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5 Reasons Hard Mode Should Be Your Default Video Game Difficulty Setting

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Before starting a playthrough, most games give you a choice of difficulty settings: easy, normal or hard. Which mode to start on is a big decision, and it matters because it plays a major role in your overall gameplay experience. Here, we’ll discuss why you should jump straight into hard mode.

Should You Make Hard Mode Your Default Difficulty Setting?

Difficulty settings for Streets of Rage 4 on PS4

Let’s get this out of the way: there really isn’t a right or wrong difficulty setting. Only you can determine what difficulty is fun for you. If, for instance, you want a leisurely experience because you don’t like challenging games or just want to enjoy the story or get through the game quickly, go for a lower difficulty (have fun!).

With that said, a few scenarios warrant the need to go hard off the bat.

Related: What Is Video Game Difficulty and How Does It Work?

1. You’re Craving a Challenge

Playing a game on harder difficulty modes can lead to some frustration. But challenges can be mentally stimulating, and they offer greater satisfaction when you overcome them. So, if you find you get the most kick out of a game when things get more challenging, then hard mode is your default difficulty setting.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can even spice things up in your own way.

2. The Game Is Too Easy

Config screen for Persona 5 Strikers PS4

Sometimes, when you start a game on normal, you can notice right away that it’s a bit on the easy side. There are many reasons for this, such as the developers wanting it to be that way, your gaming skills improving, or you’re coming from an era where games were much harder.

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The good thing about most modern games is that they allow you to switch difficulty modes at any time. That way, you don’t have to start over when the need for a more challenging experience arises hours into your playthrough.

3. You Want to Engage With the Game’s Mechanics Fully

When a game is easy, battles rarely last long, and you end up button-mashing or shooting mindlessly through most encounters. This can negatively impact engagement, since there’s no need to utilize the game’s mechanics. But when the enemies put up a fight and can take a hit, you know that a single mistake could spell your doom.

So you find yourself making sure every bullet fired, or sword swung, counts. You also manage your inventory to ensure you don’t run out of healing items and use every strategy at your disposal to emerge victoriously. If it’s a puzzle game, the game can even throw tougher puzzles at you or even not give you any hints on how to solve them.

Engaging with a game’s mechanics on this level can increase your level of enjoyment. You can even realize that this is the way the developers intended for you to play the game since it will be firing on all cylinders.

Related: How Can Developers Improve Video Game Difficulty?

4. You Want to Unlock an Achievement Attached to Hard Mode

Resident Evill Village trophy list on PS5

Some games have achievements or trophies that you can only earn by playing on greater difficulties. An example would be “Get 100 headshots on hard mode” or simply “Complete the game on hard.” Not only are these trophies or achievements satisfying to earn, but they also contribute towards 100% game completion.

5. You Want the Game to Last Longer

Don’t want to blast through a game? By making hard mode your default difficulty setting, you can effectively increase the game’s length. This is especially true for RPGs, where you’ll have to grind longer or do every available side quest to have a character or party strong enough to beat a boss that one-shotted you when you were at a lower level.

The Key Is to Have Fun

There are many reasons we play video games, and the most important one is to have fun. If hard mode becomes too frustrating to the point you aren’t enjoying the game, it’s okay to stick to normal or even easy. But if you find that you can enhance your overall gaming experience through hard mode, go ahead and make it your default difficulty setting.


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