Darkest Dungeon II’s relationship mechanics may seem like a trivial element compared to the stress your heroes can suffer, Quirks, and other debuffs during combat. But if you don’t pay attention to your group’s current affinity levels, they can soon start turning against each other, leading to various annoying moments. Learning how to use this mechanic in your favor is key to getting the most out of each expedition and, of course, surviving longer.
After the release of The Void Between Us update in January 2023, relationships were overhauled quite drastically. As a mechanic that previously sparked some discussion in the community following its early access phase, the latest tweaks should be more than welcome if you also feel that some of its random elements didn’t work entirely in its favor. This guide explains everything you need to know about relationship skills in Darkest Dungeon II, as well as the best ways to build positive relationships between your crew.
How to build relationships in Darkest Dungeon II
Relationships and affinity go hand in hand. Your affinity level between characters determines the types of relationships they can form, either positive or negative. After the release of The Void Between Us update Relationships can now only be formed in the inn. With the exception of the first inn you visit after the introductory trip on your train, each subsequent visit to future inns will result in different pairings.
It is worth noting that the relationships will only occur after you have rested, so you have some leeway to try and tip the scales either way in your group. Once you’re done, the screen just before boarding will show all the relationships that have formed. Clicking on it tells you if the result is positive or negative, and what relationship skills were affected (more on that later).
There are several ways to form bonds within your party, but if you’re wondering how to build positive relationships in Darkest Dungeon II, here are some tips:
- Keep an eye out for Inn items: Items such as “Playing Cards” are usually cheaper and can also be looted as loot or rewards in expeditions. If your characters’ affinity levels aren’t already in a state that you’re comfortable with, using these items before starting your next expedition can be very helpful. At the end of the day, they’re still a gamble, but who knows, if you push your luck you might get favorable results after all.
- The inns themselves can also affect your affinity: When you reach an inn, hover over the icon in the top left corner to see if there is any effect on the party or not.
- Trust your gut feeling when making decisions: Occasionally, before an encounter or during a conversation with NPCs, you will have to choose between different party members. You can tell from the colored “aura” around the characters (gold and blue, respectively) whether a decision will affect someone positively or negatively. It’s up to you how you want to approach each situation – just be aware before you commit to the wrong choice.
- Your actions in battle are important: Similar to the Decision Driven Events, using some skills versus others will result in different effects. Luckily, these are signaled by either color during that character’s turn, so it’s up to you how you want to handle each situation. Sometimes you really need to use a certain skill, and a negative result will inevitably happen.
- Quirks are important: Quirks also play a big part in how relationships work for this character. Most are usually unrelated, but it’s always worth opening up the character screen and checking it out for yourself. Also keep in mind that new Quirks will inevitably appear during Expeditions.
That’s the basics, but remember, Darkest Dungeon II thrives on random stats. Your characters must increase or decrease their affinity points with each other during expeditions. The steps above are just tools to counteract these effects, so you can try to tip the rules in your favor.
Also, keep that in mind Relationships last only during the upcoming expedition, and don’t stay with you the whole run. You can go from positive to negative and vice versa, so a negative relationship after your second visit to an inn isn’t the end of the world.
How relationship skills work in Darkest Dungeon II
As previously mentioned, the choices you make during combat will affect your party’s relationships. Once a bond is established, an ability chosen at random by each of the two characters will receive a positive or negative buff. Whenever you use this skill in combat, the effect kicks in and further affects the relationship.
Right now, the positive relationships are Respectful, Hopeful, and Amorous, while the negative row is being adjusted from Suspicious, Hateful, and Nevious. Skill buffs and debuffs can vary wildly, from randomly dishing out stress or healing barks during combat to enemies attacking or defending each other.
If you’re trying to keep as much peace as possible, I recommend always checking abilities before using them. For example, if a party member has just been hit or has a debuff status (e.g. Bleeding or Plague), there’s a chance you’ll get a few brownie points from tending it.
Whenever you have positive relationship skills, I recommend using them as often as possible. Negatives, on the other hand, are trickier: you can’t swap them out from characters’ skill bars, so they stay there during an expedition. And, well, if the ability the game randomly picked is one you rely on often, prepare to piss people off when you use it.
Relationships in Darkest Dungeon II can be pretty random, so it’s important to prepare for every possible scenario – our beginner’s guide and step-by-step explainer to defeat the Denial Brain can help.
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