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Beating Hard Difficulty: Tips And Tricks
Hard Difficulty. You'll notice the game also refers to it as "Rename the Game to Dig And Die". They're not kidding around. This is the second-hardest way to play. It is, to put it lightly, decidedly tricky.
First, finish the game on an easier difficulty. I did it in Easy and went straight to Hard. You'll use everything you learned on more reasonable difficulties. This guide will assume you're familiar with all of the stuff in Dig Or Die (since you have to get through everything to beat the game).
The only important thing to remember initially is: don't kill a monster until you are certain you can consistently defend against it in waves at night!
On that note, though...
(a) Note that you can harvest white flowers on the mountain without killing black fireflies (but the black gems they drop will be worth it for the gatling laser the moment you have uranium).
(b) You can safely go seek out fish and sharks to kill for drops early - they'll start swarming at night, but you should always be safe in your dry base when it happens.
(c) You may want to mine lots of red dirt from the west and grow ferns near your base so you can produce a ton of Large Health Potions as soon as you have the technology.
Build it at least slightly underground. Monsters don't attack wooden platforms; eventually the whole area around your base will be eroded away, so use platforms liberally.
For the base itself, I favour a ring of 8-12 'islands' of the hardest material you have, each with a repair turret (when you have them) and plastered with more turrets. Each repair turret should be able to target one or two other repair turrets. Stay in the middle and lay down supporting fire, preferably with a low-recoil weapon.
The key principle, somewhat counterintuitive, is that you should have lots of entrances from all angles, otherwise enemies just eat your walls and come in wherever they like (inevitably outside of your turrets' killing zone).
By the endgame, your base should have this level of defences (but with more laser turrets, I neglected those more than I should have):
Digging/Dying in Hard Mode
Getting down to brass tacks
Important fact 1: Compared to Normal, Hard monsters have a third more HP and spawn in waves twice the size at night.
Important fact 2: You have 50 HP, compared to 75 in Normal or 100 in Easy.
What this means is you need to maximise your DPS and reduce the damage you take.
Maximising your DPS:
Practise your aim. Know your weapon's range. Have turrets everywhere in your home base, prioritising repair turrets. Keep more turrets on you (including at least two repair turrets) in case you get caught underground at night. Make each weapon as soon as you can. Because monsters have such high HP, it's more important than ever to use high-damage weapons once you start facing armoured enemies (hypothetical: 10 shots per second doing 5 damage each shot is worse than 1 shot per second doing 25 damage each shot against black dwellers, with their 3 armour).
The laser gun and gatling laser, with their piercing and infinite autofire, will be your best friends.
Reducing damage taken:
Potions are great. Get the three armour tiers as soon as possible. You have perma-low health; falls will kill you and make you feel stupid. Make lots of wood platforms and leave them everywhere.
This won't be enough. You will still die, a lot. So...
Save constantly. Use the f5 quicksave option. Don't be afraid to save, then try something and reload if you have to.
At worst, if you really need a drop for an ingredient, save just before killing an enemy and reload until it drops it. This is particularly important for weapon/armour ingredients, because you want to make the weapon/armour the same day that you kill the enemy, because it will turn up that night! e.g. the plasma machine gun is great against red fireflies, and uses the red gem they drop.
At the beginning - or if you progress too fast to harvest many blue plants - health potions will be in short supply. Where possible, save before a difficult situation during the day, and if it goes poorly, just reload instead of using a potion.
Method 1: Your own two legs. Works just fine, but remember that enemies will knock you back, and you can easily end up juggled to death.
Method 2: Gun recoil. You will absolutely use the overcharged plasma gun for this. The shotgun and sniper are better than nothing. You can move at least twice as fast up a ladder (vertical shaft full of wood platforms) if you use recoil. Shoot directly underneath you, just a hair after pressing the jump button, for best effect.
Method 3: Teleporters. Put them all across your surface, and in the floating islands. I never got the hang of hydro power so I didn't have any underground, but if you can work it out, absolutely do that. On a related note, don't leave an unpowered teleporter anywhere, because you will get sent there and you will get stuck.
Method 4: Jetpack. By the time you get this, Hard difficulty is pretty much done.
And Now For The Challenging Parts
The Most Challenging Part of Hard Difficulty
The first boss is hard enough on Easy. Now the crabgodkingbatmaster has 3500 HP, 6 armour, hits for 30 with area damage every second, and summons vast swarms of black bats that are gamechangers by themselves. That sound you hear there? It's a symphony orchestra of bats playing your ribs like a xylophone.
Here's my thoughts on your approach.
Savescum to work out exactly where the mad crab / bat cloud spawns, both horizontally and vertically, and begin your preparation there.
According to the wiki, bats get summoned in proportion to the number of towers nearby. So don't mess around with anything except heavy turrets and repair turrets.
Killing the godcrab from above is much more difficult than on easier modes, because it takes longer and gives him time to ruin your plans. You need a fortress of turrets to keep the bats under control, but if you stay stationary, he will attack the ground and tunnel down until he's out of range! If you move around above him to prevent this, then you lose the protection of your turrets.
Killing him from the side by building a huge concrete wall won't work for much the same reason. Your repair towers won't keep up. He'll knock bits out and climb it to get to you.
Viable method A: Make as many lightning mines as you can (say ten) and finish him and the bats off with the rocket launcher. I didn't do this, but should have. You'd need 12 to kill him if he hits every one. That's 60 aluminium. With the same resources, you can make...
Viable method B: 8 heavy turrets and 4 auto-repair turrets. Mount them in an artificial floor, a bit far down so the boss walks across them without damaging them. Place a bunch of standard swivel turrets across the floor as well, since you should be phasing them out by now anyway. Drink buff potions and kite the boss across the floor, using the rocket launcher and laser gun to kill him and the bats with turret support. Kite him back and forth, rocket jumping at each end. If you set it up right, about half your turrets survive.
Hooray! The Most Challenging Part of Hard Difficulty: Completed!
Stand up and give yourself a pat on the back. You're now about halfway through the game, but at least the worst is over. It's, if not all gravy, then at least all something similar to gravy from here.
The Next-Most Challenging Part of Hard Difficulty
...Is actually resource management. In particular, you need aluminium for everything important and it's not easy to find: rarer than iron, but doesn't show up with the ore radar. Keep a stockpile of at least 30 or 40 before you (a) kill a new enemy or (b) venture into a new area, because you will need it - if nothing else, for the new turrets you'll need to add to your base.
The Only Remaining Challenging Part of Hard Difficulty
The firefly queen. By the time I got to her, it wasn't hard. Building the sky towers/bridges was more of a time sink. Pick a broad island, set it up with heavy turrets and repair turrets (you should also have laser turrets, but the angle won't be great), and dodge her spiral attacks.
She barely has any more HP than Batgod Bigcrab, and has less armour. Her projectiles are tricky, but slow moving and your ant armour reduces them to ~4 damage a pop anyway. Either the gatling laser or overcharged plasma gun will take care of her, and your turrets keep off the minions. I only call this fight a 'challenge' because you can get juggled off the island.
That's all the hard parts of Hard. See you in Brutal difficulty!