Grim Dawn can be tackled on three increasingly challenging difficulties: Normal, Elite and Ultimate. Each subsequent difficulty is unlocked by defeating the Final Boss of the game on the previous difficulty (ex. to unlock Elite Difficulty, you must first complete Normal Difficulty).
Higher difficulties will challenge you with more powerful higher-level enemies, allowing you to continue gaining levels and unlock the full potential of your characters. As you gain levels, you will start to see better equipment, including Legendary Items, which will almost never drop on Normal Difficulty.
If you are a veteran of the ARPG genre, you may find that Normal difficulty may not provide you with a sufficient challenge. For such players, we have added an additional game mode aptly named Veteran mode. You can enable Veteran mode at any time prior to loading a character into the world, and can similarly disable it again should it prove too difficult.
Veteran mode increases the challenge on Normal difficulty by making monsters stronger and tougher. You will also encounter an increased number of spawns, with a noticeable increase in the spawn rate of champion and hero monsters. With the increase in monster density, you will also notice an increase in the amount of loot that drops, making Veteran mode a rewarding experience for those that can survive its challenges.
Hardcore mode is for the truly brave and dedicated. It is a test of your prowess unlike any other as you venture out into the world of Cairn with only one life. Death for Hardcore characters is permanent. Any equipment a Hardcore character has at time of death is lost forever.
To emphasize the challenge, characters created in Hardcore mode do not share a stash with Normal mode characters and can only join multiplayer sessions with other Hardcore characters. If you wish to raise the stakes further, you can enable Veteran mode in addition to Hardcore mode.
Hardcore mode must be selected at character creation.