How to Beat Hard Mode in Darkest Dungeon II

This guide contains detailed information. Proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers. To ensure a comprehensive understanding, we will break down this guide into three essential sections: characters & battle strategy, stagecoach items/Inn planning, and region strategy. Let’s dive in!

Characters and Battle Strategy

Character Selection

  • Ravager Hellion (Rank 1): Skills – Wicked Hack, Iron Swan, Adrenaline Rush, Toe To Toe, Raucous Revelry. The Hellion provides self-sustain and damage bonuses as she gets lower in health. Use Toe To Toe when shuffled or when a taunt is needed. Raucous Revelry helps with stress control.
  • Scourge Flagellant (Rank 2): Skills – Punish, Acid Rain, Deathless, More! MORE!, Undying. The Flagellant excels at healing and can also deal significant damage. Use More! MORE! for taunting or when there’s a high amount of incoming damage. Undying provides regeneration and saves the backline.
  • Sharpshot Highwayman (Rank 3): Skills – Grapeshot Blast, Double Tap, Pistol Shot, Highway Robbery, Point Blank Shot. The Highwayman is your primary damage dealer. Use Grapeshot Blast for AoE damage, Pistol Shot and Double Tap for finishing off backline targets. Highway Robbery is an excellent skill for stealing Crit/Riposte tokens.
  • Alchemist Plague Doctor (Rank 4): Skills – Noxious Blast, Plague Grenade, Battlefield Medicine, Magnesium Rain, Indiscriminate Science. The Plague Doctor provides DoT damage and some healing. Use Battlefield Medicine sparingly, relying more on the Flagellant for healing. Magnesium Rain helps with clearing bodies and removing dodge tokens.

Quirk Recommendations

  • Ravager Hellion: Jinx, Iron Constitution, or anything that provides Crit bonuses.
  • Scourge Flagellant: Jinx, Defiant, Cosmic Slayer, or Iron Constitution.
  • Sharpshot Highwayman: Bloodthirsty or any Crit-related quirks.
  • Alchemist Plague Doctor: Cosmic Slayer is highly recommended.

Battle Strategy

  • Focus on quick and aggressive fights, avoiding stalling for healing or stress recovery.
  • Start battles by targeting the backline with Plague Grenades, Acid Rain, Iron Swan, and Pistol Shot. Prioritize enemies without Deathblow resist first.
  • Take advantage of the team’s speed and high damage output.
  • The team is flexible when shuffled or pulled, except for the Plague Doctor, who should be kept in the backline.
  • Be mindful of low stress management capabilities and consider using Laudanum bottles or finding an Oasis for stress relief.
  • Watch out for Deathblow chances and be cautious of DOT damage.
  • Consider using the General’s Dream Trophy to reduce the threat of the Exemplar in the final boss fight.
  • For the final boss fight, equip the Highwayman with items that provide turn-based buffs to counter the boss’s attempts to invert positive tokens. This helps protect your backline.
  • Replace Point Blank Shot before the Mountain with upgraded Take Aim to remove negative tokens and reduce the boss’s damage. The Flagellant’s Undying skill helps with healing.
  • Note that choosing the Highwayman may make the fight against the Ghost of the Past more challenging. Use Indiscriminate Science from the Plague Doctor to cleanse his debuffs quickly.
  • Quirk recommendations are optional but having the “Favorite Toy” memory on the Plague Doctor and Flagellant, a good Quirk for the Highwayman, and at least one team member with Cosmic Slayer is beneficial.

In the next parts of the guide, we will cover Stagecoach Items/Inn planning and Region Strategy. Stay tuned for the complete guide to defeating the final boss with the Stygian Blaze equipped.

Stagecoach Items and Inn Planning

Let’s discuss the essential strategies for stagecoach management and how to execute your plan successfully.

The most crucial step toward victory is careful planning. To ensure a solid run, pay close attention to specific items: Assay Gear, Pot & Still, Griddle/Stew Pot, and Medicine Chest.

Assay Gear significantly boosts your income from relics, particularly in road battles and loot. You can invest these gains in inn items, removing bad quirks, and combat supplies.

The Pot & Still can produce Whiskey, which helps counter the negative effects of the Stygian Blaze on relationships.

The Griddle/Stew Pot is highly beneficial as it saves a considerable amount of relics on food, allowing you to allocate them elsewhere.

The Medicine Chest is both crucial and relatively easy to find. This item enables you to increase the stack sizes of restorative items by 6. It applies to both stagecoach inventory and combat slots, meaning you can carry up to 8 Healing Salves or 7 Triage kits for each character.

Additionally, the Lashing Tides Trophy grants 2 extra stacks for all combat items in both the stagecoach and character inventories.

Now that you understand the approach, the key is to stockpile items. Acquire Healing Salves from every available source. It may also be possible to do the same with Triage kits or a combination of stagecoach items and Adrenaline Tonics. However, Triage kits are more expensive and Adrenaline Tonics are harder to come by, based on my experience.

Collect Healing Salves gradually from various sources during your travels and aim to have them available for all your characters, if possible. If you don’t have many healing items, prioritize giving them to your fastest team member.

Stockpile anything that can provide an advantage. Even if you can’t find items that increase your carrying capacity, simply equipping every hero with a healing item gives a significant advantage in the final fight and when unexpected battles become challenging.

Pay attention to acquiring Restorative Herbs, Roast Pig, and Songbook of Rousing Tunes. Restorative Herbs are relatively common and affordable, and with the Medicine Chest, they stack up to 8, minimizing stagecoach space usage.

The effect of Restorative Herbs also stacks, meaning if you bring 5 to the Mountain boss, your team receives 100% extra healing.

Roast Pig is one of the few things that can alleviate the negative effects of the Stygian Blaze on relationships. You can only use one per inn, but they are relatively uncommon. If you have one, try to obtain another to use at the next inn.

The Songbook is always a valuable item. Stockpile them whenever possible and use one per region, as the increased speed significantly benefits your already swift team, providing more advantageous battles.

The effect of the Songbook also stacks, so bringing a couple to the Mountain is quite useful.

As for pets, it’s based on random chance what you are offered. However, the Wolf Cub is a dependable choice. Whenever available, consider taking the Shambler’s Spawn, as it has the highest potential to make your team unstoppable. Applying a single Trinket with +75% HP and -50% damage to the Plague Doctor is a powerful combination.

Finally, remember to remove all Candles of Hope and discard any unfavorable trinkets from your stagecoach. This ensures your hoarding efforts can thrive, as it is your prerogative.

Region Strategy

FOR THE GLORY OF KHORNE! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE! Oh, pardon my Khornate outburst there. It’s nothing to worry about.

Well, half-joking aside, the most effective approach to region planning is embracing relentless violence and engaging in battles without respite.

Whenever and wherever possible, seek out fights to obtain valuable items and Mastery gains, while quashing any loathing that comes your way.

Bosses will undoubtedly pose a greater challenge, but whenever the opportunity arises, slay them. The rewards in Trinkets, Relics, and Baubles will greatly assist you, not to mention the benefits of obtaining a powerful Trophy.

The only fight that is never recommended is the Shambler. It can quickly turn deadly in unexpected ways, more swiftly than you might think or deserve. Additionally, at least at the time of writing this, the unique trinkets it drops are objectively unimpressive.

Avoid Assistance Encounters at all costs. The rewards you receive from them are usually inferior compared to other options. These encounters primarily serve to provide light and the dubious pleasure of witnessing your Hellion despising your Plague Doctor. It is worth noting, however, that in all my runs, the torch has only gone out once. So, there is little need to actively seek out light; simply engaging in frequent battles generally suffices.

Recruiting the Bounty Hunter can be highly advantageous early on, often replacing the Hellion and occupying the rank 2 slot. To recruit the Bounty Hunter, click on his poster in the Inn. It may seem like basic information that hardly warrants inclusion in this guide, but I must confess it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize this. Thus, I share my shame here, hoping it benefits you, dear reader.

While the Inn is where you spend your Mastery, the upgrades you choose should align with the region you plan to visit. Allow me to provide some guidance here. Regardless of your destination, always consider the boss fight. Entering the Tangle? Upgrade your Plague Grenades to effectively target both the General and the Taproot simultaneously.

Intending to confront the Leviathan? Ensure your single-target damage skills take priority, such as Noxious Blast and Wicked Hack, Double Tap, and so on.

As a general rule, when in doubt, prioritize abilities that hit multiple targets, as they usually benefit the most from upgrades.

The Sluice is essentially a “free” region. It does not consume any progress toward reaching the Mountain. For instance, if you are two regions away from the Mountain and enter the Sluice, you will still be two regions away upon returning. Therefore, whenever possible, take advantage of the power spike offered by the Sluice.

One word of caution, though: it may be due to the number of fights or intentional design, but Death is highly likely to make an appearance in the Sluice. Take extra precautions to keep your team in good shape and treat each battle as if Death herself will appear by its conclusion.

Creature Dens are also an abundant source of loot. While they involve some degree of randomness, when they yield favorable outcomes, the rewards can be immensely satisfying. There’s nothing quite like cleansing your heroes of bad quirks in one fell swoop, gaining +3 Mastery, or being able to purchase every item in the Inn at once.

Here’s another tip when selecting regions: the Region Challenge provides more benefits than meets the eye. The destination is always marked on your map. While it’s undoubtedly helpful for locating the Creature Lair, pay attention to the hidden message of “avoid the Field Hospital” — it’s essentially telling you to visit the Field Hospital and remove the Coward affliction from your Hellion.

This guide about Darkest Dungeon II was written by Vlad. You can visit the original publication from this link. If you have any concerns about this guide, please don't hesitate to reach us here.