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How do you define/rank "difficulty" in video games? Also, what are some of the hardest games you played lately?

pramod

Member
For me difficulty or when you say a game is "hard", means the traditional definition, ie Ninja Gaiden/Megaman/Ghouls n Ghosts, something that requires great skill, reflexes and practice to master.
Most bullet-hell shmups would also fall under very difficult games to beat. People who play and master those games are a different breed.

It doesn't include games that just simply require a lot of grinding, or trial and error, or exploration, to beat. ie there are no Japanese RPGs that I consider "hard", in fact the only difficult RPGs I've played are western ones like Darkest Dungeon, that require solid understanding of very complex game mechanics and lots of strategic planning to defeat.

The great thing about hard games though is that the harder they are the more satisfaction you get when you beat them. What are some of the most difficult games you played in recent years?

My list:
Cuphead (I gave up halfway through. I think this is one of the hardest games I've ever played.)
Darkest Dungeon
The EDF series (ok so you CAN grind in these games to make them a bit easier, but only after A TON of grinding)

BTW, I have yet to play a "Dark Souls"-type of game. I keep hearing about how difficult they are, but I wonder if they are really that hard, if you follow the traditional definition of what "hard" is?
 
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Dream-Knife

Member
Dark Souls games can be very hard on the traditional method. For example last night I had to fight a magic witch that takes damage she retreats up a building. She will spam magic arrows at you and ghost enemies spawn as you follow her.

My friend and I decided to finally try out NES megaman games last weel. We quit after discovering the controls were floaty and the games were just BS hard. In that regard, Souls games are not classic NES hard.
 

Duchess

Member
Death's Door I found challenging, but never hard (other than an insane difficulty spike in the final part of the game).

The Persistence (currently playing) is tricky but not overly difficult, either.

Edit: I suppose it depends on where your own levels are. Some find Hades next to impossible, whereas I didn't find it too bad in the end.
 
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Rawker

Member
Playing against a human is always the best competition but some games like Sekiro, Cuphead, Trials, etc offer an excellent competitive battle against the AI and yourself. The problem with AI is the players morals.
 

ButchCat

Member
Biome 3 in Returnal was a bitch the first time around, these kamikaze drones are massive assholes and made me rage quit too many times.
 

bender

What time is it?
Elden Ring has some asshole moments of warping your character to a dungeon they have no business being in but Returnal is probably the hardest game I've completed "recently".
 
COD: World at War on veteran is still one of the hardest games I've ever played. The grenade spamming from the enemy AI was the worst. I did manage to complete the single player campaign on that difficulty without changing it.
 

Gankthenew

Member
celeste
 
Gran Turismo Sport/7. Of course, it depends on what your goals are in a racing game, but I can't think of other game that requires such a level of repetition, dedication and precision to reach a high level (like A+ rank) like it. I'm not talking about winning competitions, which requires a professional level of dedication, but only the effort required to be considered fast.
 

Deerock71

Member
I'm at 74 hours into Shin Megami Tensei V. That game has me by the short and curlies. I have a feeling I'm over-preparing going everywhere in that game, because randon encounters can split you in two. Literally (well, in the game world). I am loving the punishment. This may end up my favorite RPG of all time.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
COD: World at War on veteran is still one of the hardest games I've ever played. The grenade spamming from the enemy AI was the worst. I did manage to complete the single player campaign on that difficulty without changing it.
I never beat COD 4 on Veteran. Same thing, spam grenades. I must had tried 30 times and gave up on the chapter in COD 4 that looks like the Crossfire map. I got midway through the map and quit at a certain point.

Another game I thought was impossible was Target Earth on Genesis.
 
Call of Duty 2 on Xbox 360 is the hardest game I’ve ever played, to this day. Dead Space 2 on hardcore mode is the most stressful game I’ve ever played.

Everything I’ve played in the past 5 years has been fairly easy. I just got into bloodborne, and while difficult, it’s not controller-breaking hard. Especially when you get into the rhythm of things.
 
It's hard to rank difficulty amongst all games because different games treat difficulty differently. I will say that the one way to do difficulty wrong/boring is to simply edit damage numbers so that enemies are both bullet sponges and do massive damage at the same time. An example of this bad way are most shooters and Skyrim.

I will list games that do difficulty changes the correct way:

1 - Goldeneye/Perfect Dark/Timesplitters

Developers to this day never seem to want to replicate how these series managed to do things. Basically, the harder the difficulty, the more difficult tasks you'd be assigned on a given mission. It also made it so that you'd experience more of the story and level due to more of them opening up for those harder difficulties. The same type of thinking was applied with multiplayer bot challenges, with some bots being from really crazy(throwing bombs everywhere) to really dumb(slapping with weapons) to being extremely dangerous(headshots only if they spotted you).

2 - Left 4 Dead

The A.I. director would become way smarter with where and when it would spawn enemies to really push you to your limit of how much you can handle. There were times where we'd barely make it to the finish line with most of the team dead and the last person had 10 health left running from a horde. Another system that no one managed to replicate correctly or even think about how to use beyond this series.

3 - Virtua Fighter's Quest mode

Another mode that's highly innovative yet never used. Basically Sega captured data from real life tournament and arcade players in order to create a mode with rankings where you'd have to climb to the top and the coolest thing being that each version of a character was different, including outfit. So you'd fight one version of Akira who mostly played defensively(because the real life person played that way) and the next Akira would be more aggressive, and the next might do more grabs, etc. You'd unlock outfit items and rank up by beating them. You'd have to try it out to see how fun it truly was.

4 - Souls games

Why did I single this series out instead of most RPGs? Because of their new game plus feature. Remixing a game on new game plus to keep you on your toes(by adding new red phantoms, changing a chest or two into a mimic, and adding the random harder version of old enemies like it's still your first playthrough, is a pretty genius idea and makes me hope that Elden Ring does the same. I'm sure there was probably an older game that did this, but I'm glad it still exists in today's age.

In general about RPGs though, I've always preferred areas that are high level and areas that are low level, instead of everything scaling to your level like Bethesda games, because there's nothing like that tension and fear of entering an area 20 levels above yours and somehow being able to make it out okay.

Here's a difficulty idea I've been thinking about if it can be done, and I'd like to see it one day:

(For Action/Adventure, Action/RPG, and Shooters): Raising the difficulty makes the enemies act more and more like real life players, to the point where playing a level on the highest difficulty feels like a better version of Counter-OP mode from Perfect Dark. This would take a ton of data entry like VF but would be insanely good if done right. This shouldn't mean that they have 100% aim(a lot of devs make this mistake), but their positioning and tactics should force you to really think and adapt to how it would feel like facing an actual player.
 

luffie

Member
Furi, the DLC boss Bernard requires perfect memorization.

Aeterna Noctis, the platforming requires perfect memorization and reflex.

They are not even fun anymore, just plain difficulty that demands perfection with 0 variety.
 
The last games I managed to beat that I considered to be quite difficult were Perfect Dark (on perfect agent) and Alien Soldier. Something those two games share in common is that in order to beat them, you have to master every moment of every level, since a few mistakes would mean starting over. Both games took a lot of repetition to beat but hey, no issue when the games are fun.
 
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Aldric

Member
Hardest game I've played recently was probably Baba is you. I quickly hit a wall after roughly the first four worlds and that's the kind of game where patience and perseverance aren't going to help you.
 

pramod

Member
I never beat COD 4 on Veteran. Same thing, spam grenades. I must had tried 30 times and gave up on the chapter in COD 4 that looks like the Crossfire map. I got midway through the map and quit at a certain point.

Another game I thought was impossible was Target Earth on Genesis.
Target Earth is actually quite easy if you play it the right way: ie advance really slowly and wait for your shields to recharge.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
Target Earth is actually quite easy if you play it the right way: ie advance really slowly and wait for your shields to recharge.
Ya that was my issue. Back then I tried to Rambo it killing everything like all shooters back then where that tactic works. Watching YT videos, it didnt seem so bad.
 

Knightime_X

Member
I don't care for any game that's excessively hard.
Mostly because even if I beat that part of the game or the game itself, I'm going to eventually want to replay it.
And I'm NOT about to put myself through that shit again.

Most of these games I will 1 and done, and if they're known to be very hard I will wait for a VERY deep sale.
 

Vick

Member
Lately the replay of Horizon ZD: The Frozen Wilds at Ultra Hard + No Reticle has been a fucking heart pounding nightmare, fastest/meanest enemies i've faced since Bloodborne.
The sequel dropped Ultra Hard but incorporated some characteristics of it in Very Hard, which can still be insanely hard at times (made easier and much better by turning off Adaptive Triggers and Reticle).
 
I think people find different genres more difficult because when I think of my favorite difficult games I think of Ikaruga, Gradius V, Radiant Silvergun. Shmups. I find most third person action games like Sekiro, Nioh and Ninja Gaiden to be only moderate difficulty in comparison.

Then of course there’s “thinking” games like Myst, Witness, 4X/grand strategy games, etc that provide a whole different kind of difficulty.
 

Plantoid

Member
Hitman or any game that involves lots of stealth and planning, i almost couldn't finish dishonored because of this too, action games like dark souls are doable enough for me
 

Bakkus

Member
Cuphead (I gave up halfway through. I think this is one of the hardest games I've ever played.)
The game is very hard, BUT: It always gives you sense of improvement. The learning curve is through the roof and you always learn from your mistakes and get better because of it. This is not the case for most NES games for example which has an artificial difficulty where you can constantly get screwed over by silly enemy placements and projectiles which are impossible to avoid, and all the RNG between this. The Soulslike games are all guilty of this too, but not to the same extent. Cuphead is nowhere near the hardest games of all time due to this.
 

TheInfamousKira

Reseterror Resettler
Difficulty rankings:

1. FFX Chocobo Race in the Calm Lands
2. Having hot planks of wood shoved underneath your fingernails in a bamboo cage
3. Child birth
4. Wordle when you've used most of the vowels and none of them are in the word.
5. Soulsborne games
6. The Oregon Trail
7. The actual Oregon Trail
8. Tekken 3 at the arcade when you run into a snooty Asian kid who wants to play you.
9. Watching Tiktok videos.
 

mxbison

Member
I differentiate between hard (Cup Head) and frustrating bullshit (From Software).

Enjoying Elden Ring but I still don't like how some stuff is obviously in there just to piss you off.
 

Xeaker

Member

How do you define/rank "difficulty" in video games?

As you said, games that requires skill, reflexes and practice to master. No grind or real money to make it easier.

Also, what are some of the hardest games you played lately?


Most games are piss easy.
The hardest challenges for me was Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 & 2 and NG3 on the hardest difficulty.
Wipeout HD the last tournament getting Gold was insane too.
The Evil Within 1 on AKUMA was insane.
Devil May Cry on hardest difficulty was also quite challenging.

BTW, I have yet to play a "Dark Souls"-type of game. I keep hearing about how difficult they are, but I wonder if they are really that hard

Dark Souls is not hard at all. Any gamer with some experience can beat this game without too much trouble.
If you are having trouble you can just level up or call some other player for help.
Even my grandmother could beat Dark Souls 1 and she used to play only Jump & Runs and Adventure games.
 

CeeJay

Member
I'm playing through Elden Ring at the moment and it's the most challenging game i've played for a while, but... Today's "difficult" games are nowhere near on the same level as difficult games from the 80's where you had to play through the entire game to get to the next difficult part that you were trying to get past. Even an "easy" game required you to put a lot of time and dedication into learning the games systems and patterns to progress through. The difficult games that come to mind such as Ghosts & Goblins or Contra were brutal with so many attempts needed to progress that you got to the point were you could practically play the early part blindfolded. You played through it that many times that it got committed to muscle memory and even now I can probably play the first level of Ghosts & Goblins quite accurately in my head along with the in-time music that was rhythmically linked. You instinctively knew if you were quicker or slower than usual by where you were upto at a particular bit of the tune. Game saves were awesome when they were introduced and I would never like to go back to that but the truly hard games were from that era before them.
 
People who say Elden Ring are probably new to the genre. Elden Ring is the easiest souls game unless you just have no idea how to play. It takes one shitty spirit summoun to make a tough boss into a cake-walk. But moving on, there's a fine line between great difficulty/truly challenging and dumb/shitty difficulty just for the sake of it. Darkest Dungeon for example is the latter. The former is Sekiro. I have yet to play a game as satisfying as beating a boss in Sekiro. Theres not much advantage, no super op mechanics to help you out, nothing. Just you 1v1 using your ninja skills and parry and timing against a boss. It's 100 times better than any other souls game where you can easily get so strong you faceroll anything like say go sorc or pyro.
 

Graciaus

Member
Hard but fun = challenging
Hard but cheap = uninstall

And Dark Souls is "hard" because it doesn't play like a normal game people are use to. You rush and try and play it like a normal action game and you'll think it impossible. But take it slow and learn how enemies react and it isn't that bad.
 
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