Dead by Daylight Mid-Season Patch 2.1.0 Updates

I have a very specific pattern as a gamer. I always have a wide range of games ready and available to play at a given time. If I want to game on console, I catch up with titles I wanted to play all at once. On PC, it's the Steam sale and keeping track of interesting Kickstarters and livestreams. I do eventually get to all of the games, but there's usually one title I swing back to again and again as a fun break from all the new mechanics and stories to learn.

That game right now is Dead by Daylight, an asymmetrical 4v1 survival horror game. A team of four survivors try to power up five generators and escape a creepy map while being stalked, chased, and attacked by one killer. Survivors and killers alike have different perks that improve certain skills or add abilities, such as running faster, moving quieter, or being more efficient at game objectives. The win condition is making it out the doors as a survivor or killing the survivors as a killer.

 The trapper with his mask and machete.

The trapper with his mask and machete.

Despite being out for two years now, Behavior Interactive, the studio behind the game, only just took full control of their title. Originally, they partnered up with Starbreeze to publish the game. We don't know all the details of why Behavior agreed to buy out the title outright, but we do know that Behavior gets to set the release schedule, updates, and direction of the game from now on.

The first big change was the 2.0.1 update that released with the Curtain Call DLC last month. Now, we're receiving our first ever mid-season patch for Dead by Daylight, 2.1.0. If it's not exactly the terminology Behavior is using, it is apt. Behavior's new plan is major chapter updates (DLC) ever three months, with updates in between. 2.0.1 was largely focused on interface and ease of use for new players; 2.1.0 is the first major balancing patch the game has received all at once.

The most noticeable change to game is the reworking of two killers: the Trapper and the Hag. Trapper is one of the original three killers and, in the early days of DbD, was one of the most menacing. He sets bear traps around the map that are difficult for survivors to get out of if they step in them. Unfortunately for Trapper, the game shifted to a much faster meta and his intentionally slow trapping ability (for balance in the early days) could not keep up. 

Now, Trapper is fast. His movement speed has not increased, but his traps now take only 2.5 seconds to set; it was much longer before. This speed can be increased with add-ons. Essentially, you could actually pause briefly during a chase to set a trap if the survivor is looping you around the same locations on the map.

 The hag in all of her twisted and decayed in mud glory.

The hag in all of her twisted and decayed in mud glory.

The other big disadvantage was sabotaging traps. Survivors can fight back against trapper by sabotaging the bear traps. Once sabotaged, the trap was useless. Now, after 180 seconds, the sabotage wears off and the traps can be reused; this can be reduced significantly with add-ons or the perk Hangman's Trick (a teachable perk from the Pig). Combined with revised add-ons like Bloody Coil that punish the survivors for sabotaging, Trapper is now fast and dangerous enough to be a viable killer again.

The Hag underwent similar changes. She also fights with traps, though hers are essentially portals that allow her to teleport to survivors if they step on them. Her potential map control was considered so powerful by Behavior that they actually gave the Hag--physically the smallest killer in the game--the slowest movement speed by quite a large margin (105% of survivor speed versus 110%, the default value of killers). Furthermore, every single add-on she had came with a significantly negative side effect to further hinder her abilities. Increasing the distance you could teleport might decrease the trap speed or vice versa. Hag was great for jump scares, but jump scares don't earn points or win matches.

That's not a problem anymore. Hag's traps only take 2.2 seconds to set at default speed right now, and she has plenty of perks that reduce the one second mid animation motion to make them almost-instant. Her add-ons no longer have any negative consequences, putting her at the same skill level as every other killer ever released in the game. She also teleports farther by default, finally balancing out the slower movement speed.

The other major change for killers is the Tinkerer perk. This Hillbilly perk from the original release had a lot of potential. It used to speed up certain actions killers could take, such as setting up a chainsaw run quicker on Hillbilly or a faster setting speed for traps on Trapper. After the release of Huntress, it essentially became too complicated to keep revisiting the code in the game for each new killer's ability, meaning the Pig, the Clown, the Shape, and the Nightmare were never able benefit from Tinkerer. It could still be acquired on the bloodweb, but literally did nothing to speed up these characters.

 Icon for the Tinkerer perk with a hammer and screwdriver.

Icon for the Tinkerer perk with a hammer and screwdriver.

The new Tinkerer is a tracking perk. When survivors get a generator to 85% completion, there is a loud sound indicator for the killer to know where they are. The killer's terror radius is also reduced to zero (meaning no auditory cue for killer's proximity to survivors) for 8/10/12 seconds. That allows killers to sneak up on survivors as they're finishing generators for easier attacks.

As of this writing, the Tinkerer perk is bugged in the game and should be avoided. Tinkerer Tier II resets a killer's terror radius to zero for the entire game once any generator hits 85%. Don't be scummy; just wait for the hot fix patch. The developers acknowledged the bug on their livestream yesterday and said they'll be pushing out the fix quickly.

On the survivor side, the exhaustion system is changed in one significant way. Exhaustion perks (Sprint Burst, Lithe, Balanced Landing, Dead Hard) grant survivors increased speed in certain actions (running or jumping/landing) for a brief period of time. They can only be used if the survivor is not currently exhausted. Previously, exhaustion decreased on a timer. You recovered after 60/50/40 seconds depending on the Tier level of the perk, no matter what you were doing.

Now, to recover from Exhaustion, you cannot be running. Aside from being a logical change (we don't recover energy while we're running in the real world), it is essentially a quality of life change for the overall game. There are survivor players who are quite upset by this change since it fundamentally changes one of the main strategies in the game. You could, for years, just outrun the killer with the right combination of pallets and obstacles. Avoid being hit long enough in a chase and your Sprint Burst/Lithe/Balanced Landing/Dead Hard reset and you could essentially start it over. Skilled survivors could loop the killer this way for the amount of time it took to complete multiple--if not all--generators. The patch change exists to balance the game at higher ranks and force survivors to not just run and run and run until their Exhaustion perk lets them move faster than the killer for a few seconds, resetting the entire chase sequence. The game doesn't stay alive if people will not player killer because the game is fundamentally balanced against them; the exhaustion nerf levels the playing field in favor of killers for the first time in a long time.

 Icon for Sprint Burst with a pair of running shoes.

Icon for Sprint Burst with a pair of running shoes.

Now, survivors have to use these perks and strategy to evade the killer. You try to break the line of sight and hide so the killer doesn't know where you are. I understand the frustration--I don't run survivor builds without Balanced Landing and can feel the difference now--but it finally feels like I'm not playing scummy when I run a killer long enough to jump off a hill and sprint out of the chase range. As a survivor, it makes the game more challenging and rewards creative gameplay; as a killer, I have new information to use to mind game survivors, like dropping a chase knowing someone who has Sprint Burst is probably hiding to regain it as quickly as possible and sneaking up on them. It's a radical reformatting of the meta that gives us a clear indication of what Behavior wants to do with the game.

During the live stream yesterday, Behavior mentioned being able to track what perks or add-ons are used in the game. They predicted, happily, that Small Game--a survivor perk that gives you a notification when you are near a trap or totem--will probably see increased play because of the changes to Trapper. They also reworked many of the aura-reading perks for killers, giving killers more information on where survivors are hiding and forcing survivors to find new ways of evading the killers.

This wasn't said specifically, but it feels like Behavior's new strategy is going to be to slightly alter certain killers, perks, and add-ons from time to time to change how survivors and killers need to adapt to the game. It's feeling a lot like format changes in a trading card game or MMO and that's healthy. This adds variety to the game and prevents it from stagnating. Again, season-long meta changes through perk/add-on changes is purely speculation based on this patch and yesterday's livestream, but it would be nice. They did layout how the Wraith is being changed (again), hinted at developing new aura-hiding/manipulating perks for survivors, and how Nightmare's changes will take longer to implement, so I don't think I'm too far off here.

I think the 2.1.0 patch is great for the game. There are issues--pallets are not registering anything correctly, from drops to killer's attacks, as well as the Tinkerer Tier II bug and some funny business with not being able to run in the terror radius/getting stuck in crouch in the terror radius--but they are bugs, not features. They will be addressed when they can be addressed. Worst case scenario, they get reset to earlier builds like the tried and failed ability to pallet stun a Nurse while she was blinking. Despite the instant best/worst reaction that results in review bombing on Steam (for any game that gets patches like this), saner heads will prevail. Behavior is focusing on quality of life changes intended to keep Dead by Daylight active for a long time. This patch is a sign of a developer doing the best they can to keep making their game feel fresh and fun. That's a good thing.

Dead by Daylight is available to purchase on PC (Steam), PS4, and XBox One.

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