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Why Play Games on Hardest Difficulty?

I decide to do a bit of a self interview about my tendency to play games on the hardest setting, give people a look into why I game the way I do and expand a little on the ‘about me’ part of this site.

Do you always set a new game to the hardest setting possible? Yes. It is inevitable, when I get a new game I am going to see what the hardest setting I can play on is and start out on that.

Why? Why go through such self torture for a game that is supposed to be relaxing? I suppose I do it for the challenge. Not the trophies or some contest with others, the self challenge of doing my best against the game’s best. It helps that I am not the type to get upset if I lose a fight in a game. I simply learn from my failure and try again to beat the area. (Bonus: once I have beaten the game on the hardest difficulty I have all of the PlayStation trophies for the difficulties under that one, so no need to replay it unless I really did enjoy the game.)

Don’t you die a lot that way? Yes. I die a whole lot. For me, a lot of games are kind of like Dark Souls, dying (over and over and over). It is just a part of playing the game for me.

Have you ever lowered the difficulty on a game? Yes. There are a few games that I can think of where I lowered the difficulty to get past an area. In Mass Effect 3 I lowered the difficulty on the last fight in order to finish the game, then went back to the save with it still on the highest setting and used the techniques I learned in the fight to finish it on the harder setting. In Thief I ended up lowering the difficulty on the last fight, I got irritated at not being able to pick the lock fast enough. When I played the first Dishonored game I played it on a lower setting to make it quicker to get through it for the bad ending, then forced myself to tough it out on the hardest difficulty for the good ending as penance. In Call of Juarez Bound in Blood I am sitting at the last fight still because I was determined not to back the difficulty down. I’ll go back to it one of these days and lower the difficulty just so I can finish it, but at something like 5 years since I played it I am not in too big of a hurry to get back to that one. Uncharted 4 I might lower the difficulty just so I can finish the story out on it, then go back and get the hardest difficulty later. Haven’t decided yet. I nearly lowered the difficulty on Mass Effect 4, but it is on Insanity still and I have managed to find my way through all the fights so far.

Do you play on hardest setting for bragging rights? No. I know a lot of people think I am a bit insane to dive into things like Resident Evil 6’s No Hope mode, particularly when there was not even a trophy for having got through that. My roommate is always telling me not to start on the hardest setting, to just play normal mode and enjoy the game, but… playing on the hardest setting is part of the enjoyment for me. I am fighting against impossible odds; aliens invading the world, gunmen blasting away on city streets, ruffians trying to beat me to the world’s greatest treasure… whatever the obstacle is, it is not supposed to be an easy path for my character to walk. I want to push myself to the limit and when I do I get this thrill at winning a fight, a small adrenaline rush of triumph, knowing that I not only won the fight, I stood up to the enemy at their best and gave my best and I won.

Should everyone play on the hardest setting? No, absolutely not. If they want to, then yeah, by all means, enjoy the chaos, but if the fun of the game is lessened by the higher difficulty setting then it is not the right setting. I would encourage my fellow gamers to play on whatever setting maximizes their enjoyment of the game. If all you want is to see the story, then play on the lowest setting and enjoy it. You paid for the game, you dedicated hours of your life to exploring the game, it is no one else’s place to tell you how to gain the most enjoyment from it. That is why games have multiple difficulty settings, to allow everyone to find a level of challenge they enjoy. I remember when I was around 11, my mom would buy books filled with crossword puzzles and assorted other logic puzzles. She loved to do the crossword puzzles, but had little interest in any of the other puzzles. I liked the logic puzzles that asked you to figure out things like who had the red coat at the dinner party, where did they sit and what did they eat? Same book, but my mom and I found the highest enjoyment in two completely different styles of thought puzzles.

What about MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV? I don’t go in much for things like the savage modes in games like FFXIV, but if I am in one I can hold my own once i know the fight. I’m also very patient, and if I am in a dungeon and someone is new, or just does not know how the mechanics of the fights work, I am always happy to tough it out until the dungeon or mission is completed (as long as life does not force me to leave early).

Have any more questions? Feel free to ask anything you want about my tendency to play games on their hardest setting, or share your own thoughts on game difficulties.

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