Doom Is Even Better When Played On A Harder Difficulty

About halfway through playing the new Doom, I tried to remember the last time I'd died. Turns out, it hadn't happened for hours. That was a problem. Doom doesn't categorise difficulty the way other games do, but it breaks down roughly the same. Here's how it's listed, with my translation:

  • I'm Too Young To Die [Easy]
  • Hurt Me Plenty [Normal]
  • Ultra-Violence [Hard]
  • Nightmare [Very Hard]

A secret difficulty, Ultra-Nightmare, unlocks upon beating the game, and only allows players to beat the game with a single life. After that, it's over.

Hurt Me Plenty is what the game recommends to most players, saying they will need a "balance of focus, aggression and fearlessness to ensure your survival". The next difficulty level, Ultra-Violence, is "for players who want a challenge". Though I'm not one to shy away from a challenge — why else am I obsessed with the Dark Souls? — I wasn't sure what that meant in the context of Doom, so I went with what the game told me.

Once I'd adjusted to the game's rhythm, I was blowing through levels without a second thought. And though the enemies would, on occasion, manage to kill me, it was incredibly rare to find myself in real danger.

On the recommendation from my former Giant Bomb colleague, Brad Shoemaker, I cranked up difficulty to Ultra-Violence and rolled the dice.

(You're allowed to change the difficulty mid-campaign, thankfully.)

Dang, he was right. Ultra-violence is the way Doom should be played, in the same sense that Heroic is the right difficulty for Halo. It's not appropriate for everyone, mind you, but if you're familiar with shooters, it's the route to go. Suddenly, minor hits have a major impact on my health, forcing me to manage glory kills, jump pads and ammo counts in new ways.

You wouldn't know this unless someone told you, though. One tiny but brilliant changes Bungie made to Halo as the series went on — it seems to have started with Halo 3 — was to tweak the description of Heroic difficulty:

Fight against formidable foes that will truly test your skill and wits; this is the way Halo is meant to be played.

Doom's ultra-violence setting should say the same thing. If you're still in the middle of the game, or are mulling a second playthrough, you should give it a shot. You'll die more often, but you'll feel way better about it.


    Planning on playing it on the hardest difficulty soon

    I started on Hard and I barely died.


      Got to the end of the second level on ultra-nightmare, hashtagnormalbrag.

      Felt like I was gonna have a heart attack so I left it there!

    I'm playing on Hurt Me Plenty currently just finished the 4th level (where you climb the tower) and finding the balance right. It's keeping me on my toes, not a cakewalk, but I'm seldom getting wrecked either. I do want to play it on a harder difficulty but at the moment I'm in a place where the easy bits are too easy, but the harder bits are "just right". Maybe I'll bump it up, or just wait for a second playthrough. I'd probably already have finished it if my wife would hurry up and paly it. I can't play while she's awake otherwise I risk spoiling her. :(

      ...spoiling what?

        My wife is the kind of person who doesn't like to see anything about a game before going in. No awesome set pieces, no gameplay, no weapons/enemies, etc. Even me telling her how much I'm enjoying it is borderline for her. I was talking with a friend about how the chainsaw works and she glared at me from the other side of the room.

        At least until she's played a few levels to experience the game for herself, the idea of playing it where she has a chance of seeing it is verboten.

          i wish i had a wife like yours... mine played Farmville, now she plays candy crush...

          Last edited 26/05/16 2:29 pm

            And my fiancée didn't even know what doom was! AND she asked if I was playing doom when I was back on dark souls 3 for a bit!
            I swear she's blind sometimes.

    I started on Nightmare, then went down to Ultra Violence, and I agree that it's the best balance. I have a policy of always starting games on the highest difficulty, and only lowering the difficulty after dying so many times that I get frustrated. This way I always seem to find the optimum difficulty. If you start on normal and it's too easy, you may never notice.

    I always played the original Doom games on Ultra Violence so I fully intend on playing the new Doom on the same difficulty when I start playing it.

    I'm playing on hurt me plenty and I'm undecided if it's the right level or not. I'm on the 5th level and i'll smash through a bit all too easy, then just as I think about upping the difficulty, I get to a hectic bit and drop right down to low health, having to fight hard to come out alive. I guess If you exclude falling off the map, I have probably only died 3 or 4 times so far all game, I want the easy parts to be harder but am happy enough with the hard parts so I guess I'll leave it where it is for now

    Ooh. You can change difficulty mid stream? Ultraviolence is erring on the slightly easier than I'd like side now that I've got a full arsenal and developed the skills to work with them. Time to try out Nightmare. And then go back to Ultraviolence when it kicks my arsenal.

    I've only just started the install. I wanted to get that old Doom feeling so I'm installing off floppies. 3 disks down, 38,885 to go!
    The last one was only 4 floppies so I can see why people say the game has gone down hill a bit...

    If your 'easiest' playthrough on Doom isn't set to 'ultra-violence' you're not 'Doom-ing' correctly!

    Remember kids...

    Ultra-violence = Doom-Easy (not that this is 'easy'... but it's the easiest that Doom should *be*)
    Nightmare = Doom-proper

    I'm obviously in the minority..... but I actually enjoy a game more if it is easy. I don't like dying and don't feel the need to be endlessly challenged (I'll happily leave that to when I'm playing my retro games which are far more challenging than modern games). I like experiencing the sights, the sounds, the story, the explosions, the new creatures, discovering secrets etc... stressing about where to find a health pack as my vitality is at 9% and a baron of hell is chasing me just does not do anything for me, sorry.

      I must say I agree with you in 100 % because I used to start it on hurt me plenty difficulty but going more into the game It started to bring much more deaths, so I also prefffer to enjoy the game rather than stress the shit just to know if I can make it though...

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