The Affinity system is a major change in Darkest Dungeon 2. Now, you need to watch out for character relationships and player decisions, as these can impact the cohesion of your team. Worse, it can lead to Stress and dangerous situations. Here’s our Darkest Dungeon 2 Affinity and Stress guide to help you avoid conflicts among party members.
The best ways to keep everyone happy in Darkest Dungeon 2
How Affinity affects Stress and Making Key Decisions | Darkest Dungeon 2
Character Affinity in Darkest Dungeon 2 is affected by a lot of factors, such as the decisions you make during battle encounters, villager encounters, and Academic’s Study visits. Naturally, it’s often advisable to pick decisions that give your characters a golden outline:
- Decisions with golden outlines - Positive Affinity change.
- Decisions with blue outlines - Negative Affinity change.
Likewise, you may even see this as banter while driving the Stagecoach. For instance, character “barks” (ambient dialogue boxes) will pop up, affecting some interactions. Character quirks also come into play here.
Moreover, this mechanic may also occur in the heat of battle, such as characters commending one another for helping out. The inverse is also true, as teammates might get angry if you “kill steal” from them (even though they’ve never even damaged the mob). It’s a bit arbitrary, but it can be annoying when it happens.
When positive Affinity exists (i.e., Amorous or Inseparable), you’ll notice how your heroes are on-point. They can block hit directed at their buddies, remove Stress pips, grant instant healing, or even trigger a dual attack.
Unfortunately, when negative Affinity exists (i.e., Envious), characters will bicker more often. They won’t shut up at all. At times, intense bickering while exploring will lead to Stress drops. There are also instances of this happening during battles, with unlucky scenarios leading to Stress build-up or completely negating a hero’s turn.
In short, Affinity and Stress go hand in hand in Darkest Dungeon 2. If you can’t manage Affinity, you’re going to see a snowball effect that debilitates your group. Eventually, Stress will become too unmanageable, and characters will experience conflicts regularly (which will hamper Affinity as you go along). Once someone reaches 10 Stress pips, they’ll suffer from Meltdowns, too.
The Plague Doctor and other skills that trivialize the Stress and Affinity mechanics
This is a key reason why we consider Paracelsus the Plague Doctor as one of the most important characters in the game. Not only is she available by default, but she also has a valuable skill that helps with Affinity and Stress in Darkest Dungeon 2.
The skill is called Ounce of Prevention. By default, it’s cast on the entire party, raising everyone’s resistances to blood, burn, and blight status effects. However, its upgrade will also remove one Stress pip for all team members. That’s why this should, in all likelihood, be the first skill that gets upgraded with a Mastery point at the start of your runs.
There are other skills that help with Affinity and Stress in Darkest Dungeon 2:
- Man-at-arms: Bolster - The Man-at-arms’ Bolster skill, once upgraded, has a 50% chance to remove a Stress pip for the entire party. Because it’s not always guaranteed, it’s not as useful as the Ounce of Prevention.
- Hellion: Raucous Revelry - Thankfully, Boudica the Hellion has something amazing. Raucous Revelry is a self-cast ability. She heals 3 Stress, adds gains 10% resistance, and removes horror, but it makes her winded, too. If she’s below 33% HP, she’s healed for 25% HP as well. The kicker, using this skill will also remove one Stress pip for the entire party. The only downside is that you need to unlock her and complete a few Shrine visits first.
- Jester: Inspiring Time - Sarmenti the Jester, another unlockable character, has Inspiring Time, which removes three Stress pips if someone has five pips or more. But, this is a single-target ability.
- Leper: Solemnity (self) and Reflection (ally) - Lastly, Baldwin the Leper, also another unlockable character, has these single-target Stress heals.
Affinity Boosters and Stress Relievers: Combat items, Inn items, and Stagecoach Upgrades
As you progress further and increase your Profile Rank in Darkest Dungeon 2, you’ll unlock more items related to Affinity and Stress. These will be added to the loot pool, either as vendor items or as random drops. Here are some examples of those that you can use when you reach an Inn:
- Playing cards (party) - Random effects to Affinity.
- Book of Bawdy Tales (one character) - -4 Stress.
- Poetry (one character) - -5 Stress.
- Songbook of Amorous Ballads (two characters) - High chance of strong positive Affinity; low chance of strong negative Affinity.
- Candles and Chocolate (two characters) - Improve Affinity by a little or a lot; -1 Stress.
- Songbook of Rousing Tunes (party) - Stress heal; speed up until the next Inn.
- Whisky Barrel (party) - Tipsy party; high chance of positive Affinity; low chance of negative Affinity; -2 Stress.
- Roast Pig with Fixins (party) - Heal, stress heal, and positive affinity; celebration for the entire party.
Finally, once you unlock certain implements for your Stagecoach, you can equip them as upgrades by talking to the Inn’s Wainwright NPC. Here are some good Stagecoach upgrades to use if you want to manage Affinity and Stress effectively in Darkest Dungeon 2:
- Windchime - Chance to Stress heal a random character each road segment.
- Leaf Suspension - Reduces the chances of negative banter while on the road.
- Tea Service - Increases the chances of positive banter while on the road.