This game rules, and this game sucks.
Dead By Daylight is a game that sits on a very delicate scale. Being a part of the ecosystem feels as if at any moment, the scale is going to snap to one side and shit's going to go flying everywhere. Created by a studio that I personally think is trying its best, Behavior seems constantly backed into a corner by an audience that has A Lot Of Opinions, while frantically trying to throw out scraps of new content and bug fixes to appease the ever-agitated sea of sweaty campers and tea-baggers. That being said, they've made a conceptually unique game. Tacking on the fact that it's one of the most well-supported titles I've ever encountered in terms of new content and in-game cosmetics, you've got something special going on. But that doesn't take away from the fact that people like to ruin everything.
If you aren't familiar with the game, the premise is simple. You have 1 killer versus a team of 4 survivors on a closed map. The survivors’ objective is to open the exit gates and escape the map, which is achieved by powering 5 different generators, or gens. The killer’s objective is to stop them, and do so with murder, either by their own hand or sacrificing them to what's called the Entity. If you get caught by the killer, they place you on a meat hook (gross I know) to which you can be rescued by your teammates. If you are hooked 3 times, the match is over for you. See? Simple!
The next layer to the gameplay is the Perks. Both survivor and killer can attach up to 4 perks that can grant them various buffs and even special abilities. Each playable character has perks that are unique to them, but can be unlocked for the rest of the roster once you've leveled them up enough. That is where the meta really begins to unfold. With new perks and counters being added as new characters are released, and the most relevant and 'best' perks constantly changing, this is where the complexity within each match really varies.
The Nitty Gritty
Down to its bare bones, DBD gameplay relies somewhat on an honour system. There are ways to abuse the gameplay that can really make or break a match and it's very easy for the tides of a match to turn quickly in favor of one side, and that can be hard to reverse. It can be so easy to get steamrolled by someone who knows what they're doing; specific combinations of perks with the right killer can be almost unplayable, with you just essentially because bloodpoint fodder for the killer until you either get killed or purposefully disconnect.
Now these are not plays you see all the time, but they're just examples of how a tryhard killer can really get their way. And that's not to say it can't be that way for survivors too! Having the advantage of being in Third Person versus the killer's First Person has been the reason I've managed to escape death by the skin of my teeth countless times. Throw in the right set of perks that compliment your strengths and a set of survivors can gen-rush you faster than you can say "Death is Not An Escape".
To Kill (playing the killer)
It's part of the killer's responsibility as an obstacle within the game to make sure that that obstacle is fair. This is where the honour system comes into play. It can be very tempting to camp someone on a hook so that they can't be rescued, and use what is considered to be (somewhat) overpowered perks like No One Escapes Death (also known as NOED) to make sure that even if you don't have a successful match, you have a significant advantage towards the end. You are the driving force between the survivors getting out and sometimes that power gets to your head.
From my experience playing killer, there's usually two emotional states you can end up in: being a powerhouse, or just straight up being bullied. The rush of getting a 4k (successfully sacrificing all four survivors) is a rewarding thrill that never gets old, but the other side of the coin is much more depressing. If you are playing a killer that you're not familiar with, or just end up matched with a group that's significantly higher in rank, then you are in for a very disheartening time. There's a specific type of frustration that comes from trying your hardest to down a survivor and they just continue to taunt and loop you over and over. You get to a point where you're better off just giving up and going to find someone else, but then end up regretting all that lost time. Sometimes people get lucky, and other times they just know too well what they're doing, and when there is that skill discrepancy, you can't put up much of a fight.
Other in-game moves like body blocking (which reduces your movement while you are carrying a survivor to a hook so that they can escape) or flashlight flicking (using a flashlight to mock or distract the kill into instigating a chase or just... being rude) can throw salt into this wound and make it very clear when the survivors have malicious intent. It's one thing to try and play the game optimally, and then there's straight up just being toxic. It can be extremely discouraging when you get a string of survivors who just run you around like it's nothing, and end up not wanting to play anymore.
Or Be Killed (playing as survivor)
Now, playing survivor is a WHOLE 'nother ball game. You have the imminent threat of a murderous killer on your tail AND the accompanied baggage of useless teammates!! Ok, not all random teammates are useless, but boy some of them can be. With your goal being tied so heavily to teamwork, even just one person not using their head can ruin a match for you. As you play the game more and naturally learn the various mechanics, there's a balance between all of the parts you need to execute successfully in order to survive. While someone is running the killer around, distracting them, others need to be healing and working on gens. Sometimes temporarily abandoning gens to help tag team rescue someone off the hook is required. You need to be somewhat aware of what the others are doing in order to better your chances of everyone at least getting to the end game. Some people's power of observation however is abysmal.
Sometimes you need to cut your losses. Sometimes you need to be selfish and leave people for dead. It can suck but it's all a part of the experience. If NOED is active, or you're injured and the only one left standing, there's just no point in risking yourself when the chances are so high you won't make it out. There is a fine line however between deciding the risk isn't worth it, and just blatantly using your teammates as stepping stones on your way out. Sometimes there's something worse than a clueless, useless teammate, and that is a teammate who is ready to throw you under the bus at any moment. From using you as bait to get the killer off their tail, to abandoning you on the hook when rescue is perfectly plausible; it feels like teammates can be as bad as the killers sometimes.
I am Not Immune to Propaganda
So you might ask - if it really sucks that much, why do you keep playing? Looking at it from both the killer and survivor perspective, there's two main reasons why. One, I almost never play survivor alone, and two, I don't play killer to be good, I play it to complete the various challenges.
99.9% of the time, I don't solo-queue for survivor. I play almost exclusively with the person who actually introduced me to the game (thank you for bringing this garbage fire into my life, genuinely). While the game has minimal ways to communicate in match, voice chat not being included, the addition of being able to talk to one another makes the gameplay substantially better. Wow, communication improving a teamwork-based game... who'd have thought! But I mean this beyond just the practicality of being able to coordinate our actions and resources. It's having that person there to just... experience the game with you. It's laughing at how ridiculous the hit boxes are, or groaning over the fact that it's the fourth Bubba we've encountered that session. Having someone there to experience the bullshit and the audacity is an integral part of the DBD experience to me at this point so much that I don't ever bother playing alone.
As for playing killer, that part is simple. I just don't play to win. This is probably opposite to almost all of the killer player base but it's as easy as that! I know I'm not a good killer, and I don't really try to be. Sometimes I'll hop in a match or two just for the hell of it, but it's mostly to fool around and farm with the survivors. I'll play what I need to when I want to complete Tome challenges for what is essentially the battle pass for the game, but beyond that, my goals of being a top tier Rank 1 killer are non-existent. That isn't to say I don't sometimes get a little greedy, or lose my cool when I get bullied by people who don't realize I want to farm, but it definitely reduces the pressure significantly.
So Wait Do You Hate It Or Not
Now don’t get me wrong, I know I spent nearly 2000 words telling you about why this game is severely unbalanced, bug-ridden, and borderline toxic, and how it feels like an uncontrollable trash fire on wheels, but I do love it. For the above reasons mentioned, plus the character designs, in-franchise crossovers; there’s a lot I truly enjoy about the whole experience.
I feel like it's really important to know that, going in, it's a game that you can't expect to win. There's no default chance of getting out of the map alive. You need to go in with the expectation that you are not going to make it out, so you need to make the best of your time in there. Get what you can done on the generators, find those tucked away totems, be the Hero and body block so that your teammates can be the one to get out alive. Some matches will just be a flop, and if you can't accept that and just move onto the next one, you'll give yourself high blood pressure.
As much as it can give me Heated Gamer Moments™, DBD is a game that I enjoy beyond the limits of whether I win or lose. So can I recommend this game to others? Easy answer is a very exaggerated shrug accompanied by a slightly confused smile on my face. The more complex answer? Well you just stuck it out and read this whole thing so... what do you think?
There you have it! Finally my thoughts on Dead By Daylight? Do you play DBD too? If not, did this make you want to try it out? Let me know over on twitter at @atlaspolara!