Difficulty level is an option for players to adjust the degree of challenge best suited to their level of skill or play-style. The option to change the game's difficulty was not a staple in the Final Fantasy series until recently, and has mainly appeared as an extra in re-released versions of games. Some games give Hard Mode options for clearing the game once in Normal difficulty.
Other things similar to a difficulty level are the introduction of an Expert level Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X PAL, HD Remaster, and International Versions, and the different New Game Plus modes in Zodiac versions of Final Fantasy XII. Some Final Fantasy XIV battles have a normal and "hard" version, the normal version being required for completing the storyline. Notably, the original North American release of Final Fantasy IV was made easier than the Japanese version, and is often referred to as the Easy Type version.
The Origins version features an Easy and Normal mode. In Easy mode shop prices are cheaper, experience levels are gained faster, and stats grow more rapidly. After the player has completed a save, they can save their progress, and load that same save when starting a new save and keep bestiary and Collections info, meaning they will not have to face the same enemies again if they wish to play a Normal playthrough. A number of images in the Photo Gallery only become available after completing the game on Normal mode.
The Final Fantasy Origins version features an Easy and Normal mode. The Normal version resembles the NES version, removing features such as Sprint. It is not possible to start a Normal playthrough until an Easy playthrough has been completed.
Final Fantasy VII Remake initially features three difficulty levels: Normal, Easy and Classic. The normal difficulty is described as being for those who wish to explore all of the new possibilities of the game's combat, while Easy is for those who just wish to enjoy the game's story. Classic mode features the same difficulty level as Easy, but also eliminates mechanics such as guarding and staggering, making gameplay more like the classic Final Fantasy VII.
After completing the game, the player can enter a New Game Plus with Hard Mode available, where item use is disabled and sitting on benches only replenishes HP, making MP a scarce resource. Additionally, certain battles are modified to be more difficult: for example, the Hell House boss uses new attacks, sometimes summons three Tonberries and may also summon a Sweeper and Cutter if the player is unable to finish it off quickly enough. Playing in Hard Mode also allows the player access to an advanced Shinra Combat Simulator in Chapter 17, "Deliverance from Chaos", which contains a number of tough fights, including the superboss Pride and Joy Prototype.
Hard play mode was added to the international releases. In Hard mode, the enemies have greatly increased stats, but otherwise the game plays the same as in Normal mode.
"Easy Mode" exists in the original Japanese release, but was replaced by an "Extra Hard Mode" (also known as as "Super Hard Mode") in North American and European releases after the player finished the game once on either Normal or Hard difficulty. In the Extra Hard Mode, players can unlock numerous extras, such as 40 extra missions, character models, a music player, and an artwork gallery, and the player is attacked by enemies even while accessing their menu. Completing the game on the Extra Hard difficulty setting unlocks the Extra Hard+ difficulty setting.
The higher difficult settings feature stronger enemies in much greater numbers.
Most end-game content introduced in the past few years (such as High-tier Battlefields and Ambuscade) includes five difficulty levels: Very Easy, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Very Hard. "Very Easy" is generally soloable by an Item Level 119 character and a party of Trust NPCs, while the highest difficulty levels are only beatable by groups of the most skilled players. All rewards are available to the lower difficulties, but the rewards drop in greater quantities on high difficulties.
Easy Mode was added for the Xbox 360 release in Japan. This mode was later patched in the Japanese PlayStation 3 version, which adds the tweaks made to the North American and PAL versions, as well as the Easy Mode. The 2014 Steam rerelease includes the option to switch between the battle difficulties.
Players can set the game difficulty level from the config any time when they are playing; the default difficulty is Normal. In Easy Mode, enemies have 20% less HP, deal 33% less damage, and their chain gauges fill up twice as fast when not staggered. Healing abilities are also 33% less effective. The Doom timer is twice as long and the Gestalt Gauge when fighting Eidolons fills much quicker. Eidolons in Gestalt Mode also have a 50% higher Gestalt Count. Although drop rates for normal items are increased, rare drops are even more rare, even with a Connoisseur's Catalog equipped.
Easy Mode and Normal Mode are included as default. The player can switch between the modes at any time.
Easy Mode reduces damage to the party, including blood damage. It also gradually heals blood damage over time. Items are less potent, and there is no item drop boost from obtaining 5 stars in a battle.
Normal Mode increases damage the party takes, and blood damage is much higher. Items and item drops work normally.
There are three difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, and Hard. When the player first starts the game they can choose between Normal and Easy. Hard is unlocked after the player completes the game for the first time. The difficulty level may only be adjusted at the beginning of a playthrough.
|Availability||Any playthrough||New Game+ only|
|EP gained from battle||x2.0||x0.5|
|Gil gained from battles||x1.0||x3.0|
|Items gained from battle||x1.5|
|Item drop quality||Common only||Common and uncommon||All|
|Teleport and Arise EP cost||2||3|
|Curaga and Overclock EP cost||1||2|
|Penalty for using Escape||None||Escaping from battle advances time by one hour.|
|"Poor" battle penalty||A "Poor" battle start damages Lightning by 5% of her max HP.|
|HP field recovery||HP gradually increases in the field.||Lightning does not recover HP while in the field.|
|Shop stock||Standard||Some shops offer additional equipment.|
The difficulty of Guildleves can be adjusted from 0 to 5. The player(s) will obtain more EXP for choosing higher difficulties.
Many dungeons have a "hard" mode version, which has different rewards, story, layout, and enemies than the normal version of the dungeon.
Trial fights offer an 8-man "Hard" fight that is story-based, and an "Extreme" fight that is primarily for treasure. Beginning with Stormblood, trials dropped the "Hard" label and 8-man trials became the standard composition. Garuda, Ifrit, and Titan are also fought in "easy mode", 4-man fights during the base game's main story.
Additionally, the Second Coil of Bahamut and 8-man raids beginning with the Alexander series are available in normal difficulty and "Savage" difficulty, the latter difficulty containing some of the strongest bosses, representing a significant challenge for even the most well-geared players.
Finally, Ultimate difficulty raids are available beginning with patch 4.11 of Stormblood, and are even harder content than Savage. Unlike Savage, Ultimate raids are not meant for progression, and are for those seeking a challenge and bragging rights. Furthermore, Ultimates cannot be run unsynced in order to preserve their difficulty. To date, there are three Ultimate raids: the Unending Coil of Bahamut, The Weapon's Refrain, and The Epic of Alexander.
"Normal" and "Easy" difficulties are available and the player can change between them at any time. In Easy mode, Carbuncle will fully heal the leader if they are ever KO'd, also giving him a buff boosting Strength and Defense. Carbuncle won't appear in all but the easiest hunts, as well as other particular locations.
The player can switch between active and wait battle modes. The latter freezes time when using Noctis and not currently inputting a command, also featuring exclusive mechanics, such as analyzing enemy stats, and displaying visible red and blue target lines, similar to Final Fantasy XII. The developers' aim was to make it so that both players who like action-oriented, technical gameplay, and those who want to fight at a slower, more relaxed pace, can all enjoy the combat. The switching system was decided to be introduced based on the feedback received from the Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae demo. The feedback from the demo was divided between those who wanted more depth to the action, and those who preferred it simpler. Director Hajime Tabata was initially worried because there hadn't been a numbered Final Fantasy that allows the user to select difficulty.
The game features two difficulty modes: Casual and Normal. Normal mode offers challenging gameplay, while Casual mode exists for players who wish to enjoy the story.
At the start of the game, the player can choose between Normal Mode and Hard Mode, and the difficulty cannot be changed once selected.
In Hard Mode, enemies deal more damage. The foes' AI is also smarter, and they often take the chance to gang up on weaker party members. Hard Mode does not yield extra benefits, and some missions are affected significantly; for example "An Earnest Multitude" and "An Earnest Desire" that cannot be completed without dispatching, are impossible to beat unless the dispatched members are at tremendously high levels of minimum 50 and 77 respectively, despite their relatively low rank of mid 20s. Similarly, several missions that one could opt to dispatch despite outleveling the requirements, may easily end up in failure due to the larger threshold needed, and thus forcing the player to engage in some of them personally, or level grind.
The player can replay completed missions from a Mission List on two difficulty levels, "Hard Mode" (困難, Konnan?), where enemy levels are increased by 30, and "Impossible Mode" (不可能, Fukanō?), where enemy levels are increased by 50. A mission must be cleared on Hard Mode before unlocking Impossible Mode, and only one party member is allowed for a mission on Impossible Mode.
Completing missions on these difficulty levels will yield more gil and greater rewards, as well as new magic, Eidolons, and purchasable equipment. These difficulty levels can only be accessed from the Mission List; missions played in the main game retain the original enemy levels.
The HD remake has four difficulty modes allowing players to customize their game experience, as the original version had received feedback from Japanese players on being too hard. Players can choose between Cadet (enemies have less HP, deal less damage, and give less EXP, and MP costs are halved), Officer (normal), and Agito (enemies are 30 levels higher). The Finis difficulty level (enemies are 50 levels higher and permanently buffed, and only one cadet can be used for missions) is unlocked after completing the game once. The player first chooses the difficulty level at the title screen, and the difficulty can also be changed mid-playthrough, albeit not mid-mission.
Clearing all missions on the Mission List in Impossible/Finis mode will unlock l'Cie Mode.
The game features three difficulty levels: Normal, Hard, and Very Hard. They are accessed differently via modes. In Story Mode on the first playthrough, the player must play on Normal difficulty, but upon finishing the game and saving their cleared data, and then selecting and loading that save data, the player can play Story Mode from the beginning on Hard Mode. After finishing Hard Mode, the player will be forced to play Very Hard mode.
In Multiplayer Mode, the player must clear all areas in the storyline order on Normal difficulty first, and upon finishing Crystal Temple on Normal, they will have access to Hard Mode at the Valley of Heroes. After completing all areas for the second time, Very Hard will be available for Valley of Heroes and the player will once again have to clear all areas to access Very Hard for them. Each difficulty for each area has a different level requirement, and if the player is not in a sufficient level range they cannot enter the dungeon on that difficulty.
Depending on the difficulty mode enemies have different stats and item drops, and dungeons give different items in chests. There is no difference in items in Hard and Very Hard modes, and only the difficulty of the enemies changes. Only certain pieces of equipment in both modes are available in Hard mode only, as they will never appear in Normal mode in either mode. Finishing the game on Hard mode unlocks the Victory Clothes in the equipment shop in Rebena Te Ra.
Additional difficulty levels are available after completing the game for the first time. In hard and very hard modes, more dungeons, abilities, and buildings are available, but enemies are much stronger, and adventurers are weaker.
After clearing the game in Normal Mode and saving after the final boss, the player can replay the game on Hard Mode or Normal Mode by selecting it via Start+ from the menu. Completing the game on Hard Mode unlocks Very Hard Mode. Depending on the difficulty selected, enemies are stronger, items are different, and some items are only available on Hard mode.
There are three difficulty levels to choose from: Easy, Medium and Hard, which determine the enemies' stats and AI behavior. It is also possible to modify the rate of random encounters or disable them altogether, as well as disable Exp and JP gains at the end of battles, and even set destination markers to appear or not. All of these settings can be adjusted at any time (except mid-battle and cutscenes) in the Difficulty section of the Config menu.
For enemies the stat changes are as so:
Aim and Evade do change between difficulty levels, but are not calculated by multiplying the Normal value. Evade remains the same between Normal and Hard, and Easy is either the same as Normal or one less based on an unknown factor. Similarly Aim does not wildly differ between difficulties, having only a few points in between.
The player can set the computer opponent's strength in Story Mode as "Normal", "Strong" or "Moderate". This setting only affects the AI of the opponent, and does not affect bonuses awarded during the game, and this setting can be changed at any time via the Options menu.
The player can also reduce their character levels to yield additional KP bonuses in Story Mode from Scenario 013 onwards.
In Story Chapters and Lost Chapters, the default difficulty of each quest is Normal, and after completing all the quests and cutscenes on a specific chapter, Hard Mode will be accessible for each quest.
In Character Events, the level of difficulty starts from level 10 on the first quest, and EX on the final quest which is equivalent to level 100.
There are three difficulty levels: "Basic", "Expert" and "Ultimate". The number and speed of notes increases in every difficulty level. The difficulty levels have also been available in the demos.
All dungeons in Realm Dungeons are divided in Classic and Elite difficulty levels. Classic difficulty dungeons have normal difficulty enemies, and beating these dungeons proceeds through the Realm Dungeons. Mastering a Classic difficulty dungeon, which required scoring 83.(3)% of the dungeon's medals, unlocks this dungeon's Elite version where enemies have higher stats. On both difficulties bosses have a variety of Target Scores, which are also the part of the medal awarding system. While the most common Target Score is not getting a single character KO'd during the entire fight, some may require bring a specific character to battle and not getting them KO'd, exploiting elemental and ailment weaknesses, or defeating an enemy before they use a certain attack. Many Challenge Events, specifically single-track events, have Elite difficulty dungeons.
The difficulty level can be switched between Normal or Hard in the "Etc" menu. Hard difficulty increases the toughness of enemies, but defeating them will yield more gil, EXP, and skillseeds.
In the multiplayer mode, Ring of Braves, each Sicarius battle is available in three difficulty levels: 1 star, 2 stars, and 3 stars. The boss's strength greatly increases with each star. Additionally, "Guard A" joins the boss in 2-star difficulty, and both "Guard A" and "Guard B" join the boss in 3-star difficulty. Rewards are increased based on the difficulty setting.
A "Nightmare" difficulty setting is included in the Maxima version, available when playing on a New Game+ file, and is unlocked during Chapter 1.
When Nightmare difficulty is activated, enemies and bosses become much stronger, but drop more gil, EXP and better items. Coliseum battles are unaffected.
This difficulty level can be switched back to the normal difficulty at any point in the Config menu, by going to the "Difficulty Setting" option.