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Difficulty can be toggled via the options menu in Minecraft. Changing this option has a direct impact in the gameplay itself. There are currently four difficulties in the game: Peaceful, Easy, Normal, and Hard.

When the difficulty is set to Peaceful, hostile mobs don't spawn naturally (with the exception of the ender dragon), and don't deal damage (again, with the exception of the ender dragon). The player cannot spawn a Wither. When hostile mobs spawn from spawners, they are removed from the game instantaneously. Players regain health over time. Despite regaining health over time, it is still possible to die if damage is received quickly enough. Switching from any other difficulty setting to Peaceful removes existing hostile mobs, except for hostile wolves and iron golems. The hunger bar never depletes and players cannot eat anything except golden apples, unless the player has switched to Peaceful when their hunger bar was below the maximum. If it is below the maximum, it quickly regenerates.

Hostile mobs spawn in Easy difficulty. Enemies deal less damage than on Normal difficulty. Creepers will cancel their explosions after moving only a short distance away. The hunger bar can deplete and will leave the player with 10 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svg) if it drains completely. Cave spiders cannot poison players on Easy difficulty, and the wither won't cause the wither effect, although wither skeletons will.

On Normal difficulty, hostile mobs spawn. Enemies deal standard damage. The hunger bar can deplete and will leave the player with 1 (Half Heart.svg) if it drains completely.

On Hard difficulty, hostile mobs also spawn. Enemies deal greater damage than on Normal difficulty. The hunger bar can deplete and will slowly kill the player if it drains completely. Creepers will not cancel their attack unless a large distance is between them and the player, making the explosion much harder to avoid. Zombies break through wooden doors. Spiders can spawn with status effects.

Mob damage[edit | edit source]

Difficulty Zombie damage Skeleton arrow damage Spider damage Direct creeper explosion damage Zombie pigman damage Enderman damage Wither skeleton damage Wither wither skull damage
2 (Heart.svg) 1 (Half Heart.svg) - 4 (Heart.svgHeart.svg) 2 (Heart.svg) ~25 (Heart.svg × 12.5) 5 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHalf Heart.svg) 4 (Heart.svgHeart.svg) 4 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svg) 5 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHalf Heart.svg)
3 (Heart.svgHalf Heart.svg) 1 (Half Heart.svg) - 4 (Heart.svgHeart.svg) 2 (Heart.svg) ~49 (Heart.svg × 24.5) 9 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHalf Heart.svg) 7 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHalf Heart.svg) 7 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Half Heart.svg) 8 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svg)
4 (Heart.svgHeart.svg) 1 (Half Heart.svg) - 5 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHalf Heart.svg) 3 (Heart.svgHalf Heart.svg) ~65 (Heart.svg × 32.5) 13 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHalf Heart.svg) 10 (Heart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svgHeart.svg) 10 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svg) 11 (Withered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Heart.svgWithered Half Heart.svg)

Moon phase[edit | edit source]

The phase of the moon has effects on the spawning of slimes in swamp biomes, and contributes to the calculation of regional difficulty. The fuller the moon is, the greater the effect:

Moon phase Value Percentage
Full 1.0 100%
Gibbous 0.75 75%
Quarter 0.5 50%
Crescent 0.25 25%
New 0.0 0%

Note that the moon does not actually have to be out for this effect to take place—the effect of the moon's phase exists even at daytime.

Regional difficulty[edit | edit source]

Regional difficulty is a variation in difficulty calculated based on several factors, including the “inhabited time" of the current chunk, the total play time in the world, the phase of the moon, and the current difficulty setting. The current regional difficulty is shown on the Debug screen as “Local Difficulty".

The “inhabited time" of a chunk increases for each tick a player spends with the chunk loaded. This is a cumulative measure of time—if 50 players spend a single hour in a chunk, it counts the same as if one player spent 50 hours there. The effect of inhabited time on regional difficulty is capped at 50 hours.

Total play time in the world also contributes to regional difficulty. This effect doesn't begin until after the first hour of play time and is capped at 21 hours.

In pseudocode, the calculation of regional difficulty is:

TotalTimeFactor, ChunkFactor, and RegionalDifficulty are floating-point variables
MoonPhase is as in the table above.

 if ( TotalPlayTime > 21 hours )
     TotalTimeFactor = 0.25
 else if ( TotalPlayTime < 1 hour )
     TotalTimeFactor = 0
     TotalTimeFactor = ( TotalPlayTimeInTicks - 72,000 ) / 5,760,000

 if ( ChunkInhabitedTime > 50 hours )
     ChunkFactor = 1
     ChunkFactor = ChunkInhabitedTimeInTicks / 3,600,000
 if (difficulty is not Hard)
     multiply ChunkFactor by 3/4

 if ( MoonPhase / 4 > TotalTimeFactor )
     add TotalTimeFactor to ChunkFactor
     add MoonPhase / 4 to ChunkFactor

 if ( difficulty is Easy )
     divide ChunkFactor by 2

 RegionalDifficulty = 0.75 + TotalTimeFactor + ChunkFactor

 if (difficulty is Normal)
     multiply RegionalDifficulty by 2
 if (difficulty is Hard)
     multiply RegionalDifficulty by 3

 return RegionalDifficulty

The regional difficulty ranges from 0.75–1.5 on easy, 1.5–4.0 on normal, and 2.25–6.75 on hard.

When actually used in the game, this raw number is usually converted to a value in the range 0.0–1.0 as follows:

 if ( RegionalDifficulty < 2.0 ) {
     value = 0.0;
 } else if ( RegionalDifficulty > 4.0 ) {
     value = 1.0;
 } else {
     value = ( RegionalDifficulty - 2.0 ) / 2.0;

Thus, on easy, regional difficulty will have no effect; on normal the effects will reach the maximum after 21 hours of play time in a fully-inhabited chunk on a full moon; and on hard after 21 hours of play time the effects will reach the maximum in chunks inhabited only 4 16 hours during a full moon and will remain at maximum in chunks inhabited over 16 23 hours.

Effects which increase in response to various difficulty conditions[edit | edit source]

Effect Value Cause
Higher difficulty setting Regional difficulty Moon phase
Mobs are more likely to spawn with armor. 0–15% Yes Yes Yes
Mobs which spawn with weapons are more likely to have enchantments. 0–25% Yes Yes Yes
Mobs which spawn with armor are more likely to have enchantments. 0–50% Yes Yes Yes
Mobs spawning with enchanted equipment will have higher levels of enchantments. Level 5–22 Yes Yes Yes
Skeletons and zombies are more likely to have the ability to pick up dropped items. 0–55% Yes Yes Yes
Zombies are more likely to have the ability to break doors. 0-10% Yes Yes Yes
Zombies are more likely to have a greater follow distance. Multiplier of 1–1.5 Yes Yes Yes
Zombies are more likely to be “Leader zombies" (gaining a bonus to max HP, a bonus to the chance to spawn reinforcements, and the ability to break doors). 0-5% Yes Yes Yes
Slimes are more likely to be big. 33–50% for Big,
33–16% for Tiny
Yes Yes Yes
Spiders are more likely to have status effects. 0–10% Hard Only Yes Yes
Lightning strikes are more likely to spawn a skeleton trap horse 3.75–7.5% on Easy
7.5–20% on Normal
11.25–33.75% on Hard
Yes Yes Yes
Zombies are more likely to spawn with weapons. 1% on Easy and Normal,
5% on Hard
Yes No No
Mobs spawning with armor are more likely to have more armor. Easy & Normal: 75%/56%/42% of having 2/3/4 pieces;
Hard: 90%/81%/73% of having 2/3/4 pieces
Yes No No
Villagers killed by a zombie have a greater chance of becoming zombies. 0% on Easy,
50% on Normal,
100% on Hard
Yes No No
Explosion damage to players is higher. Damage is 50% on Easy, 150% on Hard Yes No No
Zombie Pigmen spawn from Nether Portals in the Overworld more often. 12000 on Easy,
22000 on Normal,
32000 on Hard
Yes No No
Slimes are more likely to spawn in swamp biomes. See above No No Yes

Hardcore gamemode[edit | edit source]

Hardcore causes the player to spawn in Hard difficulty and does not allow it to be changed. In single player, if the player dies, the player can choose to respawn in spectator mode or delete the world. In Multiplayer, if a player dies they are automatically banned from the server.

Video[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Notch made a tweet[1] on October 22, 2010, stating that he's “changing difficulty to realism. Lowest setting = creative. Highest setting = starve". This was never implemented, however “hardcore" mode was added along with a creative gamemode.

References[edit | edit source]