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Beginner's Guide for PC Players (2020-)
PC Only Content
Information on this page is PC specific.

WIP. This guide is not totally update-to-date with DD1's Final Update (released November 2019), but it should still be very helpful.


Welcome to Etheria, brave Steam defender!

Hopefully you bought Dungeon Defenders with its full, Ultimate DLC Collection. If not, be sure to wishlist the bundle so that you get notified when the missing items go on-sale for 75-80% off.

Part 0 - New Game Preparations

See Also: Options (DD1)

Before you even jump into the game, please consider your available options/configurations first. DD1 on Steam has three key layers to optimize your gameplay experience: external, launcher and internal (i.e. the in-game options).

The Exterior: Redux and Config Files

Main Article: Dungeon Defenders Redux

Redux is a massive community-developed expansion and overhaul to DD1, rebalancing and adding new content beyond what the vanilla/live game has to offer. This modded version was first released to select Discord servers in August 2020, before acquiring official Steam branch support from Chromatic Games (formally named Trendy Entertainment) in December 2020. Redux is continuing to be updated this very day, unlike the normal DD1 which had its final update in November 2019. The mod is available to all Microsoft Windows users who own the original Dungeon Defenders on Steam, for free. You will want about 10 GB spared to successfully download and install Redux and an additional 3 GB if you wish to backup your vanilla installation to a non-Steam location beforehand.

DD1 Redux Access.png

To access Redux, right-click on Dungeon Defenders in your Steam library, then left click on "Properties" from the dropdown menu. Under the "Betas" tab, select "redux - DD1 Redux Official" from the collapsible dropdown menu and wait for the build to install. No access code is required.

  • For the absolute first-and-only time you connect to Ranked on Redux, your Vanilla Ranked data will automatically copy over. Nothing from Redux can be sent back to the vanilla game, rendering the two completely separate after the one-time operation.
    • Steam achievements can be earned through Ranked play on either branch.

.ini Configs

File Directory: ...\Steam\steamapps\common\Dungeon Defenders\UDKGame\Config

DD1's config folder in the aforementioned directory contains .ini text files that store many settings that cannot be adjusted in any other way. Without getting too technical, Redux creator IHDC has created pre-edited config files sets ready to drop into the game's corresponding folder. These can be found either on the DDRnG Discord or here.

The Launcher

The launcher is where you can customize most of the game's hotkeys, set the graphics quality and display resolution, toggle V-Sync and whether or not to launch the game in full-screen mode. No key bindings can be changed while the game is running. Remember to click "Save" to confirm your changes.

The Interior: In-Game Options Menu

The Options Menu with captions (outdated).

Within the game itself, there are four tabs in the Options Menu: General, Controls, Sound/Audio and Video. To keep this guide from getting overly complicated, it is strongly recommended to turn ON Fast Gameplay Menu Transitions. This is a massive time saver to put it simply. Remember to hit "Accept" to save and apply your changes.

The In-Game Tutorial

As a newcomer to the PC version of Dungeon Defenders, you might be tempted to click "Play Online" then "Ranked" right away. But before you do that, consider choosing "Play Local" (or "Play Online" -> "Open" in Redux) first to access the game's full built-in tutorial. It is only accessible via this local avenue, unfortunately, meaning that any save progress you make cannot be exported back to Ranked. One of the most important details players miss from the full tutorial is the fact that anything from a hero's Action Wheel can be binded to a number hotkey (0-9) (or D-pad direction on a controller). In Redux, none of the new defenses or hero abilities are binded by default.

Part 1 - Equipment

Dungeon Defenders is a game centered around collecting progressively better equipment for your heroes, or characters. The traditional experience leveling system gates hero defenses, unique hero abilities and equipment. Heroes unlock more defenses and abilities as they level up. Equipable items have a minimum level requirement which usually corresponds to their base quality. The first word in the names of armor, accessories and most weapons is the item's quality. Those of higher quality generally have better stats.


All heroes excluding the Summoner are armed with a basic weapon by default. What they can equip depends on their class. There are four main weapon categories:

  • Apprentice (Staves): Left-click fires Magic Bolts that spread out as they travel. Right-click unleashes a radial Arcane Surge to knockback enemies.
    • Both attacks are chargeable to any degree for greater effect. The user can also auto-fire at 0% charge by holding down both attack buttons.
  • Squire (Melee Weapons): Holding left-click attacks in a looping 4-hit combo. The wielder can guard with right-click to reduce or even nullify frontal damage received.
  • Huntress (Firearms): Continuously fire ammunition while holding left-click. These weapons must be reloaded when their clip runs out; the player can reload early via right-click. Total ammo supply is infinite.
  • Monk (Polearms): Monk weapons have both a melee (left-click) and ranged attack (right-click). Either attack will loop continuously until the corresponding button is released.
    • The former is a 3-hit combo, while the latter often fires multiple projectiles at once like most staves.

Series EV can equip two Apprentice and/or Huntress weapons. The Jester can use ANY two weapons, but does reduced damage with anything not a staff. These heroes swap between their weapons with the [X] key.

The Barbarian dual-wields Squire weapons, but cannot block. While both front mouse buttons are held down, he performs a powerful melee combo that ends with a double x-scissor cut.

All weapons have at least one base damage stat and most have additional elemental damage (fire, lightning or poison). The former scales with the user's Hero Damage stat, and upgrading it instead of elemental usually leads to higher overall damage potential. There are a few weapons, like the Bone Staff, whose secondary damage is also amplified by Hero Damage. However, damage is not the only stat to upgrade for offense:

  • Additional Projectiles whenever possible.
  • Projectile Speed Bonus (does not have to be maxed out pre-Nightmare).
  • Shots per Second whenever possible.
  • Blocking Damage Resistance (damage reduction while blocking). Irrelevant to Barbarians.


The bulk of a hero's stats comes from armor with a set bonus. If all four pieces are the same material type (leather, mail, chain, plate or pristine), their positive stats gain a 25% bonus minimum. Negative stats are unaffected. Mythical and higher quality armor (hero level 74+ requirement) is incompatible with Cursed-Godly pieces.

Armor provides damage resistances which are crucial to a hero's survival in combat. Ignoring Redux, there are four damage types in DD1: generic, fire, lightning and poison. Generic is the most common one, followed by fire. The four resistance stats of any hero each cap at 90% damage reduction. This amount of durability is not necessary until later Nightmare content though. You can also reduce the attack power of enemies, bosses included, with a Strength Drain Aura.


A majority of pets attack nearby enemies automatically. Others have supportive effects in combat or solely exist to raise the hero's stats. With the Steam version of DD1, you get four special early-game pets for free in your Tavern: the Team Fortress 2 Pyro, Heavy, Medic and Engineer. Their level requirement to equip is 25.

Pets effectively earn experience points with the active hero which saves mana on upgrading them. How to best upgrade an offensive pet in general is exactly the same as it is for weapons. Pet damage scales with Hero Damage too and best when used by a Monk.


Accessories are limited early on. They are a very rare drop from enemies, and none can have better stats than what is achievable on mission victory rewards. Accessories also get absurdly expensive to upgrade, up until the mana cost per level drops to one due to integer overflow.

Part 2 - Enemies

Common Enemy Types

These enemies are encountered on the majority of maps on all difficulty levels. All except Dark Elf Warriors attack Eternia Crystals, unless aggro'd by a tangible hero or defense. Most can spawn with an elemental affinity, rendering them immune to all damage and status effects associated with that element.

Introduced in The Deeper Well:

  • Goblin: A weak basic melee attacker.
  • Dark Elf Archer: It stops in place to slowly fire arrows, once in range of its target.
  • Orc: A slow bulky foe resilient to knockback and damage stuns.

Introduced in Foundries and Forges:

  • Kobold: Sacrifices itself to explode on a target, dealing high fire damage.
  • Ogre: A dangerous hulking giant with very high health and physical strength, but is prone to distraction. Completely immune to stun effects and knockback (with very few exceptions). By default, an Ogre's arrival is announced to everyone, coupled with an ominous horn, and its nearby presence causes the screen to shake.

Introduced in the Magus Quarters:

  • Wyvern: A flying reptile that spawns from abnormal locations. Spits fire at heroes and defenses if aggro'd.

Introduced in the Alchemical Laboratory:

  • Dark Elf Mage: A necromancer who summons undying Skeletons, casts fireballs and heals itself and allies. Skeletons vanish once their master dies.
  • Skeleton: Most often summoned by Dark Elf Mages. Unbound skeles die for good after exactly three knockouts.

Introduced in the Castle Armory:

  • Dark Elf Warrior: This acrobatic foe aims to assassinate players at all costs, even those invisible. Cannot damage Eternia Crystals.



Some missions end with a boss fight; players are warned this by the message, "Boss Wave," coupled with an ominous horn. After the final wave is 'completed,' the battle will begin after a countdown. If there is an intro cutscene, the game host may skip it via left-click. Other enemies will spawn nonstop until the boss(es) is/are defeated and the heroes are victorious.

All bosses are immune to knockback, as well as any stun or slow effects. They cannot damage Eternia Crystals (except the boss of Magus Citadel, a map realistically irrelevant until the Nightmare stage).

Classic Campaign Bosses

  • Demon Lord (Alchemical Laboratory): The first boss of the game. His sword attacks deal high generic damage. He casts lingering fire trails while grounded and shoots fireballs while airborne.
  • Goblin Mech (The Throne Room): Spawns on the west, blue carpet side of the map. Slices heroes around it and launches homing rockets from a distance. The mech will push any physical defenses that get in its way.
  • Ancient Dragon (The Summit): Patrols around the map perimeter, occasionally shooting waves of fireballs toward heroes and defenses. He can be grounded by shooting him with one of the mounted ballistas. While perching and a hero is close by, the dragon may exhale a deadly stream of fire at them (or bite if directly in front).

Part 3 - Defenses

*From this point onward, Nightmare enemies will be mentioned. These four mobs spawn on some maps regardless of difficulty, but those places are outside the scope of this guide. See <this guide> on Nightmare progression for more info.

Defenses cost mana and either Defense Units or Minion Units to summon. The amount of DU and MU available depends on the mission.

Types by Hero Class

  • Apprentice/Adept: Powerful low health arcane towers (excluding the Magic Blockade in Redux).
  • Squire/Countess: Large mid- to high health towers that include three sturdy blockades. All of them inflict generic damage.
  • Huntress/Ranger (Traps): Intangible defenses that detonate on enemies, consuming 1 HP per activation. Only Djinn can remove traps directly.
  • Monk/Initiate (Auras): Spherical regions that either support heroes or cripple foes inside. They lose health overtime, depending on the number of applicable entities in range. Only Djinn can remove auras directly.
  • Series EV (Beams): Flexible high-tech defenses created between two nodes. Longer beams cost more DU, but have more health. Only the Physical Beam can be attacked. How other beams go down (besides to a Djinn's de-summoning spell) varies. EV also has access to SAM Units in Redux, her only non-beam defense.
  • Jester: Luck-based towers, three of which are presents. Presents have a high chance to spawn a random non-beam, non-minion defense when opened for less DU. Bigger presents may contain otherwise more expensive defenses.
  • Summoner (Minions): Crystalline versions of enemies that occupy a separate resource: Minion Units. Any Summoner can command them similar to traditional RTS games. Minions are drastically more useful on Nightmare, compared to lower difficulty levels.
  • Barbarian (Totems, Redux Only): Buff players in range. Stats scale with the Barb's Hero Damage and/or stance stats (excluding Hawk Stance). Only Djinn can remove totems directly.

Part 4 - Early Game Progression (Hero Levels 0-74)

With all of the updates the original Community Development Team (CDT) provided and ongoing updates to Redux, there are many more routes you can take to progress in Dungeon Defenders than there were years ago. If you are looking for a fast, time-efficient way to jump to Nightmare or even Ascension difficulty by yourself, Chiku has made a video series where he restarts the game in Redux from scratch. Within three hours, he is farming exp. via early waves of The Tinkerer's Lab on Nightmare Hardcore.

A more natural way to progress early on is to beat the classic campaign maps (Deeper Well-Glitterhelm) on Medium/Hard Campaign first, then again on Insane, ideally with Hardcore Mode active for better rewards: more experience points and better loot for your heroes. Hardcore prevents players from respawning during combat, so turn the toggle off if you struggle to survive, especially during boss fights. From the game's original campaign, there is a boss on Alchemical Laboratory, Throne Room and Summit.

Either way, a Level 74 hero is key in order to comfortably enter DD1's midgame (Nightmare stage). Seventy-Four is the minimum level requirement to equip any Mythical items of which you will encounter in abundance.

Your First Heroes

Not every hero class is necessary when first starting out. The Apprentice/Adept and Squire/Countess are great beginner choices for solo play and as one's main.

Equipment and Loot

If you are challenging yourself to play on Hard or even Insane Hardcore, then you will have no shortage of finding new better gear. Upgrading items to their max level is unnecessary and expensive. The mana cost to upgrade an item increases with every level exponentially, accessories especially.

Physically dropped items are marked by dots on the minimap, Accessorymapicon.pngmasks for accessories. In Redux, armor is distinguished by their corresponding item texture. Any equipment the game thinks is better than what your current hero has will be highlighted in green.

You do not need to pickup everything enemies and chests drop to sell to or add to your mana bank. Any leftover items and mana gems will auto-sell and auto-deposit respectively when the next Combat Phase begins or shortly after the last person selects "Next Level" after a mission victory. Alternatively, the host can force-ready everyone by opening the mission statistics screen with [G] while holding [Left Control] and then (if not done already) clicking "Next Level."

Survival, Mix Mode and Pure Strategy

The pets the Tavernkeep sells are expensive at early stages. Survival Mode and Pure Strategy are ways of acquiring them without stockpiling a ton of banked mana. All maps from Deeper Well to Glitterhelm have a specific pet they yield for reaching wave 15. Unless you are playing Redux, Pure Strategy is not worth your time; the loot is much worse than Survival, even without taking into account the fact it is unplayable with Hardcore Mode on. Only do it for the associated achievement. Speaking of Survival loot, it gets better the deeper you go. Mix Mode increases overall loot quality a bit more, in exchange for greater challenge. Loot Goblins add more incentive to enable Mix Mode in Redux as they drop a thick pile of items when killed.


'Natural Path' (To Nightmare)

1) The Deeper Well-Summit (Medium/Hard HC Campaign)

2) Deeper Well-Glitterhelm Caverns (Insane HC)

3) Insane HC Challenges (No Towers Allowed-Monster Fest) and select Survivals (wave 15+)

4) Level 74 Hero(es)

Chiku's Path (First Redux Episode)

1) Deeper Well-Alchemical Laboratory (Hard HC)

2) Raining Goblins: for Early Mythical Armor and Mana Farming (Nightmare HC)

3) Servants Quarters (Hard HC)

4) The Tinkerer's Lab: Early Wave Xp. Farming (Nightmare HC)

Part 5 - Tips and Tricks


Main Article: Default Controls and Keybindings for PC

Dungeon Defenders on PC has a bountiful amount of hotkeys and control shortcuts. Redux adds even more of them.

Useful Hotkeys

Key Function
B Cycle between dropped item display styles: Circles, Circles and Beams, or Neither.
C Call out to your teammates. Drops a floating green arrow for them to see, and marks the waypoint on the map for ~10 seconds.
E/F (Defense Management) Cycle between overlapping defenses to select. [Minus] and [Equals] and +/- on a number pad also works.
G Active crystal remotely.

If you are the host, holding [Control] force-readies everyone for the next Combat Phase, or after a victory: procedure to the "next level."

H Toggles the HUD. At maximum zoom level (first-person view), you can also hide your weapon(s).
I Opens your Hero Info interface.
L Lock/Unlock the item under your mouse cursor. Locked items will not be sold via the "Sell All" button.
M Drop all mana, good for feeding your tower builder, or when swapping characters during the Build Phase.
N (Redux) Shortens the boss countdown, if you're hosting.
O Show/Hide enemy billboards.
Control + O Show/Hide the color-coded quality boarders on items in inventory interfaces (cyan for Mythical, magenta for Transcendent, etc.)
P Show/Hide defenses on the minimap.
T Open Action Wheel.

Trading: Add/Remove hovered item in your box to the trade.

U Open trade window.
+/- (Placement) Resize auras and trap triggers. This does not affect the effective range of traps.

This can be useful when you want to fit identical traps/auras in tighter spaces or restrict the size of big auras.

Ctrl (Held Down) Applying a Level Up: Add/Remove 100 Skill Points to/from a single stat (Left Click/Right Click).

Upgrading Gear in Pro Mode: Applies up to 50 upgrade levels to a single stat.

Shift (Held Down) Brings up the overlay map.

Applying a Level Up: Add/remove 5 Skill Points to/from a single stat.

Upgrading Gear in Pro Mode: Applies up to 10 upgrade levels to a single stat. The system will intelligently stop at levels a particular stat can be upgraded on armor and guardian pets.

Alt (Held Down) You can reorder your characters in your hero selection screen by selecting one, holding the "Alt" key, and then selecting another. This works between pages too.
Alt + Enter Toggles between fullscreen and windowed display modes.
F1 Toggles the program console which includes the chat log.
F2-F8 (Redux) The built-in emulator controls.

F3-F5 allows you to have up to four of your heroes on the map.

Press F2-F5 to swap control to the corresponding active hero.

F6 instantly brings in the first 1-3 heroes in your collection.

F7 instantly removes all active alt. heroes.

F8 toggles the splitscreen display, allowing you to focus on Player 1 in fullscreen. You have to enable splitscreen view when adding alts independently.

  • You can view the details of any characters on the map quickly by hitting [Escape], then selecting a hero icon and clicking the "Hero Info" button.
  • Regarding Redux's emulator, if you hold down left or right click when switching to Player 1 from 2, 3 or 4, the mouse input for the non-primary hero is preserved. This lets you have a character auto-attack.

Remapping The Hotbar

Your hero's hotbar, which uses hotkeys 0-9, can be customized. Customizing your heroes' action hotbars is a smart optimization technique to reinforce their individual specialties. A DPS hero does not need all of their class's defenses on the bar, for example.

To do this, open your Action Wheel with middle click or [T] and navigate to the action you want to bind. While mousing over it, press-and-hold the number key you want to set it to.

  • If you are using a controller, aim the central cursor at the action to bind, then press-and-hold a D-pad direction to assign it.


ESC/Pause Menu

When playing alone, bringing up this menu will darken the screen and pause the game. If another person joins while it is paused, it will unpause the game.

Detailed view of the ESC/pause menu.

This menu contains numerous buttons, one of which is a radio toggle. Pressing [Escape] or selecting "Resume Game" will close it. You can also click on the portrait of any hero present to then access more specific buttons.

Button Description Availability
Resume Game Closes the Escape Menu. All
Options Opens the Options Menu. All
Return to Tavern Exit the mission and return everyone to your Tavern.

No progress is lost if this is done after all victory rewards are distributed.

Host, outside their Tavern.
Mission Setup Same as pressing [G]. Opens the mission selection/setup screen. Host, inside their Tavern.
Restart Level Restart the mission. No progress is lost if this is done after all victory rewards are distributed. Host, outside the Tavern.
Exit to Main Menu Local Play: Return to the title screen menu.

Online Modes: Leave the game lobby and return to the public game/player shop browser.

No progress is lost if this is done after all victory rewards from a mission are distributed.

Invite Friends Opens a list tab with your Steam friends to easily send game invitations. Those who accept will try to join the lobby you are in. All, when lobby is not full.
Hide/Show Match A game visibility toggle. If made hidden, nobody can join your lobby, **not even Steam friends**. Host
... If turned on, all players can sell towers regardless of who built them. Disabled by default. Host
Hero Info Shows the stats and equipment of selected hero. All
Kick Player Forcibly remove the chosen hero and all who are tied to the same account. That user cannot rejoin until you create a new public session. Host
Initiate Trade Start a trade with the selected person's hero. All, in Tavern or after the given map's mission is cleared.
View Trade Status Same as pressing [U]. Opens the trade window. All, in Tavern or after the given map's mission is cleared.
Mute Player* Prevents you from hearing the selected player's outgoing voice. All
  • In-game voice chat seems to be broken. Please use Steam itself, Discord or other program instead.



  • When holding Shift to view the map, loot will be represented as grey dots. Green dots represent loot that the computer calculates to be "better" than your current equipment and therefore worth immediately equipping by pressing F (You may not agree with the computer's assessment). In your normal view, pairs of small green arrows will indicate loot that the computer thinks is superior, even if you cannot currently equip it due to level constraints.

    Minimap colours for mythical, better, and worse.

  • As of patch 7.26, mythical items are given a turquoise colour and transcendent items are given a purple colour on the minimap making it easier to distinguish them from all the junk that drops. Patch 7.26c made mythical and transcendent items appear green (over turquoise and purple) if the item is of better quality than what you have.
  • Information on specific rewards. The Perfect Drop Compendium does not include Nightmare rewards.
  • You may also add items to your AFK shop from the Tavern, without setting a price. This stores them for later retrieval, while no one else can buy them.
  • You may also drop items onto the floor of your personal tavern. If you have "Tavern Pickups Locked" checked, no one else can pick these up, and they will remain in your tavern.
    • If you want to leave Tavern Pickup Locked unchecked, just drop the items inside your 'Secret Room' (unlocked after completing the campaign), and no one else can find them.

Part 6 - What Next?

After the 13-map long classic campaign, their original challenges and a few Survival runs on Insane Hardcore and a Level 74 hero, Nightmare Hardcore (NMHC) may sound like the next logical step. This is a tremendous leap; NM not only raises enemy health and attack power, but also modifies the stats of your heroes and defenses, which are a mix of buffs and nerfs. You will also encounter more Ogres and 4 new threats on a regular basis. One option to get acquainted with each of these 'Nightmare enemies' is to play through the Quest for the Lost Eternia Shards campaign from Mistymire Forest to Sky City, on either Hard or Insane. These four maps will introduce one new enemy at a time.

To be continued...

See Also