So I finally decided to sit down tonight and finish up the remainder of Episode 3 that follows after the Matoi fight and subsequent credit roll, and was pleasantly surprised to have my ass completely handed to me by the Profound Darkness on Hardcore Mode. That said, with Episode 4 so close to release, I did swap over to Casual to finish the fight and continue on through the story, and hit another difficulty spike in the following chapter with the Corrupted Area (though on that one I did manage to complete up to the boss on Hardcore).
The question I have though (for those that have played the JP version) is does the difficulty continue to spike like this through Episode 4 as well, or does it fall back in line to the scaling difficulty of Hardcore before the Profound Darkness fight after the credits roll. The main reason I'm asking is if it would be better to simply play through the story mode first on Casual, than go back and do the fights as they were meant to be done on Hardcore.
I really do enjoy the difficulty of these fights, and it gives me something to work towards with new gear and what not, but if the difficulty remains as nail-bitingly difficult as it is in the last few Episode 3 missions, I'm debating just running through Casual for the sake of the story and keeping the plot moving forward, than going back and bashing my head against the encounters on Hardcore after.