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Lila Feuer

Heretic vs. Hexen: Which one is harder?

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So I recently finished Heretic (all 5 episodes) and Hexen + Deathkings and I've come to an interesting observation. I used to think Heretic was really, really easy and Hexen was tougher than Heretic because it had beefier monsters that have more damaging attacks. And now I think Heretic is actually harder. A few comparisons:

Gargoyles in Heretic vs. Afrits in Hexen, the Gargoyles are more aggressive in swarming you and relentlessly pelting you with their fireballs. The Afrits just kinda attack whenever the hell they want and are really pathetic for a flying enemy. They don't divebomb you either.

Golems in Heretic vs. Ettins in Hexen, Golems are notably more fleet of foot than Ettins even if they have less health allowing them to mob the player easier. Their melee attack is more relentless I think whereas its easy for the Ettin to miss since his attack cycle is slower than the Golem. Golems also come with their projectile variant which can be excellent harassers as their projectile homes in on you and while one doesn't seem too bad multiples of them can seriously hurt.

Disciples in Heretic vs. Bishops in Hexen, Disciples are easily the tougher wizard monster, their shotgun-like projectile attack inflicts heavy damage and they take more damage themselves before they go down. Swarms of Bishops in Hexen are annoying at worst but their projectile does little damage even in volleys and the Bishop themselves are extremely fragile. A lot of Disciples in Heretic can be incredibly dangerous if you don't get them under control in time.

Heretic also has mini-bosses it uses fairly often in later episodes, the Iron Lich and Maulotaur can both put up a good fight and there's not really many exploits you can utilize (invisibility sphere throws off the Lich's tornado attack, tomed up Phoenix Rod is very effective against the Maulotaur). Hexen has one mini-boss of sorts which it uses rarely, the Heresiarch, and if you play as the Cleric you can exploit him super badly with the Flechette by spamming them all around him so he can't get off any his attacks and he dies super quickly.

I'd argue Hexen's most annoying and dangerous enemies are the Centaur/Slaughtaur and Wendigo. The former because they're just mana sponges and make fighting a chore, while the Wendigo being very uncommon has a really dangerous projectile attack especially in groups and are responsible for most of my injuries early on in Hexen (or the couple times you face them in Deathkings).

Heretic's most annoying and dangerous enemies? Frankly, most of them. They are all rather beefy in the HP department (maybe needlessly so) and work pretty well in unison even if they are just Doom 1 style monsters technically (mostly standard and easily dodgable projectile attacks) but they can swarm you pretty badly. Whereas in Hexen I just never found many of the fights particularly challenging, even in Deathkings. Heretic's 4th and 5th episodes on the other hand gave me a much harder time using a relatively smaller bestiary compared to Hexen.

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Heretics monsters are definitely limited and unfortunately many of them aren't specialized enough. A weredragon is basically a UW with a tiny bit more health, is fatter and I want to say slightly shorter, with a faster projectile that does more damage than green axes but less than red axes and is magical (as opposed to physical). The only benefit of weredragon over UW's is against a ghost player or in places barely not tall enough for a UW. Needless to say, weredragons are fairly useless in their current form.

That said, UW's + other ghost monsters (such as nitros) make for really good teams to mob players with many projectiles, even if they do mostly move straight. The projectiles from the UW's passing through the closer mobs, which can also shoot projectiles, can make for a projectile-Hell that would make even Doom jealous.

To be honest though, if the current Heretic mobs were tweaked a bit, they could make for a really interesting and fun cast to fight. The mechanics are there, they just weren't balanced and specialized quite right. (For the mouse+wasd era)

Then again, I also believe Heretic can only really be taken seriously by the average gamer today on BPPT.

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Played both Heretic and Hexen on hardest difficulties. Both are manageable but D'Sparil fight gives me the creeps even today when I remember it. Hours of trying to hit that bastard as he teleports right before the projectiles hit him, after which he proceeds to spawn multiple disciples. The try I finally beat him was when the arena was so full of disciples that dodging them all was no longer an option and I was slowly being chipped down little by little. Fortunately, before the disciple count hit critical mass, I damaged D'Sparil enough so that me running around furiously resulted in him getting killed by his own disciples. He couldn't avoid the projectiles either and I lasted long enough so that they finished him off. I already considered that a failed try so when I heard the sound of him dying with me being on the brink of death too, I just stared at the screen for a few minutes thinking "Did that just happen?".
One of the hardest boss fights ever.

Korax was a breeze compared to D'Sparil and was the main difference in difficulty for me.

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Ettins vs Golems: I disagree with the OP. Ettins are quite dangerous on skill 5 unless you're a fighter, because they can surround you and you can't push them away. Only fighter's melee weapons can push monsters away. The mage can turn them into harmless barriers with the ice attack (if he has blue mana), but a cleric with no mana is screwed.

Heretic's cold golems are pathetic. Sabreclaws are slightly better because unlike Doom demons they can't be safely killed with the fast melee weapon (gauntlets).

Which game is harder? Heretic's difficulty comes from monster quantity (like Doom) and smart powerup usage (unlike Doom). The main challenge is how you use your items.

Hexen seems more like an exploration game, relying more on architectural traps than monster formations. Mazes, crushers, death pits, respawn areas, projectile shooters and lava are the main enemies there.

Comparing them is difficult because they're different. It's even harder because it mainly depends on the PWAD and preferred difficulty setting. Let's compare Heretic skill 5 and Doom 2 skill 4: that would already be highly PWAD dependent (mostly Doom 2 would win because people here seem to love slaughter maps, and Doom 2 has no inventory).

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I also find Hexen's difficulty depends a lot on the player class.

Especially the Centaurs can be a major nuisance when playing with the Cleric and especially the Mage because they do not have good weapons to overcome their shields. (The Fighter's axe works quite well and the hammer's projectile is explosive so they work relatively quickly and do most damage before the shields go up and let projectiles reflect off.)
Sure the Cleric can blast the poison clouds but in return also gets far less Discs of Repulsion.

In general when Hexen gets difficult, it's not because of how monsters are used, but mainly because the Centaur is so annoying. Take away his shield and the difficulty will lower quite dramatically (Oh, and both big bosses are a joke to fight, too.)

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I've been meaning to mention this for some time, and it seems like a good time now. I think one of Heretic's worst aspects (and I love the Raven games) is the crazy knockback, esp. with the Hellstaff. Is this due to low enemy mass or something else? It gets really frustrating trying to compensate for enemy drift when autoaim locks onto the monster's current position. This also makes the powered Hellstaff almost useless vs single targets if I remember correctly. Would be a good thing to think of addressing in any kind of re-balance/bestiary tweak mod, I think.

I think Heretic is harder by the simple presence of Catafalque (E4M1). I never did beat the last two eps--should give em another try.

Korax is a pretty disappointing boss with an incredibly ugly set of sprites on top of that. Something like a giant Heresiarch would have been much better. I wonder if it was originally Korax and they flubbed trying to replace it with something more alien and even more menacing? This would seem to align with the ending screen with the chessboard, which presumably shows the third brother's red demonic hand.

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The problem with Hexen's difficulty is that it's strongly tied to available weapons: Fighter could probably finish the whole game with Timon's Axe, whereas Cleric is sorely lacking until Firestorm, then plows through the game with Wraithverge. As a result, you have three difficulty curves depending on class. Fun fact: most of the time Fighter actually gets more items compared to Cleric and Mage, often in the form of mana and flechettes, and his enemy placements are usually easier to deal with.

That said, I agree with printz that Hexen's difficulty is supplemented heavily with a gratuitous use of environmental hazards. If OP is asking which game is harder from a monster encounter standpoint, I don't think Hexen's even trying to compete, relying as much on crushers, death-drops, and those massive skewers as it does the general bestiary. One difficulty perk is the ability of flying enemies to dodge sideways: I always thought that was nifty.

Hexen has decent potential for tough encounters, but it refuses to use certain enemies unless they match the aesthetic. Not in an ice level? Well no wendigo, even if they're by far the most threatening thing Hexen throws at you. Reivers are also fairly nasty, but if they're not in a graveyard they're not placed in the IWADs. Stalkers are cool but really predictable since they only go in swamp water (and occasionally normal water). That only leaves Slaughtars as a strong common enemy, but they mostly end up annoying because of the invincibility period. If you removed the aesthetic restrictions, you could have a nice line-up.

Heretic's pretty much just Undead Warrior ghosts and Disciples as hard enemies in small groups, though it can do some interesting stuff with Nitrogolems, Weredragons, and Ophidians in the right formations. Sabreclaws never really did anything for me: sure, you can't use gauntlets effectively, but they hurt very little (even compared to most Heretic enemies) and it's easy enough to keep 'em at a distance with most weapons.

As for D'sparil vs Korax, D'sparil wins if only because it's really hard to keep track of his teleport: Korax has the same but the distance traveled is far less. I think what's supposed to be hard about Korax is that he can unleash hordes of Serpents and Bishops, but that's random and it takes forever for the enemies to get out of their closets. Poorly implemented, I'd say. Plus, you can keep a bunch of Icons of the Defender and completely cheese it, whereas you're limited in carryover options for Heretic.

Overall I'd say Heretic is harder, but that's a really rough estimate of everything. In some aspects it boils down to taking longer to kill enemies in Heretic over Hexen, and that's not necessarily a good thing.

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CapnClever said:

[korax] Poorly implemented, I'd say.


Yes. I read an interview with one of the designers from Raven about designing Heretic and Hexen, and he said as much, the last boss encounters are normally the last thing they worked on, so they were rushed.

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