What Does "Difficulty" Mean to You?--A Community Discussion

So, I’ve been pondering on difficulty within Vermintide for the past week or so (and have had discussions with a handful of people on this topic), and am curious on others’ thoughts.

By difficulty, I don’t necessarily mean, “I am playing Legend, Cata, etc.;” more in the sense of “this is what I find difficult in game and/or this is how I challenge myself.”

Some Questions to Maybe Help Spark Inspiration:

  • What does the “perfect” difficulty look like to you?
  • If you could blend elements of the game together, what would that look like?
  • What do you and do you not like about how the game currently handles difficulty?
  • What makes you decide to move from one difficulty to the next (or decide when you want more or less of X difficult thing)?

Have at it!

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Well, lookin at old mmo games difficulty is mostly how much you need to focus on certain things. And how much time you have for “rest” between events, which requires concentration.

I do feel like same rule applied for vt2.

And what I am unhappy with, is that whole concept of map follow through is kinda like boss pull, with infinite adds. So if you want to do it safe, you burn through that boss and face as little “events” as possible, i.e. run as fast as possible, collecting heals and ammo faster, than you consume them. Pretty much any “stop point” make game unfun. Horn of Magnus or Righteous Stand arenas, Pit Hideout, etc etc. Okay, we will just close you there for 3mins and spawn enemies all around you. You have no way to run, and your best bet is to occupy and abuse ledge, or corner. When things go worse, you just run somewhere and hope for best

When is fair (rational mechanics, balances and spawns!!!) and my win rate is between 50% and 80%


Mixed groups of enemies i´d say, several enemies with different types of attacks and speed are challenging to handle as the difference in their rhythm can easily mess with my own.

Bosses with helpers are also deadly,…although bosses overall tend to be harmless in open spaces but almost ridiculously deadly in cramped ones.

The Silent special my eternal nemesis in this game.

Patrols that keep hovering around an area you want to pass through.

Locations that impose difficulties by their unique makeup or spawn locations are also a real deal, an extreme example would be the dark areas in Dreisdunkel mine.

Those are what i feel create challenges or spike the difficulty, just ambient mobs or several of the same type of enemy or the special that comes in fully visible, loud and clear tends to not do much.

Bosses alone in a space where i can move dont really threaten me either, aside from the minotaur when i am using a slower weapon.

That´s about it for me?

So, ideally, a game is going to start by teaching you how to play the game. The basics, just essential stuff to get into the gameplay. Then, it should start adding challenges that teach you new skills by having you make mistakes that clearly lead to failure. This then keeps going until the game has taught you a really deep, complex skillset to deal with all sorts of challenges that it is going to throw your way.

And then it has to get difficult.

To me a ‘perfect’ difficulty in a game is one that relies on making you push the skills you’ve learned throughout the game to the limit, where each encounter is intense and requires focus and skill but, most importantly, that when it is overcome you get this huge feeling of relief and accomplishment. Thus, it’s a mix of being intense, hard, and that these elements aren’t artificially produced (simply making a one-shot attack on a boss, permadeth, being annoying more than difficult, or basing your difficulty entirely on just increasing the health and damage of enemies, these are all ‘cheap’ and ‘artificial’ ways to induce difficulty). Learning is fun, improving is fun, and when a game is ‘perfect’ in its difficulty, then losing is fun.
But boy, winning is like a high.

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If a team isn’t on the same page. How to handle hordes, bosses, etc. Then it becomes very difficult.
You need to be reliable and you need to know your mates are reliable.
You also need to know which role you play in certein situations.
For example you can’t expect a Slayer, who for some reason is in a horde to take care of the Assassin who is lurking nearby.

Hoo boy, what a question you posed. A huge topic, and somewhat philosophical to boot. Let’s see what comes out for me.

First off, there’s two kind of difficulty to me - fair and unfair. Unfair is anything you cannot really affect or react to - hits from beyond your reach, hits that come faster than you can physically evade them (with reaction speed and character’s action speed taken into account), hits you cannot see - things like that. Things with no counterplay. Things that seem to break the rules. Some of them (luckily, in this game it’s most or nearly all) may come from buggy behavior, but in some games and instances they’re built in purposefully. Conversely, fair is things you can (sensibly) counter, prevent or react to - through evasion, positioning, patience and so on. Some of what feels unfair is dependent on skill, but not everything, and extreme skill shouldn’t generally be needed to play a game - there are some games where that’s the point, and others where a certain difficulty or difficulties are reserved for the very best, but normally a game should be at an approachable level, and feel fair.

Most of the difficulty in VT2 does feel fair, and the vast majority of what doesn’t seems to be the product of buggy or unintended behavior. The only instances where I can actually think of things feeling unfair by design are the Rasknitt fight (it can have situations where it’s practically impossible to go on, particularly when Deathrattler is down and you’re the last man standing it easily gets to where you can’t get enough reprieve from spell bombardment and adds to revive your allies) and Fortunes of War, and I know (even if it doesn’t feel like it) that both can be affected through sheer skill or earlier choices (but it isn’t always my skills or choices that could affect things). Halescourge’s fight did also feel quite unfair at one point or another, but that was tweaked out.

So, perfect difficulty for me… Is the sort that makes me a better player. It’s something that’s just a bit harder than what I’m used to or comfortable with; difficulty that makes me (or rather, us) struggle through the map and scrape a victory. A match that’s spent completely over 50% health may be nice, but it probably doesn’t feel challenging; one where you and/or your buddies go down once or twice but manage to get yourselves up and through everything feels like an achievement.

In this particular game, most of the difficulty seems to come from things stacking (and overflowing). Elites (including Patrols), hordes, Specials or Bosses aren’t that dangerous by themselves, but once two or more start to come at you things can get hairy. It leads to a bit of an annoyance where 80% of a run can be pretty much just running through, but then a sudden spike makes everything go wrong. And the spikes can come very suddenly; at one point, everyone’s at full health; then an ambush at a nasty moment, a couple of Specials and an accidentally-aggroed Chaos Patrol appears and five seconds later, one character is down, another one separated from others and third caught by a hookrat. Difficulty like that isn’t really the worst there can be, but it’s annoying.

Another thing relevant to both this game’s difficulty and difficulty in general is pacing and intensity. A certain amount of intensity is needed, and a certain amount can be handled, but things can get too intense. It can happen even on normal runs occasionally, but especially hypertwitch on the very low timings get so constantly intense that there’s no room and time to breathe during the run - it’s a constant assault of one thing after another. While getting through that is kind of fun, it also gets pretty tiring fast. Its highly stressful, and I can’t take many of those kinds of runs - while it can still feel quite doable, constantly being on edge starts to take its toll relatively soon. It is (or was; we’ve gotten better at it) my main gripe with the main event on the remade Engines of War - the monks and others come in exactly at the kind of pace that lets you deal with them relatively easily, but leaves hardly any room to breathe in between or to deal with anything else - including the actual mission or reviving teammates.

…And once again I’m left with the feeling that I had something else to say but just can’t catch whatever it was. Oh, well. I’ll add more later if I think of something.

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lots of good things from each post
just to generalize it a bit more in point form

  1. reaction time to attacks
  2. reaction time to defend attacks
  3. Health of hero
  4. health of enemy
  5. amount of enemies and specials at one give area/section of map
  6. loadout and abilities that carry yourself and or teammates to end goal
  7. enemies attacks and their special attacks

We then go into scaling of how hard each enemy is to make it unique

  1. easy - less health on enemies/less hordes/smaller patrols/more items for players/ only one type of faction - in this case either just skaven or just chaos enemies
  2. medium - slightly more health with some special enemies 1 boss with medium health/ bigger horde spawns/ medium spawns of items (scales to players joining in) adds slight difficulty increase
    skaven and chaos are now mixed in
  3. hard - lesser healing- RNG of healing items/ RNG of AMMO / bigger hordes/ RNG intfantry patrols(not too big) scales to lives players joining in adds a spike in difficulty but not much
    boss spawns now have proper health
    skaven, chaos and beastmen are now mixed in a lot more
  4. 2/3 waves per section of hordes/ items for players are rarer but till RNG in amount/ slightly bigger patrols/ bigger mix bag of enemies
    all factions with more specials spawn

that is how it should of scaled in terms of difficulty, as acquiring proper gear is not really possible on recruit even though it wasn’t all too difficult once you learn how things worked in the game.
but would of made more sense with the crafting

now as for obtaining weapons also affects difficulty
it was unbalanced for the fact that you had to reach top tier level to obtain the best gear
should have had a system to work towards to obtain any and all gear

basically what happen from recruit to veteran, you thought you had decent gear but you just get thwomp by enemies one tapping you to death sometimes
talents were not balanced out all that well to scale to deal with it. so you basically had to grind recruit to a certain level before trying veteran
then even on veteran you had to grind even more to just play champ depending on characters
then you had to deal with RNG of getting a weapon of choice you like using or just want to have fun with.

there is a lot of unbalanced things and all those little things stack up to be a major issue