From Beyond: Trinkets & Hero Paths

Jun 22, 2022

Welcome to ‘From Beyond’ - an ongoing series of blog posts that will shed a flickering light on the development process of Darkest Dungeon II…

The focus of our next update will be Trinkets, or as we on the dev team affectionately call them, Tranks. We aim to release this update on the Experimental branch as early as next week!

Trinkets in Darkest Dungeon are equippable items you can find on your journey. They are often earned as a reward from combat, but are often also purchasable from the various vendors found along the road. Each character can equip up to two at a time. 

A central thesis of Darkest Dungeon is making the most of an imperfect situation, and many of the game systems are built around providing trade offs and interesting decisions for players to make. 

When you first loaded up Darkest Dungeon II, we asked you to allow us to collect gameplay information. If you said yes, you are helping us gather valuable data enabling us to move away from anecdotal stories and look at HARD NUMBERS. One thing we track are the most equipped trinkets. 

Here is a snapshot of what the general trinket usage looks like for profile levels 15-50 from 5/25/2022 to 6/15/2022. 

Unsurprisingly we see that +DMG is far and away the most commonly used trinket in the game. It’s a highly sought after stat bonus, and helps speed up combat. We don’t ever expect trinket usage to be uniform, and by the nature of the unlock sequence we know that some will never have the same usage count as the more readily available trinkets. That said we would like to see a bit more variety here then what is currently displayed. We always work to ensure that there are interesting decisions for players to make! 

Given that you will never access the full catalog of trinkets in any single run in Darkest Dungeon II, we wanted to get back to the spikier tradeoff-oriented loot of DD1.  We are aiming to push the trinket design in a way that they can be run-altering when you get that ultra rare trinket from a hard battle!  To that end, we are refactoring the effects of the trinket pool with the following in mind:

  • Be creative and push the boundaries: The roguelike structure of Darkest Dungeon II allows us to push power and effects further than we could on Darkest Dungeon 1, where an overpowered trinket might be game-breaking in a bad way. The last 8 months of monitoring Early Access has given us more info and more ideas about things we could do to make trinkets more fun.

  • Give & take: We are reinvesting in the practice of pairing beneficial effects with negative costs. We have looked at player trinket usage, and thought about lessons learned from Darkest Dungeon 1, focusing on what stats should be paired together to create interesting trade-offs.

  • Strategy-altering effects: Powerful trinkets should aspire to create moments that prompt players to reconsider their party composition & skill loadout. Some of the fun in roguelikes comes from adapting on the fly and sometimes hitting the jackpot with run-altering loot.

  • Rarity & category: Each rarity and category of trinkets has a place within the game. We’ve reduced a lot of the incremental stat bonuses as you step up the tier rungs in order to give trinkets more individual identity. 

  • Strong reasons to visit locations: Some items are found and tied thematically to their region location.

Here are some selected trinkets that we are currently testing to help illustrate the above stated goals. These are subject to change.

This trinket shows multiple effects with different conditions that aren’t limited to combat or hero stats.

Extreme upsides and downsides for Cultist trinkets. High risk, high reward.

Example of a downside that overlaps mechanics with the Shroud theme. (The hooks cause bleed.)

Conditional effects, both for upsides and downsides.

Fun, weird effect. This could apply all the effects or none at all! Wand of Wonders-like.

Hero trinkets focus on specific archetypes and usually carry a downside that represents the burden that the trinket places on the hero.

The July update has a bonus, too! Along with all these tranks, we are also adding a third hero path for every hero. Get excited to theorycraft and test out new builds as we aim to deploy this update next week to our Experimental Branch on the Epic Game Store!

Meanwhile, the Cultist Herald’s demoniac piping announces new threats from the limitless emptiness of the void. The writhing Altar calls forth a twisted the world slips ever closer to oblivion.