Darkest Dungeon 2 currently has nine characters available. At a glance, you’ll notice that each hero is unique, which means you can’t have four of the same class. Thankfully, certain heroes can, potentially, trivialize the challenges that you’ll face. Here’s our Darkest Dungeon 2 tier list to help you with the best characters for your party.
Explaining our Darkest Dungeon 2 Tier List and Best Character Rankings
Darkest Dungeon 2 is still in Early Access and only the first act is available. As such, viability, skill usage, and the “meta” might change down the line. However, it bears mentioning that the current stage involves prioritizing Stress heals, positioning/mobility, backline hits, and damage-over-time (DOT) effects like blight, burn, and bleed.
Stress heals are ideal because of the Affinity system (i.e., character relationships/bickering). We often need to manage Stress and Affinity to ensure that our squad is in good condition, as well as to gain procs that are helpful in battles.
Positioning and mobility tend to be prioritized, too, since characters have skills that can only be cast depending on their ranks (i.e., where they stand in your party’s row). Speaking of positioning, being able to hit the backline of enemies is great. In many encounters, the backline has dangerous foes that need to be eliminated quickly.
Lastly, having skills that cause blight, bleed, and burn are important. You need abilities that can reliably whittle down the health of your targets each round, and AoE/multi-target skills are a godsend. Additionally, road battles (i.e., hitting obstacles with your Stagecoach) have a five-round limit, which makes DOT effects necessary.
Tier S+ characters | Darkest Dungeon 2
Paracelsus the Plague Doctor
The Plague Doctor leads the pack without a single rival coming close. In fact, we can safely say that the Plague Doctor is singularly the best character in Darkest Dungeon 2.
One skill, in particular, trumps all others: Ounce of Prevention. This should be the first skill that you upgrade with a Mastery point, as a single usage gives everyone resistances to all status effects while reducing their Stress pips. The Plague Doctor trivializes the Stress and Affinity mechanics in the early game to the point where you’ll hardly have concerns.
To round out the rest of her kit, the Plague Doctor has:
- Battlefield Medicine - A single-target heal that removes DOT effects.
- Indiscriminate Science - A potentially massive single-target heal that’s based on the number of positive and negative tokens that your teammate has.
- Blinding Gas - A reliable debuff that causes two backline enemies to go blind.
- Plague Grenade - Applies blight/poison on two backline enemies.
- Magnesium Rain - A spell that hits all enemies, removes all corpses, and applies the burn DOT. You can also use this to clear enemy tokens in one go.
Tier S characters | Darkest Dungeon 2
Dismas the Highwayman
Hard-hitting and effective in all scenarios, the Highwayman is another top-tier pick for your team in Darkest Dungeon 2. This is primarily due to a bread-and-butter rotation of sorts:
- Duelist’s Advance - You’ll want the Highwayman to start battles standing on any spot except for the frontline (i.e., fourth position from the left). This moves him forward, damages an enemy, and grants riposte. He’ll be able to counter a couple of attacks made against him.
- Point-Blank Shot - If you’re already in front, blast the enemy with this attack that deals decent damage. You’ll even apply a combo token.
- Grapeshot Blast - The skill above makes you move backward, so you can use this to hit two frontline enemies. If one has a combo token already (i.e., from Point-Blank Shot), then you gain riposte as well.
You’ll have riposte tricks that can continue damaging enemies in case the Highwayman gets hit, making him a great pick for bursting down foes even when it’s their turn. Moreover, you’ve got nifty options such as:
- Take Aim - Removes blind; adds dodge and crit tokens.
- Double Tap - Increased damage if the target is low on health.
- Pistol Shot - Reliably shoot the backline enemies.
Barristan the Man-at-arms
If the Plague Doctor had Ounce of Prevention, then the Man-at-arms has Bolster. The upgraded version grants block (75% damage reduction for the next attack), removes vulnerable and horror, and it has a 50% chance to reduce Stress by one point. Oh, and it affects the entire party as well.
Moreover, there’s Retribution, a self-cast skill that grants block, taunt, and riposte. Basically, the Man-at-arms will goad enemies into attacking him. Damage is reduced, then he hammers them with a counterattack. Retribution doesn’t even have a cooldown or charge limit so you can keep using it when necessary.
Entice enemies into hitting the Man-at-arms before smacking them in the face.
Baldwin the Leper
The Man-at-arms is already a tanky character, but you can also have him team up with the Leper. This hero has amazing skills that increase survivability:
- Withstand - Grants the Leper block, taunt, and resistances to bleed, blight, and burn.
- Solemnity - A self-cast HP and Stress heal.
- Reflection - A single-target Stress heal that can be used on a friendly target.
Simply put, the Leper is nigh unkillable in the right hands. Perhaps the biggest downside is that the Leper will often suffer from blind tokens, making him unreliable for striking enemies all the time.
If you have him and the Man-at-arms in the same squad, then they can both taunt due to damage resistance. The Leper has better survival skills, and the Man-at-arms has counterattacks.
Now, at this point, you can consider these four heroes as the best characters in Darkest Dungeon 2. There’s a good chance that you’ll progress further just by having them in one party, making sure to unlock more skills along the way. Of course, there are still a few characters left, so let’s discuss the rest of the pack.
Tier A characters | Darkest Dungeon 2
Boudica the Hellion
Let’s get this out of the way: the Hellion is next to useless when you’re only starting out. She gets even worse if you keep using skills that make her winded (lower damage output while you have this token).
So, why do we consider her a great character to have in your Darkest Dungeon 2 party? Well, it’s because you’ll eventually gain skills that allow you to micromanage and make her more effective in battle:
- Bloodlust - Clears winded; all your attacks deal increased damage against bleeding targets.
- Adrenaline Rush - Heals when cast, heals when you attack, removes DOT effects, and clears winded.
- Raucous Revelry - Heals, removes horror, removes three Stress pips (and one Stress pip for other teammates once upgraded). It’s another variant of the team-wide Stress heal that the Man-at-arms and Plague Doctor have.
Combine the above with two offensive abilities that cause bleed (a useful DOT effect), and you’ve got an absolute powerhouse. In essence, the Hellion has the potential to be the strongest frontline fighter in the game.
Sarmenti the Jester
The Jester in Darkest Dungeon 2 is a multi-role expert thanks to abilities that provide support/utility, combo setups, maneuverability/repositioning, and DPS/damage-over-time:
Harvest - This hits two enemies in the middle and applies the bleed effect; chance to apply a combo token.
- Razor’s Wit and Fade to Black - Single-target attacks that reliably apply a combo token. The Jester also dances around your team’s row, pushing characters forward or backward in case you need to reshuffle. Additionally, Battle Ballad is a separate skill that simply causes characters to move forward, but it might feel like a waste of a slot.
- Finale - A vicious hit that deals 100% damage if the target has a combo token. This is a nuke that you’ll want to prep for. Sure, it gives the Jester vulnerable and dazed, but those can be cleansed.
- Encore - An extremely useful ability that grants a teammate an extra action. Taking an additional turn could lead to heals, damage, and setups.
- Echoing March - It can pull backline enemies forward in case your melee fighters need to strike them down.
- Inspiring Tune - This does remove horror and three Stress pips. Unfortunately, it requires the target to already have more than five Stress pips beforehand. It’s unlikely that this will ever be used if you have the Plague Doctor, Man-at-arms, or Hellion in your squad.
Tier B characters | Darkest Dungeon 2
Audrey the Grave Robber
In terms of mid-rank offense, the Highwayman is often a better option than the Grave Robber. But, she remains viable thanks to her versatile skill kit:
- Poison Dart - In most situations, Paracelsus’ Plague Grenade would be fine since you can hit two backline enemies at the same time. But, Audrey’s Poison Dart leads to more flexibility since you can target any foe and apply the blight status.
- Pirouette and Flashing Daggers - Both abilities hit two enemies at a time.
- Absinthe and Dead of Night - The former grants Audrey healing, dodge, and speed. The latter clears a corpse, and gives Audrey HP and a stealth token. These two moves tend to make the Grave Robber nearly unkillable.
The downside with the Grave Robber is that she’s relatively weak in the early game. Poison Dart, as well as skills like Pick to the Face and Thrown Dagger, can be boosted with a crit build and combo token setups. However, you’d need to rely on someone like a Jester for those. Lastly, her other skills that focus on stealth aren’t particularly useful in the long run, since you need to spend extra turns to set them up properly.
Bonnie the Runaway
So far, the Runaway is the only new character in Darkest Dungeon 2. She’s decent, but don’t expect her to carry your team to victory all the time. Her primary role in your party is to apply the burn DOT on hostiles:
- Searing Strike, Firefly, and Dragonfly - These abilities reliably inflict the burn status on enemies.
- Ransack - Pulls an enemy; burns an adjacent monster if your main target has a combo token.
- Firestarter - A buff that causes on-hit burn application with attacks.
- Smokescreen - Adds combo, blind, and vulnerable tokens to a single target. This is quite good for setups.
More often than not, the Plague Doctor and Hellion have blight and burn DOTs already, so the Runaway just adds the burn debuff to supplement them. Still, those two heroes have utility skills that make them more viable in all situations compared to the Runaway, which means she’s brought down a notch.
Tier C characters | Darkest Dungeon 2
Alhazred the Occultist
The biggest problems right now with the Occultist are that he’s unlocked fairly late (Profile Rank 16) and whatever he can do, other characters can do better.
- Can he heal? Yes, but other heroes already do that more effectively. Even his own healing skill, Wyrd Construction, might cause friendlies to bleed, too.
- Can he add combo tokens? Yes, but the Jester can do that, and his kit is significantly better.
- Can he apply damage-over-time effects? Sure, but the Plague Doctor, Hellion, and Runaway can do those as well.
- Does he have multi-target abilities? Yes, Abyssal Artillery and Anamnesis. The former can hit two opponents. Sadly, it only has a 25% chance to apply a combo token and it can only stun once he has 2x unchecked power. The latter, meanwhile, hits all foes and applies bleed. However, it also requires 2x unchecked power.
Perhaps the unchecked power mechanic is the key issue here. Several of the Occultist’s skills require 2x unchecked power to unleash their full potential. That means setting up on your first couple of turns or being lucky with Chaotic Offering. Because you’re already trying to prep your other characters, the Occultist’s kit adds more complexity than it’s worth.
The Occultist likes to explore strange dimensions, which also means he’s at a strange spot in the meta. He’s okay, but other characters are better suited for the roles that he tries to fill.