Grim Dawn has three difficulty levels: Normal, Elite and Ultimate. As with Titan Quest and other games of the ARPG genre, each subsequent difficulty is unlocked by defeating the Final Boss of the vanilla game on the previous difficulty (ex. to unlock Elite Difficulty, you must first complete Normal Difficulty vanilla game content).
Normal also has a "Veteran" mode, for additional challenge, which increases monster damage and stats, as well as granting a +10% Experience boost. 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. Be warned: it is not for the faint of heart.
Characters on Elite and Ultimate difficulty incur a resistance penalty.
|Poison & Acid||-25%||-50%|
The Forgotten Gods Expansion allows the player to start a new character on the higher difficulties. Champion's and Savior's Merits can be purchased by a character after finishing Act 1 and talking to The Emissary to go to the Conclave of the Three on Elite or Ultimate respectively. The Merits are used to unlock that difficulty for another character, allowing the player to tackle the extra challenge and rewards from the very beginning and avoid repeating the main campaign. Monsters will scale from level 1 on each difficulty but will have additional health, offensive ability etc, and the player will be subject to the relevant resistance penalties.
Merits will grant all Skill and Attribute point rewards from the previous difficulties, as if all respective quests had been completed. In addition, they will unlock all Inventory Bags and all Riftgates on those difficulties.
On creation of a new character the player has the option of selecting Hardcore mode. In this mode a character's death is permanent and is no longer playable. Any equipment a Hardcore character has at time of death is lost forever. Hardcore mode characters do not share a stash with Normal mode characters and can only join multiplayer sessions with other Hardcore characters.
On the character selection menu, hardcore characters are shown with a golden aura, while dead HC characters appear as a ghost in black and white with a grey aura.