Hardcore is just not worth it. There is literally no extra reward for side and prestige objectives, the main targets are still worth an inconsequential reward, all for a tiny bump in rarity of campaign item rewards which means nothing since on normal you can still eventually get everything.
Let’s also not forget you lose all freelancer tools when switching modes, your normal tools aren’t even waiting for you when you switch back!
The risk is insanely higher especially with how unbalanced many of the (now mandatory) prestige objectives can be, and it comes with effectively no real increase in reward. I don’t think there was any noticeable increase in mastery xp either. It’s just not worth having in the game in this form.
The problem with that is too many of the mandatory prestige objectives are terrible for that. You can get a Time Trial on New York and it’s 2 flat minutes for 3 targets all spread out, they’re often insane.
If the mode was just a forced Silent Assassin (suit only or not), it would be hard enough given the random targets and all, but the extra objectives like taking guards out with assault rifles, timed elements as has been mentioned often enough now, and others are just insane.
I haven’t tried hardcore yet (waiting until I fail another normal campaign so I’m not just flushing my tools for no reason) but from what people are saying it seems like it’s just a little treat for people who like their games Too Hard & the rest of us don’t need to worry about it
Well even if you realize you dislike it, just switching mode wipes your Freelance tools, they’re not even kept in each mode separately, they’re just wiped out. You’re punished for even looking into the more for a bit.
I guess my aspirations for ‘Hardcore’ may be lower. There are two challenges I think that require it, so I’ll do those and it’s a stretch (and risk) to do them. As for doing more than that, I agree with the OP, there’s no additional incentive. With a pool of weapons that is limited, what does it matter if a supplier has them sooner or later, of if I win them sooner or later. So long as I have a covert weapon of each time, the missions can get done.
The only point of hardcore mode is for challenge. If you want a more challenging game, that’s what it’s for. I haven’t got to that point yet but when I do, I’ll be playing hardcore all the time. Colorado has been too easy to do SA/SO lately.
I can understand taking the tools away when ENTERING Hardcore Mode to avoid giving yourself any advantage by having some/a lot of tools acquired previously. But taking them away when LEAVING and returning to normal mode makes no sense.
I think that how is it now hardcore mode is too much frustrating, basically there’s no desire or purpose for playing this if not for the absurd challenge.
I think that if IOI tweaks something like increased rewards both in terms of xp and merces and/or some weapons acquirable exclusively for hardcore mode maybe can be more appealing.
However the first thing that absolutely should be done is improving the prestige objectives.
If in this mode those are mandatory there’s no way that timed objectives in maps that requires even some recon before actually you can come with a plan are a thing.
Maybe use some prompt to re-shuffle objectives that you can do if the first 3 are too bad for you or maybe add even some more objectives.
They said that freelancer is for all Playstyles and that is true but then again if I start an hardcore campaign and then 2 out of 3 maps I’m forced into speedrunning prestige objectives really it is impossible without even restarting.
If you’re not a completionist, there’s zero reason to bother with Hardcore mode.
For everyone who IS though, here’s my advice and what you should know before starting.
Hardcore mode is like playing Master Difficulty on steroids. More guards, more cameras and more enforcers. And since you can’t take as much damage as normal, combat usually results in failure.
Wait until you’ve acquired every single item for the weapon display walls before starting to make sure you have the required items needed for prestige objectives.
You’ll also have less money at that point, so if you fail a campaign it won’t matter financially.
When selecting Syndicates, only focus on the levels you’ll be going to and trying to get a run you’ll be comfortable with. But understand, even “easy” levels can end up being a nightmare because of the added stuff (more guards, more cameras and more enforcers).
Focus only on the prestige objective. Don’t bother with anything else. No searching for safes, robbing couriers, seeking out suppliers etc. The goal here isn’t about racking up money or acquiring crate items. It’s completing the level and moving on.
Avoid Silent Assassin objectives (all variations) and timed objectives (all variations) when possible. Stick with Epic/Legendary kills/pacifications that require weapons/items from the weapon walls. Depending on RNG, you might get lucky and see multiple instances of “Kill a target with a Shuriken” or “Headshot a target with a Legendary pistol”.
Pick the easiest target on the level to complete the objective. Then focus on killing the remaining targets and then heading for the exit. Don’t worry about the remaining kills being sloppy either. It doesn’t matter. This is why you avoid SA.
For Showdown levels, focus on marking off obvious non-suspects first i.e. if the Leader is bald you can quickly unmark suspects WITH hair. Also Leaders only have the tells listed on the camera display so if you see one doing something not listed, they’re NOT the Leader i.e. sneezing and “Allergies” is not listed.
The reason you want to do this is because for all the other "potential* suspects, it"s faster and safer to just kill them (and their guards) as opposed to investigating them. Start with the easiest i.e. the ones that take isolated routes.
If you have a specific play style, or a strict set of rules you like to follow while playing (see Heisenberg Parameters of Perfection) you’re gonna have to set that aside in order to complete this mode.