For almost seven years, Dead By Daylight has been delighting fans of horror and asymmetric multiplayer with its four versus one gameplay. A large part of this is because the game has been adding new characters, perks and maps regularly throughout this time. I’m rarely gripped by live service games, but for the majority of Dead by Daylight’s lifespan I’ve been there with a machete in my hand carving up those pesky survivors. A few days ago the Chapter 27 update landed, and the Tools of Torment brought us a load of new content.
Included in the Tools of Torment chapter update is one new killer and two new survivors, as well as their accompanying perks. The star of the show is The Skull Merchant, a modern day slasher villain and original character for the game. She uses homemade drones created from the skulls of her victims (naturally) to catch survivors in their tracks, then tears them open with her claw hand. After recent characters like The Knight and The Dredge it’s nice to have a character who feels a bit more current day, and more importantly she’s really fun to play as.
The aforementioned drones are her main power, and can be placed around the map to alert you to the survivors’ presence. There are a ton of uses for this power, you can surround generators with the drones and brutally protect them, place them in busy corridors or use them to keep an eye on hooked survivors and their rescuers. Once you’ve placed your four drones a handy beeping sound will alert you to survivors in the area your drone can detect, and then can whip out a handy radar to get a more precise location on these foes.
The tracking ability of the drones is definitely helpful, but in a game as competitive as Dead by Daylight it isn’t nearly enough to win games consistently. Fortunately your drones have a few other abilities to help you out. The most impressive of these is that they make The Skull Merchant undetectable (a status effect that means survivors can’t hear your music or see the red light in front of you) by standing in their detection area. This means that if you use them effectively you can catch survivors off guard consistently, and get an early advantage in many a chase.
The other effect they have is that if survivors stay in their range for too long they’ll build up a “lock-on” meter, and when this is full that survivor can be taken down in one hit. Once you realise the implications of this, you can start placing your drones when a survivor is trying to loop you around some scenery to force them to have to leave to avoid the lock on.
As well as the new killer, Tools of Torment contains two new survivors (siblings Thalita and Renato Lyra). I really like the design of these two cool cats, but as is the norm in Dead by Daylight they don’t have any difference mechanically to other survivors. They do come with new perks to try out though, which could have some impact on the meta.
One of Renato’s perks is called Blood Rush, and enables survivors to sacrifice their health to cure their exhaustion, which allows them to use another perk to run really fast away from a killer one more time than they usually would. It’s a clever idea to have this risk reward mechanic for survivors who think they can make this sacrifice to successfully escape, but the limitation of it only working once you’re on your last hook (which is essentially your last of three lives) means it doesn’t get a whole lot of use currently.
The other interesting survivor perks introduce a new teamwork mechanic. By sticking really close to another survivor after healing, these perks activate one of a couple of powerful effects like a significant speed boost. If you’ve got friends you play as a survivor with, this is an interesting strategy to try out but without voice comms there’s not a chance you could make it work.
On the killer side, The Skull Merchant perks are very much a mixed bag. My favourite is without a doubt “Thwack”. This activates when you kick pallets or walls, and causes nearby survivors to scream and reveal themselves for a few seconds. It’s a really nice tool to help locate people when you’re in the middle of a chase, and although maybe not the most powerful perk in the game it’s certainly a satisfying one.
From a gameplay perspective there’s only one real problem with the Tools of Torment chapter update, and that’s how powerful The Skull Merchant is when they set up their defences around the last three generators of a map. If this is done with generators that are close enough together you can prevent anyone from touching them with ease, and I’ve had matches that lasted around thirty minutes (when a standard match usually lasts well under ten minutes) with this strategy before finally picking apart the enemy team. It’s simply too powerful a strategy at lower rankings, but to be frank I absolutely love dragging out games with it.
I suppose the only other complaint you could have about this particular chapter update is that it doesn’t include a new map. Not every new chapter includes a new battleground to murder fools in though, and honestly there’s more than enough variety in the game already.
The Dead by Daylight Tools of Torment chapter update is a fantastic reason to jump back into this asymmetric murderfest, and is in my opinion one of the best updates the game has had in years. The new killer is a ton of fun to play as, and although the perks added aren’t the most impactful options they’re certainly entertaining to play around with. Now stop listening to me droning on and give it a try.
The new killer is fantastic
Some interesting perks
Refreshing character designs
Plenty of new strategies to master
One particular strategy is currently unbalanced at some ranks
Not all the perks are great
No new map