Darkest Dungeon 2 Interview – Combat, Atmosphere, Length, and More

Red Hook Studios co-founder and creative director Chris Bourassa speaks with GamingBolt about the upcoming Darkest Dungeon 2.

Posted By | On 09th, Sep. 2021

Darkest Dungeon 2 Interview – Combat, Atmosphere, Length, and More

Red Hook Studios’ action RPG Darkest Dungeon has a sizeable and dedicated fan following (and for good reason, too) that has been keenly anticipating new details on its sequel. Announced back in 2019, Darkest Dungeon 2 has been in the works for a while now, but with its early access launch coming later this year, soon, players will have the chance to dive in and see how it’s shaping up and how it’s doing things differently. Ahead of that, we had the chance to speak with the game’s developers about what players should expect from it. Below, you can read our interview with Red Hook Studios co-founder and Darkest Dungeon 2 creative director Chris Bourassa.

Darkest Dungeon 2

"We did our best on Darkest Dungeon – the whole team worked very hard, and we all cared a lot about what we were building together. That hasn’t changed. We value our community of players, and certainly want to make another great game. To that end, we’ve tried to let DD2 have its own identity and not evaluate it relative to its older brother, so much as on its own merits."

The first Darkest Dungeon had a huge impact on a lot of people when it first launch, and many consider it one of the finer games of its genre- how much of a weight is it to ensure that its sequel lives up to its legacy?

I think starting a project from a place of ‘living up to’ or surpassing a previous title creates immense pressure and can handicap the development process. We did our best on Darkest Dungeon – the whole team worked very hard, and we all cared a lot about what we were building together. That hasn’t changed. We value our community of players, and certainly want to make another great game. To that end, we’ve tried to let DD2 have its own identity and not evaluate it relative to its older brother, so much as on its own merits.

In 2019’s PC Gamer interview, you spoke about how you have grown your team’s size to be better equipped with the demands of Darkest Dungeon 2’s development. How much of an impact has that had on the team in terms of conditions and efficiency?

Certainly a larger staff requires an increase in organizational logistics and company structures, which is a big change from the simpler DD1 times. A larger team is capable of doing more, but is slower to pivot.

Does a larger development team also mean that the scope of the project is bigger than its predecessor?

We’re launching with slightly more content than DD1 did at Early Access; it’s the switch to 3d accounts for a large amount of development effort.

darkest dungeon 2

"Atmosphere is a harmonious synthesis of art, audio, music. We’re preserving the art style, working with the same audio production team (Power Up Audio), same composer (Stuart Chatwood), and same narrator (Wayne June)."

Something that you’ve hinted at before in terms of improvements the sequel is looking to make is the combat system- are those improvements that you’re ready to shed more light on?

Returning players will absolutely feel at home in DD2’s combat. However, we wanted to move away from small/incremental buffs and status effects, towards something chunkier, and ultimately more strategic. Many of DD1 effects have been converted to ‘Tokens’ which have larger, more predictable results and counters in combat.

Visually, the characters have varied idle and anticipation animations, and the resulting experience is more fluid and exciting!

Darkest Dungeon’s palpable atmosphere was one of its biggest strengths- how much emphasis are you placing on ensuring that the sequel doesn’t stray from that, and that any new locations players visit maintain that same strong sense of place and identity?

Atmosphere is a harmonious synthesis of art, audio, music. We’re preserving the art style, working with the same audio production team (Power Up Audio), same composer (Stuart Chatwood), and same narrator (Wayne June). This gives us the same creative DNA. From a content perspective, we’re visiting locations that are aligned with the thematic pillars of the first game,

What are the most important bits of feedback from audiences and critics for the first game that you’ve focused on for Darkest Dungeon 2’s development?

Two main things: First, we wanted to shave down some of the grind that afflicted the middle hours of a Darkest Dungeon campaign, and secondly, make the combat buffs and effects chunkier and more impactful.

Roughly how long will an average playthrough of Darkest Dungeon 2 be?

The game is run-based, as opposed to the longer, single campaign of DD1. A typical run can take anywhere from 3-5 hours, depending on skill and profile level. We reward failed runs, so you’re always making progress towards new unlockable content within the game, and we’ve structured the metagame such that repeated runs are required to fully experience all the content.

"The game is run-based, as opposed to the longer, single campaign of DD1. A typical run can take anywhere from 3-5 hours, depending on skill and profile level."

What was the reason behind Epic Games Store exclusivity? Are you ruling out other platforms?

We’re excited to bring Darkest Dungeon 2 to the EGS for Early Access! We at Red Hook are strong proponents of the Early Access model, and we look forward to engaging with our players throughout the subsequent year of development. The 1.0 version of the game will launch on as many platforms as possible – regardless of your choice hardware or storefront, we want you to be able to play!

Is there anything else you want to tell us about the game?

We’ll be announcing our 2021 launch date soon – people can watch our Twitter or discord for the latest updates!


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