The world is at its finish. Wild accelerationist cults set fireplace to the cities. Pastoral baronies turn into insatiable hungering mouths upon mouths. Only your ragtag band of guilt-ridden adventurers can kindle a glimmer of hope to cease the traditional, encroaching evil. With a number of recent terrors to beat, a large shift to a run-based roguelike construction, and a daring new character, the cosmic aberrations of Darkest Dungeon are poised to serve up contemporary challenges and horrors with this scintillating sequel from Red Hook Studios.
[Editor’s Note: This article also appears in Game Informer Issue 338]
Darkest Dungeon 2 isn’t content material to dwell within the shadow of the hamlet from the primary sport. Instead of continuous with the town-building facets and dungeon crawling of the unique sport, Darkest Dungeon 2 places gamers on a doomed caravan experience into cursed biomes crawling with unbridled decadence. With the stakes as excessive because the world coming to an finish, environments that have been hanging on by a thread have spiraled into insanity, embracing the worst parts of themselves that have been at all times hidden away. As you experience by the world with a hand-picked crew of adventurers, demise and despair are at all times lurking proper across the nook. The similar nice turn-based fight and classy gothic look of the primary sport return, however with fixed selections to make round each nook of every run.
That mentioned, don’t concern an excessive amount of – you purchase hope (an in-game forex) from your entire runs, which you should utilize to unlock numerous parts to point out up in subsequent runs, new characters, abilities on your caravan, and even everlasting boosts. So whilst all is misplaced – and it will likely be, steadily – you enterprise towards the ultimate vacation spot with a point of progress. A profitable run at the moment appears to be like like it is going to take round 4 hours, so it’s necessary to reiterate that gamers unlock all types of particular issues on the account stage primarily based on every journey.
Instead of maneuvering from tile to tile on a dungeon map, the participant as a substitute navigates by a map full of numerous encounters, locations, and boss battles. If you’re involved that the roguelike nature of the sport means there isn’t a cohesive narrative or a canonical ending, concern not, there’s an precise ending within the remaining model of the sport. While a lot of the forged returns for the adventurers, some abilities have been modified, edited, or eliminated to facilitate the brand new sport setting. In addition, characters have extra abilities to select from, permitting gamers to create extra numerous and fascinating groups.
While the selection to cease at a hospital to heal moderately than opt-in to a lethal boss combat could appear apparent, there are different foibles at work right here to maintain you careworn as you combat for security and sanity. As within the first sport, the idea of the torch stays an important component. Unlike the primary sport, the sunshine is essential to persevering with the journey, and if it goes out, you’re going to die rapidly. To hold issues lit, you will need to proceed to battle enemies and cut back their numbers from the land. But making time to cease at different checkpoints the place you possibly can commerce with the hoarder, uncover priceless curios at an educational research, or simply assist random survivors huddled round a wagon can also be necessary.
“The dark here is not sustainable,” says Red Hook co-founder and artistic director Chris Bourassa. “And I don’t mean that in a fun way. Narratively and from a gameplay standpoint, it’s not sustainable. If you run your torch to the ground, just because of what the torch means, this time, it’s not just a literal measure of how much light there is. Allegorically, it’s the hope for the future that you’re sort of carrying on your back. And so if it goes out, it’s kind of game over. You get one last shot. We give you a really tough encounter; the cult catches up to you and jumps you, and if you can fight them back, we give you a little bit more gas to try to get ahead and hopefully restore it somehow. But it doesn’t fill the same role as it did.”
If all you do on the journey is attempt to search out non-combat nodes on the map, you’ll find yourself underpowered and crushed by the load of darkness. However, attempt to tackle an excessive amount of or some harmful high-reward boss nodes, and you could discover your journey ending abruptly. Finding a steadiness and realizing when to step outdoors your consolation zone for some superior risk-taking is what it’s all about.
It’s necessary to notice that the large zone bosses are elective right here (aside from the ultimate boss) so if you end up utterly decimated wandering by an space, it’s attainable to opt-out of the standard “area boss” and simply push on to the following zone. Of course, this can depart you lacking out on the related treasures, so the following space will probably be a harder endeavor.
“It’s really a power curve thing,” says co-founder and design director Tyler Sigman. “So, game design-wise, it’s been an interesting challenge. If you avoid every fight, you can avoid the bosses and just try to stay safe, [but] you won’t be powerful enough to kill the [final] boss. As you fight, you earn hero upgrade points which are spent to upgrade skills. That’s really vital. Basically, if you haven’t upgraded any skills, by the time you get to the end boss, you’re just not going to be up for it. And so essentially, we try to give you some control over your own power curve, of how many challenges you want.”
When you end every space, you select between two completely different areas for the following leg of the journey. Since the sport is biome-based, with every space having particular inhabitants, you possibly can create a sport plan early on – however don’t count on something to be straightforward. For occasion, the inhabitants of the town are fairly resilient to fireplace harm, so it’s most likely a nasty concept to incorporate the Runaway in your crew if you happen to plan to move into the town. However, every space incorporates modifiers which can be completely different each run, so that you should be prepared for something.
Even if you happen to plan to move to the farmlands, perhaps the modifier in your tenth run can have one thing horrible there, so that you’re tempted to pick the opposite biome as a substitute, even when it’s a lower than perfect choose on your workforce composition. Random and extremely harmful occurrences that gamers could keep in mind from the primary sport, just like the Shambler and the Collector, return in some kind.
Permadeath is again. If somebody reaches the demise state, they’re gone for good. Since you possibly can’t simply head again to the hamlet to replenish your workforce like you could possibly within the first sport, you, as a substitute, should depend on selecting up one new character at an inn. This character is probably not tailor-made to your group in any respect, however generally it’s important to work with what you might have accessible. This pickup is a one-and-done deal as properly, so it’s all you get. If somebody dies once more, it’s important to battle together with no matter you might have.
“You can’t have engagement and emotional attachment without tension and fear of loss. So, if we coddle you and make sure that nothing bad will ever happen to you, you’re not going to feel that same level of excitement,” Bourassa explains. “Like when your guy survives a death’s door roll or something because you’re not worried. You know, if he dies, he dies. We’re always trying to thread that or walk that line, where what you have invested in could be taken away because that’s really the only way you can play poker, right? You have to be afraid of losing your money. That’s why people play, because the excitement is high when you win, and it’s terrifying when you’re kind of on the ropes. To recreate that experience, we have to make sure that the player knows that we are willing to take their chips.”
To additional engagement along with your celebration members, Red Hook additionally guarantees better perception into the characters you’re taking alongside for every run, with narrative parts that delve into their backstories and relationships alongside the way in which.
And the modifications don’t cease there. Another facet that has modified considerably is therapeutic. Players can now not depart one enemy alive and heal as much as full – one thing that had rife potential for abuse within the authentic title. Instead, gamers should heal up outdoors of fight, which additionally facilitates group compositions that most likely wouldn’t be optimum within the authentic. Don’t need to deliver a healer alongside? No downside, dwell the dream and make that quad-DPS stack.
While early entry will enable Red Hook Studios to tune issues, the present plan isn’t to have completely different issue settings like the primary sport. Instead, in typical roguelike trend, particular modifiers and alterations known as mutators let gamers to ratchet up the problem in the event that they’re seeking to whet their urge for food for adversity. There’s additionally an excellent risk that different roguelike staples, like day by day run seeds the place you possibly can examine your efficiency towards your pals and the better playerbase, are additionally on deck for implementation.
Our subsequent journey into insanity most likely gained’t be absolutely accomplished for a bit, with early entry for Darkest Dungeon 2 slated to reach this 12 months. After Darkest Dungeon’s PC launch, it will definitely made its method to console, which we’re hoping occurs right here as properly, however nothing has been confirmed. Here’s hoping it reaches as many avid gamers as attainable as a result of that is one time that we will’t await the upcoming finish of the world.
Darkest Dungeon 2 will hit early entry with one new character, the Runaway. Like different characters in our merry band of misfits, the Runaway comes from a checkered previous. While we don’t know the specifics of her sins but, the Runaway’s package embraces fireplace, so we will nearly definitely assume she did one thing terrible with the component of embers. Fire is a brand new damage-over-time part in Darkest Dungeon 2, becoming a member of its pals bleed and blight (poison).
Eventually, the brand new character’s look was excellent. “Visually I thought it’d be neat to have this sort of younger woman with a giant backpack and hunched over; we pulled a little bit from Newt from Aliens, obviously more grown-up,” says Red Hook co-founder and artistic director Chris Bourassa. “One of my directions to our animator was to channel a sort of a ‘bat girl’ kind of vibe. So, she’s got this cape, and some of the animations are really fluid where it flares out behind her, and she can retreat to stealth and hide.”
It took time for the workforce to iterate on their concepts for the Runaway, however they favored how properly she match into the fiction. “We just felt creatively she fit the world. She was kind of an extension of the game fiction as a whole, and what better character to debut as a new class than someone who’s intrinsically connected to the meta-narrative of the game itself? We could have done a wandering badass with two handguns or something, but it felt a little rote. So mechanically, we added a new DoT [damage-over-time]; we have fire and burn damage in Darkest Dungeon, too. And we needed an evangelist for that mechanic the same way the plague doctor kind of works for poison or blight.”
“We went through a couple of ideas. I think it’s easy, it’s safe to add a badass, give it a cool weapon and a cool faceplate or something, and you’re off to the races,” Bourassa says. “But we kind of asked ourselves, ‘What type of character would inhabit this world that’s crumbling down and falling apart?’ And it made sense that some kind of a furtive, scurrying, outwardly disadvantaged … a little bit like an agile Antiquarian in a sense, but highly proficient in combat. Thematically, it felt like someone who’s picking through the rubble of the old world.”
The Runaway is a survivor, a scavenger, and a scrapper. Exemplified by these facets, she suits simply into lineups in a number of positions. However, she could also be greatest at stepping into the motion sizzling and heavy after which utilizing stealth to move again into the lineup to a safer space, maybe transferring a buddy nearer to the fray. The Runaway excels at disrupting foes, making use of flames, and adjusting the move and positioning of battle. Check out all the Runaway talent lineup (proper), and you can begin planning on find out how to place her into your favourite Darkest Dungeon groups.
The Runaway probably gained’t be the one new face in Darkest Dungeon 2, both. “We’re bringing one new character for early access launch, but it’s not like we have decided only to make one new one, period,” says Red Hook co-founder and design director Tyler Sigman. “Hopefully, if the game finds an audience as Darkest Dungeon did, then you know, DLC, etc.”
The Plague Eaters
The Plague Eaters
Every biome in Darkest Dungeon 2 is related to a faction. In the once-pastoral farmlands, the Plague Eaters maintain dominion over all, consuming all the things with their limitless mouths. Tiny baronies and humble farms give in to their base instincts, with this faction coping with the world’s impending doom with unchecked gluttony.
“That’s really the top line for all the factions. So, I think as the world falls apart, I think more people would give in to their base instincts than not. And so every faction really represents a group of people who give in to the worst parts of themselves,” says Red Hook co-founder and artistic director Chris Bourassa. “And so what you’re doing is, as the world’s crumbling and you’re making your way across to try to prevent it from vanishing or completely coming undone, you’re facing these people who have sort of just willingly abdicated their humanity almost in favor of this kind of base desires.”
Their limitless consuming facilitates their ever-growing bulk and provides them entry to highly effective regenerative skills. The many faces of the Plague Eaters are immune to blight, so bleed and burn are the popular strategies of harm when taking the caravan by the farmlands.
The Plague Eaters are more than pleased to eat one another as they fall in fight, so managing the corpses and denying them of their sustenance could make your encounters far more manageable. If you allow them to feed unchecked, count on grueling, prolonged encounters that put on your workforce all the way down to the bottom. Let’s meet among the forged of ugly foes that you just’ll meet down on the farm.
Once proud leaders of man and beast, now simply beast. These heavy help models can turn into a giant downside if you happen to allow them to bolster their very own traces or enfeeble your personal. With tongue lashing and baneful breath, Lords can whittle your troops all the way down to nothing. As with many farm inhabitants, it’s greatest to regulate corpses in the course of the combat and deny the Lord’s insatiable starvation each time attainable. If a Lord will get to eat, not solely can he regenerate his hit factors over time, making the combat final even longer, however he additionally unlocks an extremely harmful stun assault, the bilious cannon. Pro tip: Don’t get hit by the bilious cannon.
While the Lord isn’t afraid to get bodily after meting out some help abilities, the Lady prefers to do her harm from the backline. The Lady excels at blighting at vary with Be Our Guest, utilizing Mother’s Embrace to mess with the participant’s positioning, or attacking the entrance characters straight with Mulch. Like many farmland inhabitants, it’s greatest to not let the Lady feed. If she does, put together on your sanity to take a large hit as she unleashes a bilious wail. Are you seeing a theme right here but?
Yep, it’s only a massive cart of dinner. This factor will chuck rot at our heroes and make them extra weak to different assaults, taunt them, blind them, and in any other case be a large ache to cope with. In addition to its unsavory commonplace annoyances, the dinner cart can create contemporary corpses for everybody to feast on, making it fairly harmful. The dinner cart can eat corpses too, which permit it to unleash huge quantities of blight and stress harm to your backline. Like different targets that choose to cover within the again and trigger hassle, taking the dinner cart out with ranged assaults earlier than it might ship its foodstuffs is the most effective plan of motion.
The maid helps are likely to the livestock. That’s proper; the Plague Eaters generally prefer to take meals into fight with them. Goats. Cows. Whatever is out there. The maid is a moderately uninteresting unit when there’s no livestock on the battlefield, however when there’s, she will buff livestock up, turning them into appropriate meatshields. The technique right here is to not let her disguise behind livestock or different fetid fiends, hook her to the entrance and take her out rapidly.
Like the maid, the butcher excels within the presence of livestock. The butcher can tear into traces with bleed harm and execute a large party-wide heal when livestock is round. As you possibly can think about, stopping this large heal from going off is the highest precedence, so meaning taking out the butcher or the livestock as quick as you possibly can earlier than working your method to different targets.