A game's difficulty level refers to a game's challenge level allowing players to choose a level best suited to their level of skill or play-style. Giving the player option to change the game's difficulty level is a rare occurrence in the Final Fantasy series, and has mainly appeared as an extra in re-released versions of games.
Other things similar to a difficulty level is the introduction of an Expert level Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X PAL and International Versions, and the different New Game Plus modes in Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System. Some Final Fantasy XIV fights have a normal and "hard" version, the normal version being the only required for storyline purposes. 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 of the original Final Fantasy features an Easy and Normal mode. In Easy mode shop prices are cheaper, experience levels are gained more quickly, and stats are increased more rapidly. After the player has completed a save, they can save their progress, and load that same save when starting a new save. In doing this all bestiary and Collections info is kept.
This means the player will not have to face enemies again that they did in a previous Easy playthrough if they wish to play a Normal playthrough. A number of images in the Photo Gallery can only become available after completing the game on Normal mode.
The Final Fantasy Origins version of Final Fantasy II features an Easy and Normal mode. The Normal version of the game presents itself more similarly to the NES version of the game, removing features such as Sprint. It is not possible to start a Normal playthrough until an Easy playthrough has been completed.
The iOS and Android versions will allow the player to change the game's difficulty level. This is because these versions are based on the Nintendo DS remake that is known for being harder than the original Final Fantasy IV.
Hard play mode was added to the game's international releases, and this mode is absent in the original Japanese version of the game. 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 of the game, 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 in either Normal or Hard difficulty. In the Extra Hard Mode, players can unlock numerous things, such as 40 extra missions, character models, a music player, and an artwork gallery. Successfully 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.
New Easy Mode was added to the release of Final Fantasy XIII on Xbox 360 in Japan. This mode was later made available for PlayStation 3 players as well in form of a patch released for the Japanese gamers, which adds the tweaks made to the North American and PAL versions, as well as the Easy Mode.
Players can set the game difficulty level from the config any time when they are playing, but the default difficulty is Normal. In Easy Mode players deal more damage to staggered enemies, enemies have reduced HP, making battles end faster. The Doom counter gives more time and drop rates for normal items are increased. Enemies are still as strong as in Normal Mode. One drawback of using Easy Mode is that during it, enemies do not drop rare items.
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Easy Mode and Normal Mode comes included as default as opposed to its predecessor. The player can switch between the modes at any time.
Easy Mode reduces all forms of damage to the party, including Blood Damage. It also gradually heals blood damage over time. In this mode, however, items are less potent, and it is impossible to get an 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, however.
In Final Fantasy Type-0 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 greater rewards, such as new magic, Eidolons, or equipment. These difficulty levels can only be accessed from the Mission List; missions played in the main game retain the original enemy levels.
The game features three distinct difficult levels, being Normal, Hard, and Very Hard modes, but are accessed differently via modes. In Story Mode on the first playthrough, the player will be forced to play on Normal difficulty, but upon finishing the game and saving their cleared data, and then selecting and loading that save data, the player will be able to 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 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. Of note, each difficulty for each area has a different level requirement, and if the player is not in a sufficient level range for that area, they cannot enter the dungeon on that difficulty.
Depending on the difficulty mode the player is playing on, enemies will have different stats and different item drops, as well as dungeons giving different items in chests. However, there is no difference in items in Hard and Very Hard modes, and only the difficulty of the enemies change. Also, 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. Of note, completely finishing the game on Hard mode will unlock the Victory Clothes in the equipment shop in Rebena Te Ra.
As with Ring of Fates, the player is forced to play through the game on Normal mode, and after clearing the game and saving after the final boss, they will be able to replay the game from the start on Hard Mode or Normal Mode by selecting it via Start+ from the menu. After completing the game on Hard Mode, Very Hard Mode will be unlocked to be played. As with Ring of Fates as well, depending on the difficulty selected enemies are stronger, items are different, and some items are only available on Hard mode.
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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 to the player during the game, and this setting can be changed at any time via the Options menu.
The game has 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 game's demos.