Rockstar Game Tips: Difficulty Settings - Getting Started in Max Payne 3

Posted on May 16 2012, 11:59am | Author: R* K | Filed Under: Social Club, Games

With Max Payne 3 hitting shelves around the world this week for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, here's a starter edition of our Rockstar Game Tips series for Max Payne 3 to help you easily get into the game and start Bullet Timing® and Shootdodging™ your way to 100% glory. And look for many more Game Tips to come throughout the summer - including an overview on basic targeting and other options later  this week plus some pro tips and tricks from our in-house Multiplayer experts and much more later on.

Difficulty settings: The Max Payne 3 Story can be played at five difficulty settings that can be adjusted on the fly and provide varying levels of challenge as follows:

  • Easy: Increased Health and Bullet Time® Rewards. A satisfying challenge
  • Medium: Moderate Health and Bullet Time Rewards. A stiff challenge
  • Hard: Low Health and Bullet Time Rewards. A real test
  • Hardcore: Minimal Health and Bullet Time rewards. Very challenging
  • Old School: Last Man Standing is disabled.

Medium is the default setting for all - so you can start the game and decide from there on the fly whether you'd like to adjust your difficulty for more of a challenge or an easier go as you play.

Easy and Medium settings feature dynamic difficulty which provides access to extra painkillers to help you pass particular parts of the game if you've died repeatedly. On Easy and Medium settings, when you die at a checkpoint, you restart the checkpoint with at least one full magazine of ammo in each gun (except grenade launchers) and the number of painkillers that you started with. For every three times you die at a checkpoint, you get one extra painkiller. So if you started a checkpoint with 2 painkillers, and died 3 times, on each subsequent retry of that checkpoint, you'd start with 3 painkillers.  If you died 3 more times (6 total), you'd start with 4 painkillers on each subsequent restart.  On Easy and Medium, this can continue until you are respawning with a full 9 painkillers.

On the Hard setting, there is also dynamic difficulty however it is intentionally much more limited to ensure a tougher go. On Hard, if you die 5 times, you will get a bonus painkiller on subsequent respawns, and if you've died 10 times, you can get one more. However, it will never give you bonus painkillers that make your total go above 2. So if you started a checkpoint with 1 painkiller and died 5 times, you'd start with 2; but if you died 5 more times (10 total), you would not get an extra - you would continue to respawn with 2. Likewise, if you start a checkpoint with 3 painkillers, you would never get a bonus painkiller in Hard mode.

Hardcore and Old School modes are unlocked by beating the Story on Hard difficulty.

There are just a few basics on how to tailor the experience to your skill level – shout in Comments or shoot us a mail directly at with any other questions about getting started with the game.

Further Reading:
Crew Up - A beginner's guide to creating and joining Crews
Social Club - An introduction to the Max Payne 3 Social Club features

  • TunaSammichon April 17 2013, 1:41pmReplyFlag
    Hey R*
    Really loved this game, already beat it four times on the most challenging difficulties,
    are there any possibilities for a harder difficulty setting in the future?
    • CJ4567on September 28 2012, 3:40pmReplyFlag
      I die always in Chapter 5,at where i found the new riftle,and die always here,PC,medium diff
      • Chillzboton September 17 2012, 10:30pmReplyFlag
        Lol my game had a glitch or something and I unlocked hardcore and old school without even beating the game on hard.
        • edentzon September 14 2012, 9:17pmReplyFlag
          hey i didn't notice but i was playing on easy mode :) then i start the game again on medium because i wanted to unlock the character selection on score attack but the character option not opened WTF???
          • ironrafael09on August 8 2012, 10:43pmReplyFlag
            Loved the game. Thanks for another game who stays true when it says hard. It was quite a challenge, but now I'm finishing it on Old School and must say it's not that hard. You just gotta be careful and use your painkillers wisely. Also I'm wondering if Old School is harder or easier than Hardcore. Waiting for a response and thank you again for the awesome game.
            • FreakingISon August 31 2012, 9:45pmReplyFlag
              @ironrafael09 Old School is MUCH easier then hard or hardcore. On hardcore you take 2 (maximum 3) hits and you're dead (last stand).
          • amirperson June 23 2012, 7:10pmReplyFlag
            Rockstar Please Help me.
            I finshed game in Medium settings but characters didnot unlock in Arcade.
            If I finished in Hard Settings, characters will be unlock ?
            (sorry for bad English)
            • Mahyar-marstonon June 20 2012, 3:54amReplyFlag
              Hi. Which difficulty setting of the game provides the bigger challenge, Hardcore or Old school? I've already beaten the hard mode.
              • peteM1911on June 11 2012, 8:46amReplyFlag
                Hey does anyone else notice that if you go from moving forward normally to 'sprinting', that Max still moves at the same speed (running style but still at the same speed). Also sometimes when I go from shooting to taking cover he acts like its slow motion even though I haven't used bullet time (lag?). Also how annoying is it that you cant go from lying on your back to taking cover, you have to stand up first and get shot to pieces. Also what about when you take cover and shoot in the direction the reticule is aimed but he fires straight up in the air? Also what about how blind fire has no reticule and never seems to hit anyyone? I can live with last man standing not having a chance of hitting the blocked target because its a bonus. But this whole cover system/ shooting dynamics is so flawed it's a joke.
                If Uncharted 2 could do it perfectly in 2009, then WTFN max payne in 2012?
                I'm still gonna beat it to the end on hard then probably hardcore, but it is annoying as hell
                • fuzzywuzzylamaon May 23 2012, 1:58pmReplyFlag
                  The crew im in is ranked 23 worldwide atm, figured itd be top 10 once private made crew filters excluding developer crews. This wouldbe awesome, seeming as its american and im australian, and its hard to find a decent australian crew :(
                  • x_STREETKING_xon May 22 2012, 8:46amReplyFlag
                    R* please help, I didn't unlock the trophy for completing it on HARD, yet I have HARDCORE and OLD SCHOOL mode unlocked... what have I done wrong? and if I play through on OLD SCHOOL mode will I unlock ALL of the difficulty trophies at once?
                    • DigenesDeityon May 22 2012, 5:07pmReplyFlag
                      @x_STREETKING_x If you beat on hard you should have gotten the trophy. After my hard mode completion, I played Old School thinking it would automatically unlock Hardcore completion trophy, but no. Old School and Hardcore are separate playthroughs.
                    • deusalexon May 23 2012, 7:30amReplyFlag
                      @x_STREETKING_x I got the same problem on my Xbox. I completed the story on [HARD] difficulty, but I didn't get the achievements. I didn't use any cheats. I even have Hardcore and Old school unlocked, but no achievement recieved for completing the story. Also, I wonder If I get the Medium difficulty achievment for beating it on Hard.
                    • iMarcus_on May 30 2012, 10:51pmReplyFlag
                      @deusalex thats because all you guys are little girls and didn't use FREE AIM!
                    • peteM1911on June 11 2012, 8:22amReplyFlag
                      @iMarcus_ So true lol. At first I selected the hard setting and chose hard lock but then a message came up saying something like "trophies for hard mode will be disabled unless you choose free-aim". So I chose free aim, it's a bit of a learning curve, but after a few chapters you get used to it. Also I intend to get the multiplayer trophies and I know I wont stand a chance without good free-aim skills. BTW That's on PS3, dont know if Xbox users get the same message
                  • Outlaw-95on May 22 2012, 8:46amReplyFlag
                    If I use Unlimited Painkillers, can I still get achievements? Say for instance, if I use this cheat, I can get the achievement where I beat the game on the hardest difficulty setting?
                  • Toptuningon May 21 2012, 4:10pmReplyFlag
                    I completed my 2nd Gamethrough. Played it on Old School and didn't get the Hardcore Trophy like I though in the beginning. So now I start my 3rd gametrough on Hardcore...
                    • PoliticalVIIon May 21 2012, 3:13amReplyFlag
                      We are the CIA agents of "GTA V"
                      Our purpose is to control Los Santos and the surrounding areas. Any crew(Organization) that threatens our jurisdiction will be met with fierce punishment, in a manner which is consistent with their transgression.
                      We will plan every move, and execute every Mission. Any Agent that betrays this agency will be held accountable.

                      Our dress code : Data loading (Coming soon)
                      Our weapon: Data loading (Coming soon)
                      Our Vehicle: Data loading (Coming soon)
                      Our Headquarters: Data Loading (Coming soon)



                      Message me at "" for more info
                    • manolox70on May 20 2012, 5:56pmReplyFlag
                      Old School disables Last Man standing, but what difficulty is it on? What I mean is, is it like Medium but with no LMS, or like Hard or Hardcore? Also, does beating the game on Hardcore unlock the achievement for beating it on Old School or vice versa?
                      • Boogeymaineon May 20 2012, 5:39pmReplyFlag
                        The crew leader boards are pointless with developer crews dominating the ranks because all the scrubs and skids want to join the rank 1 developer crew, should be isolated from the ranks IMO.
                        • R* Aon May 20 2012, 6:23pmReplyFlag
                          @Boogeymaine We're working on more filtering for the Crew Leaderboards so that you guys can easily see just how the private fan-made Crews are faring, apart from the public Crews. Stay tuned for that soon.
                      • Vladislav.K.on May 20 2012, 3:01pmReplyFlag
                        @R* A why i got trophy for medium difficulty, while i have finished game on hard?and i didnt got trophy for hard difficulty
                        • R* Aon May 20 2012, 3:04pmReplyFlag
                          @Vladislav.K. Doesn't sound right - the place to ask however about things like that is Support:
                        • Zeichefon May 20 2012, 7:34pmReplyFlag
                          @Vladislav.K. It's because you played hard with soft-lock/hard-lock on. The Serious Payne trophy (complete the story on Hard) unlocks only if you play Hard with Free-Aim. Basicaly you just wasted a playthrough... although completing it on the newly unlocked Old School mode with Free-Aim might give you the Hardcore and Hard trophies also... Good luck adjusting to playing with Free-Aim after a soft-lock playthrough :)
                        • Vladislav.K.on May 21 2012, 2:47amReplyFlag
                          @Zeichef Man if i only knew i switched Free aim to soft lock in Last chapter,but wayt why there is no reminder like with some other trophies?
                      • STLKREW_RELATEon May 20 2012, 10:29amReplyFlag
                        STAYINTRUELIVINGFAST Crew is looking for recruits who want to make themselves known in gta5..
                        look for under : STAYINTRUELIVINGFAST
                        • eXeraZoRon May 19 2012, 6:30pmReplyFlag
                          Do Those difficulty settings and extra Painkillers on Easy/Medium also apply for the PC Version?
                          • Toptuningon May 18 2012, 4:09pmReplyFlag
                            I just finished playing the Game in the Hard difficulty and want to start a New Game on Old School, will my Challenges, Unlocks (Gold Guns and clues) get deleted when I start the New Game?
                            • DigenesDeityon May 18 2012, 4:15pmReplyFlag
                              @Toptuning All of your collectibles will stay regardless of starting a new game including challenges and so on.
                            • Toptuningon May 18 2012, 6:14pmReplyFlag
                              @DigenesDeity Thanks a lot DigenesDeity for your answer. Just started playing on Old School. It looks easier than Hard difficulty but here is the last stand disabled...
                            • DigenesDeityon May 20 2012, 5:16amReplyFlag
                              @Toptuning Yeah I would say that Old School took me longer than Hardcore, but I am not looking forward to New York Minute Hardcore. But with this game it just takes patience and persistence; save your painkillers and use your bullet dodge.
                          • Sektoron May 18 2012, 4:43amReplyFlag
                            Hard mode really is hard unlike in some games. It makes the check points seem so far away.
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