Darkest Dungeon 2 Dev Talks About Gameplay, Sales, Mods and More

I think that Darkest Dungeon doesn’t need any introduction in roguelike RPG genre. The first Darkest Dungeon game was a huge success from Red Hook Studios. At the time of writing, the game has more than 100k user reviews on Steam and overall, the game has Very Positive reviews.

With such popularity and success, it was only natural that we get a second Darkest Dungeon game. Darkest Dungeon 2, though in development since 2018, went into early access in October, 2021. Since then, Red Hook Studios have improved the game a lot and now, they are ready for the full release of the gamy on May 8, 2023.

Just before launch, we wanted to discuss a few things about Darkest Dungeon 2 with the developers and they were kind enough to share the information with us over an email interview. While the hardcore fans might already know most of this stuff, those who haven’t been part of early access and would play the game on full launch, will have some interesting details about the game from this Interview.

Naturally, since it’s the second game in the series, fans would want to know about the biggest differences of Darkest Dungeon 2 from the first game. Can you share those differences with us?

Darkest Dungeon II focuses on a single party of 4 heroes that attempt to reach the Mountain and defeat the boss in a single expedition. It is a roguelite, meant to be played repeatedly, with a huge array of permanent upgrades available at the metagame hub, The Altar of Hope. The party traverses a variety of regions, battling monsters, coping with resource shortages, and assisting the locals where possible. After each region, the companions arrive at an Inn, where they can use items to reduce stress, cure illnesses, and broker relationships. Characters’ relationships evolve over the course of their journey, and can ultimately mean the difference between success and failure!

When did work on Darkest Dungeon 2 start?

Darkest Dungeon II started preproduction in the fall of 2018.

Did you guys always had plans for the second game or the commercial success of the first game was a factor for the development of second game?

Any project is a massive undertaking, let alone a sequel. We were enjoying making DD1 DLC for several years after that game’s launch, but ultimately felt the time had come to begin a new project. The success of DD1 meant we were sufficiently capitalized, but it was our passion for the Darkest Dungeon world that was the driving factor in deciding to create a sequel.

Can you share with us the number of sales you guys have achieved for Darkest Dungeon so far and what is your forecast for Darkest Dungeon 2?

We’ve sold 6.5 million core game units of DD1 across all platforms.

Since the early access phase, how many early access units you guys have managed?

Approximately 300k units on the Epic Games Store.

The carriage in Darkest Dungeon 2 seems to have mixed response from the fans with some fans welcoming it and some disliking it. What was the thought process behind introducing it and can you share with us its functions and effectiveness in the game?

Much like walking through hallways in DD1, the traversal Darkest Dungeon II allows for a moment of reduced intensity, and an opportunity for players to plan or refactor their load-outs. Like any system in the game, the stagecoach and node map were not fully developed at early access launch. Recently, however, we released a significant update to the game that focused on this feature. Routes now have a variety of hazards, requiring careful deliberation at intersections, and the coach is now fitted with wheels and armor that deplete based on route choice. The distance between nodes was shortened, and the coach speed was increased. The totality of these changes has really made this aspect of the game sing, and have been extremely well received by enthusiasts and skeptics alike.

Darkest Dungeon Was on Game Pass. Do you guys have any plans to bring Darkest Dungeon 2 for Xbox Game Pass?

We have nothing to announce at this time.

The first Darkest Dungeon game was praised for its challenging gameplay and deep character progression. How have you built upon these elements to make Darkest Dungeon 2 even more engaging and immersive?

All of the familiar elements from Darkest Dungeon are back – from stress, to quirks, skills, trinkets, items, etc.

We have refined our signature combat system to be chunkier, more impactful, and more engaging. We’ve done away with a lot of the small modifiers from DD1 (+2% crit, +1% debuff) and implemented a token-based system that deals in larger increments. For example, if an enemy has a dodge token, there is a 50% chance they will dodge the next attack. If a hero has a CRIT token, their next attack WILL be a critical strike. The approach has enriched the tactical complexity of the combat system while also making it more impactful.

Stress makes a return, but DDII introduces relationships. Skilled players will make choices that promote party unity, and invest in relationship-restoring items at the Inn. Relationships impact skills in unique ways, influencing the combat landscape.

Heroes in Darkest Dungeon II unlock new skills by reliving the traumas of their past – fully voiced narrative chapters interspersed with unique combat encounters!

So, if a player wants to pick up Darkest Dungeon 2 directly who hasn’t played the first game, how accessible the game is for the new players?

Darkest Dungeon II boasts a new narrative, and a fundamentally different structure than DD1. Everything is tutorialized, and we’ve made a ton of improvements to the overall user experience in combat, relative to DD1. First time players will be at no disadvantage whatsoever.

Darkest Dungeon had huge user generated content in the form of different modes. How will it be for Darkest Dungeon 2? Have you guys any plans for official mod tools?

We’re passionate about supporting modding, and will take the same approach we did on DD1. That is to say, we’ll steadily work to increase accessibility and add tools for modders over time, post-launch. We’ve got a number of ideas kicking around in this regard, but as of this interview, we’re focused entirely on DDII 1.0. That said, we are very eager to support the incredible creativity of our community, and will kick off support post-launch!

What are the post-launch plans for Darkest Dungeon 2? Any roadmap you can share with us?

We hope to support DDII with a combination of free updates and paid DLC for a long time! In terms of free updates, we’ll be adding the Collector mini-boss, as well as a new Gaunt enemy. The latter was designed as part of collaboration with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and is a really cool story. Players can also look forward to ongoing fixes, tweaks, and quality of life improvements. Finally, we will kick off our mod support efforts, which will be an ongoing initiative to help support our incredibly talented community of modders.

We have some DLC plans, but our studio’s entire focus is on making DDII 1.0 the very best it can be. We’ll share more about future content releases at a later date.

As an Indie developer and having a huge critical and commercial success under your belt, any advice you would like to give to other developers who could be struggling with their games?

Every team and every project have its own challenges, so it’s very tough to give universal advice. That said, a game’s loop is vital to its success – prototype it early! Get impressions from an experienced developer, or a group of impartial players.

If a publisher comes knocking at your door with a very lucrative offer Darkest Dungeon games, would you accept it or would you rather prefer to stay indie?

We’ve been fortunate to have found some success with Darkest Dungeon, and although we remain open to strategic partnerships, we value our independence a great deal. Being self-sufficient has allowed us to take creative risks and focus our development efforts where we feel they will yield the biggest gains.