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[Dev Update] Hard Mode and Sunspear & Lightbringer Titles -- 20 March 2007
We know that, in essence, it is currently not possible to get the maximum ranks of the Sunspear and Lightbringer titles. When we released Nightfall, our plan was to not allow players to max out these titles until the implementation of Hard Mode. We originally thought this feature would be ready shortly after release, but during testing we found more and more features we wanted to include in the Hard Mode update. The core idea was simple: Give players the option to take on a more challenging version of Guild Wars and reward their characters with better drops and titles than they could achieve in Normal Mode.
The basics haven't changed, but to borrow a phrase from Tolkien, "The tale grew in the telling."
Rather than simply staying with the general set of changes and rules we'd originally intended, we're also adjusting creature Skill Bars throughout the game to make the fights more interesting. Contrary to our original intentions, we're also including Hard Mode in all areas of the game (except pre-Searing Ascalon). So, if you've ever wanted to explore a version of the Flame Temple Corridor with level 20+ creatures, you'll be able to do that with Hard Mode. This, of course, is requiring us to adjust some rules about how loot is generated.
We're adding a few new items we think you'll like that drop only in Hard Mode. In addition, we're altering the way locked chests work in Hard Mode, including the addition of lock picks that can be used on any locked chest. Unlike keys, which disappear after you use them once, with a lock pick, you will have a chance of using it on more than one chest, and that chance will increase based on your Lucky/Treasure Hunting titles. We're also adding new titles, Guardian and Vanquisher, which have required extensive testing and balancing of all the missions in Hard Mode. (This meant doing such things as making sure a human Hard Mode team paired with an NPC team in the Vizunah Square mission could still achieve Master's level completion.)
Beyond all of that, we've also realized during the course of development that these changes give us the ability to rebalance several things in Normal Mode that players have found too challenging or unpleasant. For example, we're altering the death explosions of the Afflicted creatures in Factions, creature distribution in particularly difficult areas, monsters scattering away from area of effect spells, and healer creatures running from melee attackers indefinitely. We've also decided to add a number of PvE-only Sunspear skills, which will be available to players through both Normal and Hard Mode.
In short, we've taken this extra time as an opportunity to make many aspects of the game better, and because of that, the Hard Mode release is taking longer than originally anticipated. We currently believe it will be ready within a month, if not sooner. We hope you'll find it was worth the wait.