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The Most Punishing Roguelike Dungeon Crawler Gets A New Game Mode This Year

An even darker journey.

key art from Darkest Dungeon 2 Kingdoms
Red Hook Studios

Masochists, rejoice! Darkest Dungeon II, the punishing roguelike dungeon crawler from Red Hook Games, is adding a whole new mode, that offers a more grueling twist on the game’s dark fantasy campaign. From what’s been shown so far, it looks like it will bring back some of the intense management and persistent upgrades from the original Darkest Dungeon, along with adding new baddies to fight against. And unlike the game’s Binding Blade DLC, it will be available for free to anyone who owns Darkest Dungeon II when it launches later this year.

Announced at a new indie showcase for games, dubbed the Triple-i Initiative, Darkest Dungeons II’s new game mode is called Kingdoms. A totally separate experience from the game’s main campaign, it brings a whole new structure to the dungeon crawler while giving fans of the original a taste of what some have been missing in the sequel.

The Kingdoms update adds a whole new game mode to Darkest Dungeon II.

In Kingdoms, players are given a time limit to hunt down and defeat a major boss before it’s too long. Throughout the map are a series of inns, which offer players a place to upgrade their units and the inns themselves to better prepare for the final confrontation.

Along the way, the party will do battle with three new monstrous factions being added in the update. Called the Coven, Beastmen, and Crimson Courtiers, the quirks and abilities of these new foes haven’t been revealed yet, though based on the Crimson Court DLC from the first Darkest Dungeon, it’s fair to assume that the Crimson Courtiers will share their vampiric powers. So far, we’ve just gotten a quick glimpse of them at the end of the Kingdoms debut trailer, where they look suitably freaky enough to derail plenty of Kingdoms campaigns.

From the looks of it, Kingdoms could combine the best parts of both Darkest Dungeon games. While Darkest Dungeons II builds on the work of the original game, they feel very different to play. The original Darkest Dungeon was all about planning and party management. In its lengthy campaign, the goal was to build a team that could withstand all the horrors of its various dungeons without completely losing their minds, while customizing the party and their abilities to best suit whichever dangers they were going to face.

Kingdoms brings more intense resource management to Darkest Dungeon II.

Red Hook Studios

Darkest Dungeon II doesn’t do away with preparation entirely, but it’s more concerned with what’s happening in the moment. Like in deck-building games like Slay the Spire, Darkest Dungeon II is about facing new challenges as they come and letting what happens in each run determine how you build your team. When they fail, you can simply start a new run, rather than running back to town with your tail between your legs to try to pick up the pieces for the next expedition.

It’s not entirely clear how much Kingdoms will lean into careful preparation, but it looks like it will scratch the management itch more than the base game does. To combat the foe at the end of your journey, you’ll need to gather resources along the way and use them to outfit your crew, which points to a bigger emphasis on anticipating the dangers ahead of you rather than just reacting to each new development. That could add up to more of the stressful simulation from the first game, where character’s health and mental state need to be considered to keep them fighting until the end.

Developer Red Hook Studios hasn’t announced a release date for Darkest Dungeon II’s Kingdoms update yet, but it’s slated to land later this year. If you’ve yet to jump into the game’s grueling dark fantasy journey, now is a good time, as it’s featured in a Steam sale this week. That should give you plenty of time to get used to being crushed by Darkest Dungeon II’s merciless enemies before the update launches.

Darkest Dungeon II is available on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. The Kingdoms update arrives in 2024.

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