Forming your party in Darkest Dungeon 2 is the most important decision you’ll make on every run. With new character classes joining some favorites from the original, you’ll want to know what each hero brings to the table before you send them to their likely demise. Choosing the right party members could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
We’ve got a full breakdown of every class in the game, so you can always make the right decisions and plan your perfect build!
Characters unlock new Skills by visiting the Hero Shrine; if you’re just starting out, your team won’t have access to their full complement of abilities until you’ve been on a few expeditions.
Updated on June 7, 2023 by Matt Arnold: We’ve updated this list to include the new classes added since early access. We’ve also linked to in-depth guides for each class. Check them out below!
The Grave Robber is a versatile utility hero who is best at ranged combat, but she can learn some melee skills down as well. Using her Poison Dart, she can deal damage over time which can be essential for wearing down tougher enemies so your heavy hitters can strike the killing blow. Her Flashing Daggers can finish off up to two weakened enemies at once, and with Dead of Night she can clear out corpses and grant herself Stealth at the same time.
If she needs to recover HP, she can take a sip of Absinthe to heal and gain Dodge at the same time! If you prefer your Grave Robber to mix it up in melee, she can Lunge to the front, follow up with Pirouette on her next turn to potentially daze the front two enemies, then Shadow Fade back to the rear of the party and enter Stealth.
While in Stealh, an experienced Grave Robber could use Repartee to gain Dodge and Taunt her enemies, forcing them to make attacks against her which will likely miss. To top it all off, she is fairly resistant to debuffs, but you should still watch out for damage-over-time effects – especially disease, which the Grave Robber is susceptible to thanks to her unsanitary line of work.
Darkest Dungeon 2 Plague Doctor
Common RPG wisdom says to always bring a healer, and the masked Plague Doctor is the woman for the job in Darkest Dungeon 2. She’ll typically want to stay at the back of the party where she can lob her Noxious Blasts and Blinding Gases safely. If you’re facing enemies that use Burn, Bleed or Blight, her first action should be Ounce of Prevention, which will increase the entire party’s resistance to those status effects.
The Plague Doctor’s main healing ability, Battlefield Medicine, can only be used if a party member is suffering a damage-over-time effect or if they have less than half of their hit points remaining. These conditions will be met more often than you’d like, so be aware that the doc can only use this skill three times per battle. Her other healing ability, Indiscriminate Science, converts buffs into health; however, it can be upgraded to remove debuffs as well!
As the Plague Doctor unlocks new abilities, she gains more buffs for her allies like Emboldening Vapors, which increases a single hero’s Strength, as well as disrupting attacks like Disorienting Blast which causes an enemy to stagger to different positions in their lineup. An offensively-minded Plague Doctor can use Cause of Death to deal considerable damage to an enemy that is suffering Bleed, Blight, or Burn. If caught in the open, the Plague Doctor can use Incision to make a melee attack and inflict Bleed from anywhere but the very back of the party – this makes the third Rank in the lineup a sweet spot for her. The Plague Doctor is especially resistant to Blight and Disease, but is easily stunned or moved.
The Highwayman is a versatile damage dealer. He’s able to hold his own in melee but he shines at mid-range where he can bring his devastating pistol to bear. His Take Aim and Tracking Shot skills, which are available from the start, allow him to make sure he and his allies can hit slippery foes. When the time comes to attack, the Highwayman can use Duelist’s Advance to move towards the front and activate a Riposte, allowing him to strike back at enemies that attack him.
As he gains new skills, he can use Point-Blank Shot to damage the frontmost enemy, then fade back to the second row where he’s more comfortable. With his high Speed, he can usually open fights with this powerful attack. If an enemy has lots of positive tokens such as Dodge activated, the Highwayman can remove them with Highway Robbery. If you want your Highwayman to stay at range and fire his pistol, be sure to give him Grapeshot Blast which targets the two front enemies.
If you prefer a melee build, Double Cross gives the Highwayman Block and applies Vulnerable to the target, increasing the damage it takes from the next hit by 50%. Open Vein is a great melee attack for general use, since it inflicts Bleed, but Wicked Slice is more likely to land a Deathblow. The Highwayman is resistant to Bleed and Move effects, but is susceptible to Debuffs.
Man at Arms
Art of the Man At Arms from Darkest Dungeon 2
The Man at Arms is your party’s defensive powerhouse. His job is to keep the other heroes alive by giving them defensive buffs and taking the brunt of the enemy’s attack himself. His Bolster and Defender skills both give him Block, which halves the damage from the next incoming attack. Since smart enemies will try to push the Man at Arms to the rear, having Hold the Line available allows him to return to the front rank, damaging the frontmost enemy as he does so. Alternately, he can use Rampart to move forward one position while damaging and Dazing and enemy, who is also knocked back.
As his story progresses, the Man at Arms can Bellow, clearing any enemy Ripostes and reducing all of their Speed stats by 3. With Retribution, the Man at Arms Taunts the enemy and sets up a Riposte of his own. Follow this up with Stand Fast, and your Man at Arms will also gain two stacks of Block, making him a fearsome tank! If the battle is winding down, the Man at Arms can use Courageous Abandon to shed those Block and Guarded tokens in return for dealing a mighty blow to the frontmost enemy. Be warned, however, that doing so makes the Man at Arms Vulnerable.
Command is great in combination with a damage-dealing hero, as it can boost their Strength and remove Blind if need be. Alternately, he can use Strategic Withdrawal to move back one rank, setting up a Combo token for a future attack. The ultimate tough guy, the Man at Arms has a massive 50 percent Stun resistance, and is tough to move as well. Watch out for enemies that can apply Debuffs though, as they can easily sap this hero’s stats.
The blood-soaked Hellion returns from the original game for more carnage, able to deal damage effectively from almost anywhere in the lineup. Like most melee Heroes, she can chop up enemies in the front with her Wicked Hack, but her Iron Swan ability targets the rearmost foe, making it great for clearing out squishy support units. From the middle ranks, the Hellion can use If It Bleeds to damage and apply Bleed to enemies who are also in the middle.
Since the Hellion’s abilities are so position-oriented, her Toe to Toe skill moves her forward one rank then Immobilizes her, preventing unwanted movement. Once she is up front, the Hellion’s Barbaric YAWP! will reduce the damage from the front two enemies’ next attacks by half, and remove Stealth from them if they have it. Use of this skill can save lives during boss encounters.
Once she’s been on a few adventures, the Hellion gains some great options. Breakthrough allows her to move forward one rank and deal damage to the first three enemy positions. Once she is at the front she can deal large amounts of damage with Bleed Out. If she gets below one-third of her hit points the Hellion can use Raucous Revelry to heal and reduce stress. Howling End is a very powerful attack that ignores an enemy’s Block and has a high crit chance.
Be sure to note that many of the Hellion’s abilities cause her to become Winded, reducing her speed and damage until the end of the fight. Bloodlust and Adrenaline Rush are both useful for getting rid of that pesky condition. Being a pure damage dealer, the Hellion isn’t particularly resistant to any status effects, and can be easily moved when she isn’t Immobilized. She also has trouble resisting Debuffs and Disease.
The Runaway Class, new to Darkest Dungeon 2
The Runaway is new to Darkest Dungeon 2. An agile fighter with a penchant for setting fires, she can pump out lots of damage over time. Even her basic melee attack, Searing Strike, applies Burn to the target. From the rear, her Firefly skill allows her to damage and Burn enemies in the back ranks. If everyone is already on fire, the Runaway can cause more havoc with Smokescreen, applying Blind to an enemy and thus giving it a 50 percent miss chance.
If things get dicey, the Runaway can, well, run away with Run and Hide, moving back one rank and gaining Stealth. She can also remove an enemy’s Stealth with Hearthlight regardless of where she is in the lineup. After some visits to the Hero Shrine, the Runaway can position the battlefield to her liking with Ransack, moving herself and an enemy one rank forward. If you’re facing enemies that inflict Bleed, Cauterize removes the effect and heals the target with no cooldown up to three times per battle.
If you just want to set things on fire, Controlled Burn allows the Runaway to apply a persistent Burn effect that can get around defensive buffs like Dodge, while Firestarter allows another hero to apply Burn with their own attacks. If you want to spread the flames, Backdraft damages an enemy in the rear based on the amount of Burn remaining on the foe in front. Dragonfly attacks and potentially Burns the frontmost two enemies, and moves the Runaway back one rank. Unsurprisingly, the Runaway is herself resistant to Burn, and is also a little tougher to move than most. She is easily Debuffed or Diseased, however.
A damage-dealing musician, the Jester buffs his allies and slays his enemies. His basic attack, Razor’s Wit, moves him forward one rank and lays down a Combo token. Its polar opposite is Fade to Black, which moves the Jester back one rank and applies Blind to the target. Using the two in rapid succession can cause endless headaches for your foes. From the middle ranks, the Slice Off skill allows the Jester to inflict Bleed, or it can be replaced with Harvest later on, which targets two enemies for the same effect (albeit slightly less damage).
The Jester’s songs allow him to reposition and buff his friends. Battle Ballad moves a fellow hero forward and gives them a 50 percent damage boost on their next attack. Conversely, Play Out moves an ally back and grants them Block to reduce incoming damage. If the Jester needs to be at the front, Solo rushes him straight there, granting him one stack of Speed and two stacks of Dodge. Set up a combo after this, and the Jester’s Finale will deal a guaranteed 100% damage before sending him to the back of the line Vulnerable and Dazed. While he’s back there, he can use Encore to give a friend an additional action, though this will make him Dazed and Weak.
If you prefer to pull enemies out of position, Echoing March pulls an enemy forward one rank, then does it again on the target’s next turn. Lastly, Inspiring Tune reduces the stress of the party, so if your heroes are having constant meltdowns you should consider bringing this clown along. The Jester is one of the few classes with a Debuff resistance, but he is easily moved and susceptible to Disease.
Used to being an outcast, the Leper is largely self-sufficient. He can handle himself, but he shines when supported by others. Most of his attacks, including the powerful Chop, have a chance to Blind the Leper after he uses them, so you’ll need a way of dealing with that debuff. Hew is a great companion to Chop, since it attacks two enemies instead of one. Break, Bash, and Purge are all lower-damage strikes that have ways of getting around various defenses.
Being used to suffering, the Leper can use Withstand to gain Taunt and two stacks of Block, as well as increased resistance to Burn, Bleed, Blight, and force movement. The Leper is also one of the few classes with a self-heal; Solemnity can be used if he is below one-third of his hit points, allowing him to both heal and recover Stress. If you’re safe from harm and setting up for a big attack, Revenge increases by 50% the next damage the Leper deals and the next damage he takes.
When facing a strong opponent, the Leper’s Intimidate grants him two stacks of Taunt and applies Weak to the target enemy. This is important for setting up the Leper to use Ruin, which grants a 20% damage boost every time he himself takes damage. Despite his frail frame, the Leper is decently resistant to forced movement, but if you need to be sure he stays put Bash will Immobilize him and deal a little bit of damage to an enemy. The Leper’s disease-ravaged body is extremely susceptible to damage-over-time effects, so it’s worth having options for dealing with those if they come up.
The closest thing Darkest Dungeon 2 has to a spellcaster, the Occultist deals damage at range with eldritch magics he may not fully understand. He’s at his best in the back ranks of your team, casting Abyssal Artillery to thin out the enemy’s rearmost units. With Weakening Curse, he can reduce an enemy’s attack by half. If allies still take damage after that, the Occultist can also heal his allies with Wyrd Reconstruction – at the risk of causing them to Bleed, that is. If he’d rather bring his opponents to the front for the tougher heroes to finish them, the Occultist can use Daemon’s Pull to drag an enemy forward two positions or to clear corpses.
Once he has unlocked new skills, the Occultist becomes very dangerous. His Vulnerability Hex removes Dodge and applies Vulnerable and can be used on any target from any position. He also gains uses for Unchecked Power, which is earned via Sacrificial Stab, Binding Shadows, or Chaotic Offering.
Once he has two stacks of Unchecked Power, the Occultist can unleash either Anamesis, which inflicts Bleed on all enemies, or The Burning Stars which deals high damage with a high crit chance and ignores Block. If you’re facing a tough boss, consider using Malediction to load them up with Burn, Bleed, and Blight at random every time they take damage! To top it all off, the Occultist is highly resistant to Burn, Disease and Debuffs, though he is susceptible to Stun and to forced movement.
The Vestal can serve as a tank, a healer, or both. Many of her Skills rely on building up Conviction tokens, so she’s best suited for slower, more methodical playstyles, but her overall versatility and flexibility make her a great fit in almost any lineup.
From the rear of the party, she can offer incremental healing through Divine Comfort, or more intensive recovery with Divine Grace. She can also remove Bleed, Blight, Burn, Daze, and Stun with Ministrations, and even provide extra resistance to those effects. Illumination and Judgment offer disruption and damage options from the back row as well.
At the front, the Vestal can use Hand Of Light for minor damage and efficient buffs, or use Mace Bash to get around enemy defenses – provided she’s build up some Conviction beforehand. Wherever she’s positioned, her two Consecrations let her provide persistent buffs and set up another Hero for healing via Mantra.
The Flagellant takes some getting used to, but once you’ve mastered this class there will be few foes he can’t handle. Most of his attacks cause him to take damage himself, but Skills like Punish and Acid Rain deal tons of Blight damage over the course of a few turns, making them well worth the hit. When his HP is low, the Flagellant can use Deathless, Lash’s Gift, or More! MORE! to top up and stay in the fight.
When he’s not poisoning enemies or setting them up for a big swing with Sepsis, the Flagellant can support allies at a cost to his own well-being. Endure is particularly useful, as it causes him to gain Stress while removing it from another Hero. That’s a big deal, since when the Flagellant has a breakdown, he gains a powerful Toxic token that punishes enemies that hit him for the remainder of the battle!
You can never start an adventure with the Bounty Hunter, as he isn’t available at the Crossroads. Instead, when you reach an Inn, you may see a poster indicating that he can be hired. For four Candles, the Bounty Hunter will join your team in place of an existing Hero. At the next Inn, he’ll depart and the original Hero will return.
The Bounty Hunter doles out impressive damage with attacks such as Collect Bounty, Hurlbat, and Finish Him. Meanwhile, Uppercut, No Escape, and Flashbang are some of the most consistent Daze and Stun attacks in the entire game.
The Bounty Hunter excels when other Heroes can set up Combos for him, but he’s more than capable of placing them himself with Come Hither and Mark For Death. If you’re in need of a tank, he can also use Bodyguard to take hits in place of more fragile Heroes.
Next: Darkest Dungeon 2: The Best Combat Items in Darkest Dungeon 2