Box art - Death Stranding

Death Stranding Difficulty Differences | Should I play on easy, normal, or hard?

What difficulty you play Death Stranding on is a big choice, but it’s not one that has to be permanent. There are four difficulty levels available in the game: Very Easy, Easy, Normal, and Hard. They’re pretty self-explanatory in concept. Still, in practice, it can be hard to tell what changes in each difficulty mode. We’ll go into detail below on how difficulty modes work in Death Stranding and which one we recommend you play on.

What’s the difference between the difficulties in Death Stranding?

Death Stranding Difficulty selection screen

Many games have clear differences between their difficulty levels, but not Death Stranding. Instead, its difficulty is a bit old school in that it just makes everything a wee bit harder each level you go up.

So far, the changes I’ve noticed as you go up in difficulty are:

  • Sam’s balance seems to get worse.
  • Enemies deal more damage.
  • Human enemies will guard more.
  • Human enemies and BTs can detect you from further away.
  • Human enemies have more health.
  • BTs are more aggressive when trying to locate you after triggering their chase sequence.
  • Cargo takes more damage from physical impacts.
  • Cargo takes more damage from Timefall (both rain and snow).

There are likely more changes between the difficulties in Death Stranding, but the above is what really stood out to me.

Is Death Stranding too easy?

Death Stranding is an easy game. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll become adept at avoiding both BTs and human enemies. The game gets easier the more you play it as well because you’ll have more resources at your disposal. Terrain will be your biggest foe, but you’ll get better equipment blueprints, which will make Sam the master of all but the most rugged terrain.

That’s not to say that you won’t occasionally find yourself in a sticky situation. However, when you get cornered by foes or take a massive tumble to your demise, it’s usually because of a silly mistake. Most of the deaths I experienced in Death Stranding would have happened regardless of the difficulty level I was playing at.

However, I won’t say that Death Stranding is too easy. There are many obstacles in your way as you play the game, and I’d say that, for the most part, the difficulty is just right if you take into account the game as a whole. There’s no one part that’s incredibly hard to beat, but you’ll definitely feel like you’ve come a long way by the time you put the controller down.

What difficulty level should I play Death Stranding on?

I wholeheartedly suggest that everyone try to play Death Stranding on hard. The difference between normal and hard mode isn’t hugely apparent, but the little bit of additional challenge adds a lot to the mix. It makes it feel just a pinch more like you’re on a hard trek across the former United States.

A crucial element of hard mode, and one of the primary reasons I suggest this difficulty, is that the human enemies become much more of a threat. They’re able to detect you at greater range, and they’ll actually guard against your attacks. On normal and below, you don’t really need weapons to take down MULEs. You can just run up to them and lay the smackdown, then pick up their cargo and smack their friends with it and repeat.

On hard, MULEs will defend against frontal attacks if they’re equipped with staffs. This means you’ll have to flank them or avoid them. It also seems like human enemies work better as a team on greater difficulty. By the time you flank one, they’ll usually be flanking you. This is especially true of the terrorists, which can make short work of you in a group.

Fortunately, if hard is too much for you, the difficulty level in Death Stranding can be changed at any time via the Game Options menu. There’s no grand penalty for doing this, so feel free to bump it up and down as you please. The only caveat is that any current delivery orders will be scored at the difficulty level that was set when you took on the job.