What is True Vault Hunter Mode in Borderlands 3?

Learn the difference between True Vault Hunter Mode and Mayhem Mode with our handy overview of Borderlands 3's New Game + option.


True Vault Hunter Mode has returned in Borderlands 3, but that hasn’t stopped this returning mode from being a bit confusing for many players. What exactly is the difference between True Vault Hunter Mode and Mayhem Mode? Should you play TVHM? How do you unlock TVHM? This guide will teach you everything that you need to know to understand exactly what True Vault Hunter Mode is and how it works.

What is True Vault Hunter Mode in Borderlands 3?

To put things into layman terms, True Vault Hunter Mode is the Borderlands equivalent of New Game +. Players will begin the main story of the game over, all while keeping their current level, skill points, equipment, and so on. The enemies in TVHM are much more difficult than normal mode, and the chances of getting better loot are increased quite a bit. This makes True Vault Hunter Mode the ideal way to level up—as you receive more experience for kills—as well as the best way to challenge yourself as a player.

Borderlands 3 - True Vault Hunter Mode
You can enable True Vault Hunter Mode from the main menu after you unlock it.

Can I play both TVHM and normal mode?

Yes, you can play through both True Vault Hunter Mode and normal mode at the same time. While you will need to have completed the main story campaign to unlock True Vault Hunter Mode, once it is unlocked, you can launch that version of the game from the main menu at any point. The nice thing here is that you can switch between normal and TVHM very easily, and Borderlands 3 will keep both save files separate from each other so you don’t have to worry about the game messing up one save while you play on the other. This makes it very simple to swap between TVHM and normal mode, which can be handy for farming specific bosses or even just playing with friends who aren’t on TVHM just yet.

What’s the difference between TVHM and Mayhem Mode?

While Mayhem ups the difficulty and loot chance in normal mode, True Vault Hunter Mode ups the challenge and loot drop rates far more than Mayhem Mode, and the experience that you receive for killing enemies and completing quests in TVHM is much greater than what you receive in Mayhem Mode. You’ll still need to have completed the main story to unlock both variations, but if you’re really looking to maximize challenge, True Vault Hunter Mode is the way to go.

How do I activate True Vault Hunter Mode?

To activate True Vault Hunter Mode, complete the campaign and then head back out to the main menu. When you select your character (you can only activate TVHM on a character save that has beat the story), you’ll be able to select between TVHM and your normal playthrough. This makes it very easy to jump into TVHM without having to hop through a ton of hoops, which is a very nice change from how most games handle New Game +.

Now that you know all about True Vault Hunter Mode, head back over to our Borderlands 3 guide for more useful information.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

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