Originally Posted by Adelheid
Thats why so many people run a thousand different challenges like half exp no grinding solo Tales of- or Nuzlocke Pokemon.
No, it is not. People do not do challenge runs of Tales games because it's the only way to wrangle any sense of challenge out of the series. They do it because the game has provided them with a broad spectrum of built-in difficulty levels that challenge them to learn and master all of the game's various mechanics, and a half-exp, Unknown/Mania, no-grinding run gives one a chance to exhibit high levels of mastery over all of the game's various mechanics and subsystems.
This is eminently different from the current state of PSO2, where the game's built-in options for difficulty make such lax demands of the player that one is likely to become worse
at the game when their level hits the mid-20s, because dodging enemy attacks and waiting for proper openings is almost completely unnecessary - if you just blitz the enemies with your best attacks, most won't even get a chance to take a swing at you, and if they do, they don't really do enough damage to be worth your notice.
Playing missions in PSO2 while solo, with no Mag, no Units and no weapons, is in no reasonable way comparable to an actual challenge run in a game that already has a good difficulty curve. The only point they have in common is the superficial idea that it makes the game "more challenging". One forces the player to adapt and make full use of every resource available to them in the game to win, and the other sacrifices nearly every interesting advancement in Phantasy Star combat made in 11 years and completely removes the multiplayer component from an online-only multiplayer game, and still
only results in a level of difficulty that demands excessive amounts of time and patience from the player, while not really demanding any more skill or strategy than a standard Tales game on Hard mode.
It's just not a solution.
Now, having said all that, I don't think PSO2's Hard Mode is entirely beyond salvaging. There are a lot of ways to improve it, and some of them really aren't that much work on Sega's part:
1. Bump up the enemy levels by 10 or so.
Doing the Hard Mode Emergency Mission at level 20, with level ~30 enemies, feels about right. It's not overwhelmingly difficult, but neither is it a total cakewalk. It would be a good level of difficulty to use when trying to ease players into Hard Mode. The Navelius/Amduskia enemies that you can actually fight at level 20, on the other hand, are an absolute joke. The final few Liliipa missions on Normal are actually much, much
harder than any non-Emergency Hard Mode content you have access to at level 20. Which means that you're basically grinding in the desert from levels 15 all the way to 25. Not cool.
2. Significantly loosen the level requirement 'gates'.
Hard Mode technically unlocks at level 20, but it's pretty obvious if you actually get up past level 20 that Hard Mode hasn't really
started until you hit level 25. Instead of actually having to grind out five levels to advance, there should be more of Koffie's Client Orders that unlock further Hard Mode missions. Ratchet up the difficulty of those quests and put them back in; if you can S-Rank Dagan Extermination and Nav Rappy Capture in 6-7 minutes on Hard, then you can move on to Hard Mode Amduskia; if you can S-Rank Kyatadoran on Hard in 12 minutes, you can go to Liliipa on Hard, etc.
3. Just update the game.
This is not a great solution, but it's by far the easiest one, because we already know it's happening. Hard Mode is particularly disappointing because, at the moment
, it picks up (level-wise) where the 'last' Liliipa mission leaves off, on Normal Mode. But as soon as Sega adds in the mountain areas on Navelius, or the underground mines on Liliipa, there are going to be areas that are for level 20-25 characters on Normal Mode, and the pressure will be off of Hard Mode to be the sole place players go to continue their progress. This doesn't solve the game's long-term problems, but it's a pretty decent stopgap measure.
4. Change enemy behavior.
Namely, their speed and their aggression. Whether you play on Normal or whether you play on Hard, go look at the way Udons and Zaudons fight. Udons have a charging attack, but first they roll forward and do a hand stand for about a full second. This is alright for Normal Mode, but on Hard, that charge should basically be one smooth motion, and they should only stand on their hands long enough that you can dodge or block if you're paying close attention. Same with Zaudons and their boulder attacks. Have you ever
been hit by a boulder past level 2 or 3? On Hard, they should pick up those boulders and immediately
either throw or bash them. If you go back and load up any given version of PSO1, take a little walk into the Forest on Normal, and watch the way a Booma does a slow zombie shuffle-walk toward you. Then go in on Hard and notice just how much faster they are. That's either completely missing from PSO2, or the difference is so subtle that I haven't noticed it. Enemies need to be faster and more aggressive.
5. Change the missions themselves.
A Free Field Volcano mission on Normal is much harder than a Hard Mode Desert mission, if you're trying to do a Code: Elimination while there's a Code: Avoid active, or when a Code: Rescue triggers and you have to go rescue your friend and a Code: Duel pops up when you get there and you have to suddenly fight a Vol Dragon. Increase the frequency of Emergency Codes during all Hard Mode missions, and the difficulty level will be noticeably higher. The Code: Arrest at the end of the Nav Rappy mission would be a different story if it automatically came packaged with a Code: Avoid. And having to contend with a Gwanada attacking you while you're trying to activate the drill platforms in the final Liliipa Arks Quest would change things up significantly.
I'm sure there are more ways that you could improve things - these suggestions were basically stream-of-consciousness off the top of my head - but some combination of these would be a good start and go a long way toward making the game more interesting past level 17 or so, which is currently where it seems to start falling flat on its face.