Darkest Dungeon's new 'Radiant' mode promises shorter, more accessible campaigns

Darkest Dungeon is a heck of a game, but it's also a heck of a grind. That's partly a reflection of its basic nature, which combines old-school dungeon crawling with old-fashioned descents into a spiraling pit of existential horror and despair. But it's also something of a stumbling block for players who just can't commit 80 or so hours to finish the campaign. To help those folks get the full experience, Red Hook Studios is now working on a new Radiant mode that will cut the estimated playtime in half. 

"[Radiant mode] will have balance changes and rule tweaks aimed at bringing the completion time down to approximately 40 hours. Rest assured that even in this alternate campaign ruleset, we won’t be compromising on some of the core ideas that make DD what it is (e.g. permadeath, autosaving)," the studio wrote in a blog post. "However, we will flex here and there on some things and generally structure it so that a reasonable investment of time and effort can see things through to the deepest parts of the Ancestor’s trail. This also paves the way for additional modability, via exposing more options." 

Specific changes haven't been revealed, but a Red Hook further described the plan to us via email as "a collection of different things put together," which could run from changed upgrade costs to accelerated hero progression, including the addition of more flexible ways to power-level new heroes once you've got some higher-level heroes already established. 

"A lot of what causes people to put down the game has to do with how much rebuilding is required should you experience a party wipe of max level heroes with all your best trinkets," Red Hook said. "We want loss to still feel meaningful, but for this mode we will look at helping that rebuilding process more than normal." 

Some achievements, and possibly loot, will require completing the game in normal mode, as "we still want to celebrate the efforts of our dedicated players," Red Hook said. Along with the new mode, the studio also has a number of other improvements, balance adjustments, and "quality of life tweaks" planned, and warned that the New Game Plus mode could be toughened up a bit as well. 

Red Hook said these updates will be out ahead of the Crimson Court DLC, hopefully early in the first quarter of 2017, and will be free for everyone.

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.