Poll Question 045 – Would you buy and play a game that only had one difficulty setting?

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half Life 1, 2 and 3
About

I generally play on Easy when I play games. I am probably good enough to play on Medium but I have got into the habit of not wanting to be too stressed. However, when I think about it, the best levels for me are the ones that are quite hard to finish.
This week’s poll question is:

Would you buy and play a game that only had one difficulty setting?

Getting better?

I actually think I am improving. I played a mod called Dawn’s Early Light: Combine Facility earlier today and managed to hit a grenade in the air and send it back to the Combine soldier who threw it. I was really pleased. ANyway, enough boasting. I wonder if I specifically tried to improve my playing skill what would happen?

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
SiN Emergence

I thought about starting SiN Emergence again and noticed they have a different concept for difficulty setting. Enlarge the screenshot to see how it works. I believe much more work needs to be done in these types of areas instead of always talking about graphics and physics!

Get to the point!

So, time to get to the point. Imagine a game that only had one difficulty setting and that was best ddescribed as HARD. There were no changes the player could make and no GOD or NOCLIP modes etc.

You just had to play it the way it came.

Would you buy and play it?

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22 Comments

  1. Considering I’ve already played countless games without any sort of difficulty setting, yes. I think difficulty settings are a strength (if the game style supports it and there is an actual tangible difference), but not essential.

  2. cubedude89

    I play my games on easy also 😀

  3. Anonymous

    I hadn’t realized that Half-life 2 even had a difficulty setting until playing it through for the second or third time, using a mod no less.

    There’s really not much to difficulty other than changing an enemy’s health value, changing the numeric damage a weapon deals, and maybe adding other things for the sake of being hard. You’re not really playing another game, you’re just making it difficult for yourself for your own enjoyment.

    However, Doom I and II had some weird features to it dealing with “easy’, ‘medium’, and “hard” settings which basically allowed you to determine what objects would be placed in a map at a certain setting. By shifting the pillars, monsters, and even the player start point, you could essentially be playing a whole other game.

    When it comes to mods, I try to play it on Medium so I have both an Easy setting if the game-play proves impossible, or Hard if I want to play the mod again. If there is no difficulty setting in a game, it’s not a big deal because there’s always a mod somewhere that forces you to get only headshots.

  4. Memobot

    Of course, but only if it had some challenge about it.
    Although the only example I can think of is Pursuit Force on the PSP, which had complaints about being too hard.
    The US release was tweaked a bit (slightly easier, better steering) but I live in the UK, and love the difficulty of the UK version.
    As for games that have different settings, I always play on hard. It’s a more authentic experience and you get more out of a game.

  5. it’s a more authentic experience

    I’m not sure I completely agree with you about this. In reality I doubt we would get further than half a level, depending on which game we are playing. I don’t want authentic because that’s what I am trying to get away from.

    you get more out of a game

    Perhaps, but that depends on your skill level. If you are not very good at these types of games, but still enjoy playing them, how would you get more out of never finishing?

    As with all the polls, everybody’s answer is a personal thing and I respect that some people want, or need, the game on the maximum setting to enjoy it.

    I probably should have worded the poll differently, but imagine that whatever your skill level the game was always slightly better than you. By that I mean that you couldn’t finish it.

    I think that when I was thinking about the poll I was imagining a situation where you either beat the game or you didn’t. No, varying levels etc. Pass or Fail, nothing inbetween. Sorting out the men from the boys (No sexism implied, it’s just a saying!).

    I play my games on easy also 😀

    WHIMP!

    Considering I’ve already played countless games without any sort of difficulty setting, yes.

    Did you beat all of them? If you didn’t, how long did you continue to play the ones you didn’t beat before you gave up?

  6. zeroth404

    games are simple experiences for me, and it’s rare that I’ll play a game more than once, so replay value isn’t something are much about. difficulty settings are primarily for replay value.

    if I DO replay a game, it’s to relive the experience and I’ll probably want it to be the same as it was the first time through, so changing the setting isn’t something I usually do.

  7. Oopla

    Having, or not having a difficulty setting would not make or break my choice of games. I would look at what kind of story does it have, what kind of technologies does the game have, and what other unique aspects does the game have?

    Normally I play my games on easy first to less stressfully enjoy the experience (especially on more detailed/beautiful games, then I crank it up to hard and play it again to give myself more challenge.

    So, no, having only 1 difficulty setting would not be a determining factor on my purchase of a game.

  8. If the game had great gameplay, story, and graphics the Yes, I would buy it.
    I’m pretty patient and would re-load 10-20 times to pass a level. It really depends on how repetative it is. If I re-load 10 times and die exactly the same way, then I start to get annoyed, but if there is opportunity to try different strategies on each re-load then its exciting to find the one that works.
    On the flip-side, If I can’t pass a level after so many repetative re-loads without being able to skip it, then I’ll either give up or cheat.
    The CSS Sci-Fi mod has some great difficulty adjustments

  9. Luke L

    I likewise play on easy firstly, normally just to get used to the maps and weapons. After that I like to ramp it up by changing to harder difficulty levels or completing more objectives. As for if difficulty levels are essential, no I don’t think do. If a developer is confident they’ve balanced the game well I’ll still play it.

  10. I select medium every time, or normal as it’s often referred to. If I have to select easy mode (some mods are that bit too hard) then I feel I’ve cheated. I should point out that it’s not because I’m good, but because I’m a very patient gamer who uses quicksave a lot! Which kinda raises another issue. I didn’t buy FarCry because the demo was hard and I read there wasn’t a quicksave option.

  11. Mel

    Back in days when a purchased games on a regular bases I did not consider such options.
    How days I am not so sure, I do get frustrated with games that are set too hard, but as long as they are fair and doable I dont mind a hard setting.

    Normally with custom mods I start off on normal mode, if things get too tough I change to easy. I often go back and replay games on hard level which extends the playing life of the best games.

    So I guess my response is, Yes.

  12. “Did you beat all of them? If you didn’t, how long did you continue to play the ones you didn’t beat before you gave up?”

    There’s probably some hard games I didn’t completed, but difficulty is one of the last reasons for me to give up on a game (being too hard is a big flaw, but I can deal with it). Custom levels are another matter too, since with retail games you know there’s at least some sanity to the difficulty, but in custom levels it can be very obvious that enemies were just thrown in with no sense for the challenge at all, so I’m more inclined to give up on custom levels than retail games, although difficulty is still pretty low on my reasons for quitting.

    I used to play all games on easy, but eventually realised I was getting too good for that (also, part of the reason I did it is because a lot of games used to provide different endings for different settings, and I wanted to work up, but they pretty much never do now), now what I choose varies. To go with FPS’, on more unrealistic ones (like, say, Half life), I go for hard since skill is generally a big factor in your success for those kind of games. For realistic/semi-realistic FPS’s (E.G. Rainbow Six), I go for a setting or two below the hardest, as they usually just pump up the accuracy and “psychicness” of your enemies, and, as you pretty much die in one hit anyway, playing on hard turns success into more luck than skill.

  13. fragmaster

    I play almost all shooters on medium skill why not too hard not too easy just a middle point that doesnt ruin the fun but still offering me a challenge & I won get killed so fast I feel disappointed.
    Easy skill is still alright its a good way to get the feel of the game just so ppl dont rush into it.
    Hard is for those hardcore gamers who might be hardcore in multi-player & are looking for a bigger challenge.
    Their might be other answers but im out to have fun with a game not complain about it

  14. Lizard

    I like saves and God mode etc. For those when nothing else works times. I like easy so I can look around. I play harder later. I hate games that have auto saves and you have to get to a certain place on a map to save it. Indiana Jones and the emperors tomb for example. I am less than an hour into the game and probably will never finish it. I’m going in and Delta force. Never got past a couple missions. I know in real life you can’t save but I won’t buy any more games like that either. A Wuss? Maybe but I prefer aggravated. Crawling on my belly for an hour just to get my head blown off by a sniper just doesn’t get me off.
    The difficulty setting is Sin Emergence: Doesn’t Wheel of Time have something like that? Whatever game it is I like the fact that you can lighten up if things really get hard and then go back to normal or harder to continue without having to play the whole game at a certain level.
    I guess I could have just said no I wouldn’t buy a game that only played on hard and had no saves or God mode etc. but then you wouldn’t know why.

  15. Manual_Monaro

    I hate games that have auto saves and you have to get to a certain place on a map to save it.

    I agree. I think the player should be able to save whenever he/she wants. Not only that, but I doubt anyone would conviently reach one of these points when he/she has to get off the PC/Console at any given time for any given reason.

    Anyway, onto the main point. I WOULD buy this game, in question. As long as it’s within my interests (Gameplay, storyline, genre, style wise.) I’d get it.

    So, if another Half-Life game, (Who’s franchise I adore.) for example, comes out with one difficulty setting, I’d get it. If a generic military/squad shooter comes out with one setting… That’s a no-no. (Unless the game receives high praise from critics, to which I’d be interested.)

    You get the idea.

    I, myself, try the EASY difficulty first. If I like the game (So that it warrants reply value.) I play it through again on the HARDEST difficulty. Afterwards, if the game draws me in a few more times, I’ll probably pick the MEDIUM level from there on in.

    Of course, sometimes it’s better to keep on replaying games on the hardest difficulty. After finsihing Deus Ex on ‘realistic’, the other difficulty levels are TOO easy, because I’ve gotten used to the full difficulty that the game puts out.

    I might also point out, I hate static difficulty settings, where you select a setting at the start of a game, and it sticks until the end. I like games like Half-Life 2 (And Ep.1) or Oblivion, how you can change the difficulty whenever you like.

  16. Manual_Monaro

    Oh, yeah. About SiN: Emergence…

    I sort of enjoyed that game. I liked the concept of the difficulty setting, but I beleive that it needs a little tweaking, and I think the player SHOULD be given a choice to have a static difficulty setting. (Easy, Medium, Hard etc.)

    Still, I liked how the system worked. For exeample, I’d die from a few minigunners who swamped me. I reload, and the game reduces the number of minigunners (Or removes them completely.) from this section of the game after I reload.

    Another cool thing about the game was the statistics menu, that showed you general statistics on your gameplay. It’s a good reference to your skill level (Not that it matters, really…)

  17. Senator33

    Though the lack of difficulty settings may not keep me from purchasing a game, the inclusion of such settings are a very attractive feature that all game writers should consider. HL2 has spoiled me badly enough – and the new SMOD is very exciting on the “hard” setting, even when playing HL2 user maps. LOVE IT!

  18. I answered a question similar to this on this forum some time ago. I would prefer a game without a selectable difficulty. One that evolves with the player. More realistic that way. But, I want never gets.

  19. difficulty settings are primarily for replay value.

    I don’t agree. Yes, having difficulty settings do enhance the replay value but I don’t believe that is their primary function. I do understand what you mean because by changing the difficulty it allows players a chnace to push themselves but also a little cheat because they know more or less what’s coming.

    if I DO replay a game, it’s to relive the experience and I’ll probably want it to be the same as it was the first time through, so changing the setting isn’t something I usually do.

    There you go, you even say that when you replay a game it’s at the same setting.

    So, no, having only 1 difficulty setting would not be a determining factor on my purchase of a game.

    Maybe that’s only because you are skillful enough to play (And beat?) the game on hard?

    If I can’t pass a level after so many repetative re-loads without being able to skip it, then I’ll either give up or cheat.

    And there is the crux. Getting the balalnce betweeen challenging and impossible.

    Which kinda raises another issue. I didn’t buy FarCry because the demo was hard and I read there wasn’t a quicksave option.

    I suppose it’s impossible to talk about difficulty setting without mentioning save systems.

    MMAN said: There’s probably some hard games I didn’t completed, but difficulty is one of the last reasons for me to give up on a game

    I’m curious now, what were the other reasons for giving up?

    Fragmaster said: There’s probably some hard games I didn’t completed, but difficulty is one of the last reasons for me to give up on a game

    Good point.

    Lizard Said: There’s probably some hard games I didn’t completed, but difficulty is one of the last reasons for me to give up on a game

    Not sure, does anybody else know?

    Lizard also said: Whatever game it is I like the fact that you can lighten up if things really get hard and then go back to normal or harder to continue without having to play the whole game at a certain level.

    Agreed, that’s important. Being able to change the difficulty setting at any time is important.

    Arque said: I would prefer a game without a selectable difficulty. One that evolves with the player. More realistic that way.

    I don’t think I agree. Why would evolving difficulty be more realistic? Perhaps random difficulty would be the most releasitic. Not every enemy you would face in real life would have exactly the same skill set, skill level, spedd, strength etc.

    I am quite surprised at how strongly the voters responded:
    Yes 29% (45 votes)
    No 71% (110 votes)

    I would have thought it would have been closer to 50/50.

  20. AI

    I’m currently replaying Far Cry using the mod “Project_X44” with the “cold” rendering graphic setting, but this time the difficulty set to “Realistic”, I must say it has been a challange so far!! In a “for real” battle it is realistic! This I know! I also have to admitt I’ve played most of the games I have on easy (wimpy) to get a feel for it, but after that,”stay outta my sites” In the original “Doom” they offered diff settings, I for one(Old man)am glad it is still a choice and hope it dosen’t change! I love using the “Sniper Rifle” in FarCry, a good long range weapon and the “Shot Gun” for other problems.

  21. Oopla

    Having the condition to the pole of the Game only having a “hard” setting doesn’t change my answer.

    Instead I would like to expand my answer. That early on in console games, pretty much every game only had a hard setting. Go back and play the original castlevania, then play one of the recent Game Boy sequals. The new ones are much much easier than the original ones.

    There is a simple reason for this. Back in the days of the NES, your game story was pretty much limited to the back of the game box, and for the few people that read the manual. To give games more play value, they were made harder, so to take more time to complete.

    Later we had text and Cutscenes to tell a game story. Now they can tell a story in a game without ever having to leave the character’s perspective, ala Half Life.

    And Multiplayer features in games give them allegedly infinite replay value, there isn’t a need for every game to be AS hard as possible, since more play value can be gotten out of the game through technological advancements.

    I enjoyed these really hard games back in the day, they made winning feel hard earned and satisfying.

    Difficulty in games is a distant second in enjoyability to game design. Bionic Commando was considered a really hard game back in the day, not because it was “impossible” but instead, because the gameplay mechanics were so very different than any other platformer of the day. You didn’t jump. You grappled between various levels with a claw arm.

    The gameplay that forced me to stop, and start looking at game strategy on a case by case basis game me untold levels of fun, once I wrapped my Kindergarden head around it stopped dying.

    Getting back to design however, Three of my favorite games of ALL TIME are games where you cannot die. In Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max hit the Road, and Curse of Monkey Island, you couldn’t die, or loose. However, you had to be smart enough to figure out the giant puzzel that was the whole game, and it had a very witty, intellegent storyline to go with each game that still warrents replaying to this day.

    Let me clarify the part that Philip quoted me on, saying that “So, no, having only 1 difficulty setting would not be a determining factor on my purchase of a game.” Because difficulty is only one factor of many factors that I take into consideration in determining whether a game is a good game or not.

  22. If the difficulty setting was at an appropriate place, then certainly, as my focus is typically on other aspects of a game that don’t get even remotely affected by a difficulty slider. Portal and The Trap are perhaps my favorite games and they’ve got no difficulty settings at all.

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