By all accounts I am what you would call a “casual gamer.” I don’t seek out all the newest releases, I don’t keep up to date on all the news, and if I’m being totally honest, I rarely seem to finish a game. Yet there is one game I’ve put hundreds of hours into over the course of five years, and I still love it.
That game is Dead by Daylight, an asymmetrical player versus player horror game. In it a team of four Survivors try to escape the round while avoiding the single other player, the Killer. The Survivors can escape by repairing generators found around the map. If they get enough generators to power up the doors, they can escape. Meanwhile, the Killer will chase the Survivors down, injure them, and place them on meat hooks to be sacrificed to “The Entity.”
What is it about this game that has kept me and so many other people playing for five years? How is it that the playerbase seems to keep growing? Can the game maintain this momentum?
There are a few things that keep the game interesting and fresh. First and foremost are the continual updates. When Behaviour Interactive originally released Dead by Daylight in 2016 there were only four Survivors and three Killers to choose from. Yet it was only two months later that their first DLC was released. Referred to as “Chapters,” these DLC packs add new characters and maps. The access to fresh content allows players to feel like the game is new to them every few months. By adding a new Killer who chases Survivors in unique ways or a new Survivor with a different look, it’s all a great way to keep people playing.
These Chapter DLC packs don’t just add new characters to play, but increase the complexity of the game. They make the game fresh by constantly changing what players can expect in every round. Every character in this game comes with three unique “Perks” which are essentially buffs and skills that with enough playtime can be taught to other characters too. This means that at the time of release there were twelve Survivor Perks and nine Killer Perks that could be mixed and matched. Every time you play, each player can have a different loadout, and you won’t know what it was until the final scoreboard is shown. This adds a level of excitement to each game. At the time of writing this, twenty-two DLC packs later, there are now seventy-five Survivor Perks and sixty-nine Killer Perks. Over the course of five years the game has become more and more complex, which has kept the players interested and constantly learning new ways to play.
The Chapters are also why the playerbase is constantly expanding. The most recent original Chapter, “ALL-KILL,” features characters inspired by K-Pop. A lot of Behaviour’s original characters are very cool, and are designs reminiscent of other horror subgenres that can pull in new horror fans. ALL-KILL’s new characters are vibrant such as the killer named The Trickster, who has a genuine personality that is showcased in his excellent character design.
The biggest draw however, and another reason many players stay for the long haul, are the licensed Chapters. It’s always going to attract new players when Characters they recognize and love are added to the game. Behaviour has managed to obtain a broad variety of licenses over the course of five years. They include movies like HALLOWEEN, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, and TEXAS CHAINSAW, as well as TV series like Stranger Things and Ash vs. The Evil Dead, and even other video games like Silent Hill or Resident Evil.
Dead‘s growth into the biggest horror cinematic universe is a huge draw for both new and veteran players who can experience their dream crossovers here. Nowhere else can you see Laurie Strode team up with Ash Williams to face off against Leatherface in Jigsaw’s workshop, or see Leon Kennedy and Detective Tapp investigate a secret lab in the town of Hawkins, in a joint operation between fictional police departments. It is a horror fan’s toy chest.
It’s not just paid DLC updates that keep the game fresh either. Over the last year Behaviour has been working on and implementing entirely free updates that upgrade the original graphics, pulling the game up to the standards of the newer generations. Along with constant free patches, balance updates, cosmetic items and more, Behaviour have been working hard all these years to keep the game constantly interesting to the players. This includes playable events called “Rifts.” These Rifts are essentially a collection of challenges that allow the players to level up their characters more quickly. The Rifts also include new Archival information that expand on the game’s lore. One fascinating part of Dead by Daylight is the subtle use of lore through character and map design, but there is so much more information for you to read in the Archives and character biography pages in game. Even the completely original characters have a fully fleshed out history just waiting to be discovered by the players.
With five years of continuous updates Dead by Daylight is still going strong, and it doesn’t look like it’s about to slow down. With the Fifth Anniversary celebration in June, we already know of the announced Resident Evil Chapter.
Of course it is impossible to predict what the future holds for the game. There are always rumors circulating about new license deals and updates to the game. Some of these may be pipe dreams, but others could possibly happen. All we know for sure is, Behaviour isn’t giving up on Dead by Daylight soon and neither are a lot of the players.