Dead by Daylight has revealed its first openly LGBT+ character.
Devotion will be the 11th Tome added to the narrative Archive mode that will explore the background of existing survivor David King, as well as the memories of killers The Twins.
David is a fan-favourite survivor, described by developer Behaviour as a "hot-tempered ruffian with a penchant for a good scrap". Many fans read the character as gay; now this new story content will make that a reality as his past struggles with identity are revealed.
The asymmetrical horror multiplayer game is incredibly popular with the LGBT+ community. Fans have been eagerly awaiting an openly LGBT+ character in the game to reflect them.
Speaking to Eurogamer, DbD creative director Dave Richard explained that originally the team shied away from exploring relationships or sexuality for the game's characters to leave them open to interpretation, but admits this was a mistake "because relationships are such an important part of narratives for characters".
"It was a long effort to get here today because we wanted - like any type of representation that we do in DbD - we wanted to make sure that we do it right, that it's not token, and that players will feel represented by this character," he says.
"For us the best platform to do it faster, and in the right way, was the Archive, because the Archive is the platform in the game where we can go in-depth in the narrative, versus a new chapter where we focus more on the horror and why they've been taken by the Entity.
"And so because of that, it means that it needed to be retroactive, it needed to be a character that's already in DbD. It added to the challenge: which character would fit the best, which character makes sense to do this narrative and how?"
That's why an existing character was chosen, rather than creating someone new. Behaviour has consulted with LGBT+ organisation GaymerX to choose the right character and ensure the representation is appropriate.
"Working with a game team so dedicated to bringing a queer narrative to life in their game has been a gratifying and inspiring experience," said Katie Kaitchuck, executive director of GaymerX.
Some may be sceptical, however. After all, this is an existing white cis male character, which may feel like a tentative step in the right direction rather than a full leap.
"David King is a loved character, a youthful character, he is loved by a lot of players, the LGBTQ community already considers this character in their fan love story as being gay as well. So it was a great fit to tell an amazing story," says Richard.
"It's definitely not over," he continues. "Now that we accomplished this part, other content of this type will happen in the future as well. Just like when we explore various cultures around the world and our content for representation, we never stop just at the one character. And so it's something that we plan to come back to in meaningful ways in the future."
It's also not the team's intention to shock players by having such a typically masculine-presenting character come out as gay.
"I think that this potential stereotype that part of the community might have in their mind will be... we attempt to change their mind through the great love story that we're giving through the narrative in the Archive, because it is a love story," says Richard.
"So it is a new type of story for David King, it shows new parts of him, but also makes his personality shine. The character that we love is still there."
The team has therefore balanced telling a story while maintaining the horror roots of the game. It's a love story, but it's still tragic.
"The struggle is definitely part of it," says Richard. "As a gay male with a background like David King, with a family that doesn't approve, it's part of [the story] but it's not what we wanted to focus on.
"We wanted to focus on something that's relatable for everybody. And that's a love story. We could have changed this narrative to a straight one, and it would still have worked and made a great story. And also in the flavours of Dead by Daylight, it's also quite tragic."
Richard is unable to discuss other future content, but he does note that existing content - such as outfits - won't change for David. And as with previous years, Behaviour is planning Pride content too, but wanted to launch this new story content for David outside of Pride Month to show its commitment to the community.
This particular Tome will also be a departure from previous entries in the Archive, as the Observer character has abandoned the tower.
"With the Observer that has left, it's something that will progress the universe of DbD, it's something that will surprise the players as we're changing how this whole narrative is delivered," says Richard.
Devotion, the new Tome, will be available to play from 28th April.