Casual vs Hardcore Players: A tale of two crafting systems

So I’ve been having an interesting (and productive!) private exchange with someone about the crafting system and specifically how our different perspectives and approach to playing Darktide have led to differences in how we respond to the crafting system.

I think it will be helpful to the broader community to paraphrase some of this conversation, because it might help us all understand one another a little better and maybe to understand what Fatshark might be grappling with.

First of all, my debate partner is a self-proclaimed casual player, and prefers to play the game on Malice difficulty. They have less than 200 hours at the present and aren’t interested in theory-crafting builds, don’t worry about collecting all the top level blessings, aren’t looking to be continually challenging themselves on higher difficulties. They have a handful of weapons they like to use on each character and ignore most of the rest.

For them, the crafting system as it’s currently employed feels “good” because (A) they don’t really care about getting a “near perfect” or close to perfect item and (B) they enjoy the thrill of crafting something or getting a mission reward that is maybe only incrementally better or just slightly different from what they were using before. Since they aren’t trying to build a specific item, there’s no sense of loss for crafting something and getting an undesired result.

Also for them, all the gear they acquire is potentially usable stuff. On Malice difficulty many of the ‘sub-optimal’ blessings or perks (from a damnation perspective) are perfectly fine to use. So for the casual player like them, if they get some intrinsic enjoyment from pulling the slot machine lever and will also get something that’s at least worth trying out (especially on Malice), then they don’t really have a sense of wasted resources because they didn’t have any particular item target/build in mind in the first place!

For me, I’d fall more into the hardcore camp. I play exclusively on damnation difficulty at this point. I think about potential build-combinations and am interested in figuring out how to make the “best” version of every type of weapon. I pay more attention to my own self-improvement and look to take on greater challenges whenever I can. I use the scoreboard mod as a way to garner some metrics on my own performance so I can think about how to improve or how a given build held up. Moreover, I actively want to mix up my playstyle and gameplay by trying out lots of different weapons and builds.

The motivation and desire here is to use the crafting system to build items to my specifications in order to try it out as part of a build. I also want to be able to share builds with/from others. I want items to be near perfect (defined to me as great base stats, two preferred blessings at least at tier 3, and 1 preferred perk and 1 useful perk) primarily so that (A) having an underpowered weapon isn’t a factor in evaluating my skill/performance; and (B) so I have a more consistent basis of comparison between builds with different weapons but at an equivalent level of power for their type.

Where does that leave us? I think the more casual players are probably more likely to be fine with the current crafting system as it is, whereas a vocal minority of hardcore players really, strongly dislike it.

When it comes to #breakthelocks, my casual debate partner feels that removing the locks would make it too easy for them to craft a more powerful weapon at will, and this would undercut the sense of reward and accomplishment they get from upgrading items or earning mission rewards. If they can turn a few weapons into near perfect, from their perspective what then is the point of even engaging with the crafting system or getting excited about mission rewards, since it they will frequently be relatively weaker items? And since they aren’t trying to amass a big perfect complete arsenals, it doesn’t leave them with anything to work towards gear progression wise. Could they live with the locks being removed? Yes, as there are other things to grind for (penances, cosmetics, etc.) but it would be seen as a loss.

Of course from the hardcore player perspective, we want locks gone ASAP. We want to get the near perfect arsenal so we can easily tweak and test out builds at the peak of their capabilities to see how they work.

The challenge here is that for every hardcore player, the reality is that there are probably 5-10 times as many casual players that are relatively happy with how it is right now. Look at the steam achievements. Only 30% of players have finished leveling up a character to 30. Only 11.4% have got two characters at 30. And only 6.8% of players have done a mission of each type at heresy level or higher. The hardcore players are a relative minority in the player base still - as shocking as that may seem.

So what’s the solution? We debated a few different ideas, and wanted to see if there was a way to keep both groups happy.

One idea was to have a special item upgrade, paid with a special currency obtained only in higher difficulties, that are fully unlocked items, but that can then ONLY be used when queuing onto Damnation difficulty (and maaaybe Heresy?). Or maybe there is a special PLUS difficulty mode, like Heresy+ or Damnation+ (we want more difficulty anyway right?).

Why this approach? The intent is that you give a pathway for hardcore players to get what they want: the ability to have unlocked items that they can experiment more freely with. But for the casual players they can retain the current crafting system experience and not have it undercut by themselves or others bringing in hugely min-maxed gear and trivializing the lower difficulties.

This could be a way to throw a bone to hardcore players and give them an outlet for their crafting desires, without breaking the rest of progression system for more casual players. Fact of the matter is that I can argue all day long for why we should have a more deterministic crafting system and why I feel it’s better for the gameplay AFTER you’re done progressing items, but for probably the majority of players (the more casual ones) they simply don’t see it that way and the numbers are probably against the hardcore players.

Hopefully Fatshark can find a way to better appease both groups, and provide a way to keep both engaged in the game in the different ways each group wants. From their perspective, simply removing the locks may very well be cause for concern for a large part of their player base. But if they can find a way to give both groups what they want, that would be ideal in my mind.

Cheers, and keep it civil.


All the perks and blessings are unnecessary at any of the current difficulties.

They’re just cool and fun and I want to design my character more in depth.

But you can complete all the content with gray 350 gear.


They should add an option at the crafting station that allows us to create a specific weapon with a specific combination of stats. And then they should make it expensive—either Damnation-exclusive currency or just a really high amount of the current currency.

The current system isn’t keeping anyone. Making things reliant on random chance doesn’t please anyone.

A function like this would keep me playing longer and paying more for this game, it would do more than a new map or new boss.


As someone also falling into the Hardcore camp, I also find these points pretty accurate as to what I like in the crafting system. Not that I don’t have problems with it, but unlike the majority of the forum community these aspects appeal to me and I’d prefer for these aspects to be better instead of them being removed.

On point (A) I’d describe it as I do care about perfect items, but I also know they are more of a chase thing and not something that I should actively pursue, more like something to get closer to.

Very on point. This is also a consideration for FS as previously in VT2 they wouldn’t include WoM crafting into the base game precisely for this reason.

Funnily enough, for me, it actually has the absolute opposite effect. Personally, for me it’s a positive for theory-crafting not a negative. Instead of just looking for people more knowledgeable than me for advice on how to use any given weapon, I’m far more inclined to look for ways to optimize my loadout myself.

The game seems less figured out, and as a hardcore player, I feel that I can figure it out myself for my arsenal instead of relying almost completely on content creators who do this kind of thing as their job.

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I agree with most of your points ; however, I’d like to point out that the current crafting system (grinding, RNG, locks etc.) wouldn’t be so reviled if the actual features, the perks and the blessings, weren’t so horribly unbalanced or incomplete.

Who uses +damage against hordes or infected on Damnation ? Almost nobody I’d wager.
+weakpoint damage bonus is so puny it might as well not exist : it only applies to the additional headshot damage.
+damage against specialists or elites ? Too narrow to use.
Everybody wants +damage against unarmored, flak, or carapace/unyielding sometimes.

Shock&Awe ? Impossible to get more than 1 stack. Broken and almost useless.

The Zealot’s Crusher ? 4 (four) blessings, all geared towards moaaar impact, with only 1 that provides more damage.

And for a while now, we’ve even been pointing out stuff that becomes useless at lv30 (+exp, +ordo dockets…), and Fatshark pretends not to hear.


Most people aren’t going to get a character to 30 because they’ll have stopped playing early on.
The hardcore player base is what actually keeps the community going. They’re the people who are most likely to buy cosmetics, the most likely to be invested in the game - whales, in short.

A specific casual player not caring that they’re using a slot machine doesn’t invalidate the simple fact that the RNG is a disaster from every aspect save wasting time, and made worse by the terrible balancing. I have a feeling that if perks and blessings were actually well-balanced, people would be far less annoyed at the RNG, because the RNG would just be differences rather than making a weapon useless.


If you’re talking about long term however, I think as soon as those same casual player start to hit around the 400-600 hour mark they will start to become frustrated with it. Their incremental upgrades will all but stop, their progress will stagnate, and all new lever pulls will just be a waste of time. It will eventually be better to stop engaging with the system in it’s entirety.

I would personally not be a casual player. But in terms of getting a “damnation” only currency or something we could do that.

Again though I feel I have to look back at VT2. Not that it’s vanilla crafting was perfect but “red” items were what hard core players chased and those only dropped on full book runs in champion or in legend and cata. If you wanted to farm for reds it was full books on legend to get emperor’s vaults.

If Darktide had something like that, either special resources, emperor’s gifts, or special secondaries, or reds or whatever, something to unlock lock breakers or curios/weapons that are “red” and don’t get locks I think that’s fine.


you have pretty much described me. over 400h played. last 2 months ive played about 30 matches. this week 0. game is boring without new challenges.

honestly i could start new character (so far i have played only vet), but i dont want to start from 0 and be forced do grind on another char just be faced with current end game content.

Diablo 4 on the other side is calling…


I would be pretty shocked if his opinions are really representative of ‘casual’ players whatsoever. Being 200 hours in does not make this person casual. They’ve chosen to stay on Malice, but their playtime does not really make them casual.

In any case, one need only look at any % of reviews or the abysmal player numbers to understand that the crafting as it exists currently is actively detrimental to the game. The only reason that person even feels slightly like an end of mission reward might be an upgrade is because they have chosen to completely disregard not only higher difficulties, but the actual crafting itself.

Think about it for five seconds. If this person thinks a weapon dropped from Malice could be an upgrade, they have never, ever bought a single high base rating item from the store, nor have they tempted Brunt to any significant degree whatsoever.

In effect they aren’t interacting with the crafting system in any meaningful or useful way - the crafting system has failed this player also.

And no matter if this person feels like the slot machine might give a tiny upgrade at some point, it’s painfully obvious that the crafting system is nothing but a slot machine. There is no player choice, there is no player agency. There is no trying builds. The system is incredibly bad.

Let me ask you one more question. Do you think the people still playing VT2, buying DLCs and cosmetics and keeping it alive… are casuals?


I am against making anything exclusive to high difficulties.

Most damnation lobbies are bad enough as is.
If there was an even higher (or even exclusive) reward for playing on damnation, even more players who do not belong there, would fill the lobbies and ruin the gameplay experience for everyone (which they already do often enough).

Even players who call themselves „casuals“ will queue for max difficulty if there is a great reward for them.

In coop games where you usually choose who you play with, exclusive rewards for high difficulty content is great.
In coop games where you mostly play with random people (like darktide), exclusive rewards for high difficulty content will likely make the gameplay experience on high difficulties worse for everyone.

More powerful items likely make no real difference in low difficulties, when the player is skilled.
Low difficulties can already be carried massively by a good player. Casuals would never be able to tell how good the gear of that player is, who trivializes the mission for them.


I’d present a different casual perspective.

Subject is my friend with ~94 hours. Levelled 1 class to 30 (vet) and another class to 28 (zealot). He recommended the game in their review, but have not played the game since January/February?.

Last time we played together on Malice, he saw me 2 tap a demon host. His reaction? “Wow, I wanna do that!”

Giving him my feats build was no problem, his zealot is about 2 malice games from being L30. But when I explained to him, that they need to:
a) get a “good” hammer with at least 70% damage
b) get at least T3 unyelding damage perk
c) get at least T3 Thrust blessing
d) farm for mats
e) farm for money
f) spend at least several weeks to get the correct hammer, with perk and having “learned” the blessing

Their response was: “Too much work, can’t be asked.”

That was the last time I saw him playing tide. They didn’t even bother about the last 2 updates (#9 an #10)

Since he plays games casually, he prefers games that will give him certain unlock and will not prevent him from getting more powerful weapon.

Him having to play the same maps with the same objectives over and over and not be even guaranteed weapon upgrade makes the game for him, as he says, grindy and therefore boring.

He would like to make a build, run it, see if it works and if its fun. But he cannot do that.


It’s a good point. I think you should essentially do what they did in VT2. You should have your “legend” equivalent for optimal farming and your “cata” difficulty for avoiding all that and just playing to test builds/your skill.

As far as I understand it, no one really plays heresy so what I would think is they should make T4 (heresy) the most optimal place to farm crafting mats, etc. and make T5 (damnation) give no more rewards or incentive than T4.

Or make a T6 difficulty since so many find T5 too easy anyways. But I feel like the former is easier to implement than the latter for dev time.

Potentially even make it so the hardest difficulty drops NO crafting materials so that the people going there are strictly in it for the challenge. No penances, no secondaries for melk, no looking in container for plastic and diamonds and falling behind.


I primarily play Malice/Heresy (I got around to playing Legend in VT2 and will probably play max difficulty in DT eventually, but I’m in no hurry to get there), so I guess that makes me a filthy casual, but I still think crafting is, more than anything else, uninteresting and not engaging at all. I’ve managed to get myself to the point where I have a few “good enough” weapons that I like to use and hardly ever interact with crafting at all, and I’ve been having more fun with the game because of it.

I’d much rather have something with actual part swapping weapon customization, but I doubt FS is gonna rebuild the system they already threw out in favor of whatever this is.

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I mean, they’re casual, because they just don’t care about the extra systems in this game, than they’re not going to care if/when the game is improved?

Not to say casual players aren’t welcome to the conversation, i just really doubt they’d even participate in the convo.


Thanks to ChatGPT, here’s a TL;DR:

The passage explores a discussion between a casual player and a hardcore player regarding the crafting system in the game Darktide. The casual player enjoys the system as it is, finding satisfaction in incremental improvements and experimentation.

The hardcore player, on the other hand, desires a more optimized and customizable experience, wanting to remove crafting locks. The challenge is to find a solution that satisfies both groups.

One suggestion is to introduce special unlocked items for hardcore players, while keeping the current system for casual players.

The passage emphasizes the larger number of casual players and the importance of finding a balance that engages both groups.


ChatGPT is going to be the end of us.


I disagree with your argument that removing locks somehow trivializes difficulty and/or subtracts from the game’s enjoyment.


FS managers and designers should be indeed afraid. B and C grade employees will need to step up to compete. This is not sarcastic, its the truth.

At my job we are experimenting with ML/AI a lot, lots of basic support problems can be given immediate solution by running it though our model. Scary stuff.

Imagine having that in UI in your tool, with a smarter version of Clippy the assistant… asking you if you want to upgrade you code from framework version 6.x to 12.x… which normally would require bazillion tech support hours to get right…

Is the summary incorrect? I violated the #1 rule of chatGPT and neglected to verify. I guess if you’re asking it to generate a TL;DR, reading the original post to make sure the summary is accurate kind of defeats the purpose.

To be fair, I fed it the original post and asked for a summary and the first result was almost as long as the original post. So I told it to, and I quote; “Summarise harder”. The text I posted was the result.

Kinda disagree

Well I also define myself as a hardcore player and I do not care about the crafting at all.

For me the definition of a hardcore player is as follows:
A hardcore player wants to get gud basically. He doesn’t mind spending a huge amount of time on the same game. He wants to learn the challenging mechanics and master them.

The crafting system is not a mechanic you have to master. It honestly just makes the game easier as it allows you to get stronger equipment. Especially if the game isn’t that well balanced it allows you to aquire broken builds which lets you skip a lot of the challenge the game provides.

I puposfully stay away from builds and weapons that feel to strong.
Its also a bit difficult to see for me how a perfectly roled weapon really offers a vastly different playstile to a just good roled weapon. Maybe thats the case on a few weapons?

Still I overall also wouldn’t mind if they changed the crafting system as I barely use it. I would prefer though if they first balance the game well so not everyone is running around in OP gear.

Btw I absolutely disagree that you need perfect gear for damnation. It should be decent but thats it.