The difficulty level is unique to each play session. It is set by the players through a voting system and cannot be changed during a game. Difficulty affects enemy HP, damage and armor, but also experience rate and the drop rate of specific items. Certain features of the game are locked in lower difficulty setting.
|Difficulty||Enemy HP||Enemy HP Scaling Factor||EXP Gain Rate||Enemy Damage||Enemy Attack Speed||Enemy Armor|
|Very Easy (1)||-50%||0.8%||30%||-30%||-30%||-50%|
|Very Hard (5)||+100%||2%||170%||+100%||+100%||+100%|
The Enemy HP Scaling Factor affects the scaling of the enemies' HP with the player heroes' levels. For every level of every player's hero, the HP of the enemy increases by that factor. Example: On Normal difficulty, Player 1 has a hero that is Level 10 and Player 2 has a hero that is Level 30; therefore the enemies get +40% HP. On Hard difficulty, they would get +60% HP.
Hardcore Mode is separate from difficulties and only has one main effect: in this mode, death is permanent. If a player's hero perishes in battle, they will not respawn anymore. Hardcore Mode also disables Auto-Life and the revive function of Lancer's Level 3 "Dragon Spirit" ability. This mode does not increase enemy stats or EXP Gain Rate - it does however disarm some difficulty locks.
One of the most notable differences between easier and harder difficulties is the locking of features - the game does not have all its features in Very Easy and Easy difficulty settings. Those difficulties mainly exist to introduce players to the game or to help people that have trouble starting a new save file. As such, a number of things are unavailable in those settings, although most of the game remains intact just the same.
- The arena has greatly reduced potential in difficulties below Normal. On Very Easy, only the Guardia Forest, Barrens, Mountains and Lothlorien Cups are available. On Easy, the player can also find Island, Chocobo and Unique Enemy Cup but no cups beyond Lothlorien. On Normal and onwards, all cups are available. Hardcore Mode does not affect this lock.
- The drop rates of several pieces of artifact equipment are affected by difficulty level, most notably Ultimate Weapon, Zodiac Escutcheon and the Genji Equipment. Hardcore Mode affects this lock - the game will always act as if it were Very Hard Difficulty if Hardcore Mode is enabled.
- The Dark Eidolons are unavailable on Very Easy Difficulty, even if Hardcore Mode is enabled. Likewise, some other superbosses can only be fought on Normal or higher difficulty.
- Specific items that have fixed drops may not appear on difficulties below Normal.