Cuphead DLC preview: “We wanted to make a really cool sendoff…it kind of blew up”

Cuphead DLC preview 1

“We still like to think of it as it works perfectly as a DLC piece”

Studio MDHR has been busy. Like, busy for the last five years or so, busy. Cuphead came out in September of 2017! From the original PC and Xbox One platforms it expanded to Switch in 2019, and PS4 in 2020. But it definitely feels like it came out recently, namely due to the airtight gameplay and evergreen aesthetic. If what we’ve seen of the Delicious Last Course DLC is representative of what’s to come, odds are it’ll be relevant for even longer. Here’s our Cuphead DLC preview.

We had the chance to sit down and watch a hands-off presentation of the Cuphead DLC, hosted by Chad, Jared, and Maja Moldenhauer; as well as Studio MDHR producer Eli Cymet. Kicking things off Cymet framed the presentation by noting that this was a “depth expansion more than a breadth expansion,” citing the need to “polish everything,” including the soundtrack, which “plumbs the depths of the ’30s and ’40s.”

The DLC will be accessible to players who have beaten at least one of the mausoleum stages, at which point you can start a “new adventure” on an additional island, which is “connected by not limited by” the first game. The DLC narrative involves bringing newcomer Chalice back to life via the magical Wondertart, collecting ingredients from (you guessed it) more big bad boss fights.

Cymet says these are the “most challenging, big big bosses yet,” and Jared expanded upon that notion: “So the first game was like, what if every boss was the last boss of another game. [With the DLC], what if every boss was the last boss from Cuphead? It’s going to be…everyone should be super excited to see how much more we put into the Cuphead DLC itself.”

We were able to see one new fight (something featured in the marketing material prior to the event, including the header image of this preview): Snow Cult Scuffle. It features a “crazed cultist and his minions,” and seeing the entire thing in action, you can tell the animation and attention to detail is as impressive, if not better than the original release.

Chalice, however, will bring some tricks of her own into the mix. To actually summon her, you’ll need to equip a charm (item) to do it, and she’ll replace Cuphead or Mugman in the actual battle itself (but not on the world map). Chalice has a double jump, an additional hit-point, and a two-in-one dash-parry. She can be used in the entire main game, and you can bring back all of the charms and items from the DLC into the core experience. Cymet excitedly added that it will “add new depth to speedruns.”

The core experience doesn’t seem to be changing that much, in case folks were worried. Jared elaborates when asked if more accessibility options were going to be present in the DLC, or if it would fundamentally warp the way the original plays: “difficulty options…we wanted to find a new way to balance and have more options [for] players. So having more options with weapons and charms and Chalice’s move set alone will offset certain areas of difficulty. You can really kind of take advantage of these patterns…these weaknesses, and make the player much stronger in any given situation. I see Chalice as two different angles as to how you might play…she’s advantageous in specific situations…she can’t use the other set of charms, like extra HP. She kind of gets this amalgamation of a few different charms. They have a little bit of a give and take depending on what you choose. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s some form of easy mode, but some players might find it easier to control with a double jump.”

He also added: “the main thing [the Cuphead DLC might change] is the access to the boatman…quicker access to the island itself…[but] we didn’t want to make bigger changes to the game itself…it’s more bringing back items from the DLC into the original game.” When quizzed about why Delicious Last Course wasn’t a standalone game, Chad clarified that the project has drastically changed since the original announcement: “We may have announced DLC a little too early. We wanted to make a really cool sendoff…but it kind of blew up, and we had a little scope creep. When we see the final product it works beautifully as a DLC product…we still like to think of it as it works perfectly as a DLC piece.” Interestingly, Chad outright confirmed “we don’t have platforming stages anymore in the DLC,” which is probably a smart move given that folks gravitated toward the boss fights — and that seems to be the clear focus of this sendoff.

When asked how long the Cuphead DLC is, Cymet gave a pretty lengthy answer that thankfully had a cold hard number in it: “If you hear reticence in my voice it’s not that we’re willing to put a number to it…this varies internally. I think you’re going to have diehard speedrun quality Cuphead players and I can’t speak to what their ability level can do. The DLC…and I’m still enjoying it and playing it and using Chalice in the main game…the DLC experience ran me about three and four hours in gameplay. That’s kind of a median answer I might give.” A median answer is good!

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And with that length comes a price: $7.99, which also seems like a good spot to be! Cymet clarified that the DLC will come to the original platforms (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One), but will “run wonderfully on the newest generation of consoles,” when asked about an Xbox Series X or PS5 release. Maja confirmed an eventual physical release, with news to come in “two to three months.”

Even just literally “more Cuphead” was the bar I needed this DLC to clear, and our Cuphead DLC preview seemed to help put down any major fears. Eight bucks, and some improvements? That sounds like a pretty decent way to spend a weekend; and with the potential for all of the DLC items to rework the game, it could help solidify Cuphead‘s legacy as a whole.

So what’s in store for the future beyond that? Chad gave us a little tease: “Now that the DLC is wrapped we’re in a good space and other games we want to make, and other styles we want to pursue. We’re going to keep working on the Studio MDHR style.”

Chris Carter
Reviews Director, Co-EIC - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff!