Double-Radiant Mode

Darkest Dungeon has three game modes: Radiant Mode, in which recovering from a loss takes up like 30-60 minutes as you rebuild your reaplacement heroes from (hopefully) level 4 to the level cap of level 6, Darkest Mode, in which recovering from a loss takes up several hours in the endgame as you have to rebuild your lost heroes from level 2, and Stygian Mode, in which enemies are stronger and if you take too long or lose too many heroes you will instantly lose.

The problem here is that Radiant Mode should definitely be the standard mode for new players because most of its features are time-saving features. Your heroes still start out at level 0 (because Darkest Dungeon has a level 0 for some reason), but once your base upgrades are maxed out, new heroes to replace the fallen can be as high as level 4 instead of Darkest Mode’s level 2. Your heroes recover stress faster while resting in town, so your stress recovery facilities aren’t as overtaxed and you won’t have to burn a dungeon raid on your B-team while waiting for your A-team to de-stress very often. There’s a deck-based hero generation mode so that you’re guaranteed to get heroes from every class once every so often instead of a totally random bag of recruits that could theoretically leave you without a healer indefinitely. The only change to actual difficulty is that you get a higher dodge bonus if your torch light is maxed out in the dungeon and there’s a couple of ways in which money is more abundant/base upgrades are cheaper, although even that is more of a time-saving feature because it means you’re less likely to have boss fights available but put off fighting them so you can loot a few more random dungeons to buy upgrades.

All this to say that you definitely want first time players to choose Radiant Mode, but that most people ignore the “first time players should start here” suggestion because in most games it means “people totally unfamiliar with this entire genre of video games should start here,” so anyone who’s played an RPG before is going to say “I know what I’m doing, I don’t need an easy mode,” and I don’t think any amount of “no, really, this isn’t an easy mode, it’s a non-grinding mode” is going to fix that. People gravitate to the middle option on difficulty selections.

That’s why I propose the all-new Double-Radiant Mode: You click on it, and the game instantly declares your victory, then gives you a pop-up window explaining that you can see the real ending by playing Radiant Mode, but we had to include this joke of a difficulty setting to convince people to actually use Radiant Mode instead of running headlong into Darkest Mode like a bunch of lemmings.

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