Ni No Kuni II's New Difficulty Patch is How the Game Should Have Been
I've ventured throughout the land, the first wide area in Ni No Kuni II but not even close to beating the game yet. But my kingdom is progressing nicely, having more and more like-minded people on board. The sense of being a figure to look up upon in Ni No Kuni II is real. The sense of danger in combat on the other hand, is a bit off putting for players who prefer something a bit harder.
Originally there are no difficulty options in Ni No Kuni II, and by now you've probably guessed already that the game take you to a nice stroll in easy/normal mode the whole time. Now, players can enjoy Ni No Kuni II with a little bit of harder punches from the enemies thanks to the most recent Patch 1.03. By popular demand, developer Level-5 granted fans' wish to add more challenge and difficulty options to the game. There are two new difficulties added, hard and expert modes. About time, Level-5!
Trial I: Less 'One-Hitting' My Way
I started to fight monsters with blue-coloured name monsters, which indicates that said monsters are of lower level than the player. The one thing that I notice first, as you may have guessed, was how they have higher damage and HP. You may think that's a lazy difficulty 'improvement'. Well, so do I, if that's just about it. Good thing that's not the only changes.
By the time I fought a Manticore, which, I think is one of the strongest monsters in the first island in Ni No Kuni II (aside of the tainted monsters, dragons, and bosses), the change can be seen a bit clearer. I remember how I sometimes just stand still, letting my companions fought a blue-levelled Manticore to see how much the under-levelled AI can do. Now it's different.
Not only they are now have increased damage and HP, but also more aggressive and less idling. It feels like the blue-levelled monsters are now on the level of those of the same level as the player before the patch. I used to literally one hit every single thing with blue name on top of it... no longer.
Trial II: More Dodging and Blocking Required
Next I looked for a monster with white names—monsters around my current level—and found the perfect monster; a higher-levelled Manticore. The attack frequency is higher than the previous one, as well as the damage it dealt and the HP it has. The monster almost never idling for a moment for me to land a hit, which makes me have to be more clever in taking the chance to hit when I see one.
The second monster of the same level I fought was this golem called Mossy Monument that also looks like one of the strongest monsters in the game, which I assume for all the ones who are alone in their combat encounter. However, this golem's damage wasn't as much as Manticore, which was crazier and deal higher damage eventhough I've set my Tactic Tweaker accordingly.
I even tried to purposefully take damage two or three times on some of their attacks like a mad man to have clearer idea of their damage and behaviour. And this golem wasn't as much of a trouble as Manticore. Ugh, I wish the developers will make a bestiary for the next patch for easier track of the encountered monsters.
Trial III: Okay, This Patch is Good
I was looking for Tainted Monsters and monsters with red names (overpowered for my current level), but unfortunately it's been a while since I slew the last one. So I went to a boss fight and an op dragon only. And this was, by far, some of the best fights this game can give.
One point for it is because the monsters have more attack patterns up their sleeves than the regular ones found scattered around the map, that they'll use once their HP fall into a certain level that adds to their moves variety so fighting higher-tiered monsters with multiplied damage and HP to be more entertaining.
The combat is now takes longer than before, but yield more rare item drops that makes it more rewarding. This is what the game should have been from the beginning, in my opinion. And I must say it's better to follow the story with a little bit of a challenge instead of a walk in the park on a sunny day, with your hands being held gently, while it whispers you sweet nothings and kiss you in the cheek as you giggles and blushes throughout the game.
Overall the changes are noticeable indeed. Now the combat is more fun than before. Although there are ways to make it thrice as fun, such as changing the AIs behaviour more drastically than simply increasing the their attack frequency, changing the HP and damage modifiers, still, I think this is acceptable.
If you are interested, since it's currently 40% on Steam summer sale, don't expect too much from the new difficulty, because Ni No Kuni II you might still find it too easy even after the patch. Especially if you're a sado-masochist warrior of the Souls series.
DISCLAIMER: All artworks in this post (except for the cited ones) are belongs to me and I don't allow you, your partner, your cassowary, or your waifu to use them without my consent. Think I'm a smug? Fine by me. Happened before. Hate it if it happen again.