We’re back with yet another instalment of Respawning’s Let’s Talk series, where every Friday we get every one of our charismatic writers together to discuss a new topic! It was recently revealed that the upcoming Death Stranding will have a ‘Very Easy Mode’ for those non gamers who just want the story… Riiight. Well this got us thinking about who will actually use this setting so this week we’re talking our preferred difficulty settings. The majority of games these days will come with a standard easy, medium or hard difficulty setting but which is it that we see as our go-to? Are you a secret wimp who’s just there for the story or a hardcore gamer wanting the hardest challenge available? Be honest people and Let’s Talk our preferred difficulty settings…

Well I suppose it depends on the game and how familiar you are with it. For example I play FIFA on world class difficulty because of how often I play it and that’s the only way to get a challenge at this point (well there’s still legendary and ultimate above that but shh!). Other than that I’m a boring medium difficulty guy. I don’t want to be a coward and play on easy, especially as trophies will expose you these days! And I don’t want to rage quit after the first hour of a game because I fancied myself a challenge. Though speaking of trophies, there have been a few times I’ve started a game on hard in hope of that glorious Platinum trophy. Bioshock was one such case… Although I managed to get the plat in one hard playthrough and felt amazing doing it, you can bet your ass I didn’t do the same when Bioshock 2 came around!

I think my view on this would probably mirror a lot of others in the group. It depends on the game. For me, if it’s a game with a storyline I want to follow and be engrossed in, I’ll play it on the suggested ‘Story’ difficulty. But, for games like FPS that are more about action then I may up the difficulty to normal or hard. That said, if a game outputs better rewards, upgrades or faster character progression on a higher difficult, I find myself drifting to harder settings, repeatedly punishing myself in search for sweet sweet loot.

Depending on the game, it will depend on the difficulty I’ll pick… I mean Gears of War, I’ll straight up pick hard as I’m very used to those games kicking my ass, but for the most part I’ll pick normal… I play games for the story more often than not and normal is the optimised setting to have the flow the developers want. By playing normal I get a feel for the game and if I like the game I’ll up the difficulty and play through it all again… Dead Space, Alan Wake and Resident Evil 4 are great examples of me doing that.

There was a time I was only playing on the hardest difficulty for achievements but after completing Bioshock on hard from the get go with basically just the wrench due to lack of ammo and constant death I decided I’d rather know the story that have the challenge. My girlfriend is very much in the field of play a game on the hardest difficulty setting because games are supposed to last a long time and challenge you; I’m not so sure but hey each to their own.

I’m a simple man, I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my video game Normal. In my headcanon I’ve always felt like whatever the game, normal is the difficulty it’s meant to be played at! If it’s an in depth story then normal is the difficulty my characters would face.

I’ve ventured into hard on games but only when I’ve between the game once before and now seek that extra challenge, but I’ll never pick it from the get go. I don’t have much patience for easy mode unless I’m in a bad mood and I just need a power trip to make me feel better! Sometimes there is nothing I want more than to boot up a game where I can wander around as a god of destruction and lay waste to everything in sight without having to look at a health bar or plan to far ahead. However, like I said for the most part you’ll find me sticking with the middle ground.

Anyone who knows me will know I distance myself from exceedingly difficult and challenging games like Soulsborne titles, They only frustrate me, but I also don’t want to just breeze through all the time without a second thought. essentially, I’m a basic bitch.

*Sips pumpkin spice latte*

Dark Souls is my jam. I love it and the crushing difficulty that it represents. I honestly feel that too many games handhold people throughout the experience now and present no challenge and that people who play on easy mode are babies.

This being said, I’m a contradiction and will usually pick Normal if given the opportunity. Mostly this is because I find that games with difficulty selections use incredibly cheap methods of ramping up the difficulty and I hate that.

At least have the decency that FromSoftware have and make your challenging game fair and built around this.

For me, unless the game really captivates me with it’s gameplay, I’ll normally go Hard – With more and more games lowballing their Normal difficulties, I feel that there needs to be some sort of challenge. That’s not to say that games like the Etrian Odyssey or Shin Megami Tensei series are to be played on Hard though! I tried tackling SMT-IV on the harder-than-normal difficulty and… Yeah. Bad time.

…But generally if a game has good gameplay, like Trails of Cold Steel or Kingdom Hearts, I’ll opt for the higher of the two.

I’ve said it many times before – I play games for fun, not a challenge. I play all new games on the easiest difficulty setting, but will sometimes bump the difficulty up for a second playthrough if I feel it will improve my experience with the game or if I find myself doing particularly well at it.

Unfazed by the stigma of playing on the easiest setting, if I were to buy Death Stranding (which I’m not), then you can bet I’d be choosing the very easy difficulty straight out of the gate without a second thought!

I personally start a new game on easy or normal mode. Mostly because I enjoy experiencing the story and difficult combat is not really something that pulls me in; if the combat is too difficult I’m more likely to give up and then miss out on what could be a really good game – However I don’t think I’d choose a super easy mode on a game… Perhaps due to pride… But I do understand how this could appeal to some gamers.

I’ve been playing video games for longer than I’ve been able to read properly, so you’d think that by now I’d be a hardcore “Anything less than max difficulty is for casuals and casuals are only good for wiping your shoes” type; not the case, actually.

As I’m sure you can tell by my banner, I’m the kind who likes artsy-fartsy games with a nice story above a grinding challenge. That’s not to say I resent difficulty, after all I regard Dark Souls and Bloodborne to be some of gaming’s inaugural pieces of high art. Instead, I just view games as more than a set of challenges to be overcome.

Games are an art, and difficulty but a single paintbrush. Use it well, and you’ll make something great. Use it wrong, and you’ll forever be remembered as the dude who drew a big willy on everyone’s hard work.

Depends on the game, but I usually go for the hardest difficulty, so long as it feels like true difficulty. It’s hard to explain what I mean by that, but take something like Skyrim. In the highest difficulty settings, you’re just made weaker, and the enemies stronger. That feels unfair, and lazy. But in other titles, where the enemies improve, or there’s more of them, or less restarts or whatever but your character isn’t hobbled, it feels better. It’s a hard line to walk; I feel titles like Fire Emblem: Three Houses get it, though.

As for why I play harder difficulties from the get go…I guess I find them more rewarding than normal modes. The only time I won’t play super hard is a 4×4, because again, those don’t feel like they’re difficult in the right way.