All Alan Wake 2 difficulty settings explained

Alan Wake 2 difficulty select screen no watermark
(Image credit: Remedy)

There are three Alan Wake 2 difficulty settings available at launch, with each designed to help tailor the experience to your preferred playstyle. If you're just here for the twisting, imaginative story then Remedy has you covered on that front, but if you're after a truly terrifying experience then you always have the option of bumping up the difficulty settings in Alan Wake 2 for a real challenge. Although things like the actual algebra in the Alan Wake 2 car and bike stash and Alan Wake 2 battery stash puzzle will be hard whatever settings you use.

Below you'll find descriptions for Story, Normal, and Hard difficulty settings in Alan Wake 2, as well as the first details on Nightmare mode – expected to launch in the coming weeks. It's also worth noting that you can change the difficulty at any time from the pause menu and it won't have any impact on your ability to collect achievements or trophies. That's why it's a little difficult to pinpoint how long it takes to beat Alan Wake 2, although I should flag that for my Alan Wake 2 review I played through in Normal and only encountered minimal friction. 

Story mode

Alan Wake 2 gameplay screenshot PS5

(Image credit: Remedy)

Combat will not pose a challenge. Focus on mystery-solving and exploration. 

If you want an easier ride with Alan Wake 2, this is the mode to go for. In my experience, Story mode won't lower the density of enemies or their frequency of attacks but it will make threats easier to deal with, dropping to the floor after just one or two hits. 

Normal mode

Alan Wake 2 review screenshot

(Image credit: Remedy)

Challenging combat. Using items and conserving resources is required to stay alive. 

Normal mode is well-balanced in Alan Wake 2, particularly when compared with the difficulty spikes which were prevalent throughout Control. If you're playing in Normal, you'll want to look out for Alan Wake 2 weapons and other power boosts. 

Hard mode

Alan Wake 2 screenshot showing Saga Anderson exploring Bright Falls

(Image credit: Remedy)

Significantly challenging combat. Leveraging items and familiarity with game mechanics is essential for survival. 

If you're playing in Hard expect your weapons to deal less damage and enemies to pack a harder punch. Finding all the Alan Wake 2 lunch boxes and Alan Wake 2 Words of Power are a must if you want to survive. 

Nightmare mode

Alan Wake 2 The Final Draft menu

(Image credit: Remedy)

Finally, there's Nightmare difficulty, which was added in The Final Draft update alongside the new Alan Wake 2 New Game Plus mode of the same name. Nightmare is similar to Hard mode but obviously ups the stakes a bit more, and you can choose it when you start a new game or a Final Draft run too. Be aware that while Nightmare still poses a challenge, it'll be much easier on Final Draft playthrough since your gear from your previous regular playthrough will carry over.

If you need an extra hand while playing, be sure to check out my top Alan Wake 2 tips, and be on the lookout for the Nursery Rhymes in Alan Wake 2 to earn some life-saving charms. 

Josh West
Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar+. He has over 15 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.