StarCraft® II

Easy Brutal? - Trigger Analysis and Beyond

- Technical Support
Posts: 6,159
EDIT: Did a lot of fun analysis in this post. The beginning covers a comparison of the Hard vs Brutal game triggers to see why the step up in difficulty from Hard to Brutal was so unimpressive. Then because of the surprising results, the 2nd part covers an investigation in to the possibility of increased damage by enemies on Brutal without the game using any triggers to do so, sneaky! (Also, it's not as long a read as it looks!)

Thanks to Subsourian and Demastes

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So we've seen plenty posts by players that they found hots easier than wol, specifically the Brutal difficulty level. I wondered why this was so, so I went peeking around in the triggers of the campaign missions. I was prompted to do this by a post by a player named Subsourian:

The weird part was this jump in difficulty [from Normal to Hard] didn't really translate [from Hard] to Brutal, in fact I found them to be about the same difficulty


How could that be? Well, the game's triggers revealed part of the answer.

I looked at the triggers of 3 random missions of the Char/Kaldir/Zerus series. Surprisingly, Subsourian is not far off!

I searched for the word "Difficulty" and that brought up every occurrence of the (difficulty(x/x/x/x)) trigger, and found that in hots it mainly set up only the Casual/Normal/Hard difficulty levels. Meaning that Brutal had very little unique distinction, and in many ways was 'left to be' very similar to Hard. In WOL I noticed that there was a lot more "Difficulty" trigger distinction between Hard and Brutal.

For extra due diligence, I also searched for any occurrences of the word "Brutal" in all the triggers of all the maps to see if there was anything at all that was specific to the Brutal difficulty. There were none. Lol, most of the hits I got were brutalisk.

Now, there are other ways to set the difficulty of a mission, too many to hunt down. For example:
1) There were generic triggers that added/removed units/abilities/upgrades depending on the order you play the 3 planets. Ever notice that if you play Char first or second, there are no Ultras in Zagara's base? But if you play Char third, there are, regardless of the difficulty level?
2) The "object properties" can determine if a unit is present on a given difficulty level. Ever seen a unit on Brutal that is not there on any other difficulty level? Likely its object properties sets it to appear only on Brutal.
3) Another possibility would be that Brutal is made more difficult in other places besides the map triggers, such as in the game engine. (In hindsight, it looks like this is case as well!)

Anyway, all that aside, in hots, the "Difficulty" trigger was definitely lacking attention to Brutal.

[I looked at all the missions below.]
Edited by Leviathan on 6/3/2013 6:09 PM PDT
Reply Quote
Posts: 13,546
interesting. are the unit stats at all different?

I'm doing the brutal/no evolution/no mutation/no spells run. conviction was basically impossible, but all the others were "almost a challenge." (2 missions left)
Reply Quote
- Technical Support
Posts: 6,159
Of the few I looked at, I didnt see anything like the WOL casual mode triggers where every enemy had their HP's cut in half (50% handicap). So they seemed to not carry that idea over to hots, which I suspected even before looking at the triggers! Upgrades and abilities were usually different between the Normal and Hard difficulties, but like I said, there was hardly any difference between Hard and Brutal for things like that.

With what I found out below, I'd be willing to bet that a no evolutions, mutations, spells Brutal run would be similar in difficulty on Hard.
Edited by Leviathan on 5/31/2013 11:27 PM PDT
Reply Quote
- Technical Support
Posts: 6,159
Here's a list of where I found the "Difficulty" trigger actually setting Brutal different than Hard. These are just when Hard and Brutal are different.

Umoja missions

Lab Rat -
  • None!

    Back in the Saddle -
  • (On casual, raynor only takes 50% damage from attacks)
  • Archangel has more max life on Brutal
  • Tram Engines have less max life on Brutal

    Rendezvous -
  • Number of Zerglings spawned with each of Naktul's worms is 5 less on Brutal


    Kaldir missions

    Harvest of Screams -
  • (On casual, you the player only takes 50% damage from attacks)
  • The Psi-Link maximum shields are more on Brutal
  • The Ursadon attacks on your base and on the protoss bases are different.

    Shoot the Messanger -
  • None!

    Enemy Within -
  • (On casual, critters only take 50% damage from attacks)
  • Niadra has an upgrade called "Niadra Brutal" applied to her. Don't know what that is.
  • Some (not all) of the escape pods have shorter countdowns on Brutal


    Char missions

    Domination -
  • Zagara's maximum life and life regeneration are more on Brutal
  • Help panel is different

    Fire in the Sky -
  • None!

    Old Soldiers -
  • (On Casual the nuke locations are different than the rest of the difficulties)
  • Final nuke when attacking compound is present in Hard but not Brutal... believe it or not.


    Zerus Missions

    Waking the Ancient -
  • Brakk's maximum life is more on Brutal

    Crucible -
  • (On casual if you take any units to the bottom of the map, dueling between packs stops)
  • Tyrannazor maximum life is more on Brutal

    Supreme -
  • The 4 bosses have more max life on Brutal
  • Yagdra's eggs have more max life on Brutal
  • Something belonging to Kraith called "HelperUnit Movement Speed" is more in Brutal... not sure what it is.
  • The unit compositions of the waves that Zurvan spit out are different




    The Bosses are definitely souped up on Brutal! But unless there's a ton of difficulty altering settings that don't use the "Difficulty" trigger (for the missions above at least), then just about every generic unit stat, upgrade, and ability is the same on Hard and Brutal.

    [See below for the Space, Skygeirr and Korhal]
    Edited by Leviathan on 8/22/2014 9:44 PM PDT
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    ... and Subsourian was even more correct than I originally thought. After looking at all the difficulty triggers of Umoja, Kaldir, Char and Zerus, the vast majority of differences are between Normal and Hard.
    Edited by Leviathan on 6/1/2013 9:27 AM PDT
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    Space Missions

    Friends Like These -
  • None!

    Conviction -
  • None!


    Skygeirr Missions

    Infested -
  • The Gas recharge time is less on Brutal

    Hand of Darkness -
  • None!

    Phantoms of the Void -
  • None!


    Korhal Missions

    Planetfall -
  • The number of free Overlords with 1st and 3rd Bile Launcher is less on Brutal. (They spawn behind your mineral line if you're looking for them)
  • The reinforcements with the 1st Bile Launcher are weaker on Brutal
  • No Reinforcements with 3rd Bile Launcher on Brutal

    Death from Above -
  • None!

    Reckoning -
  • None!



    Same situations it seems as with the first 4 planets, including that the vast majority of step-ups in difficulty are from Normal to Hard!
    Edited by Leviathan on 6/1/2013 5:37 PM PDT
    Reply Quote
    Posts: 44
    Interesting read! This probably explains why HOTS seems so easy: There is next to no changes from brutal to hard!
    Reply Quote
    Posts: 2,923
    In case you didn't mention it, the one difference on Brutal is that you take 50% more damage, rendering your armor upgrades much less efficient. It does not show up on the enemy's damage rating card, but you can easily measure this if you pay attention.
    Reply Quote
    Posts: 1,393
    yay i provoked gud diskussin i am good forumer

    In all seriousness this is pretty interesting, I may go back and look through some of the WoL triggers between hard and brutal. I know a few off of the bat, like adding in siege tanks and merc units in the early game.

    I do think Blizzard kind of screwed themselves a bit by balancing the story missions based on what order you did them in AND balancing them for difficulty modes. I think one of the major flaws of the game was trying to make the story more linear while keeping some little tiny bit of choice in deciding what mission to do, it did lead to some different dialogue choices but overall it seemed to cause more story/mechanical problems then necessary. They should have either gone for full linear story or Wings of Liberty "pick and choose" style.

    Adding on, I've noticed on brutal that marines split from banelings coming at them. The only problem is this is delayed enough to where spawn banelings can pretty much go at them unimpeded, especially if you spawn them close or under them.
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    In case you didn't mention it, the one difference on Brutal is that you take 50% more damage, rendering your armor upgrades much less efficient. It does not show up on the enemy's damage rating card, but you can easily measure this if you pay attention.


    Might be fun to figure it out!

    Adding on, I've noticed on brutal that marines split from banelings coming at them. The only problem is this is delayed enough to where spawn banelings can pretty much go at them unimpeded, especially if you spawn them close or under them.


    For sure. The AI's do get smarter as you move up the difficulty. That was true in wol as well (enemies would scatter when reapers used the g-4 cluster bomb, for example). It's harder to test the AI intelligence between difficulties since it is part of the game engine. On hard Ive seen enemies run from the split banelings (not the pre-split, which is weird) as well, and run out from underneath blinding cloud.
    Edited by Leviathan on 6/1/2013 9:57 PM PDT
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    I tried out the more damage in Brutal theory that Demastes mentioned above by looking at:

    Our Armor/Their Weapons

    All the unit stats below are displayed as the same for Hard and Brutal.


    A) Kerrigan vs Marauder on Fire in the Sky
    Starting life of Kerrigan = 640; Armor = +0
    Marauder's weapon upgrade = +1; weapon damage = 11
    Hard : 632 - 672 - 622 - 617 - 612
    Brutal: 629 - 622 - 614 - 606 - 599

    Tough to tell what the increase is probably because Kerrigan is a hero unit and the damage calculations are not as straight forward. (Keep in mind there is some life regen between shots for all these tests.)

    B) Roach vs Scout on Shoot the Messanger
    Starting life of Roach = 120; Armor = +0
    Scout weapon upgrade = +1; weapon damage = 9
    Hard : 112 - 104 - 97 - 89
    Brutal: 110 - 106 - 100 - 93

    This one seems a bit easier to spot. It seems that on Brutal, the weapon upgrade, despite being displayed as +1 was more like +2, thus a damage of 10.

    C) Aberration vs Siege Breaker on Reckoning
    Starting life of Aberration= 275; Armor = +0
    Breaker weapon upgrade = +1; weapon damage = 82
    Hard : 195 - 115 - 36
    Brutal: 174 - 75 - 0

    Again tough to figure the increase out. The Brutal Breaker damage seems way more than a +2 upgrade; maybe mercs are given special ups?

    D) Dehaka vs Siege tank on Death from Above
    Starting life of Dehaka = 500; Armor = +0
    Tank weapon upgrade = +1; weapon damage = 38
    Hard: 463 - 433 - 401 - 371
    Brutal: 454 - 413 - 373 - 332

    The Brutal damage seems to be around +2 upgrade again.

    E) Hydralisk vs Warhound on Old Soldiers
    Starting life of Hyda= 80; Armor = +0
    Warhound weapon upgrade = +1; weapon damage = 25
    Hard : 55 - 30 - 5
    Brutal: 48 - 17 - 0

    Another strange one. The Brutal damage is way more than +2 upgrade. Maybe Warhounds are merc level?


    Well, there definitely is a increase in the damage dealt from Hard to Brutal that isn't stated in our or the enemy's info panel (like Demastes said), but it is not as much as +50%. [The % is calculated further down after the tests.]


    So the question is:
    Are the enemy's weapons upped? Or is our armor lowered?


    So what about our weapons and/or their armor? (The opposite of what was just tested.)

    [See below]
    Edited by Leviathan on 6/2/2013 11:49 AM PDT
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    We know that Brutal either 1) increases the their weapons, or 2) decreases our armor (or both I suppose).

    So what about:

    Our Weapons/Their Armor

    A) Kerrigan vs Marauder on Fire in the Sky
    Starting life of Marauder= 125; Armor = +0
    Kerrigan's weapon upgrade = +0; weapon damage = 40
    Hard : 86 - 47 - 8
    Brutal: 86 - 47 - 8

    No change from Hard to Brutal!

    B) Roach vs Scout on Shoot the Messanger
    <can't test>

    C) Aberration vs Siege Breaker on Reckoning
    Starting life of Breaker= 275; Armor = +1
    Aberration weapon upgrade = +0; weapon damage = 40
    Hard : 142 - 104 - 66 - 28
    Brutal: 142 - 104 - 66 - 28

    Same again!

    D) Dehaka vs Siege tank on Death from Above
    Starting life of tank = 160; Armor = +1
    Dahaka weapon upgrade = +0; weapon damage = 25
    Hard : 137-114-91-68
    Brutal: 137-114-91-68

    No difference!

    E) Hydralisk vs Warhound on Old Soldiers
    Starting life of Warhound= 220; Armor = +0
    Hydra weapon upgrade = +0; weapon damage = 12
    Hard : 209 - 198 - 187
    Brutal: 209 - 198 - 187

    Same!


    So there we have it!

    Conclusions:

    All in all, there is definitive proof that something besides the triggers alters the Brutal difficulty... the game engine perhaps? Maybe that's why the maps' triggers left out so much of the Brutal settings, because the game engine is taking care of it!


    So in summary, from Hard to Brutal:

    1) Our weapons/Their armor = unchanged

    2) Their weapons/Our armor = altered
    Tough for me to tell which. It could even be both!

    And I rest! (until tomorrow!)
    Edited by Leviathan on 6/2/2013 11:51 AM PDT
    Reply Quote
    Posts: 2,923
    It must be their damage increased; I mean one thing you notice is that a Yamato canon does WAY more damage to Kerrigan on brutal than the other difficulties, and armor doesn't affect spell damage.
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    That does seem to point toward the enemy's weapons damage is increased. Using that pretense...



    Because the zerg heal at some rate, the consecutive shots get more and more skewed so I only used the initial shot so that the error from healing would be at its lowest.

    Looking at the ratios of the damage taken with the initial shot only, and fudging things just slightly to account for healing that occurred immediately after the initial shot (different units heal at different rates as well), and calculating the % of damage increase from Hard to Brutal, it seems to me that if Demastes is right about only the enemy's weapons being increased, (and sparing you the calculations of the 5 trials), then:

    The Brutal enemy units have their damaged increased by a flat rate of 25%.

    If true, that would explain why in the test above, the damage didn't seem to follow a +1 to a +2 level increase.

    Also if true, that means that attacks that do little damage get proportionately smaller increases (Scout), and attacks that do a lot of damage get proportionately larger increases (Siege Breaker). So it would follow that Yamato strike, which is large damage, would do a significantly more on Brutal. I may test the actual yamato damage out later today.
    Edited by Leviathan on 6/2/2013 12:03 PM PDT
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    Yep!

    Kerrigan vs Yamato on Infested
    Starting Life of Kerrigan = 760; Armor +0
    Yamato Damage = 300
    Hard : 460 - 160 (both hit almost immediately)
    Brutal: 385 - 17 (there was a slight gap between shots so she healed a bit before the 2nd)

    Using initial shots:
    Hard damage = 300
    Brutal damage = 375
    Difference = 75
    % Increase = 25% exactly!

    All-in-all, I think it's fair to say that
    1) There is a hidden increase in enemy damage of 25% from Hard to Brutal that is not controlled/set by the (difficulty(x/x/x/x)) trigger.
    2) It appears to be an increase in the enemy's Weapons, and not a decrease in our Armor

    I said this way back at the beginning:

    With what I found out below, I'd be willing to bet that a no evolutions, mutations, spells Brutal run would be similar in difficulty on Hard.


    ... and I think I need to recant! Having no evolutions, mutations or spells with 25% more damage may proved to more challenging than without!
    Edited by Leviathan on 6/2/2013 12:04 PM PDT
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    Demastes once said,

    The casual mode in HoTS cuts the enemy's damage in half. You do not see this in the tooltip, but if you pay attention closely it's easy to measure it.


    ... man, do I want to do this all over again on Casual difficulty??? To find the precise effect that Casual has on the units????

    Maybe.... maybe. My brain hurts enough as it is. :)
    Edited by Leviathan on 6/2/2013 12:15 PM PDT
    Reply Quote
    Posts: 2,923
    Just try looking at the Yamato damage, that should be enough. Trying to calculate weapon damage can be really tricky since you have to factor in armor. For instance, Marines basically do no damage to Kerrigan when she has 3 armor on casual, but on Brutal they can give her a good licking.
    Reply Quote
    - Technical Support
    Posts: 6,159
    Just try looking at the Yamato damage


    That's what I did. Had to reload a few times to coax them into yamatoing me rather than using their regular weapons.

    So the data above is just the yamato damage.
    Reply Quote
    Posts: 3,257
    06/02/2013 01:28 PMPosted by Leviathan
    Just try looking at the Yamato damage


    That's what I did. Had to reload a few times to coax them into yamatoing me rather than using their regular weapons.

    So the data above is just the yamato damage.


    I think he means for testing casual damage.
    Reply Quote

    Please report any Code of Conduct violations, including:

    Threats of violence. We take these seriously and will alert the proper authorities.

    Posts containing personal information about other players. This includes physical addresses, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and inappropriate photos and/or videos.

    Harassing or discriminatory language. This will not be tolerated.

    Forums Code of Conduct

    Report Post # written by

    Reason
    Explain (256 characters max)
    Submit Cancel

    Reported!

    [Close]