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Version 2.1, officially the Malaise Update, is a major update to Dead Cells that was released on the 21st of December 2020 to PC, on the 28th of January 2021 for the Xbox One, and on the 15th of February 2021 for the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch.

The Malaise Update completely revamped how the Malaise mechanic works, such that it progressively increases as time goes on rather than being inflicted when the player is hit. Additionally, the backpack mechanic was reworked into a meta upgrade that can be used at all times rather than only being available while using a Two-Handed Weapon.

The update also aimed to refocus the playstyle's of each color stat by changing the scaling of many items and mutations to fit into redefined gameplay styles for each stat.

Important features[]

  • Community suggestion | The Malaise is being reworked:
    • The bar now fills with (game) time. The malaise contamination rate is tied to the number of enemies still alive in the level, the fewer enemies, the less quickly your malaise bar will fill. When only 10% of the enemies are left alive, the biome is considered "Malaise cleared".
    • The higher the malaise, the more dangerous the enemies (increased movement speed, quicker teleport, shorter reaction time and at the latter stages, increased damage).
    • Enemies will also randomly spawn around you and from time to time, an enemy will transform into an Elite. The spawn rate and Elite rate will also increase with Malaise.
    • Being hit doesn't increase your malaise anymore. Killing enemies, Elite, and Bosses decreases your malaise gauge.
    • Food looted in walls is always contaminated and will increase your Malaise bar, the "healthy" food looted on enemies doesn't decrease your Malaise bar. Healing with your flask does heal some Malaise too.
    • The "Malaise Cleared" event completely stops the bar from filling until the end of the biome, and even decrease your malaise gauge with the amount you would get by killing all the enemies left in the level. However, these won't get you any more malaise reduction. Mobs and Elites stop spawning.

We're aiming to give a cycling nature to the mechanic, with a Malaise that should stay in-between 3 and 7 during most of the run (except boss fights). Currently, all mutations and items interacting with the Malaise have seen that aspect of their design disabled.

Balancing that new mechanic is going to be a major challenge and we're counting a lot on your help and feedback.

  • Community suggestion | Colours have been rethought following community feedback pointing out the continued decrease in consistency. Hence, we decided to change the scaling of a good chunk of items and of some mutations to (re)focus each statistic on its primary identity.
    • Tactics keeps all things related to ranged gameplay: turrets, range weapons, with some utility and damaging spells to support it. Dual scale with anything that wouldn’t fit in that category but is poison or electricity gameplay.
    • Brutality keeps its focus on fast melee weapons and everything related to jumping into the melee. Grenades stay mostly red. Dual scale with anything that wouldn’t fit in that category but is fire or blood gameplay.
    • Survival keeps its focus on crowd control, survivability, shields and slow, heavy melee weapons. Also supported by heavy damage skills with the long cooldown that goes with it. Dual scale with anything that wouldn’t fit in that category but is root or ice gameplay.

In addition, the health points scaling of Brutality and Survival has been decreased in the late game while the Tactics has been very slightly increased. However, it's mostly felt at high scrolls counts, so it mostly impacts 3BC+ late game.

  • The Backpack introduced in the 19th update to support transitioning from 2-slots weapons to two differents weapons has been reworked. It's now a meta upgrade unlocked at the Collector, in a similar fashion than Recycling or the random starting weapons and can be used with any type of weapons.

You can store any weapons to the exception of the too noble GiantKiller and the 2-slots weapons in your backpack by pressing the backpack key (Y on Xbox controller, △ on a PlayStation one) when picking a weapon. Empty your backpack by holding the "use" key.

Video settings have also been added to accommodate every one preference. You can choose in-between putting the backpack slot to the right of you skill slots or in-between your weapons and your skills. An opacity slider is also available.

  • New Mutations have been added, thought at the start to support 2-slots gameplay through the backpack slot but which are now available for any type of build:
    • Acrobatipack: Attacking with a ranged weapon also attack with the ranged weapon in your backpack. Roll to reload. (Tactics).
    • Porcupack: Rolling through enemies attacks them with the melee weapons stored in your backpack. (Brutality)
    • Armadillopack: Rolling parry attacks and projectiles with the shield stored in your backpack. (Survival)

A fourth mutation, Kill Rhythm (Survival) has also been implemented, increasing the attack speed when alternating in-between primary and secondary weapon slot.

  • Community suggestion | New Weapon: The Katana, finally added upon popular request. Its unique mechanic allows to chain a standard slash with a dashing charge attack by holding the button. Merry Christmas!
  • Community suggestion | New Mob: The first mob we implement inspired by a discord community suggestion (many thanks to Leylite#4491) using the Explosive Crossbow to hunt you.

We called him the Demolisher because it reminds us of construction workers using explosives to do his job. It can be found in BC0 in the distillery, and in several places later on, mostly as an alternative upgrade to the Knife Thrower.

  • New Outfits, including 2 Christmas-themed ones.
  • 2-slots weapons can now have different affixes on each part.
  • New Diet! Cheese can now be chosen in the diet options.
  • New tactic mutation : Ranger's Gear
    • Like Scheme, but for ranged weapons.

Tactic lost a fair number of its mutations in this update. This will not compensate for all losses, but should be a step in the right direction until the next update. Update 21.2


Colour scaling changes:


  • The “Soldier Resistance” and “Berserker” mutations, focused on increasing player survivability, now scale with Survival instead of Brutality.
  • The “Predator”, “Initiative” and “Scheme” mutations, focused on increasing melee damage and playstyle now scale with Brutality instead of Tactics.

Melee Weapons:

  • Broadsword (no more red scaling)
  • Symmetrical Lance (no more red scaling)
  • Rapier (no more purple scaling)
  • Meat Skewer (no more purple scaling)
  • Rhythm n' Bouzouki (remove red scaling)
  • Crowbar (remove purple scaling)
  • Cursed Sword (remove purple scaling)
  • Assassin's Dagger (remove purple scaling)
  • Frantic Sword (remove purple scaling)
  • Seismic Strike (remove red scaling)

Ranged Weapons:

  • Hokuto’s bow (no more red scaling)
  • Alchemic Carbine (no more red scaling)
  • All Crossbows (add purple scaling)
  • Boomerang (remove green scaling)
  • Hemorrhage (add red scaling, remove green)
  • War Javelin (remove green scaling)
  • The Boy’s Axe (remove red, add green)
  • Barrel Launcher (remove red scaling)


  • Assault Shield (add red scaling)


  • Cleaver (remove purple scaling)
  • Stun Grenade (remove purple scaling)
  • Ice Grenade (remove purple scaling)
  • Root Grenade (remove purple scaling)
  • Swarm (now purple only)
  • Grappling Hook (remove purple scaling)
  • Phaser (no more purple scaling)
  • Smoke Bomb (add red scaling)
  • Cluster Grenade (add green scaling)
  • Sinew Slicer (add red scaling)

Buffs and nerfs:

  • The Heart of Ice mutation can now be triggered by ranged weapons fired at close range. Skills can no longer activate it.
  • Oil Grenade does more damage but doesn't spread oil as far as before.
  • Swarm now creates 8 worms per use, with a 10 seconds cooldown.
  • The Concierge red aura size has been slightly reduced to allow dodging with a very well timed dodge.
  • Rhythm n' Bouzouki damage has been reduced.
  • Community suggestion | Spite Sword critical damage has been reduced.
  • Blood Sword damage has been reduced.
  • Hokuto's Bow bonus damage has been reduced.
  • Crusher damage has been reduced.
  • Bloodthirsty shield damage has been reduced.
  • Thunder Shield damage has been reduced.
  • Torch damage has been reduced.
  • Grappling Hook range has been increased.
  • Community suggestion | Oil Sword damage has been reduced.
  • Community suggestion | Sadist's Stiletto critical damage has been reduced.
  • Community suggestion | Tesla Coil and Flamethrower Turret damage has been reduced.
  • Tonic's cooldown now starts after its effects ended.
  • Emergency Triage mutation invincibility duration reduced to 1.5 seconds from 3 seconds.
  • The Vengence mutation damage bonus increased and defence bonus decreased.
  • Community suggestion | The Dead Inside mutation now let you consume food but the efficiency of all sources of healing is now decreased by half.

Level design[]

All biomes in BC3+ have less mobs overall.

  • Community suggestion | Prison Quarters: Even less rats, and no more shieldbearers after BC1.
  • Some mobs have been removed from some biome to make room for the Demolisher:
    • Inquisitors are replaced by Demolishers in Clock Tower (BC3+).
    • Bombarders are replaced by Demolishers in the Distillery (BC0).
    • Enforcers in Ramparts are now a BC4+ mob, and Slashers a BC2+ mob. Demolishers are met there in BC1+. Weirded Warriors have been removed from this biome.
    • Knife Throwers are a BC1 only mob in Prison Quarters, replaced with Demolishers in BC2+.
    • Stilt Village 's Knife Throwers have been replaced with Demolishers (BC1+). The number of Weirded Warriors has also been greatly reduced.

Graphics & UI[]

  • Community suggestion | An option to disable the gameplay slow-motion (most notably when elites die) has been added.

Quality of life[]

  • Community suggestion | Sawblades traps can now be dodged. Update 21.1