Dead by Daylight - A gameplay analysis

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An Overview

Dead by Daylight by Starbreeze Studios is a asymmetric horror game. This is it's strength and also it's greatest weakness, as it creates an abrasive culture between both survivors and killer players. On the other hand, it creates a kinship between even both sides, as players understand that the game is unforgiving for mistakes on the survivors side.

(this article assumes a basic knowledge of Dead by Daylight)


The basic gameplay loop

Killers follow a simple loop in game - search and destroy. They must hook each survivor to sacrifice them, every time the killer goes to the next The regularity of the killers checking the generators creates a much needed tension between the two sides, but unfortunately this is unbalanced due to the item system.

Survivors are (in general) rewarded for brash and action based gameplay. Their core loop is - repair, get spotted, escape. There are a number of meta elements which add for more varied gameplay, such as the points system encouraging chases, chests containing useful items, the destruction of the killers totems and the sabotaging of the killers possessions (hooks, traps etc).


What makes it great

Items and Perks

Starbreeze have done a great job of cultivating it's perk and item systems in order to create unique gameplay experiences, and allows for much more varied and interesting gameplay.

Survivor Gameplay

The real enjoyment of playing survivor is the chases. Escaping from a killer is a euphoric experience, and is usually (at a higher level) the result of mindgames and intelligent planning. Every escaped chase is an achievement, assuming the killer is of a good quality.

Killer Gameplay

The enjoyment of playing a killer results almost entirely from planning. Winning a chase as a killer is based on your ability to outmanuever your prey. There are no 'get out of jail free' cards, and there are no button-mashing macro games to defeat survivors.

Crossteam Experiences

Many killer players enjoy rewarding the best survivors in every game with the hatch, an instant escape for the survivor. On the other hand, if a survivor makes a mistake then it can create some hilarious moments. A lot of this does rely on honour though...

What makes it... not so great...

For all the reasons that make it a fun experience, also can make it a depressing experience.

Items and Perks

Generally perks and items were created for a gimmick or 'cool' factor, but in fact result in unbalanced gameplay experiences. This is on both the survivor and killer side, and purely creates animosity between the two choices of play.

Survivor Gameplay

Enjoyment of survivors relates a lot to killers. If a killer facecamps you on first hook, you already know you are essentially doomed, ruining that games experience and guaranteeing a derank. If a killer is unskilled, the game is boring and leads to frustration, and usually the trolling of the less skilled player.

Killer Gameplay

Much like survivors, killers rely a lot on the other team for their enjoyment. There are plenty of low and unfair tactics on both sides, but the most frustrating for killers is looping (the act of using undefeatable run loops) and flashlight spam, both of which prevents normal gameplay.

Crossteam Experiences

The biggest issue is that the game relies entirely on honour, which in online communities is often in short supply or nonexistent. Dead by Daylight is fortunate in that it's community is generally okay in this regard, but tempers flare and gameplay can change as a result.

In summary...

For Starbreeze, the approach they need to take to make this game immeasurably better is to rebalance and reconsider their approach to new content.

Perks should be added in a much more balanced way, no perk should be so much better than any other to cause a requirement in the meta to pick it to have an enjoyable experience.

I hope this has been an interesting read! Feel free to contact me to leave me feedback.