PC/Mac/Linux (today); iPad, Switch, Consoles (later) •
While it’s one of the most polarizing titles available for the iPad, Darkest Dungeon on Steam is less divisive. The game still sports a “very positive” rating on Steam more than 2 years and many updates later. Today that will be put to the test when the latest major DLC, The Color of Madness, arrives. From what I can tell, the expansion is sure to be a hit. The test is going to come from the changes being made to the base game at the same time. Let’s just say the list of changes coming to DD is massive.
It’s not unusual [to be loved by anyone -ed.] for a developer to add an update to a game to accompany new DLC. That is, content that affects everyone who owns the game rather than just those who nab said DLC. Civilization does it whenever there’s new DLC, Cities: Skylines does it as well. The difference here is that Red Hook Studios is changing A LOT. So much so that my cut/paste-fu isn’t strong enough to drop it all in this post.
Every class’ combat and camping skills have been examined and refined, looking for weak or questionable skills or correcting some balance issues. It’s important to us that each class has a role or roles that make them useful. Our goal is never to make each class equally useful in each situation. As long as there is a moment in the game where you think “I really want a <classname> for this”, that’s a win in our eyes.
Critical hits are an exciting part of the game. However, many crit values and buffs were, mathematically speaking (“Expected Value”), not as useful as many straight dmg buffs.
So, we went through and increased a lot of hero crits, crit buffs, and crit trinkets to narrow this gap. A crit strategy is always going to be spikier in terms of variance than a straight dmg strategy, but the point is we want them both to be quite useful. It’s kind of like the Occultist vs Vestal philosophy of healing!Monsters had crits increase too, but on the whole, heroes benefited much more from this change, ESPECIALLY when you consider….
NEW MECHANIC: Crit Buffs!
This is an all new addition. Now, when your hero lands a critical hit, it will proc a temporary self-buff that is thematically tied to the class! For example, Plague Doctor will get a boost to Blight Chance %, whereas the Vestal will get a boost to heal skills.
Buff Durations Increased and Buff “Ticking” Moved to End of Round
- Buffs ticking at round/turn start means offensive buffs effectively only have 2 rounds of usage whereas defensive buffs have 3. The difference is less important than the fact that many offensive buffs are not worth using compared to just doing a damaging attack. Adding 1 duration to offensive buffs changes the math enough to make them more compelling. Similarly, debuffing enemy ACC or DMG effectively only benefits you for 2 attacks. SPD buffs are unaffected by this, and defensive buffs are affected based on turn order but far less affected than offensive ones.
- Buff timers now tick at the end of combatant turns instead of the beginning. Added +1 duration to PERFORMER buffs to account for an immediate decrement after the buff is cast. For a given duration, this means offensive buffs and debuffs now effectively last 1 more turn.
Virtues Can Expire
When a hero becomes Virtued, their stress drops significantly. If their stress manages to climb to a full 200 (filling the meter twice), the Virtue will go away and the hero will find themselves unvirtued, with 0 stress again.
Previously, Virtues couldn’t expire in this way. We wanted to add a small amount of pressure to still manage the stress on that hero even when Virtued. Practically, this should only really affect “Endless Mode” in Color of Madness DLC, but it is possible now that you might lose a Virtue during the course of a quest if you aren’t paying attention to that hero’s stress.
We still intend for Virtues to be a big, exciting moment that can mean the difference between success and failure of a quest.
We also tuned Stalwart and Courageous a bit:
- Stalwart is now focused on survivability. Hero gets a buff to PROT and Deathblow resist.
Courageous now carries a stress resist buff and a small SPD buff.
“Always Hit” Threshold changed from 90 to 95
- This one is deep under the hood, but the current “Always Hit” cutoff of 90% was intended to reduce some of the whiffing early on, but this was before the great ACC Inflation Patch of 2016 or 2017.
- Changing this cutoff to 95 means that you are not “guaranteed” a hit unless your resulting Accuracy (ACC – DEF) is 95 instead of 90. This helps ensure that ACC buffs and trinkets are more useful.
- Stuns can at times break the game and are the source of much of the stalling and abuse meta. Stun Chance and SPD become the best stats in the game to stack for combat as a pure denial tactic.
- The Stun recovery buff that is granted to combatants after being stunned once was increased, to further help prevent successive stuns.
- Stun %s were reviewed and adjusted on some skills.
Stall Detection Improvements:
- Additional logic has been added to try to better detect when players are “stalling” (intentionally keeping weak monsters alive to heal up while they struggle). Darkest Dungeon is a world of constant peril and mortality–toying with monsters is against our philosophy of what an adventurer would do when the threat of death is ever constant.
- As a whole, we had to nerf scouting buffs and chances a fair bit, as it was overtuned and allowing players to reliably avoid many encounters. We want scouting to be a great benefit, but not quite as powerful as before.
Monster AI Improvements
- Various improvements and bug fixes to monster brains.
- Smoothed out some powerscaling factors for Veteran and Champion level monsters for more consistency across stat blocks.
- Veteran monsters will now have slightly less HP and DOD, but slightly increased DMG and CRIT.
- Champion monsters will now be slightly weaker across the board.
That’s just the overview. The full changelog then goes into all the changes for each class, each monster, each dungeon. It’s pretty crazy. Oh, and they’re also getting a new class to play with, The Musketeer. Originally a Kickstarter bonus, they’re now making it available for everyone. The Musketeer is merely a reskin of the Arbelest class, but has her own lore and all the other goodies that make Darkest Dungeon tick.
So, that’s what schmoes like us are getting, but what about folks who order The Color of Madness? The expansion sounds like a DD version of The Dunwich Horror, complete with a new region, The Farmstead. There’s even a DD version of Wilbur Whateley, The Miller. That’s not the only boss, however, as there’s also a rogue comet that hit causing all sorts of Lovecraftian craziness. As usual, that’s not all:
- New region: The Farmstead!
- Endless Quest: Survive as long as you can while getting lost in time and space, confronted by unending waves of enemies new and old, pushing ever closer to the crash site of the Comet.
- Twisted new trinkets, available for purchase from the Jeweler. Put your gold away—he trades only in Comet Shards!
- All-New Enemy Faction: The Miller and his loyal workmen have become eerie husks of their former selves.
- 3 new bosses – The Miller, The Thing From the Stars, and the Comet itself!
- New Curios help keep your party in fighting shape as you face the enless hordes!
- Expand your Hamlet with 4 new District buildings and reap their benefits.
- New Quirks, with unique and powerful effects!
- Our biggest soundtrack addition yet from Stuart Chatwood
All of this can be yours today, as long as you play on PC, Mac, or Linux. The update and expansion will be coming to the other platforms as well, we just don’t know when. I don’t have a price for Color of Madness, either, but the previous expansion, The Crimson Court, was $10 so let’s go with that.