Darkest Dungeon is getting PvP DLC in May

(Image credit: Red Hook Studios)

Yesterday, April 1, Red Hook Studios teased upcoming new DLC for Darkest Dungeon: Last-man-standing, hero-vs-hero arena fights! A clever gag for April Fools' Day, indeed—except that it wasn't. It was, in fact, the ol' double-reverse fakeout: The Butcher's Circus PvP DLC is real, and barring unforeseen delay it will be out next month.

The circus has come to town, and in the warped world of Darkest Dungeon, that means it's time for some wholesome family entertainment in the form of, uh, gladiatorial combat. The DLC will add a new location in the Hamlet called The Butcher's Circus, where players will fight for a shot at the belt (or, at least, a higher position in the ranks) with teams of four fighters. Blood will be spilled and psyches broken, but fortunately it won't be anyone you actually care about, at the beginning anyway: Red Hook said competitors can take part in PvP combat "without risking your campaign heroes."

New gladiatorial trinkets will help tip the scales in combat, and unlockable banner components will enable combatants to design their own unique PvP heraldry. Darkest Dungeon composer Stuart Chatwood has created a "gleefully warped musical theme" for the DLC, and narrator Wayne June and SFX creator Power Up Audio will also be there to do their thing.

PvP brawls are an unexpected addition to a game that's so deeply invested in portraying the impact of psychological horror on the human mind. It's an excellent tactical dungeon-crawler, but what makes it stand out is its depiction of the mental toll that the adventuring life takes on your heroes. Red Hook didn't say how, or if, The Butcher's Circus will handle that aspect of the game, although the Steam listing says players will need to "weather misfortune and violence," so there might be more than getting an axe to the face your fighters should watch out for.

Darkest Dungeon: The Butcher's Circus is set to come out in May. Red Hook also confirmed that Darkest Dungeon 2, announced in February 2019, is still in development.

Andy Chalk

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.