it that I never finished the game.

I played Gothic 2 on normal and got ripped to shreds. I started over with easy difficulty and got a good challenge, like most RPGs set to normal.
Ah, Witcher 2. I was never able to finish that game either, partially because of the difficulty spikes in combat, and partially because of a quality that I've never been able to define, I just couldn't get into the game, even though I loved both Witcher 1 & 3.

Difficulty spikes are a huge factor for me in finding my "comfort" level (challenge + fun + limited stress), and I appreciate it when a game allows the player to change the difficulty at will. As @WoodenSaucer stated, switching to Easy to get past a certain point in a game then switching back to Normal can make a game much more enjoyable.

And the Gothic games, especially Gothic 2, are notorious for the difficulty in the beginning. From what I can remember, I started those games on Normal, got ripped to shreds as you did, dropped to Easy, then at some point later in the game, switched back to Normal. I have yet to play any of Piranha Bytes games on Hard, though I might try it when I replay Elex.

I know I'm a wimp, but I don't like games to be really hard. I don't find that enjoyable, and I only game to enjoy myself.
I don't consider you a wimp at all. This is exactly how I play: I play to enjoy myself, challenged but not frustrated.

One of the good things about video reviews is that observant players will notice where you have done this. They'd easily see that I'd been using Godbow in Baldur's Gate II for instance, had I the misfortune of reviewing that.
That's something I hadn't considered, a video reviewer can't really disguise the fact that they've changed the difficulty level.

offer one difficulty until you beat the current one and get to next. I recall Sacred 2 had a easy mode but you never played it as things in that game scaled to your level already and it was so easy to over level an area and not get any exp for killing anything.
I think the combat difficulty balance in that game is excellent, factoring in how the game scaled enemies to your character level. Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and one higher level I can't remember the name of. If I remember correctly, you could play Bronze or Silver with any character, but had to be a certain level to play on Gold or above(?). And you knew when you were over-leveled for an area because the enemies had grey circles underneath them and yielded no experience for killing them. I know a remaster of Sacred 2 will never happen, but I'd pay bigtime for one.

When I'm reviewing games I play on Normal, but when I'm not I might try others. Right now I'm playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake and hit a sidequest where you fight enemies who have poison attacks. I've never found poison a real interesting challenge, but I did want to complete this particular sidequest so I dropped the difficulty rather than fussing around with my loadout and stocking up on antidotes. Some days you're just not in the mood and there's nothing wrong with that.
Thanks for responding! I've often wondered how the writers of PCG dealt with the "crunch time" deadlines to review a game, for the print version (which probably has a longer lead time) as well as the PCG site. It always felt to me that if a game was reviewed on a Normal difficulty (if available), that it would give the readers the "base" experience the game offered (in addition to any technical issues). I can't even express how much I regret not waiting for CP2077's review instead of preordering it at full price.

Some games lock you into a difficulty and you are stuck there. This then requires a lot of thought on my part. Am I generally good at this genre of game? Do I actually care enough about the game that if I struggle, I'll stick with it? To be honest, the older I get, the less I'm looking for a big challenge, so if I can't change the difficulty, I'll generally just set it on normal as the safest option
Yeah, there are those games that lock you in to a difficulty level at the start, I know I've played some, though I can't remember any off the top of my head. Those are trickier, especially if there are unpredictable difficulty spikes. I'll often start over on a lower difficulty level in those types of games, even if it means loosing several hours of play. I'm even older, so I find that there's a very thin line between commitment to a game and my enjoyment level.

Sometimes there are optional choices that relate to difficulty; like a Survival Mode, or Hardcore Mode; and those aren't changeable in game once you select them. I've never done a Hardcore playthrough for any game (I hate companions dying), but I have done Survival Mode. The best one I've ever played (not including survival mods), was the Survival Mode in Fallout New Vegas; just enough hardship to make the game feel more real without being oppressive (and not tied to saving the game; looking at you Fallout 4).

One of them was the mentioned Divinity: Original Sin 2. I started the game on normal and had to switch to easy later on and on very easy before the final battle. I probably wouldn't be able to finish the game without it.
I played DOS2 on Normal and loved it, up until a certain point in Arx when I dropped down to Easy because it just started being oppressive. And I would never have completed that final battle on anything greater than easy (and it still took me 3 tries I think). It's the one reason that I've never replayed DOS2, I just don't want to deal with that long final battle.

D:OS2 on hard was certainly very difficult. You had to do nearly every quest and battle to get enough xp for the next area. You even had to do them in the right order most of the time, or even bounce between them, to get all the xp and loot you needed to continue. If you get stuck at a point where all the battles seem to be too hard, there's likely a quest or area that you're missing - go back and poke around at the edges of what you've explored.
The gods (of your choice) bless anyone able to complete DOS2 on Hard; I could never do it. But what you said about bouncing around in a given area, gaining as much XP and equipment as possible before moving to the next area is very true. I did that often, moving from quest to quest until I found a good balance. Choosing which quest to do when was huge, and a player really had to complete all available options to be strong enough for the next area. It was mainly the final battle that I felt had a massive difficulty spike.
 
It definitely vary based on game, but I have no issue playing on easy. In FPS games I tend to play at least normal, sometimes higher, because I'm skilled enough that I'll just stomp everything on easy. But it is really common for me to play lowest difficulty in narrative driven games. I played The Witcher 3 on the "story" difficulty and loved it. If I'm interested in the story then I often don't want to be bothered when exploring and going to the next story area. Of course, this varies depending on the game. But the bottom line is, as many have said, it's really just whatever is the most fun for me given the game and my mood at the time. There's just a lot of times where I can't be bothered to deal with harder difficulties.
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
I played DOS2 on Normal and loved it, up until a certain point in Arx when I dropped down to Easy because it just started being oppressive. And I would never have completed that final battle on anything greater than easy (and it still took me 3 tries I think). It's the one reason that I've never replayed DOS2, I just don't want to deal with that long final battle.

D:OS2 is one of these games that give me nightmares when it comes to difficulty level. ;) There are people who finished it on hard and claim that it was quite easy. I don't know how it's possible. :) I also don't know whether I'll return to the game some day, but if I do I'll pick easy from the very beginning.

This makes me also think which difficulty level pick at the start of Baldur's Gate 3. Knowing Larian last works, it'll be probably wise to pick the easy one right away. I'll probably start on normal though, because my consciousness doesn't want to accept the necessity to pick a lower difficulty level. :D
 
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I usually start a game on Normal difficulty. And then if it feels too easy, I increase the difficulty (or mod it), and if it is harder than I feel like dealing with, I'll lower the difficulty. Usually the only time I flat-out choose "Easy Mode" is if it's a game where I don't care about whatever aspect they're making difficult (like combat in a story-heavy game). And once in a while I just want to have finished a game so I can move on to its sequel, and Easy or Story Mode often can expedite that process. But more often than not I play on Normal. Harder difficulties if the curve isn't too steep. (Some strategy games, their normal level is a cakewalk but you bump it up a notch and suddenly they're over-supplied psychics.)
 
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It's annoying when the game gives you the choice only at the start.
Many games now let you change the difficulty mid-way and I appreciate that!

To answer the question though, as for many people I generally start on whatever the normal/default option is the devs present. However if it's a genre I haven't played particularly (esp sports games) then definitely easy mode.

One counter example I have for this is Star Craft 2 which is a genre I'm familiar with so I was playing on hard mode. But it was so punishing I actually found midway though that I just couldn't bear the thought of playing more missions. After switching down to easy and blasting through them all, I found I was actually enjoying the story/cutscenes etc.. So in a way that was quite game changing to me in the way I think about difficulty levels now.
 
switching down to easy … I found I was actually enjoying the story/cutscenes … that was quite game changing to me in the way I think about difficulty levels now
Yeah, I spent my first 20+ years video gaming focused on beating the game. That stopped being satisfying over a decade ago, so now I play to enjoy the game—it doesn't matter if I beat it or not, or what difficulty.

Play in whatever way gives you the most enjoyment and satisfaction.
 

ZedClampet

Community Contributor
This thread is embarrassing. Bunch of casuals.

Actually, when I started the Total War: Troy game I posted about over on Strategy, even though I usually play these on Hard, I just wasn't in the mood and put it on easy. And I started a new Satisfactory game in a mod-enabled creative and passive mode, all the resources and none of the monsters! Then I downloaded the Government Subsidy mod for Farming Simulator 22 which gives me extra money each year. So everything I've done today has been in easy mode.
 

OsaX Nymloth

Community Contributor
Jan 29, 2020
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No, never.
At the worst I will lower the difficulty for a particular fight on my first playthrough and that's it - if it's my xth playthrough then there's no way I will do even that, that would mean I ultimately failed in my preparations for that troublesome part of game.

Mind you, usually before going down the "let's cool you down a notch" route I will probably spend a solid amount of time trying to get past the obstacle. Unless I feel I am being "bullshitted" and I feel like the game designers are enjoying my suffering, then I may do it faster.
*looks at particular almost-end-game fight in Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous where a boss would spam Chain Lightning every few turns that could one shot my entire party and didn't mind any resitances, straight damage no matter what*

Also hi, been a while since I visited.