Dead by Daylight is one of my favorite online games of all time. Its basic premise is so brilliantly simple it never gets old. It does, however, start to fall apart when it goes beyond its core idea.
You and three players are trapped in an asylum, or a junkyard, or a farm and chased by a hillbilly, or a phantom nurse, or a hunter with bear traps. You sneak, run, and dodge around the map in third person POV while trying to slowly power up generators to turn on the escape gates and get the hell outta there.
OR you are the killer. You move much faster than the survivors, can track them by noises and movement, but see only in first person and you’re alone because why would you share your kills?
The simple core design loop of a 4v1 survival horror game works so well it’s kind of unbelievable it hadn’t been thought of before. Companies have tried to copy or improve on it but nothing has worked. As Dead by Daylight continues its spot at the top of asymmetrical online games its grown arrogant and gluttonous. The devs rarely if ever address any of the major issues the game has and instead has chosen the route that ruins everything: money. They release DLC after DLC and, since opening an in-game cosmetics store, have shifted to continuously making money through overpriced skins. At a certain point this was forgivable - after all, the game was developed by a relatively small company and quickly gained millions of players - but when that money starts to roll in you have to ignore your greed and work on improving the basics of the game.
Issues in the game people have complained about from the beginning - killer imbalances, map sizes not being equal, camping, matchmaking issues, disconnects/leaving breaking the game balance, character skills balancing, etc. - are largely unaddressed in favor of releasing more product to sell. As much as I enjoy the idea of new killers and new “perks” (unlockable skills for survivors and killers) the vast majority of this new content just seems to exacerbate problems with the ever changing and seemingly non-existent balance of the game. When you get a good balanced match in Dead by Daylight, one that feels fair and even for both sides, and is a lot of fun whether you win or lose it feels incredible, it is so much fun and so scary and there are so many laughs. It’s scary and thrilling as a survivor and mischievous and evil as a killer. The only problem is that this happens only once out of every several games.
The devs seem to be attempting to address issues recently by adding a timer at the end of a match for example, but the overly stuffed game is so packed that it, again, exacerbates balance issues. An end game timer now HUGELY benefits any killer that requires extra steps before a player can escape, for example, because that timer is not very long and every second counts. I think Dead by Daylight has grown far beyond the capabilities of its developers. They’ve dug themselves a hole they can’t get out of without a major overhaul of the game. To some extent that’s okay, the game generally, sort of, kind of, works and when it’s fun it’s still some of the best online gaming around.
My ultimate question here is: when will some other company improve on Dead by Daylight? Where are the major game companies in the asymetrical genre? With battle royales, FPSs, and MOBAs, still generally dominating everything (and now auto chess I guess?) is there a future where we get the first real generation of asymmetrical games? And will one of them finally improve upon what Dead by Daylight has done?