Resident Evil 3: How to Survive Nightmare Difficulty - Prima Games

Resident Evil 3: How to Survive Nightmare Difficulty

by Thomas Wilde

The last achievements for the Resident Evil 3 remake are locked behind its two advanced difficulty settings: Nightmare and Inferno. These remixed editions of Resident Evil 3 don’t just feature tougher enemies; they actually remix many encounters to present you with unexpected challenges. Here’s what to expect and how to live through Nightmare and Inferno.

Resident Evil 3: How to Survive Nightmare Difficulty

Incidentally, this guide will unavoidably involve major spoilers for the Resident Evil 3 remake.

You unlock Nightmare difficulty in RE3 by beating the game on Hardcore mode at any rank. Likewise, Inferno difficulty is unlocked by a full clear on Nightmare. Both difficulties are a sort of “arranged mode” for Resident Evil 3. Enemies appear in different patterns, at different times, and certain key items have been moved around. You can expect to deal with a lot more of the tougher monsters like Pale Heads, Lickers, and Nemesis parasites. Autosaves are disabled, and many enemies are noticeably more aggressive.

You receive the Trophy/achievement/Record Conqueror for clearing RE3 on Nightmare difficulty, and Dominator for beating it on Inferno. To get the Jill Valentine Trophy/achievement/Record, you must clear the game on Inferno difficulty with an S rank, by taking 2 hours or less and saving no more than 5 times.

Like a couple of past Resident Evil games, RE3’s difficulty settings are built around an adaptive system that changes in response to your performance, by applying a multiplier behind the scenes. The tougher the difficulty, the more damage you take and the less you inflict. While Jill, Carlos, and all the monsters technically always have the same health and damage totals, it’s all about that multiplier.

Fans have tested out the game’s math via speed-runner tools, and have found that Nightmare is hard-locked onto a level of the adaptive difficulty where you both take and inflict measurably more damage. Nightmare’s adaptive difficulty is also set from the start; the game will never get any easier or harder regardless of how well or poorly you do. On Inferno, however, the game starts a little harder than Nightmare and can only get worse from there.

The good news is that you can brute-force a lot of both Nightmare and Inferno difficulty in RE3. The 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 penalized your final rank if you used unlockable weapons like the infinite pistol, but in RE3, Nightmare and Inferno seem to be built around the assumption that you’ll be using every advantage that you can get. The two unlockable Defense Coins are particularly useful when you’re learning Nightmare/Inferno’s ropes, as for some reason, they provide additional damage resistance on higher difficulties. With both Defense Coins in your inventory, you can take as much as 70% less damage from enemy attacks.

Nightmare and Inferno difficulty have the following changes:

  • There’s an extra zombie between you and the first gate, right after you get the starting handgun.
  • Jill now finds the Lightning Hawk heavy pistol and a Hip Pouch in the first safe room in the subway. This is meant to give you an expedient way to deal with Pale Heads, which would otherwise be indestructible at this point in the game.
  • There are roughly twice as many zombies in many locations in Raccoon City, including the alleyway after the subway station and the lot in front of Moon’s Donuts.
  • There are a couple of zombies in the office in the subway control center, one of which has a Nemesis parasite.
  • The zombies behind the chain-link fence outside the electrical substation are all now sporting Nemesis parasites, which means they can tentacle-whip you through the fence. They won’t hit you if you run straight through, but you’ll take a lot of damage if you stop.
  • The street outside the substation now fills up with zombies once you’ve reactivated power, including one zombie who’s pounding on the door to the garage. It’s exactly what you want to see when Nemesis has just shown back up.
  • Four parasite zombies spawn behind Moon’s Donuts when you’re on your way back to the subway control room.
  • There’s an extra Gamma Hunter in the sewer, behind the “waterfall” in the T-intersection.
  • Two parasite zombies will fall out of an overhead pipe to ambush you in the sewers.
  • During the fight with Nemesis atop the construction site, his flamethrower is now a genuine threat; getting bathed in flames can now do actual damage to Jill, rather than just slowing her down.
  • Once you blow up Nemesis’s fuel tank, his rushing lunge in phase 2 of the boss fight now does enough damage to kill Jill from full health. This is more than it “should” do, even considering the adaptive difficulty.
  • Brad’s ID card is in the locker room under the RPD’s entrance, rather than on his body.
  • Carlos now encounters an aggressive Licker in the RPD’s west hallway, instead of the zombie ambush outside the operations room.
  • Two Lickers now appear when you return to the first floor of the RPD with the key to the secure storage room.
  • Whether you fought him in the RPD courtyard or not, Zombie Brad returns to attack you as you leave the secure storage room.
  • There are three Pale Heads infected with Nemesis parasites in the hallway outside the STARS office.
  • During the fights at the Clock Tower Plaza and the disposal chamber, Nemesis’s lunging bite attack now does enough base damage to inflict an instant kill.
  • The zombies in the hospital lobby are replaced with a single idle Licker.
  • Carlos’s first encounter with a Hunter is moved up to when you first reach the center of the second-floor corridor of the hospital.
  • The staff room in the hospital now has four zombies in it when you first enter.
  • There’s now a Licker in the nurses’ office in the hospital.
  • Carlos now encounters a Pale Head in the corridor before the linen room in the hospital.
  • There’s another Pale Head in the empty hallways between the hospital lobby and the freight elevator.
  • Jill will encounter an extra Gamma Hunter in the warehouse, inside the open cargo container at the base of the ladder near the first fusebox.
  • The ambush in the small corridor near the second fusebox in the warehouse has been changed up. The pack of zombies is now entirely absent, but the Gamma Hunter has three undead dogs with it.
  • There’s an extra Pale Head on the second floor of the NEST 2.
  • The pack of zombies in the lab where you find the second part of the vaccine is now entirely made up of Nemesis parasites and Pale Heads.
  • Two more Hunters ambush you on your way back through the Specimen Room with both parts of the vaccine. You’ll be hit by two from the front, two from behind, and one that jumps right on top of you.
  • Up to five zombies can now appear at once during your fight with Nemesis in the disposal room, and one or more of them may be Pale Heads. Notably, while you can use Nemesis’s lunges to kill normal zombies during this fight, he doesn’t do enough damage to force a Pale Head to stay down.

The biggest roadblock on both Nightmare and Inferno is the final fight against Nemesis. While the mechanics are the same–avoid his attacks, pop the blisters, push the batteries while he’s stunned–Nemesis does a lot more damage and his attack patterns are both longer and less predictable. Taking a single punch or swing from him on Nightmare/Inferno will kill Jill from full health. If you’re carrying both Defense Coins, that gives you enough damage reduction to survive the first hit, but Nemesis’s follow-ups may and probably will still stun and kill you before you have the chance to heal. Your only real option is to learn the pattern and perfectly dodge all of Nemesis’s hits, which is slightly easier if you bring the STARS Combat Manual.

Good luck on completing your tour of duty through Nightmare and Inferno. If you’re just getting started with Resident Evil 3, though, check out our game hub, for more news, articles, and guides, including:

Resident Evil 3 is having a slightly longer tail than anyone expected, due to the addition of Jill as a survivor in the Project Resistance multiplayer game. With Nicolai entering the fray as an unlockable Mastermind in the near future, it seems like Capcom intends for the game to have some legs behind it. What’s the next Resident Evil villain you’d like to see as a playable character in Resistance? Let us know at our official Twitter, @PrimaGames.