Hard mode is a more challenging version of Guild Wars that is unlocked for an account when any character completes a campaign. Any level 20 character on that account can choose to take on greater numbers of tougher foes in exchange for increased rewards, more valuable drops, and the opportunity to acquire additional titles.
Differences from normal mode
Foes in hard mode are stronger than their normal mode counterparts:
- Are at higher levels.
- Every level gained translates to 20 more health and roughly 5% more skill damage (see damage calculation).
- They do not gain an armor rating bonus for their increased level:
- Foes that are below level 20 in normal mode will have a base armor of 60 in hard mode.
- Foes that are above level 20 in normal mode will have the same armor in both modes.
- Have 20 more maximum health for every level above 20, in addition to the health bonus mentioned above.
- Have higher attributes.
- Move and attack 33-50% faster.
- Have reduced activation times for skills that normally take 2 seconds or longer to activate.
- Non-boss foes get an elite skill and may have additional non-elite skills.
Foes in hard mode use a superior AI:
- Respond more quickly to area damage over time.
- Are more likely to fight for longer periods of time.
- Are less likely to ball around a single target if more targets are available.
- Are more likely to kite for long periods of time.
- Will not activate skills that increase attack speed with no other benefit.
In addition to the foes being more difficult to defeat,
- Resurrection Shrines will not work if every party member has 60% Death Penalty; a wipe will return your party to the last town or outpost.
- Chests opened by keys are replaced by Locked Chests (requiring Lockpicks); in Eye of the North, the Locked Chests are more likely to break picks.
- Foes are more likely to drop rare items and have a chance to drop tomes of their profession.
- Hard mode quests can only be completed while playing in hard mode.
There are additional differences in certain explorable areas, including:
- In The Underworld and The Fissure of Woe, foes can have greater innate health regeneration at the expense of lowered health.
- Some foes will only spawn in hard mode (e.g. during the War in Kryta), and some will have an increased quantity of spawns (like the Spectral Vaettir in Jaga Moraine).
- Enemy reinforcements can spawn more quickly (e.g. during Assault on the Stronghold).
Playing in hard mode
You unlock a campaign's hard mode for your account by completing that campaign's final mission with any character. Once unlocked, hard mode for this campaign is available to every level 20 character on the same account. The required missions are:
- Prophecies: Hell's Precipice
- Factions: Imperial Sanctum
- Nightfall: Abaddon's Gate
- Eye of the North: A Time for Heroes
Once you have completed the requirements to enter hard mode, you will see two new buttons at the top of your Party Formation panel allowing you to select whether to play in Normal mode or in hard mode.
Adventuring with other players
You can choose to party with other characters who are eligible for hard mode. However, if a character who is not eligible for hard mode joins your party, your party will receive the following message: "Hard mode has been disabled. <Character name> does not meet the requirements for Hard Mode." The ineligible character will need to leave your party before you can re-enable hard mode.
Players using the Party Search panel to seek out other hard mode players will have a [Hard Mode] tag in the description field by their name.
- Party members are automatically granted a buff that boosts earned experience by 50%.
- Bounties and blessings in Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North give more points to their respective title.
In addition to the differences noted above, the time limit for mission rewards is extended in hard mode for most timed missions.
Quests that are not specifically designed for Hard Mode are still impacted by the above changes. This can drastically increase the difficulty of quests, by increasing the quantity and stats of any added quest-related foes.
The average number of uncommon and rare item drops has been increased in hard mode. Additionally, rewards from chests at the end of dungeons and elite missions are doubled; this includes the number of gemstones from chests in the Domain of Anguish.
Skill tomes are a hard mode-exclusive drop from foes. With the exception of the Fissure of Woe and the Underworld, Passage Scrolls to the Fissure of Woe and the Underworld can drop from bosses only in hard mode. Likewise, with the exception of Eye of the North foes, Lockpicks only drop from foes in hard mode.
Four title tracks are available for PvE characters in hard mode.
- Vanquisher for defeating all of the monsters in most of a campaign's explorable areas and Legendary Vanquisher when you collect all three vanquisher titles.
- Guardian for completing each campaign's missions (both primary and secondary objectives) in hard mode and Legendary Guardian for obtaining Guardian and Protector titles in each campaign.
- You are able to increase title ranks that have a cap in normal mode through bounties and blessings. These titles are:
- Hard mode was introduced in the April 19, 2007 update for Prophecies, Factions, and Nightfall and in the October 12, 2007 update for Eye of the North.
- Hard mode foes' armor rating was reduced and their maximum health was raised in the January 5, 2012 update.
- Guide to hard mode
- List of hard mode quests
- The official Guild Wars Hard Mode Fact Sheet
- A post from Gaile with more details about access.
- Dev Update on hard mode and both Sunspear and Lightbringer titles (20th March 2007)