So my friend told me something interesting today. The reason Darktide isn’t receiving “real” updates is probably because the company wants to see if the player base will die off fast if the game isn’t constantly receiving updates. Having an active playerbase is kinda mandatory in a co-op game after all. Basically if the gameplay loop is good people will keep playing the game even without constant new things being added. This would validate the company spending more time and resources on the game.
The problem here is that the gameplay loop isn’t good, or at least it isn’t “working” without updates to fix it. Most people agree that once you get into a match the game is great, but the problems are outside of that. Many people for Vermintide-2 that played the game for hundreds or sometimes even thousands of hours, were constantly trying out different classes, weapons, and feats(talents). Essentially, just swapping between different loadouts and playstyles was creating hundreds of hours of replay-ability by itself. The issues Darktide has correlate to just that.
There are less classes than Vermintide, which isn’t too bad by itself if there are lots of different obtainable items available to compensate, but the feats that are available with the current classes have problems due to being too weak, bugged, don’t perform in a useful way, or are too dependent on gear which I will get to in a bit. Items and stats are required to try out different builds and playstyles. It is currently almost impossible to get exactly what you want on some items, even without amazing rolls, because of the restrictive item system. Crafting curios isn’t even a thing. If someone wants a specific weapon for it’s blessings that combo with certain feats, then they have no reasonable way to just try it out. Blessings have similar issues to feats. Many blessings are bugged, interact in useless ways, are way too weak, or are way too strong and make others feel terrible to use in comparison. Some weapons are even garbage without specific blessings, yet are overpowered as all hell with the blessing. Shredder Autopistol with Pinning Fire is one example. Any damage/cleave/stagger blessing is completely outclassed and therefore useless on a weapon that can just roll Slaughterer, which gives all 3 in the form of “power” instead, as another example.
The game NEEDS update patches to fix these problems or players are going to keep quitting regardless of new content or not. If a massive part of the core gameplay loop isn’t functioning properly, then even with constant content updates, less people will want to keep playing and the game will rot.
If fixes to these issues come out, then at the very least me and my friends will play the game more, and will always come back if new content drops. I am the most hardcore Darktide enjoyer in my gamer-group though, and with the current state of the game even I would not be excited if a new map, gamemode or weapon is added, simply because I can’t bring the builds I want into my games, just the ones that I can actually acquire or that function.
Edit: SUMMARY/THE WHOLE POINT!
Darktide can survive and potentially thrive despite it’s rough start, however, this game needs bug fixes, balance fixes, and most of all item acquisition/crafting improvements fast, before the the playerbase is eroded to dust. Waiting and seeing if it’s worth it, is in itself, not worth it! If the gameplay loop is fixed players will stop quitting the game. At that point anytime a big content patch is dropped/advertised people will give the game another try after hearing it’s better now and actually stay around that time.