Darkest Dungeon: The Butcher’s Circus DLC Available

The free multiplayer The Butcher’s Circus DLC for Red Hook Studios’ side-scrolling RPG Darkest Dungeon is now live. If you’d like to test your Darkest Dungeon skills against other people, now’s your chance. The DLC expands the base game with a new location, a new PvP game mode fueled by an updated initiative system, online leaderboards, and some fresh music.

Here’s the official description:

The Hamlet may have fallen on hard times, but the creak of wagons and blare of abused trumpets signals a change in fortune for the bold and meek alike: the Circus is in town!

A weathered and bloodstained pavilion tent beckons, the Twins flank the flap, and a rheumy-eyed Barker announces:

"The Butcher demands a show!"

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

  • New Hamlet Location: The Butcher's Circus
  • Engage in no-holds-barred PvP combat with teams of 4 heroes (without risking your Campaign heroes)
  • Climb the ranks to show off your command of heroes and ability to weather misfortune and violence
  • Unlock banner components and use your creativity to assemble your own duelist heraldry
  • Strategize with new gladiatorial trinkets that can mean all the difference in pitched battles against other heroes
  • A gleefully warped musical theme by Stuart Chatwood, Narrator quips by the esteemed Wayne June, and all new gripping sound FX by Power Up Audio

This earlier article on the studio’s website shares some additional information:

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in.”― Napoleon Bonaparte

Greetings Hamlet Dwellers!

Today we wanted to give a glimpse into some of the mechanical changes as well as the release date for The Butcher’s Circus. Grab a friend or a foe and prepare yourselves because the Circus arrives at the Hamlet on May 28th.

In just a few weeks, all players who own Darkest Dungeon on Steam can join the fray! We couldn’t be more excited to have a release on the horizon as we’ve been heads down deep on Darkest Dungeon 2 and Circus development and haven’t had the pleasure of being able to present something to our community in some time. Soon, we can welcome you inside the big tent for us all to celebrate what we think is an interesting new way to play Darkest Dungeon.

As a little preview, let’s go over probably the biggest difference players will see when jumping into the ring: changes to turn order and initiative.

Normally in Darkest Dungeon, at the start of each combat round we roll all combatants’ initiative to establish a turn order. This initiative is the combination of the character’s speed plus a die roll. We don’t explicitly show who will act next because we like there to be some amount of unknown information that represents the chaos of a fight. Instead we use gold pips on the actors to show who has yet to act. However, in the Circus, it works quite a bit differently.

At the start of a match there is a coin flip, whomever wins the flip acts first. That is of course quite valuable, so the loser gets a special team-wide buff that lasts for the entire first round.

The starting player then gets to choose which hero to use first. That’s right–no initiative!

After that hero acts, play passes to the other player and they in turn get to choose a hero to act. Action continues to alternate back and forth between players in this way until all heroes have acted. Then a new round begins.

Although we are fans of some good old-fashioned RNG (as you well know), relying on the base game initiative system would introduce too much randomness into the outcome of a single PvP combat match.

This new mechanic introduces a huge new layer of decision making into combat. Do I go for immediate damage with Crusader or Leper? Or do I set up some marks with my Houndmaster or Bounty Hunter so that my Arbalest can score big kills? Should you activate the hero most vulnerable to being stunned first, even though ideally you’d like to leave them for last in order to combo or do a saving heal? It creates an interesting cat and mouse dynamic for the first half of the match as you attempt to outmaneuver and activate your chosen strategy while interrupting your opponent’s.

Along with the initiative change, we’ve also made other combat changes to enhance the PvP experience, but we’ll leave you to discover those in the Arena. It’s a whole new battle out there! However, rest assured that the single player campaign and combat will continue to function as they always have.