Hard Mode is almost exactly like Normal mode besides for the obvious change in difficulty level. It's also completely possible to do a Hard Mode playthrough on your first run and even bypass doing a regular playthrough if need be. Still, I recommend just doing the three playthroughs, especially if your character is underdeveloped or if you're lacking equipment. It definitely doesn't hurt, considering its just extra experience to add to your character. Beyond that, Hard Mode offers only one extra trophy, which is to obviously beat the game on the selected difficulty. Any of the other, non-game mode-specific trophies can still be earned here as well. You will receive two rewards for completing a Hard Mode playthrough.
- Set of Duke's Clothing
- The Abyssinal Outfit
Unlike some of the other unique rewards (such as the items from a speedrun), the Abyssinal outfit and the Duke's clothing are decent as equipment. They offer high enough stats to be of use to players, although the value will only last for so long. These items will appear in your storage once you've completed the game, and you cannot find them anywhere else, hence naming them unique.
- The damage of enemy attacks is doubled.
- The experience, rift crystals, and discipline gained are doubled.
- The player's stamina usage is doubled (running is not affected).
- Enemies drop "proportionately" more gold when killed.
- The player's stagger/knockdown effects are decreased.
- Mitigation augments are increased dramatically (such as Fortitude or Awareness).
- All equipment and materials are kept as if Hard Mode was a New Game Plus, however, you cannot switch to Hard Mode from the Normal Mode. A new playthrough must be started.
Hard Mode generally comes down to being cautious with your stamina and being smart about your skillset. If it becomes difficult to advance, be sure you're using the correct approach to each enemy type, and that you've been updating your equipment. Don't underestimate the value of items like Blast Arrows and Pilgrim's Charms. There are no other changes from the normal playthrough. Enemies will not get smarter, and their health won't increase with difficulty. It's also good to note that pawns are unaffected by difficulty, and therefore, they keep the increased stamina and stats.
HINTS AND TIPS
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Save often and remember the basic tips to the game.
- Start smart. If you haven't completed the game at least once, be ready to struggle. If you have done a playthrough, collect things that you won't have access to in the new game, like the wakestones in the Everfall. You should also place down portcrystals so you're ready.
- Be prepared. Stock up on stamina and healing items. And wakestones are never a bad idea either, as I've already mentioned. You should also look into using some items like Pilgrim's Charms which will increase the experience you earn. You can see where to buy these things below.
- Keep track of trophies. This will likely be your second playthrough, so it's a good time to look back at the additional trophies page and look for anything you've missed. Don't play the storyline four times for a single quest.
- Develop your vocation. There are times when skills won't seem as crucial to the game, but Hard Mode is a good example of when they can make a huge difference. Learn enemy weaknesses and elemental damage. You will notice the difference. You can check out the tips page for more information.
- Don't forget to check the tips page. Every monster has specific weaknesse, so make sure you're putting up a proper offense.
What's different (and arguably a big flaw) with Dragon's Dogma is that the difficulty will never scale. Once you reach the cap where your level exceeds the difficulty, you should focus on Bitterblack Isle instead. The opposite applies as well; if the game is too difficult, then leveling up will easily fix the issue. Unlike with a Speedrun, you aren't limited to playing offline, so it's also possible to hire on pawns of higher levels. This will make things significantly easier, but it will also decrease the experience you earn greatly. Overall, Hard Mode isn't nearly as daunting as it may seem, especially if you're precise with your playstyle.
If you aren't in the habit of reading equipment descriptions, you should certainly start. There are advantages to keeping lower value items, and it's worth looking into if you don't have access to high-grade shops. This is a list of equipment that are worth keeping around for your Hard Mode playthrough. Note that Bitterblack Isle equipment is not included, because it's unlikely that you'll complete it before playing through Hard Mode. You can see Bitterblack Isle equipment on the corresponding page.
- LIGHT ARMOR AND CLOTHES
- Holy Armor Set: Found in post-everfall and arguably the best set for magick users. Many post-game enemies (including Bitterblack Isle) are weak to Holy, which makes it a great set for both high level and low-level players.
- Ancient Armor Set: The good thing about this set of equipment is that it's highly resistant to nearly every element in the game. The bad thing about it is that it must be bought from the Black Cat, meaning it's fairly expensive to collect. It also has special aesthetics.
- Rapture Armor Set: Though not as useful as the Holy set, it's significantly easier to find the pieces to this armor and the set as a whole helps defend against all debilitations. Using the entire set also gives +3 Strength and +4 Magick.
- Golden Lion Set: Found in the Everfall, this set is 100% resistant to skill stifling and petrification, making it very useful for specific in-game battles such as with the cockatrice. The stats are decent as well, particularly with defense.
- Leather Armor Sets: Though weak in comparison, there are numerous pieces of leather armor that can be upgraded for decent results, such as the Red Leather Armor Set. This is a good alternative to players who don't have access to other high-level equipment.
- MEDIUM ARMOR
- Set of Duke's Clothing: Yes, you earn this by completing Hard Mode, so it's a bit pointless to put this set on the list. However, if you somehow come to own the piece (likely from gifting), it's a good choice with decent stats, unlike most full-piece articles.
- Abyssinal Armor Set: As with the Duke's Clothing, this set is hard to come by before playing Hard Mode. However, a full set yields decent stats and resistances, provided you can collect all the pieces as a whole.
- Royal Surcoat Set: Although the general stats are decreased from the original, the Royal Surcoat set is a great asset for vocations such as the Mystic Knight. What it lacks in general protection is made up with increased defenses with magick and elemental damage.
- Assembled Armor Set: This set lacks aesthetic value, but it's a decent trade for the well-balanced stats and easily obtained pieces. It's a good collection for beginners and can be upgraded with relatively simple materials.
- HEAVY AND VERY HEAVY ARMOR
- Grisly Armor Set: This set can be found in post-everfall and has fairly nice stats, including the resistance to poison, sleep and curse. When upgraded to the final tier, the Grisly Armor is just barely short of Bitterblack Isle gear.
- Chimeric Armor Set: An easily obtainable set, the Chimeric armor works well for warriors with a high defense against physical attacks, but relatively low defense against magic. It holds a high immunity against sleep and torpor.
- Meloriean Armor Set: It lacks magical defenses, but the Meloriean set has one of the best physical defense values in the game, making it a fairly decent option for warriors, and especially pawns.
- Gryphic Armor Set: You can easily obtain this entire set as a beginner, making it a fairly nice addition for beginners. Like a Griffin, the set is resistant to lightning, thundershock and torpor.
If you are too low of a level, don't try and play Fashion Dogma with your Arisen and pawns. In Hard Mode, small differences in stats can make or break your playthrough. Don't underestimate items with torpor or resistances, and don't hesitate to mix and match pieces as well. There are no bonuses for matching sets. Also, avoid using one-piece armor sets, such as the Lady's Garbs. Even with high stats, stacking smaller pieces will give you much better results. It's also not necessary to use a full set of articles, or the ones on this list. They are simply some of the best pieces of armor that the game has to offer. Sadly, if you were interested in the Berserk-inspired armor sets, they are no longer available due to the license expiration.
HARD MODE WALKTHROUGH
As with the Speedrun walkthrough, this is not the full guide to the story. The story page itself will have all the quests and trophies needed. The Hard Mode walkthrough will instead focus on important battles in the game and how to prepare for them since we've already gone through the story once before. Good luck!
|Boss #1 - Cyclops||Unfortunately, this is the one fight that you won't have access to other pawns for just yet. Fire is an element that you will receive early, making it a good source for spells to use. Rook is also a healer, so staying back works well too. Furthermore, attacking the eyes, tusks, and the legs works well to keep it off balance. It isn't a very difficult fight.|
|Boss #2 - Hydra||There is a very easy way to complete this battle, even on Hard. No matter what vocation you are, climb the neck and stop before the head. Repeatedly attack that one location and the head will eventually split from the body. It will end the fight every time.|
|Boss #3 - Fort Gobins||Although not technically a boss fight, most players will find this portion to be fairly difficult. To make things easier. do not open the lever until you have killed all the goblins on the ballistas. They can easily knock you down, even from the roof of the fort. Use fire spells and take advantage of the explosives around. You can open the gate once it's only the two Cyclopes. Follow the first boss fight's advice for good tactics if needed.|
| Boss #4 - Salvation Undead||This quest is considerably easier with warriors that can smash through the undead. When you reach the end, you'll have to defeat two waves before continuing. Using fire based spells (especially area of effect ones) will make this go much faster. Holy magick is also quite effective.|
|Boss #5 - Salomet||Although not particularly difficult, Salomet will have friends with him when you arrive at the mine. There's also numerous Ogres inside, but these shouldn't cause any problems. Salomet (and his entourage) can be easily handled by blunt force and elemental effects. This is where weapons that inflict sleep or torpor can be fairly effective. Keep your distance from magical attacks.|
| Boss #6 - Griffin||The assault on the tower is much more difficult than taking out the Griffin on the first try, so try to limit your time wasted when in battle. A good tactic to have is to bring pawns with foe knowledge of the Griffin. Pawn with knowledge will almost always attempt to latch onto the legs and keep the beast from flying. Griffins also have a natural weakness to fire and can be doused in oil.|
|Boss #7 - Salomet (2)||This fight is on Bluemoon Tower, where Salomet is alone. When using the ring, his magical abilities are greatly enhanced, so avoid getting in the way at all costs. Use distanced attacks or rush him as soon as possible. Salomet also has small portions of invulnerability, so don't waste the effort.|
|Boss #8 - Cockatrice||This can be a difficult fight if you aren't prepared. Be sure to bring plenty of curatives, especially ones that cure petrification. There are three easy ways to keep the cockatrice from owning you. The first is to keep it on the ground, either by burning or dousing the wings, or by climbing onto the legs like with the Griffin. The second is to use elemental damage such as lightening. And finally, just avoid the spitting. It will petrify you and your pawns, and sometimes poison as well.|
|Boss #9 - Lich Kings||This was a very difficult battle at first, at least for me. Whatever you do, avoid the Malestrom spell. You can tell when a Lich is attempting to use it if you see the purple spiral forming beneath him. A good tactic here is to focus on the Lich Kings and not the smaller undead.|
|Boss #10 - Grigori||You could certainly use a Maker's Finger for this battle, but it's definitely not recommended since it will counter all your rewards. Grigori does not change in Hard Mode, so most tactics still apply. I highly recommend to avoid using the Ballistas unless you need to. They will break down very easily.|
|Boss #11 - Evil Eye||The Evil Eye uses tentacles to attack, so when they appear from the ground, get rid of them. This will take away the invulnerability. Target the eye and be offensive to get it to the ground. Then, attack it as much as possible so it can't get back up. Also try to avoid its blinding attack. You can determine it by the bright light from the eye (this is also a good time to attack.)|
|Boss #12 - Seneschal||This fight is somewhat of a joke when considered a boss fight. Even on Hard Mode, it's a fairly simple task to defeat him. Avoid his attacks and try to use a ranged assault. When it reaches time to attack both him and his pawn, take out the pawn first, then grab ahold of him and let your pawn take him out. Or vise versa.|
Once you are finished, use the Godsbane blade as with the original walkthrough. When you return in the next playthrough, you can find your rewards in your storage, and the trophy should pop soon after your death. From here, you should work towards a Speedrun or Bitterblack Isle.
During your Hard Mode playthrough, you likely reached level 100. However, if you didn't, don't worry. You can grind at any time you want, so there's no reason to stress.
Reached LV 100.
CONTINUE TO SPEEDRUN MODE
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