Darkest Dungeon is filled with grotesque enemies, stressful dungeons, and eldritch secrets, but the game's most horrifying aspect is the amount of grinding required to reach its end--and that's what developer Red Hook Studios means to fix with a public beta of the game's new Radiant Mode.
Darkest Dungeon is an RPG with a resource management twist. Heroes arrive in town ready to explore the haunted locations nearby, but as they do so, they get stressed out and run the risk of picking up new traits or simply keeling over from a heart attack. Players have to manage their heroes' stress in addition to doing all the other stuff--upgrading facilities, issuing commands in battle, deciding how to navigate a dungeon--required in games like this.
Radiant Mode is supposed to address complaints that completing Darkest Dungeon can take around 80 hours, Red Hook Studios said in December 2016, by cutting the campaign down to about 40 hours. The developer said at the time that Radiant Mode would "have balance changes and rule tweaks" but didn't offer any other information. Now curious (darkest) dungeon delvers can experience the first iteration of the Radiant Mode update for themselves.
Here's Red Hook Studios on the beta update's main features:
Radiant Mode: Radiant Mode is a version of the game that is intended to take less time overall to complete than normal (“Darkest”) mode. The mode is still challenging--monsters have the same stats and nothing about permadeath has changed. But some gameplay rules have been flexed or altered in ways that reduce some of the more time consuming mid and late game elements.Improvements and Additions (to all modes): we’ve reviewed tons of feedback over the last few months and have added a bunch new features, content, revisions, and fixes.
Radiant Mode appears to accomplish its goal by addressing some of the most common issues with Darkest Dungeon's grind. Perhaps the biggest change is that heroes will no longer refuse to go into the titular dungeon--which must be cleared four times--more than once. Heroes will also deign to enter low-level dungeons (useful for training other party members or gathering supplies) instead of dismissing those already-cleared tombs as beneath them.
The beta also includes other changes. Some are gameplay updates, like four new enemies and ramped up boss difficulty, while others are more quality of life improvements like support for 4K window resolutions or the ability to decide where subtitles are displayed. More information about the beta can be found in the announcement on Steam. A final release date, and information about when console players might see this update, were not revealed.
This update lays the ground for Darkest Dungeon's first expansion, The Crimson Court, which will introduce a vampire hunter boss called The Fanatic, among other things. The Crimson Court is expected to debut on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita some time in "early 2017."