Big Darkest Dungeon 2 update introduces progression system and hero 'memories'

Darkest Dungeon 2 - The Altar of Hope
(Image credit: Red Hook Studios)
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When Darkest Dungeon 2 (opens in new tab)  launched into early access on the Epic Games Store in October 2021, it shared a pretty substantial piece of the campaign: it was populated with enemies and equipment, and you could reach an endpoint at The Mountain, defeating the boss that lies at the end of the game's first act. 

What it didn't have, though, was much of a progression system. But that's all about to change thanks to a major update that has brought the Altar of Hope (opens in new tab), a permanent base similar to the Hamlet in Darkest Dungeon where players can unlock classes, items, and other upgrades.

The new progression system will grant players Candles of Hope for completing objectives, progressing through areas, and defeating evil, which can then be used to acquire various upgrades which will (hopefully) make your future journeys more survival and profitable. Naturally, daring deeds will earn the greatest rewards, but if you push your luck too far, you'll be punished for it: You can end your current expedition at any inn and keep whatever candles you've earned up to that point, but if you press on and wipe, there will be a penalty. "It’s always better to make it to the next Inn," developer Red Hook Studios said.

The only exception to that rule is for players who make it to the mountain, the home of Darkest Dungeon 2's current final boss: Even if you ultimately fail in your quest, you'll keep all candles earned.

Candles of Hope are a currency, then, that can be spent at the Altar of Hope, which players will visit at the start of each journey, to improve attributes in one of four categories:

General Upgrades

(Image credit: Red Hook Studios)

Heroes

(Image credit: Red Hook Studios)

Items

(Image credit: Red Hook Studios)

Memories

(Image credit: Red Hook Studios)

The last category is different from the first three because it's not permanent: Memories are powerful but only last for the life of that specific hero. Those lives aren't always especially long, but heroes who can stick around through the showdown with the final boss will keep their memories, making them even more powerful.

"While their Mastery level will be reset, surviving heroes will also keep their Hero Path, quirks, and name," Red Hook explained. "Plus, heroes who survive a final boss battle can now have an additional Memory invested. These characteristics will persist until the hero's death."

The Altar of Hope confers one other benefit to players in their battle against creeping evil: As candles are invested into it, the view of the Kingdom will gradually be restored to what it once was. Not very practical, perhaps, but a nice touch.

The Altar of Hope update is live today on the Darkest Dungeon 2 experimental branch on the Epic Games Store, so you'll need to be opted in to that if you want to give it a look. Red Hook Studio warned that the update "is a wholesale rework of the fundamental underpinnings of Darkest Dungeon 2’s metagame & progression," and that all current hope scores will be reset, meaning that unlocked items and heroes, and any in-progress expeditions, will be wiped. 

You've got a little bit of time to wrap things up if you're not ready to get into all that just yet, as Red Hook expects the update will be ready to go live on the main branch of Darkest Dungeon 2 in a week or two.

The update also introduces the new Bounty Hunter (opens in new tab), a return character from the first game, and also makes numerous changes to other heroes, monsters, and gameplay. The full details are up at darkestdungeon.com (opens in new tab).

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.