Difficulty: The Consensus, The Subjective & The Personal

Going to be a long(ish) one, karking hell.

Personally, I feel like I’m doing Fatsharks job for them right now. But, in short, I have complied a list of people’s thoughts on difficulty in Darktide, specifically discussing anything difficulty 3 and higher, although this is more aimed towards 4-5, where most of the ‘hardcore’ audience and (more than likely) regular ‘tide’ players have aired their gripes and concerns. We’ll go through what has been (to my understanding of being obsessed with the topic on this forum) what have been consensus points, things which a majority of players have agreed on and identify as a significant issue. Subjective points, those which a large proportion of players have identified as issues, however doesn’t (seem) to be shared by the majority and could be misconstrued as personal preferences on gameplay. Followed by personal, which are just my own qualms outside the realms of it being possible to implement and/or few share the same opinion. These will be explained, but in short, as you will find many of these repeated in other posts if you search for them.

Before I start, I would like to disclaim something very important when in an honest and open discussion about video game difficulty:

A game being difficult to complete doesn’t inherently make it a good (or bad) and rewarding experience to complete


Elite Health & Spawns

  • Health pools are absurdly high on 4-5, especially on the melee elites. This enforces a hard meta shift towards DPS styled weapons and making burst weapons practically useless, especially those with some form of charge up and/or window of vulnerability (psykers staffs, plasmas, charge lasguns). Massive health pools also make run-to-run incredibly RNG, if you’re unlucky, your squad simply won’t have the damage, and many of the times ammo to deal with them (unless each player is playing to 100% of the classes strength, IE. Pugging is impossible).

  • Spawning of enemies is incredibly warped and inconsistent, when clearing an area and moving forward, it’s not uncommon to get pot shotted out of nowhere by 1-3 random grunts or get backstabbed by a lonesome pox walker. Even though you had cleared an area thoroughly (which is 100% a non-negotiable in 4-5 missions I might) and had left the area 10-30 seconds ago, enemies are still spawning there. This isn’t the ‘worse’ thing in the world, although it is incredibly annoying, when it is just a small group of grunts, but when we add in elites, it becomes simply unfun, not ‘punishing’, unfair. It’s not uncommon to have a sniper at one end of a large room, with a mauler charging you, only to have a gunner or poxflamer come up behind you, leaving you suppressed and unable to effectively fight any of the threats.

  • Difficulty jump from 2 to 3, its harder for us veteran tide players to really comprehend, but the change in difficulty from 2 to 3 is huge for newer players to the series. Due to the sheer popularity of the game atm, a large portion of the player base are ‘new’ players, the amount of pug hazard 3’s that fail are astounding, if Fatshark would release some statistics in the near future i believe 3’s would have by far the highest fail rate.

  • Demonhost, say no more.

Class Balance

  • One Class to rule them all,
    One Class to find them,
    One grenade to kill them all
    and in the lasgun fire blind them.

  • It’s really no secret that Veteran by far is the most equipped to deal with hazard 4-5 missions, talents which rewards players for standing back and prioritizing ranged combat (which is a problem in itself which we’ll get into later), a class ability which (like we talked about earlier) works incredibly well with the ranged weapons most optimized for killing high HP targets, and a grenade which can be spammed to cull hordes with little mechanical knowledge needed. If we just want to chalk this down to ‘playstyle’ then that’s fine, stay at range (even though it is kinda boring)

  • Psyker and Zealot perform woefully, Zealot only becoming useful due to an incredibly specific build to reduce incoming toughness damage by up to (and over) 80%+, which I assume will be hotfixed or changed in the future due to it being cheese and a complete Band-Aid fix to a underpowered class. Ranged combat is incredibly more effective than melee, zealots shooting options are limited, and the weapons you ‘want’ to take due to its fun-ness & thematic simply won’t cut the mustard in 4-5, The flamer doesn’t do enough DPS to high health targets and the autogun(s) and shredders aren’t as reliable at shooting long range targets, not to mention none of its talents or abilities realistically help you in any ranged scenario besides niche situations. Psyker… yeah, sorry mate. Brain Burst does actually childs pee damage to elites, the abilities don’t attach on to those who can be killed by it very easily (like sniper) and resorts in the player having to dodge in and out of cover literally hoping for brain burst to target the right enemy. The staffs aren’t as reliable as its normal gun options, the CC staff is useful in (again) extremely niche situations, but the other staffs lack the damage output of other ranged weapons, but who the hell wants to take a gun as a psyker?

  • Ogyrn - Shield or Bust, put simply, if you’re in an organised group, you’d be incredibly stupid (or just looking for torture) for not having a shield if you are running an ogryn, due to the ‘issues’ with ranged fire being so oppressive, the greatest use of an ogyrn is completely tied to one weapon and not the rest of his kit, not to mention without it, his size makes the absurd ranged damage (somewhat ironically) the squishest out of any of the classes if caught out in the wrong place.


  • Ranged Damage, this has been put in the ‘subjective’ category, however, is only going here to not cause a massive argument in the comment section, from my own experience (and what I’ve seen from the forum) ranged damage is dialled up way to high on 4-5. There’s a huge discussion on whether or not this was a purposeful design feature. arguments range from those believing players who come from VT2 Cata’s “don’t respect” the power of ranged units, and those believing that the sheer volume of ranged fire and it’s damage & suppression make melee a major afterthought and ruins much of the experience of the game. I much fall into the second category, while I’m happy to get one shot by a sniper that i didn’t identify or dodge, I believe it’s absurd to have an entire toughness bar gone by 2-3 grunts firing at you in the open, it promotes an incredibly passive playstyle and creates absurdly long game times (games last from 15-30 minutes compared to VT2 Cata).

  • Being ‘mechanically’ better at the game doesn’t have a 1:1 ratio with how well you are able to complete missions. Due to what we’ve previously discussed, the game is promoted a ranged dominant, DPS orientated meta in order to combat 4-5 missions, this leaves out harder to use ranged weapons like sniper(y) guns in order to use the spray and pray weapons which funnel out the most damage possible. Alongside that, the sheer lack of melee focus, which i think we can all agree is the real meat and potatoes of learning any tide game, means a player who is incredibly proficient in melee won’t always see the results you’d expect. All of this chalks down to a meta which promoted the most reserved playstyle possible, (in most cases) don’t push, don’t take risks, stay behind cover, make sure to clear the room pack by pack, don’t test yourself, let the veteran shoot it first (lolpog)


  • Temporary Health > Toughness, I haven’t particularly seen this discussed much, but i believe temp health is a much better system then what we have currently, I’m not a programmer, but from what I can infer simply just having all of your feat, curios & passive modifiers apply to toughness and health separately, compared to just having ‘health’, seems like a balancing nightmare. not only that, but temp health also allowed for the easy integration of ‘lower health = x bonus’ modifiers. As we spoke about with the zealot, its hazard 4-5 viability relies on a niche toughness modifier build, however its class passive revolves around having less health = more damage, so where is the rational there? If you had something to hit, you could stay in the fight, it was really that simple. If it aint broke, don’t fix it.

  • Melee > Ranged, perhaps this is reserved for the diehard VT fans, however tide games are fundamentally melee games, the combat system is rich and rewards player time with getting to grips with it. Ranged is click button, aim, click button, repeat. The game having such a heavy focus on ranged really feels like it’s missing a piece of that X Factor that makes vermin tide what it is today. Playing melee orientated isn’t just harder then playing a ranged one, it’s downright a chore.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading, I’m happy to have my mind changed about any of these, but i believe i lurk this forum way too much for any of these to be completely unfounded. Obviously i have a life outside of the game, i’ve only been able to get the zealot & psyker to 30 (which is still more then most) so any more in-depth discussion about the other two would be appreciated.


im not saying you’re wrong but what many don’t realise is the fact that the higher difficulties ie 4/5 were bugged and were always “endless horde” modified.
add ontop of that that the suppression mechanic didn’t work properly yet (suppressing enemies not getting suppressed) would easily invite many of the bullet points your making.

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Good Post.

There is a huge gap between 2 and 3 however I think it’s probably because difficulty 2 is too easy. I skipped difficulty 1 completely and started my characters on 2 with no difficulty at all. Imo difficulty 1 should be the starting point for new players with 2 and 3 each requiring a skill jump.

I think the damage on difficulty 5 should be extremely high. The problems I see are toughness being a poor form of damage mitigation and spawning being unfair. Enemies should not be able to spawn in close proximity to the player. Specials should not be running in and out of spawn closets to get the jump on players.

Reducing enemy health pools on high difficulty should help with enabling the players to react to elite spamming. Or buffing player damage where it’s needed.

I think the ranged damage could be okay if there are modifiers to accuracy, target acquisition and response time etc. It seems ranged units are too eager to shoot into melee, they are not supposed to do that. Also the suppression effect on players triggers too easily and is oppressive.

Zealot invincibility trait would be much better if toughness damage bleed through was removed.

Psyker problem seems to be just damage scaling, the class is fun on lower difficulties.

Ogryn gets shredded by ranged fire specifically, he’s not bad against melee hordes. His high base stats and ability to revive without being staggered make him very strong on lower difficulties. It also seems corruption isn’t % based(?) so high hp = high resistance. Unfortunately tanking damage doesn’t scale very well into higher difficulties. Not sure what to do about that.

Veteran is basically point and click dps which will always be good. Don’t think that’s a bad thing, the other classes just need to be better and the weapon balance needs to be tuned. But I don’t know why sharpshooter has 3 feats dedicated specifically to grenades?
I also feel that standing still to avoid aggro is antithetical to the game as movement is such an essential element of gameplay.

Ranged > Melee

We already have Vermintide. If/when they make Vermintide 3 I hope it’s melee focused. However I want something different in Darktide. Of course melee needs to be viable, especially for Zealot and Ogryn, however I would like ranged combat to remain a pillar of the game. I enjoy it a lot, maybe because it’s so different from Vermintide? idk.

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A recent response on this from Quickpaw in this thread.

I haven’t played enough of the higher difficulties to say anything too specific with confidence, but what I experience (disregarding of the difficulty) is that the difficulty spikes vary to a very high degree.

Certain missions or areas in missions become incredibly difficult if you have back luck with what is being spawned. My take on it so far is that it’s mainly

  • open areas where you’re easily flanked, and
  • if you get a high density of strong ranged units or a bad mixture of carapace armor tanks and strong ranged units.

I found Heresy to be so tough and hordes so frequent, that I was 100% convinced the ‘endless horde’ modifier was actually applied, and then they said it was just a UI bug. (at which point I decided to stop playing until at least release, because :face_vomiting: and that’s coming from someone who regularly QPs Legend in VT2 with zero issues)

I’m not a 100% convinced it’s only a UI bug, but I think that ties in to the other part of my post. The game can really punish you by stacking certain enemy types in certain areas. One of the worst culprits early mission is this one.


It can spawn enemies in a way that almost have you drop down right into crossfire. On top of that it’s keen on spawning flamers and other specials above you, and they will drop down just behind you for a good flank.

During my time in the beta i played mostly 4 and 5 and honestly heresy difficulty was really easy. I probably had like an 80% win rate over like 30 or 40 levels just solo queue. Damnation was fun when i either had my friends online or found a game but it was harder and felt good to complete. I think this game needs a difficulty one higher then damnation and it needs to be expressed that it is pretty much unbeatable and dont offer any rewards or penences for it (except the reguler mission rewards xp and ordos) that way they can make hardcore players happy (people who regularly played cata 3 or cata with deeds in vermintide) and we dont have to go around yelling at everyone in the forums to git gud because were afraid the game will become too easy. There just HAS to be a difficulty that absolutely anhilates you if you make even a single small mistake.

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As a Zealot/Ogryn player, I feel the pain on the ranged teams but I’ve come to see it as a need to change playstyle compared to V2.

Playing the ranged game against gunners is a bad move, you need to do the risky dive into the shooter pack - and if you manage to do that, then suddenly they become a near non-issue. My Heresy runs became much more of a cake-walk as soon as I started doing the “risky” play and charging into the shooting squad backline as soon as I saw them (something I would never have done in V2).

I do feel like there is a bit too much range focus otherwise, and if I wanted a range focussed survival game I’d to L4D or something other. Tide games have always been the melee focussed survival in my mind, and that’s what made them fun.

And as for Daemonhost - the fact that they never change target meant that Ogryn with shield essentially trivialised them, and I only encountered them in teams that had that, so can’t comment on them being difficult (literally would purposefully find and kill them because they were so easy, had 6 in one map was my best quota!). As the shield trivialises the encounter they need to change that, but then if Daemonhosts are actually really difficult then that Shield change should accompany other changes that make the fight less punishing.

Try it with the Low Intensity Zone (formerly Fewer Hordes) modifier. It makes Heresy and Damnation not only almost trivial, it grants you great bonusses on top for clearing it.

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Let me just choose a Heresy mission with Low Intensity Zone from the Mission Hub … oh wait. I forgot. The Mission Hub is totally random and i have to wait until my desired threat lvl mission with the desired modifier pops up. Nice one Fatshark !

Health pools:
While they are fairly high on 4-5, I’m not entirely against this, except enemies like ragers that basically have zero armour but also hit pretty dang hard in a combo. It would be nice that I don’t have to wait around for them to finish their combo and smack them then repeat several times because they’re just so tanky. Enemies that are heavily armoured, or ogryns the high hp makes sense to me. Most specials don’t seem too bad to me.

Enemy spawns:
Not only have I watched enemies spawn in out of thin air from behind the group, but I’ve had entire groups of enemies continue to spawn right in front of me. Maybe I was standing on a spawn point, but considering it wasn’t outside the map and was an area we just cleared, felt pretty cheese.

Specials/elites coming out from a door, throwing a bomb, trap etc then running back in needs to go, it’s just tedious. Though you can hit them through the door lol.

Difficulty jump:
When I was first leveling I did notice this large jump for 2-3 so maybe adjust this for more casual or new players, though I honestly find malice boring.

I think this boss/enemy needs a bit of tweaking. While I know the main objective is to avoid it, and I’ve managed to defeat it several times I think it’s a missed opportunity. It’s a really cool boss, but the fact that it just targets one player to death unless they have specific talents or an ogryn shield just makes it a dps check boss which is lame. By all means keep the high damage and high attack speed, but break up the attack combo so someone can realistically dodge/block it without needing a specific build. I’d like to fight this boss more, but most times it just gets avoided.

Class balance:

Veteran: I’ve only leveled my veteran to level 6, while I think a lot of people like the range combat in this game, I do not. It feels super clunky and bad to me but that just my opinion.

Zealot: Besides martyrdom being broken, I really like zealot and I feel like I do well in melee and melee feels good as zealot. Ranged enemies are the bane of my existence, but that’s what chastise the wicked is for, because ranged units are useless in melee so it’s fun to chop them to bits :slight_smile: Unlike what you described and stacking toughness, I actually just use high level hp curios to have 316hp. I tend to be able to avoid most damage altogether but with the abundance of range that likes to melt toughness, I prefer having more hp.

Maybe if martyrdom gets fixed then stacking health will be even better since I could get 6 stacks while only being down 90hp. I know people will tell me i’m playing zealot wrong since i’m not using low hp more damage build, but it works great for me and I’m generally able to be the last one alive, clear all enemies and res the team, so to each their own. I view low health = more damage as a berserkers rage that is there to help me kill enemies when things get rough.

Pysker: Brain burst should probably get some sort of tweak for higher levels, perhaps quicker to use, or more damage. My friend who mains Pysker would agree that it isn’t great on 4 -5 other than support and find’s playing veteran just feels way better.

Ogryn: Yeah, my friend group had this same discussion, almost every ogryn uses a shield and that’s probably a problem since I’m sure most people just use it for ranged defense not because they like the weapon or it’s melee performance, but correct me if I’m wrong ogryn players.


Ranged damage: There is a lot more damage from ranged compared to VT2, but that’s par for the course. Ranged elites are tough, but team composition really helps there. Grunts can be very numerous and a pain, but as mentioned by someone else, charging at them and crushing them in melee is the way to go i’ve found. Their melee attack is slow and pathetic.

Player Skill:
I think being mechanically better does translate to better win rate. Sure ranged dps makes it more difficult to get into melee range at times, and the suppression is maybe a bit much. That being said, I think my hours from VT2, and my friends agree with this, have really helped in being able to do well in melee here. I can still dodge, push and block my way to carve around a horde, or focus elites/specials. I very much think player skill is a big thing still. Is it harder to solo/carry in this game compared to VT2, yeah perhaps. I kind of feel like this is part of having a new player base though. A lot of people are not comfortable with how things work in this game and the mechanical skill required, so players going down happens a lot more often at higher levels from my observation in level 4-5. Perhaps the rng of weapons and not being able to optimize weapons and broken feats has to do with this too.

In addition to this, if I join a random 4-5 quickplay on my own, it’s much harder to win. Part of this is due to communication sure, but when I play with my friends, regardless of communication I know they can handle themselves because they know the systems. This makes it much easier to win because you don’t have to babysit someone(no offense) or hope that someone will take out an elite/special cause they know what it’ll do to the team if they don’t. People in random matches also don’t always tag enemies which doesn’t help on the communication front.

Toughness vs temp health:
At this point just bring back temp health, I’m so tired of reading about toughness and what should be changed about it lol. I was fine with chip damage and other than the bug with the new system, I’m fine with toughness blocking a % of damage below 100. I dont want the game holding my hand when I miss a dodge or block. I want a challenge and to win based on skill and merit.

I know part of the issue people have here is unavoidable damage, spawns from behind, lag, janky animations, especially with the 180 spin, rocket dog. And yeah, these things need to be fixed and when they are, I think the toughness system won’t be so bad.

Melee < Ranged:
As I said above, I like the melee and I think it’s fun, imo. Yeah there is more range focus here than VT2 but I think that makes sense given it’s 40k Only thing I would really change here is making more melee weapons viable, some of them are just plain garbage.

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Psyker also has a Psy Wrath problem at difficulty 4-5 where it simply stops knocking back, or even just pushback most enemies aside from trash

Meaning both our class special and class ult become utterly unreliable

I’ve stopped counting how many times i F’d a Pox Burster just for it to press forward as if literally nothing happened

It’s absolutely ridiculous and disheartening to play a a class that’s supposed to be equipped for it, and yet just watch powerless as a Pox Burster waltz to your team, that you can neither BB or PW

Only reason we’re still tolerated is because we’re the only ones who have access to staffs, but even staffs are practically garbage compared to lasguns
I even come across some other Psykers who in fact now use lasguns instead of a staff
I’m all for variety, and i’d personally would love to equip an autopistol if BB wasn’t pure trash, but this isn’t where we’re at, people use lasguns because everything else is subpar

Being someone who is a vet of Vermintide, who has the knowledge but not the mechanical skill (old and stupid) who also finds legendary pugging high stress and stretching what I can do to an unfun level, I agree with most of what you’ve said.

The people I play with are not old hats to the 'Tide series. They only started playing VT2 a couple of months ago, and they love the games. We haven’t really breached the 4th difficulty, but we’re consistently finishing 3rd with modifiers.

Personally, I like the idea of toughness over temp health. We don’t have issues where someone is denying temp health from someone else for playing the game. It’s not pushing to go go go through the level and hoping that we run across enough ambient enemies to keep everyone going. Yes, the system does need work (having melee bleed through is just… why?) but I do think it’s a superior system that rewards aggression without pushing recklessness.

I also like the more focus on ranged combat for this game. I think that the mix of melee and ranged that they have, is nearly perfect for a horde co-op shooter set in 40K. I wouldn’t want this in Vermintide. I don’t think the community has settled on how much of each to do though, because I’m still seeing people almost never shooting in pugs or never pulling out their melee. We, as a community, haven’t found the sweet spot for this particular game.

One thing that you only touch briefly on that I think needs a LOT more discussion is the difficulty curve and people playing on lower difficulties. The step up from the difficulties are either non-existent or drastic. 1-2 is boring for both the new and vets that I talk to, 3 is where the player is getting challenged significantly and there’s people going into that difficulty that don’t have the tools or skills to pull that off. This has always been an issue with the 'Tide games, where the difficulty jumps are just all over the place. By it being all over the place, it makes those who are attempting to play at their difficulty skill absolutely miserable.

The 'Tide games are at their best when you have a steady group of people playing at a difficulty that challenges them without straining them imo. They’re great in pugs when people are playing at that difficulty. We can get the former relatively easy if you have enough friends interested, but the latter rarely happens, even less so then other multiplayer games in my experience.

More melee oriented setting is fine for Warhammer Fantasy, but ranged combat is a huge factor in 40K setting, and it is reflected in the game as it should. I don’t want a Vermintide with 40K skin over it, I want Darktide to be it’s own thing. I never liked Vermintide much but Darktide feels great with it’s current melee to ranged ratio per class and the much preferred Warhammer setting (for me).

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I think it’s a bit too early to judge the level of difficulty yet.
I have played the game for 100 hours, mostly zealot, i can consinstently clear normal heresy.
100 hours on a tide game are nothing.
Game is challenging but it gives you very powerful tools too. Some combination of blessing are very powerful, just we don’t have the full crafting system yet and even if it’s looks like there is some improvement from VT it still looks very grindy.

Some range weapon look very strong, maybe too strong. I understand the need to put more focus on the range than the previus game and i appreciate it but the game becomes boring if any relevant threat gets instantly deleated by guns.
Ragers, mauler and crushers are at most a nausiance even at heresy levelNo wonder the game then needs to throw at you, very fittingly, a tide of them. Specials on the other way are really enjoyable, only problem is sometimes they spawn too much of the same type and it’s hard to identify it, you think you removed the treath but no there was a third trapper bihind that corner after you literally just killed 2 ( real situation).

The major complaint i have is the amount of scab and dreg shooters that constantly shhot you from evry direction, they are already hard to spot because of the darkness and they even stay on cover to pop ou after a while when you already think you cleared the room or they just spawn new from those little door that are evrywere. Those are so annoyng and slow down your run so much, i hope that this get some change.

I would have much more to say but i think this post is long enough for now.
Thanks to you that read all this.

I agree with almost everything. I like the idea of the Toughness system, it’s just not utilized in enough ways and the perks to improve them are usually tied to stuff you were going to do anyway, not reinforcing a particular playstyle. Great post OP.

I really really disagree… but am on the bus to work. The only point I agree on is yes, something needs to be done to fix the viability of many of the “non-burst” weapons as you call them.

But, elite/special health pools are not too high. Vermintide 2 on Cata and even Legend also absolutely do demand a certain amount of team DPS or else the game will simply overwhelm you, even if you’re mechanically playing every other aspect of the game well. It’s part of the fun, balancing mechanical skill with effective builds.

Zealot is also blatantly not underpowered. I main Zealot and am regularly carrying 4s and occasional 5s. Just have all your Curios be +19% or so health and use the “melee can’t be interrupted” talent instead of the “heal once your passive ends based on damage you dealt” talent and try it again. I’m really tempted to say skill issue here and if you want I can even show you a YouTube video of me carrying a team very far on a map with bugged spawns so the horde never stopped.