Darkest Dungeon 2 update overhauls the relationship system

In the latest Darkest Dungeon 2 update, Red Hook Studios has overhauled the affinity system that governs how characters form relationships with each other

Darkest Dungeon patch relationship system: A leper in shawl and iron mask, and an armour-clad man-at-arms stand back to back in front of a golden arc of light

A new Darkest Dungeon 2 patch is out, and with it, a major overhaul to one of the RPG game’s core systems: affinity. On Darkest Dungeon 2’s “road trip of the damned,” affinities are what govern your character’s relationships and the way they react to each other, and it can have game-changing impacts.

Developer Red Hook says it’s worked to improve the affinity system in Darkest Dungeon 2 by reducing the number of “big moments” during a run, by clarifying when an action is going to annoy someone in the party, and by injecting some of the tension from the original Darkest Dungeon back into the sequel.

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Red Hook says it agrees with many players who have complained that the existing affinity system felt “too intrusive” and left too few tactical options. With The Void Between Us patch, all of the apparently random affinity gains and losses during combat have been removed, as has negative affinity. Now, you’ll either gain affinity or lose affinity you have, putting each character bond somewhere on a 20-pip scale.

The low end of that range represents hostility or acrimony, while high affinity means the two characters feel a close and friendly bond.

In combat, you’ll now be able to see the affinity effects of any action telegraphed clearly before you commit. As an example, Red Hook says, Dismas might be bleeding out, and you go to move your man-at-arms to guard another character – Dismas will register his disapproval of that move. The idea is to deepen the strategy considerations made in combat – you might find it’s worth making suboptimal plays in combat in order to preserve characters’ affinity levels.

There’s more to the overhaul, and it’s all explained in detail in the official patch notes. The way relationships form at the inn has gotten significant changes, and affinity levels – when they’re extremely high or low – can cause character skills to be blessed or cursed.

Another important change is the reintroduction of the ‘meltdown’ mechanic from the original Darkest Dungeon. When characters reach max stress, they’ll face a crisis that will result in either a damaging meltdown or a potentially run-saving ‘Resolute’ status. Either one will have an impact on the character’s health, affinity, and status.

Darkest Dungeon is one of the best roguelike games on PC, and Darkest Dungeon II – which is currently available in early access on the Epic Games Store – will launch on Steam in the second quarter of this year.