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Numerical Hard

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Difficulty Levels that merely change some statistics of the player/enemy. Some games also increase the rewards you receive, which in games with Experience Points can sometimes result in Hard Difficulties becoming substantially easier once you get past the hellish first areas.

Common in Dynamic Difficulty systems, because it scales easily and can handle incremental increases on the fly.

  • Things that are examples: On hard, enemies deal more 50% more damage, take 50% less, and spawn 30% more often, but fight you the same way as they did before.
  • Things that are NOT examples: On hard, enemies will become smarter, you have longer levels, and bosses have a new attack or two.

As usual, Tropes Are Tools. It may seem lazy to have harder modes only change numbers around, but by only having the numbers change, it ensures that the game is accessible to less skilled players in that the play experience is uniform regardless of difficulty, and won't result in hard mode content being locked out — in this case, new enemies, attacks, boss phases, et cetera. Inversely, it may result in a problem in that it doesn't actually make the game any harder; for example, if enemies have more health, they might just take longer to kill. In fact, trying to completely avert this trope can lead to the game being too easy even on the highest difficulty - enemies become smarter and gain new abilities, but don't deal enough damage and die too fast for it to make the game more difficult.

Compare Arrange Mode, which shakes the game up in ways beyond changing stats.


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  • Civilization:
    • In the series, the difficulty level affects population growth and production output. On easier difficulties, the computer gets a penalty, while on harder difficulties, it gets a bonus. This is explicit to the player in Civ IV by noting the AI Civs are set to Noble level when giving the player the difficulty options during game setup.
    • Civ V is mostly numerical. Computers always receive gold(?) and happiness as though they were playing on Chieftain (the 2nd difficulty, "Beginner"). Science, culture, growth, and some other things are balanced on Prince (4th difficulty, "Normal"), giving the player an advantage on earlier difficulties and the AI an advantage on higher ones. It also cheats more on unit upgrading and production on higher difficulties. As for non-numeric changes, the AI's attitude towards humans and lust for war also decrease and increase respectively on higher difficulties, up to Prince note .
  • Both played straight and averted in Galactic Civilizations: while the harder A.I.s do get numerical handouts in the form of free research, money and production (and vice versa, get penalties on lower ones), lower difficulties also deliberately hamstring the A.I.s decision-making routines to make them easier to outmanoeuvre. The AI opponents will make it a point to mention in diplomatic chats if you're beating them by using strategies they recognize and are programmed to respond to, but whose responses are disabled in lower difficulties (such as massing troop transports near their planets just outside of the borders in preparation for war but without declaring it until you're ready. Full A.I.s will immediately start ramping up their defenses and/or declare war pre-emptively. Easy A.I.s will just sit there. And taunt your ass).

    Action Adventure 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Each Difficulty Level alters enemy stats without changing their move-sets. On Hard Mode, this also heavily triples damage done by bosses, making most of their attacks nearly a One-Hit Kill.
  • The "Crazy" difficulty setting of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness drastically increases the amount of damage enemies can deal and sustain. Due to the game's movement and defense mechanics, this actually doesn't make the game any harder. It (along with other factors) just makes it take much, much longer.
  • Hard mode lvl 1 cap for two of the more recent Castlevania games definitely counts: You can die in two hits from bats, and the game gets easier as you get farther in.
  • Metroid:
    • In Metroid: Zero Mission hard mode not only increases the damage enemies do, but also halves the amount of energy and missiles you get from expansions.
    • Metroid Prime Trilogy: The games in the compilation have Normal, Veteran, and Hypermode for its difficulties; the latter two just increase damage taken by enemies and bosses. The first two Prime games before the trilogy gotten an Updated Re-release had only Normal and Hard.
    • Metroid: Samus Returns merely doubles the damage enemies inflict in Hard mode, and more than that on Fusion mode, but their AI remains the same. Not like the game is particularly easy on Normal...
    • Metroid Dread has a similar Hard Mode to Samus Returns. The easier Rookie mode is slightly more sophisticated, increasing recovery effects and lowering the damage of bosses only.
  • Hero Mode in the The Legend of Zelda is this. In its introduction in Skyward Sword, all enemies do double damage, stamina-using actions consume a bit more stamina, and heart drops are eliminated. This is carried over into the Updated Rereleases of Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, though the latter mirrors the entire world much like its Wii version. Twilight Princess HD also adds a bonus setting with the Ganondorf amiibo, which also doubles damage; this can stack with Hero Mode for quadruple damage. Hero Mode makes its 2D debut in A Link Between Worlds, where it quadruples enemy damage, though heart drops are still present to compensate.

    Action RPGs 
  • Borderlands:
    • This is how most of the enemies work, especially early on in the game. Skags and Bandits more or less attack similarly within their own groups, maybe adding in an extra ability or two for the tougher enemies. Where the difficulty really comes in is in the fact the enemies have levels similar to your own, and obviously a level 1 Skag Pup is going to be weaker than a level 3 Skag Pup. Also, certain guns and grenade upgrades function exactly the same, with the rarer ones just having higher stats (more damage, more accurate etc).
    • Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! extend the idea even further with True Vault Hunter Mode and Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, which increase enemy health even further, spawn elite enemies more often, and even introduce stronger variants of prior enemies. In 2, UVHM even gives enemies health regeneration.
  • Choosing Easy, Medium or Hard in Dungeon Siege affects how much HP the enemies have.
  • Fallout 3 has the same slider from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but introduces a wrinkle not present in the Elder Scrolls games. The higher the difficulty set in that game, the more XP granted for killing enemies. This makes the early game somewhat easier with a high difficulty slider (as most enemies are pathetic even with damage bonuses), but that advantage quickly vanishes thanks to the tiny level cap.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The series introduced selectable difficulty levels in II, which have been a series staple since, and generally their changes on gameplay are purely stat-based. Beginner makes you deal more damage and take less, and Proud is the opposite. Critical downplays this — enemies are stronger, and you take more damage in addition to having lower overall health, but it also tends to give unique abilities or rewards that can significantly change how a player handles combat.
    • In the entries with multiplayer, enemies in the multiplayer modes have higher stats to balance it out for the higher head count. 358/2 Days gives us Mission Mode, while Birth By Sleep has the local grind station, the Mirage Arena. Both tend to be a pain in the ass because there is no way to unbalance them for single-player gameplay and you don't get to pause the game.
  • Lunar Knights has this as well with its difficulty settings. Enemy levels (which determine stats and damage tolerances) will increase on higher difficulty levels (Normal < Hard < Nightmare) by a percentage rather than a number. It doesn't seem like much at first, but everything inside the gates of New Culiacan onward is level 99! Beforehand, Aaron states that he's going to protect Lucian during your trip through the city streets. If you chose to neglect the gunslinger and don't have anything resembling guarding skill, grinding is your only solution, as the damage from a Lv99 Hot Dog in EF weather is murder (and that's as weak as Flame attacks get, and you run into one in the first block to boot!).
  • Borderline in Mass Effect. They give every enemy additional defensive boosts in the form of abilities, but mostly just directly modify the damage input/output. However, since the game is packed with damage-reducing armors and skills, even on the hardest difficulty level (Insane) you're practically invincible. Unfortunately, this means that higher difficulty levels mostly just means it takes much longer to kill enemies. They changed this up in Mass Effect 2, however, where insanity mode gives any enemy in the game the power to tear you to shreds from full health in a matter of seconds. Their behavior changed along with it in this one, though.
  • The Phantasy Star franchise is pretty notorious for this, with stat inflation being the default form of difficulty increase.
    • Phantasy Star Online plays this straight until Ultimate mode. Ultimate swaps out almost all enemies with Elite Mook variants, many of which have different moves and abilities compared to their counterparts on lower difficulties.
    • Phantasy Star Online 2 plays this mostly straight. Super Hard difficulty and beyond features a few AI and moveset changes for preexisting enemies and raid bosses, but aside from Dark Falz Luther there's very little noticeable difference. A few other raid bosses also get additional phases or attacks on harder difficulties, such as Dark Falz Persona, but they are rare.
  • In System Shock 2's higher difficulties, your stats and skills cost more cyber modules to upgrade, but the placement and number of modules remain the same. The HP and MP, or PSI, bonuses you receive from upgrading also dive sharply with increasing difficulty, making a particular special upgrade that gives you a mere 5 HP much more important at higher difficulties. Enemy drop percentages also fall, so on the highest difficulty, fighting is usually a frightful waste of resources. And yes, buying ammo costs more too.
  • Tales games will usually multiply enemy health and stats by 1.5 and 2.0 on Hard and Mania difficulties.
  • Difficulty levels in The World Ends with You affects damage output for both enemies and allies (as yours goes down theirs goes up and vice versa), enemy aggressiveness, experience gain (more on higher difficulty levels), and items dropped (better one are available on the higher difficulties).
  • Restricted Area has pretty repetitive gameplay, with enemies gaining hitpoints at about the same rate you earn more potent versions of your weapon. The difficulty setting just appears to set the initial value for enemy toughness and so dictate how many times you have to shoot them.
  • In Dark Souls and Dark Souls III, New Game Plus just gives enemies more HP and makes them hit harder. This is averted in Dark Souls II, which changes up some of the enemy placements in NG+... in addition to giving them more HP and making them hit harder.

    Driving Game 
  • San Francisco Rush's difficulty settings change the starting amount of time you have, and if checkpoint time extensions are enabled, how much time you gain from reaching a checkpoint.

    Fighting Game 
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl's adventure mode has a lot of this on the harder difficulty levels, with the vast majority of changes being purely statistical (enemies' health goes up, more knockback, enemies flinch less, enemies attack faster, and some rather odd ones such as trackballs losing energy faster, scrolling areas scrolling faster, and keys breaking easier).
  • Anarchy Reigns on Hard basically boils down to this, since enemies drain your health faster and take more damage. Aside from this, nothing really changes.

    First Person Shooters 
  • Like many other First Person Shooter games, Doom includes a bit of this in addition to other effects. While the difficulty affects the placement of monsters and items (and, on Nightmare difficulty, causes enemies to move faster, attack more often and respawn after death, and makes their projectiles move more quickly), on the easiest difficulty (I'm Too Young To Die) the player takes half damage from all attacks. In addition, on both ITYTD and Nightmare, all ammo you find is doubled. The former is just to make it even easier than easy, while the latter is simply because Nightmare difficulty is bad enough without adding ammo troubles to the mix.
  • Tanks in Left 4 Dead have 4000, 5000, 6000 or 8000 HP, depending on the difficulty level. It and all the other Infected types also gradually deal more damage (usually starting around 10 damage per hit on Easy, either doubling once each for the higher two difficulties or increasing by 5 per difficulty) and take less from the players' weapons (only 75% damage on Hard and 50% on Expert) as the difficulty increases. Friendly fire damage is also increased, going from none, to 10%, to 50%, to full damage. Damage from fire also scale with difficulty; on Easy and Normal, fire will barely do damage to you. Advanced will have fire do quite a bit of damage and Expert can have fire quickly incapacitate or even kill you if you're in it just for a brief moment.
  • Half-Life includes the standard changes to damage dealt and taken, as well as changes to the amount of ammo obtained from pickups and attack speeds for certain enemies. The commentary for Half-Life 2: Episode One notes that the time the player has to socket energy balls in the Citadel is altered based on difficulty (among other things).
  • Higher level bots in the TimeSplitters series just get higher health.

    Hack & Slash 
  • The Dynasty Warriors games are particularly bad at this, especially DW3.
    • Enemies both deal more damage and receive far less from your attacks. OK, they fight better too, but given they normally fight like drugged sloths on lower difficulty levels this is really only upgrading to average. In DW3, you could lose 80% of your health to a single barrage of crossbow bolts on hard mode. Or just as worse, the lopside in morale will ensure the enemy will tear through your AI allies.
    • Chaos mode is the worst. Going from easy to normal to hard might have you deal with tougher enemies or have to do more to get or keep an advantage. Chaos mode, on the other hand, is exactly the same as hard, except your defense stat is ignored when calculating the damage you receive from the AI. Even at max stats, you're gonna have a hard time on levels you could curbstomp on any other difficulty.
    • Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends plays into this; Expert Mode AI officers hit quite hard compared to Hard Mode (since the AI versions all wield Level 10 weapons by default), but have notably improved AI (especially the playable officers) almost across all difficulties and often require deft senses and/or unconventional exploits to often take down.
    • Hyrule Warriors follows this pattern for the most part, but averts the trope in Network Links. Before you reach level 100, Network Link battles far above your level will include general clones in place of most or all enemy officers.
  • God of War II does this for its Titan Mode. Individual random mooks are suddenly Made of Iron and do serious damage. Until you get used to constantly prioritizing blocking, dodging, and reflexes over all-out offensives, mere Random Encounters are road blocks requiring multiple tries to get past. And every single boss fight becomes That One Boss and require a lot of patience by themselves. Once you finally gain the Golden Fleece armor, you will truly appreciate it.
  • The Reaper of Souls expansion to Diablo III takes this and runs with it. Each difficulty level exponentially increases the health and damage of enemies, leading to some large numbers. Additionally, more monsters are spawned per difficulty level. On the plus side, the rate at which Legendary items drop from enemies will increase as you go up the difficulty levels. For reference, the hardest difficulty as of writing, Torment XVI, boosts enemies up to having over 16 million percent as much health as normal. Hope you've got the best gear in the game!

    Pinball Games 
  • Psycho Pinball did this; Hard mode started you with slightly fewer free markers. On Psycho, for instance, it takes three lights to activate each table warp tent; Easy gives you two for free, Normal one, and Hard none. Similar tricks are used with the Psycho Time letters and the Big Wheel jackpot cars, and comparable stunts on all the other tables.

  • Hero Mode in Jak II: Renegade and later just increases health of enemies.
  • The Ratchet & Clank games which have difficulty options feature this, where enemies will simply deal more damage and have more health, and your weapons earn less XP per kill. Starting with Into the Nexus, enemies will also run faster, attack faster, and their gun shots will travel more quickly. This also occurs from the second game onward in Challenge Mode, where enemies have even more damage and lots more health, to the point where you can empty entire weapons to no effect and then get killed in one hit. To keep up you have to buy Mega versions of your old weapons and buy the best armour in the game (both of which are super-expensive, however the Bolt Multiplier makes up for it).
  • In the initial release of Mega Man 2 outside of Japan, on "Normal" difficultynote , all enemies took twice as much damage from all attacks except Time Stopper on Quick Man (which dealt the same as normal), with no other differences. Some of the most well-known One-Hit KO attacks (like Metal Blade on Metal Man) were actually meant to be two-hit KOs.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Several Command & Conquer games use this method, altering unit specs and costs based on the difficulty level the player chooses.
    • The level of variation can actually be altered by any Command & Conquer: Red Alert player who has and uses a "rules.ini" file for the game.
    • The only effect difficulty has in Command & Conquer: Renegade is that it increases enemy health, reduces your own, and makes ammo drops less frequent.
    • While the difference is hardly noticeable amidst the other things that happen to the AI in Command & Conquer: Generals and Zero Hour, The AI gets bonuses and the player gets debuffs in the range of between 80 and 120% in terms of health.
    • Much of Red Alert 3's Challenge mode difficulty can be summed up as "insufficient funds". The enemy often starts out with a base as well while you have to build yours from the ground up and shows no compunction about sending attack waves when you've barely got your worker units up and running.
  • Warcraft III:
    • The main difference in the enemy AI's difficulty setting in multiplayer is the gold collection rate: Easy only gets 5 per Worker Unit, Normal gets 10 (like you), and Insane gets 20, allowing them to get armies together faster. However, they don't play any different, so a well-played rush can still take them out.
    • Inverted in the campaign, where the enemy functionally has infinite resources for drains gold 1 unit at a time, so the player can still use their gold mine after destroying their base.
  • Dawn of War: The campaign's difficulty varies not only the enemy units' health but your own. By end game on easy, your Hero Unit is a One-Man Army, able to clear bases if not entire maps by himself.

  • In beatmania IIDX, the Easy Life Meter is this to the standard meter, decreasing the penalty for missed notes. The EX Hard Life Meter is this to the Hard meter (gauge starts at 100%, you don't need 80% or more to clear the song, but falling to 0% at any point is an instant failure) but with more damage for missing notes. Finally, there's the Assist Easy meter, which is a standard meter but with the clear threshold reduced from 80% to 60%.
  • pop'n music has lifebar difficulties, all of which simply change the penalties for missing notes: the Easy meter reduces it, the Hard meter (HELL in games that have ojama) doubles it, the もっとHELL meter (More HELL) (no longer available from the 22nd game version onwards) quadruples it, and the Danger meter (DEATH in games that have ojama) sends you straight to 0 on a missnote .

  • Corruption of Laetitia: This game has Playground (easy), Garden of Eden (original difficulty in older versions of the game), and Hellish Yard (hard), which all affect enemy stats and luck.
  • Eternal Sonata shows of this trope in its Encore Mode, a mode that can only be accessed after beating the game once.
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: On Hard Mode, enemies have 2.5 times as much Strength and Magic as on Normal, and 3.5 times as many hit points. They have better drops, but no special moves.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age has a Hard Mode where you just have all enemies with increased stats. 50% more attack, defense and HP, to be exact. note 
  • Every time you beat a run of Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, you're treated to a crystal on the title screen. Start a new game then, and you'll find that the enemies are slightly stronger. By the time you reach 10 crystals (beat the game ten times, starting new games right after the last victory and playing from the new game), even standard enemies can handily cause a Game Over. By the time you hit 50 (the max), the tutorial battle takes two hours plus to complete. And that's if the enemy doesn't get a lucky shot and one-shots your party.
  • Easy Mode and Challenge Mode in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 subvert this. While Pokémon are shown to have a lower or higher level, respectively, their stats are actually the same as in Normal Mode (this is particularly easy to note when using a move like Pain Split, which would always split HP the same way in all three difficulty modes despite the level difference), although the amount of experience they give matches the displayed level. Challenge Mode further deviates from this by giving important trainers stronger AI, an extra Pokémon, and better movesets.
  • Dark Sun video games had a difficulty slider, which only affected enemies' HP, about 10% per step. The sound effects that accompanied moving the slider deserve mentioning: "Make way for the queen's garbage!" for "easy", a human shriek for "balanced", "Die!" for "hard" and a rampager's roar for "hideous".
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind and Oblivion have a difficulty slider. Set at easiest, all your attacks do 6 times their normal damage and enemies do 1/6th their normal amount. Set at its hardest, those numbers are reversed. Nothing else is changed.
    • Skyrim has discrete difficulty levels instead of a slider:
      • Novice has you deal 2x damage and take 1/2 damage.
      • Apprentice has you deal 1.5x damage and take 2/3 damage.
      • Adept is the default setting with no modifiers.
      • Expert has you deal 2/3 damage and take 1.5x damage.
      • Master has you deal 1/2 damage and take 2x damage.
      • Legendary has you deal 1/3 damage and take 3x damage. This setting is only available in certain versions.
  • The World Ends with You has four difficulty settings, and the only difference that actually affects how hard the gameplay is, is the enemy stats. The other difference is what kind of loot they can drop, which gives players a reason to turn it all the way to Ultimate. Since the difficulty can be switched at any time in the phone menu, and the game progression will eventually lead to everyone playing on Ultimate by default, there wasn't much point in distinguishing them further.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, you do less damage and have less accuracy as the difficulty increases, while the opposite applies to the enemies. Additionally, the members-only shop in Ginza will charge you more the higher your difficulty level is. Averted in Apocalypse's eponymous Harder Than Hard difficulty, which also forces on the We Cannot Go On Without You mechanic (which is optional in lower difficulties, where the default defeat condition is "all party members perish, not just the protagonist") and disables changing the difficulty for the rest of the current playthrough.
  • The difficulty levels in Persona 5 mostly just raise/lower the money and experience received from battle, as well as the damage you take. Safety triples experience and quintuples money, while also preventing you from changing the difficulty for the rest of the playthrough. The free DLC Merciless mode also triples Critical Hit and weakness damage for both you and the enemy, making elemental weaknesses a lot more punishable.
  • Sword of Paladin: Easy mode multiplies enemy stats by 0.7 while Hard mode multiplies enemy stats by 1.3, and this setting applies to the duel system too. The difficulty can be changed by going into the options submenu.
  • Difficulty modes in the Trails Series usually apply a flat multiplier to all enemy stats. Since these are games where a tiny change in Strength and Defence can be the difference between a massive hit and Scratch Damage, the higher difficulties can be very Nintendo Hard, and Nightmare Mode is specifically stated to be designed for New Game Plus runs. Doesn't stop people playing fresh new games on Nightmare as a Self-Imposed Challenge, though the Cold Steel series makes Nightmare more balanced for first playthroughs.
  • Hard Mode in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, unlocked by beating the game once, boils down to enemies having higher stats and occasionally attacking faster. There is an additional limitation in that the player can only carry ten of the same item, but it doesn't affect gameplay that much in the long term.
  • Sacred Earth - Promise: Easy, Normal, and Hard difficulties only alter enemy stats without touching their tactics. Averted with Nightmare, which gives them additional skills on top of their stat multiplier.
  • Loser Reborn: Easy, Normal, and Hard affect both enemy stats and the amount of gold and EXP you get from events.
  • Girlfriend Rescue: Given in the Information option of difficulty selection. Progressively overwritten as new modes get unlocked:
    • The standard modes:
      Easy: STR/RES/SKI 150%
      Normal: STR/RES/SKI 100%
      Hard: STR/RES/SKI 70%
    • Rogue Mode is like playing in Hard Mode except you get Super-Speed and can save only after defeating each world's boss.
    • Legendary Mode:
      Legendary Mode will give you only 30% of: STR, RES and SKI. You get to pick a great weapon at the beginning.
    • Maniac difficulty's info is presented when selected:
      This mode will give you only 50% of: STR, RES and SKI. Please confirm your choice.
  • Might and Magic X: Legacy: Warrior mode makes the stats of monsters higher and shops/services more expensive. That's pretty much it.

  • For most of Minecraft's development history, the only thing that changed between the 3 non-Peaceful difficulty levels was the amount of damage hostile monsters do. Mojang is slowly adding actual differences between the levels in new patches, though — for an obvious example, zombies will try to break through wooden doors on all difficulties, but only on Hard will they succeed.
  • Terraria's Master Mode, added in the Journey's End update, surpasses the previous highest difficulty of Expert by giving all enemies and bosses increased HP, damage, and knockback resistance, while also making players drop more money on death and suffer increased debuff times; however, players will also get increased defense effectiveness and an extra accessory slot. What makes it solidly land in this is that unlike the Normal-to-Expert transition, which featured many mechanical game changes, there are virtually no changes that aren't adjusted numbers.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Most Bullet Hell shmups will just increase the number of bullets fired at the player.
  • Gunstar Heroes has a mix. You take more damage and bosses take less, but the enemies are also more aggressive. The end result is that the homing laser that plows through enemies on Normal isn't the most effective choice on Expert. The Homing Laser deals Scratch Damage on Hard and higher. Learn how to throw and learn how to aim if you want to get past the first stage.
  • Touhou Project averts this: The changes made depend on the pattern, and are often more insidious than simple density/speed increases. Seeing patterns completely change or get added isn't uncommon either. Recurring spellcards and non-spellcard attacks do have this property, but the incremented 'numbers' include aim angles, stream counts, spread arcs, firing rates, and sometimes even size multipliers. One of the most common surprises is when you see a spellcard used by the stage 1 midboss.
  • Changing the difficulty level of Battle Garegga changes a few values pertaining to rank, most notably the maximum rank possible and the rate at which rank increases per frame (defined by the game as 1/60th of a second).
  • Gradius V seems like it's going to avert this trope with subsequent loops, where the Stage 1 boss has two cores instead of one like on the first loop. As it turns out, the rest of this game simply plays this trope straight with more bullets and enemy "revenge bullets" that fire upon their deaths.
  • Assault Shell's Light mode is a 1-loop mode similar to Single, and is meant to be an easier version of Single. However the only things changed are that your Stands have shorter duration and that the point thresholds for extra lives are smaller.

    Simulation and Simulators 
  • The FreeSpace series does this, but for an absolutely staggering number of variables — enemy agility, weapon/afterburner recharge rates for players and enemies, delays between AI actions, AI firing rates, even the number of targets a warship can engage at one time. The result is that the difference between different Difficulty Levels is very dramatic.
  • All SimCity games have starting money ranked in three difficulty levels. Sim City 4 Rush Hour, for example, has Easy with $500,000, Medium with $100,000, and Hard with $50,000 that must be paid back within 5 years. This is averted in 2000 and later, as you do start with less money, but there are other changes as well. In Sim City 2000 on Easy, for example, Sim Nation's economy is constantly booming.
  • Wing Commander Prophecy basically fell into this trap: enemies have either reduced or enhanced statistics. Having said that, it's a Flight Sim, so enemies that shoot, turn and zoom at 120% of normal is more of a big deal. Enemies also make heavier use of missiles at higher levels. Every ship has a limited number of decoys available to distract guided missiles. At low level's there are always enough decoys, but with so many missles coming in at the highest levels decoys start to be something you need to conserve.

  • In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, turning up the difficulty from Normal to Hard sums up as turning up the speed of the opposing pitcher's pitches. At the very least, that's the main obvious difference.

    Strategy (general) 
  • X-COM:
    • Enemies get higher stats on higher difficulty levels. Higher firing accuracy, time units, and Reaction add up to more ambushes. The lowest difficulty also halves armour, but all other difficulties use the same armour stat.
    • Averted in X-Com Apocalypse where each difficulty level has a different city. Most importantly, as difficulty level increases the buildings will get larger, closer together and in extreme cases completely insane structural design intended to allow the aliens or stray shots to most effectively level entire blocks at a time.

    Tower Defense 
  • Bloons Tower Defense:
    • In games prior to BTD6, the difficulty levels just increase the speed of the bloons, the price of the towers, the number of lives you have, and the amount of rounds thatyou have to play through, although there are alternate gamemodes that drastically change gameplay, such as Deflation and Apopolypse. However, in BTD5's Impoppable difficulty, the MOAB-class bloons are stronger, and there are five ZOMGs at level 85.
    • Generally Averted in BTD6. While the main 4 difficulties are still mainly numerical, there are also sub-difficulties to each difficulty that tend to add in even more rule changes or restrictions.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Disgaea, and almost all Nippon Ichi games, have the option to increase enemy levels, which does so using Numerical Hard math. Logarithmically. In some Disgaea games, there are even special bonus maps that increase the difficulty even further — the Land of Carnage Item World, for example, gives everything found inside a 1000% boost. Made crueler in Disgaea 3 by giving enemies an increase to their stats based on how many levels they'd be gaining in excess of 9999.
  • While hard mode for the entire Fire Emblem series generally averts this note , the Easy modes in Fire Emblem games (2, 5, and the non-Japan versions of 9) use it, giving the player extra experience points. It also applies to 11's hard mode, which buffs enemy stats.
  • While Hard and Extreme versions of skirmish maps in Valkyria Chronicles mix things up by rearranging units, adding in new enemy units, and sometimes changing the objective, part of the difficulty comes from a good old-fashioned increase in enemy damage, to the point that even the normally Game Breaking Scout Rush tactic isn't as useful this time around.

  • Whereas older Resident Evil games that had difficulty options would just give the player a few extra weapons on easier settings, parts 4 and 5 multiply the damage you take without changing much else. The hardest difficulty in part 5 practically makes you a One-Hit-Point Wonder, since "dying" status runs out far too quickly for your partner to be able to help you or vice versa.
  • Jedi Master in Jedi Outcast and Academy halves the players max health/armor, while other difficulty settings make the enemies slightly better shots (but even on the last setting, not good ones)
  • Hard mode in Mega Man Battle Network 2 just gives enemies extra HP and more damage per attack. This is one example where the game isn't particularly harder, as Battle Network combat (at least at the high end you need to be familiar with to unlock hard mode) is based heavily on dodging foes and using powerful combos (that for the most part, are overkill) that take opponents out quick.
  • Knights of the Old Republic is a standard less damage/more damage, though also with the addition of gaining more or less experience depending on the difficulty. The sequel also adjusts some of the skill checks needed for things like unlocking doors or chests, and makes some of those outright impossible to open without using a Security Spike.
  • Same for Neverwinter Nights, which also turns friendly fire back on in Hard mode.
  • Icewind Dale has the "Heart of Fury" mode built into the "Heart of Winter" expansion - all enemies have massive hit point and damage boosts but are worth far more XP. Downside is surviving your first encounter - a single goblin can tear your entire party to shreds unless you get lucky.
  • Hearts of Iron 2 has 5 difficulty settings dryly named Very Easy, Easy, Medium, Hard and Very Hard which consist entirely of numerical bonuses and penalties (think more/less industrial efficiency, manpower, raw materials, research speed), all stored in a file called difficulty.csv, which is easily customizable. It's quite possible to create Non-Indicative Difficulty.
  • Monster Hunter is a partial example. Higher rank missions introduce new monsters and maps, but the majority of missions have you hunting the same targets you did last rank, with more HP and attack power, though, some have a new attack, or new ways to combo attacks.
  • In Slave Zero, enemies and bosses receive additional health on hard difficulty. This is Unintentionally Unwinnable, since you will run out of ammo on the final boss fight if you just pick the "best" weapons - the change in health causes the boss to have more hitpoints than available ammo, unless you manually picked up the cluster rocket a few stages back.
  • In Dungeons of Dredmor, difficulty levels change item drop and monster spawn frequency, health and mana regeneration rate, and item cost.
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier's higher difficulties essentially do little more than apply a few different multipliers. The amount of damage a player can take before being incapacitated or dying is reduced as the difficulty increases, as is the number of times a player will be incapped before straight-up dying (from about 5 times on Recruit to essentially none on Elite). Conversely, bonus points added to the team's Ghost score at the end of a level will also be increased with higher difficulties (50 for Recruit, 75 for Veteran and 100 for Elite).
  • In Warframe, while certain special missions will apply various restrictions to ramp up the challenge, normal missions can really only modulate the difficulty by adjusting enemy composition and levels. The new Steel Path option increases the base level of the Star Chart nodes by 100, and give enemies a 250% Armor, Shield and Health modifier. In exchange, you get 100% higher chance for resource and mod drops.

Alternative Title(s): Statistical Difficulty