Hard as it is to believe, Dead by Daylight is approaching its sixth birthday.

Although you might still think of Behaviour Interactive’s sensation as a relative spring chicken, we’ve had a whole console generation, three different United States presidents, and approximately a dozen real-world apocalypses since it debuted back in July 2016. At this point, the multiplayer title has managed to outlive its original rival, Friday the 13th: The Game (which stopped producing new content eons ago), by quite some way and has been steadily going for 23 chapters.

Yet even if it’s not the new kid on the block anymore, there’s ironically a lot of life still coursing through Dead by Daylight’s veins. According to the developers’ own internal statistics, around 2 million users log in every single day and that number is only set to grow now that it’s been added to the Epic Games Store platform.

Meanwhile, the roster of playable killers has ballooned from a paltry three characters to well over 20 recognisable faces. With Behaviour Interactive likening it to a “horror hall of fame”, there’s a vast assortment of both original creations and iconic licensed villains for you to control.

Indeed, gorehounds are truly spoiled for choice here, as they are let loose in a sandbox wherein popular IPs can mix in a way that would otherwise be impossible due to various ownership rights. For example, you can have Pinhead facing off against Laurie Strode, Ghostface stalking the corridors of Midwich Elementary School, or Freddy Kruger invading the dreams of Leon S. Kennedy. It’s the closest thing that us horror geeks have to something like Fortnite.

You won’t be getting any licensed characters for the upcoming Chapter 24 of Dead by Daylight though, as the team is using this season of content to tell another one of their original stories instead. Dubbed “Roots of Dread”, it will come with a killer and corresponding survivor, as well as a brand-new realm to explore.

Bloody Disgusting attended a recent press conference to find out more about this imminent piece of DLC.

Dead by Daylight: Year 7 Roadmap Teased

During the livestream event (which is not be confused with the anniversary broadcast that just aired publicly), Behaviour Interactive laid out the broad strokes for Dead by Daylight’s entire “Year 7” roadmap.

Here we learned that there will be a total of 4 chapters released between now and June 2023, with a pair of maps being introduced as well (one of which is for the Roots of Dread chapter). In addition to this, there are a number of smaller updates planned to overhaul the game’s balancing.

Informed by the results of player satisfaction surveys, internal user tests and social media feedback, the team have decided to implement a ‘perk shape up’ that will debuff certain attributes while also giving others a much-needed boost. The hope is that this will encourage veterans to adjust their tactics and try out some unfamiliar playstyles, rather than relying on overpowered load outs and annoying gameplay exploits.

Elsewhere, Behaviour Interactive mentioned that they will also be rolling out “matchmaking incentives” later this year, to help get people into games faster. In a nutshell, this system will identify any lobbies that are currently waiting to be filled and figure out if there is a greater need overall for killers or for survivors.

The game will then try to entice players into filling whichever vacancy is most in demand. For instance, if killers are in short supply on any given day, then you might receive a prompt asking you to consider adopting that role when you’re looking for a match. If you agree to do this, then you will not only get into a game faster, but you will also score extra blood points for helping everything run smoother.

Speaking about the rationale behind the matchmaking incentives, Stefan Beauchamp-Daniel, Senior Producer, explained: “We want to make sure that players get the most out of their time playing the game. And that means spending more time in a match and less time waiting around lobbies. We are really hoping that this is going to balance out the queues and essentially get people in games more frequently.”

This promises to be a huge quality of life improvement for Dead by Daylight, one that will be seen as a godsend for anybody who has clocked in hours just loitering around menu screens.

Finally, the roadmap also confirmed that the four cornerstone events in the Dead by Daylight calendar will be returning yet again. Those being the anniversary celebration, as well as the Halloween, Winter and Lunar New Year playlists. So, if you make a point of never missing those special occasions, then fear not as they aren’t going anywhere.

Behaviour Interactive on “The Dredge”

While the other three seasons of content for “Year 7” are mostly shrouded in mystery (there is a vague Resident Evil-themed update due to come out before the end of 2022), we do know exactly what is coming for Chapter 24.

As previously mentioned, Roots of Dread is a totally original storyline for Dead by Daylight, set in a seemingly wholesome, white picket fence neighborhood. On the surface, this cosy little suburb looks quaint enough but, as you might expect, that façade is just covering for a seedy underbelly players will inevitably have to confront.

Similar to Derry, Maine, it turns out that this town has a sinister history and that its residents all harbour their own terrible secrets. A legacy of evil has been festering here like an infected wound, eventually giving rise to a boogeyman figure known as “The Dredge”.

Much like Pennywise or Freddy Kruger, this creature is born from the dark thoughts of the local community, and it feeds off their pain too. In the words of Dead by Daylight’s creative director, Dave Richard: “it is the physical manifestation of the suppressed darkness of the whole town.”

In terms of its visual design, The Dredge is a type of monster that has become especially prevalent in recent years. It’s one of those formless, body-horror abominations that is comprised of multiple limbs and appendages fused together in a way that doesn’t make any anatomical sense. Think of a less extreme version of The Last of Us Part II’s Rat King, Dead Space’s Necromorphs, or the experiment-gone-wrong from Neil Blomkamp’s Zygote short. In other words, it’s a mess of writhing tentacles, congealed flesh and an oddly-phallic head that’s lined with rows upon rows of fearsome incisors.

Enthusiastically raving about this atrocity like a mad scientist, Richard continued: “Our goal was to create a monster that felt chaotic and weird. Like something straight out of a nightmare. When you wake up from a bad dream, you often remember that you saw something viscerally scary, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it was. For us, that’s The Dredge!

When Bloody Disgusting enquired as to what could possibly have inspired such a bizarre creation, Richard answered: “It is the archetypal boogeyman! Something that is known globally across many different cultures. We really wanted to create that type of monster that lives in your house and hides under your bed. I grew up with a specific Boogeyman urban legend, but after searching online I found that there are many different cultural interpretations of this idea around the globe and we drew upon all of them to create our own version.

As for the art team, they used reference material in the form of artwork depicting nightmares, photos of bodily injuries and sicknesses. It’s a very fun part of the process!”

Yet despite the effort that went into making the most horrific monster imaginable, Richard was keen to emphasize that it gets even worse when players modify the default skin. Through the collections menu, you’ll be able to tweak The Dredge’s already-repellent look in some pretty gnarly ways.

Like every other killer in Dead by Daylight, the avatar is segmented into three customizable parts, which you can swap and change around. You’ll be able to try out different limbs, give it a tail if you want, or position its eyes in remarkably unusual places. Whatever you think will be scariest for your victims.

As for its abilities, The Dredge can use a “Gloaming” power that allows it to teleport into lockers scattered around the map. Richard explained: “This is very useful traversal method for getting around quickly, but it is also super fun to surprise victims that are nearby or even inside these hiding places. The lockers are normally places of refuge in our game, but The Dredge takes away that safety.”

Meanwhile, the killer also has a “Nightfall” meter which automatically builds throughout the match. As this bar gets fuller, the map is gradually engulfed in darkness, severely limiting the visibility of survivors, until all they can see is the outline of The Dredge itself. According to Richard: “It’s a very intense gameplay mechanic and it’s going to lead to survivors making a lot of panicked mistakes for sure!”

Introducing Haddie Kaur and the Garden of Joy

Arriving alongside the Dredge will be a new playable survivor, Haddie Kaur. A deep cut from the wider Dead by Daylight lore, she is making her long-overdue game debut in Roots of Dread, after mainly being relegated to flavour text in the past.

Born in northern India but raised in Quebec by her foster parents, the character has an interesting dual background. In terms of her monster-fighting qualifications, Haddie possesses strange psychic abilities that enable her to perceive dimensional “bleeds”, showing the links between our own world and the realm of the entity. More than just backstory, this unique power will obviously feed into her gameplay abilities as well.

The final offering from Chapter 24 is the new map. Known as the Garden of Joy, this realm is based on the average American suburb. In the words of Richard: “It’s the type of town we have seen in countless novels, movies and other mediums”, where everyone knows each other and all seem to be well on the surface. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Although from a narrative perspective The Dredge is meant to have a grip over the entire community, the Garden of Joy map will only represent a small portion of that landmass. As seen in the trailer for Chapter 24, it features a woodland maze and just a single, ordinary house.

Which is refreshingly stripped back when compared to the more outlandish environments that we’re used to getting with these Dead by Daylight updates. After all, this isn’t some vast eldritch hellscape like Silent Hill or a gothic police station, but an everyday space that hits a lot closer to home.

Speaking to Bloody Disgusting about this, Richard said: “We wanted to do a map that felt more unnervingly familiar. To provide a kind of domestic horror that players can better relate to. It looks perfect from the exterior, but as soon as you get inside you will notice how twisted it is. Just like the residents of that town.”

He continued: “The map is visually stunning, it features a different type of lighting that is very dramatic and there’s a lot of vegetation around the house to hide in. So that gave the level design team a lot of opportunity to change how players perceive their space and how they strategize, whether they are chasing or running away. “The layout will be super fun to explore and learn. It also features a roof section, which is pretty interesting. Personally, when I play as a killer, I like to use this spot to find survivors and do a bit of scouting, which is especially useful if people are hiding in the dense forest area.”

Fans will be able to test out Richard’s vantage point for themselves when the Roots of Dread chapter launches on Tuesday, June 7. PC gamers will be able to access it even earlier though, as it’s already available for them to enjoy in the Public Test Build (PTB) environment.

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