The rising popularity of asymmetrical multiplayer, or team versus one style gameplay has been well noted. Some custom modes in some FPS games, such as Halo, have players contending against a larger and far more powerful player, while Turtle Rock’s Evolve pits hunters against a rampaging beast controlled by another player. Dead by Daylight, from developer Behaviour Interactive and publisher Starbreeze Studios, seeks to capitalize on the growing genre by introducing an entirely new setting and gameplay idea:
A small team of four survivors against a terrifying man/creature straight from slasher horror films.
I'm admittedly a big horror movie fan, and I’ve been trying to keep up-to-date on all the updates to Dead by Daylight, but I didn't have a chance to sit down and play it until E3 2016. I ended up being the killer for my round, pitted against Kevin, Mike, and two fans waiting in line to play the game. I was presented with three options as the killer: the Trapper, the Hillbilly, and the Wraith, each with their own incredibly unique and different playstyles. All of the killers are slow, moving around the map in a methodical fashion on the hunt for the survivors. The survivors, on the other hand, are fast, agile, and able to hide from the killer as they attempt to jumpstart generators scattered around the map and escape the murderer's lair. The game is an actual cat and mouse experience brought into a gory existence.
The Trapper focuses on placing bear traps, using them to cut off survivors from sections of the map and giving him a chance to catch them. The Wraith, the new killer revealed at E3 this year was able to cloak and pounce out of the shadows and surprise the survivors. The Hillbilly, the Killer I ended up playing, was reminiscent of Leatherface, complete with a chainsaw and pipe. While the chainsaw needs to be charged, it goes give The Hillbilly the ability to sprint after his targets like a terrifying nightmare.
The game began once the survivors had selected their items, and I had "selected" my available skills (more details to follow). It dropped us into an eerie farm-type map, complete with skinned and disemboweled animals hanging from trees. A typical hillbilly killer's paradise! One thing that should be noted, the game currently has one themed location, but everything within the map is procedurally generated. This keeps players from memorizing the locations for the generators or the hidden escape hatch.
I quickly learned that I was capable of tracking my prey, using clues left behind by the survivors to help me hone in on them. The survivors themselves, I later learned, were able to detect if I was nearby by listening for my heartbeat or plodding steps, keeping them on their toes. I was quick to take Kevin down first (by accident, I swear!), where I knocked him to the ground in one clean hit with the chainsaw before stringing him up on a sacrificial hook. Killers don’t kill the survivors directly. I mean, they do plenty of bodily harm to incapacitate them, but they are intended to be sacrificial lambs. After being strung up, demonic spider-claws dig into the survivor from a dark portal, grabbing the survivor and gruesomely tearing into them. Let's just say I was not expecting that...
Generally, this process takes only a couple of hits; one will put the survivor into a limping gait, while the next will knock them to the ground, allowing the Killer to pick them up. Survivors can struggle to escape, but once they're impaled on a hook, they must be rescued by a teammate. There is a 5% chance of escaping on your own, but I have yet to see anyone pull themselves off the hook. Not to mention, after three failed attempts, you die. The game continued like this, with me chasing the rest of them down one by one, as they slowly activated the generators. It came down to the wire, with only one generator left by the time I found and killed the last survivor.
Dead by Daylight offers a leveling system, though we did not see much of the mechanics while at E3 2016. Players on both sides can upgrade skills and abilities over time, making their chances of survival (or sacrifice) higher with each subsequent game. This could end up being a massive bonus during matches; our experience ended up being as close as possible as the final survivor kept sneaking around while activating the generators. I was having a hell of a time trying to catch her until I finally lucked out with my chainsaw attack.
Although the game is officially released on Steam in June, the game is receiving constant patches to improve the game’s performance as well as remove any remaining bugs. Each survivor has his/her own background on how they ended up where they are, just don’t expect much in-game, at least right now. The team is letting everything grow organically from the fans, adding their input into the overall world they are designing. As for future killers and maps, expect more ruthless ones down the line with possible inspiration drawn from popular culture.