Difficulty of gameplay can be adjusted by the hosting player before starting an arcade run or a mission.
The player must choose one of three difficulty levels: Normal, Advanced, or Elite.
Difficulty level can be chosen via a slider in the mission interface for any Player vs. Environment (PvE) mode of gameplay - this includes rank missions, prestige missions, expansion missions, and the arcade.
Difficulty cannot be adjusted after the activity has begun. The activity must be restarted if the player wishes to adjust the difficulty.
Take special note when joining another player. You will play at the difficulty level the host has chosen. It is important to communicate and establish the difficulty level desired by the entire party before hosting. The difficulty level of another player's activity can be determined by:
- Hovering the cursor over the player's name in the social panel
- Reading the popup that appears before accepting an invite to the area
The difficulty level at which the player completes a mission will be indicated by an appropriate badge ( Normal, Advanced, or Elite) in the upper right-hand corner of the mission's card in the mission interface. The superior badge is always displayed. For example, if the player completes a mission on Elite difficulty first, then on Advanced or Normal, the badge will not change. If the mission was completed on Normal, the player can repeat the mission again to change the badge to Advanced or Elite, unless the mission is a Recruit mission and the player has reached Haven, 2-1 Mission: A Visit to the Lab, or 2-3 Mission: An Eternal Bond.
Influence on Gameplay
Difficulty significantly influences several aspects of gameplay:
- Higher difficulty has better chances at better loot, though the pool of possible drops is determined by several other factors such as depth, monsters, and stratum theme of the area. Difficulty simply influences the odds of getting the best of those possibilities. More player-collected research on loot can be found here.
- Hazards: traps deal a different split of damage depending on difficulty. For example, the rockets in Ironclaw Munitions Factory deal more elemental than normal at higher difficulty levels.
- Enemies will have more health with higher difficulty
- Certain status conditions (such as those inflicted by wisps) will be more intense with higher difficulty
- With the exception of the Event Mission: A Gremlin in Knead, difficulty level has no influence on mission rewards.
The general difficulty of an area used to be indicated by a colored dot on the minimap. It was concerned mostly with depth and equipment. This general idea still applies - going into an area with inadequate equipment will certainly make things difficult!
Before difficulty levels were introduced, the game seems to have behaved at advanced difficulty. The cards of missions completed before difficulty levels were introduced were given the advanced badge after the update. Therefore, advanced can be considered the "default" setting.
- release 2013-07-30: Normal, Advanced, or Elite difficulty modes can be chosen via a slider on the mission interface.
- release 2013-08-23: Badge on mission cards immediately updates.