First of all, I have to admit - this game is a bomb. Really, probably best WH40k game since DoW. Vermintide on steroids, with real potential. But, as we know, steroids can ruin your heart and stuff, so things aren’t as good as they could be.
Some background: relaxed Warhammer fan, no miniatures and few books, mostly preferring PC games for this universe. So I won’t be really checking if cogitator back panels got lore-accurate rivet heads. 76.1h on VT1 (all stuff got maxed out way too quick) and 384.2h on VT2.
Now, Darktide preorder, two closed betas, (as title says) 254 hours in, 4 classes lvl 30.
PC: i7-9700F, RTX 2080, Asus PRIME Z390-A, 32GB RAM.
Finally it is time for feedback:
Game stability improved dramatically with release day patch, so after the horror of “pre order beta” I totally don’t mind the current occasional 1-2 crashes per 6h of gameplay.
Graphics: excellent, and occasionally feel overly detailed - it is difficult to appreciate the effort put into this while wading through another horde. But when there are no enemies, it is really something to take a moment to look around. Good job.
Maps: Good effort put into them, and a nice idea to reuse a map to do different missions. However, pretty soon every map becomes more familiar than bedroom, and exploration turns into “run through while hoovering up the resources and giving no chance for new players to learn the surroundings”.
Why not to use the VT2 Chaos Wastes approach of “random” pathing by opening and closing passages? This would be quite some synergy with Lights Out modifier.
Referring to VT, where are all the secrets? Hidden doors, locations, some kind of levers to push to see/get something?
Now, another problem is a general result of having hive city map… Endless corridors. Sure they change - we can have them either wet or sandy, but… they are still corridors. Well, except for Hourglass, which is probably most distinctive map from all. At least another map made of giant halls with debris creating paths would already be a nice change.
The map issue above leads to next… biomes. I truly hope DT will have a mode similar to CW from VT2. Some chaos-realm bleedthrough that would create illusions of death worlds, Catachan jungles, necron Tomb Worlds, whatever: universe if damn huge. At the same time, interaction with the surroundings is also something that has been improving and needs to continue to do so. Exploding barrels are smoother to fit into combat compared to VT, lasgun flashlights help in darkness (although an option to pick up a torch like in VT would also be gold) and all that.
Enemies: definite improvement over VT, where gutter runners were sometimes even more crazy than pox hounds. Even having scabs and dregs is already some basic variety, which is excellent. But… Nurgle, really? Slaanesh, Khorn, Tzeentch! Eagerly waiting for updates with more xenos and chaos cults. Game is rated 18+ anyway, so having a Slaaneshite chasing to bust my ass would be quite novel gameplay for sure.
Characters: A bit of letdown from VT, with just 4 classes to start with. Good thing is to have a sort of progression tied to level up and having some kind of coherent story with cinematics.
But… Squats, felinids, beastmen, all other subhumans? Pleeeeease?
I like the current classes and they fit the gameplay pretty well, despite people having internet-wide holywars about “best” whatever. Just make ogryn grenade explosion a default feature, not a perk. It is stupid otherwise - he can carry only 2 anyway. And it will take ages to balance out the weapons, occasional bugs and stuff. Personally, I can play all 4 just fine on Heresy.
As for the rest…
Okay, leveling up characters to 30 is ok… But having separate resources, separate contracts, separate (not sure, but if feels so) item ratings is just mentally challenged. Whoever came up with these mechanics apparently hasn’t played the game or Vermintides. This is a malignant tumor, and needs to go. Game is also absolutely uninformative regarding item rating and progression system. Resources and item ratings need to be shared. Contracts should be reworked - less reward+shared progression+checkpoints? Same with items… shared bank? It is annoying to keep getting good stuff on one character while another who can use same weapon keeps getting crap by shop RNG.
New classes appear to be planned as separate new characters (judging from having an empty character slot already). Some manager might imagine it will be a wonderful motivator to have to level up and equip a new character through an endless grindfest of battles with shop and contract RNGs, but at new class launches the public games will likely be filled with only this new class which everyone will need to level and gear up. Way to go for teamplay, right? So yeah, please thing deeply about how it is going to be, maybe as a career for existing characters, or(and) shared bank+resources.
Items. The promise of “less randomness and grind” in new system is already a meme. Locking out the second perk after one is changed? Somebody played too much Division or what? The inability to craft (making the players dependent on hourly/daily RNG shops), odd rating improvement system, separate resources… This is a nightmare. I don’t even want to mention the yet to be released crafting options. Even the basic VT2 system of breaking down unnecessary items for resources and then using these resources to randomly roll characteristics was much more sensible. And allowed for casual players to fit out their secondary characters without getting an aneurysm.
Missions: Okay… Having modifiers is fun. Having extra objectives is fun too. But I don’t know anybody who picks grimoires. Unless they really urgently need contract coins and they were unlucky enough to get a reroll cap stuck with grimoires contract (who came up withthe contract reroll cap in the first place? The one responsible for grimoire objective?). Extra resources for getting secondary objectives and modifiers? Some use for the extra xp you get from running Heresy and Damnation? In VT we at least get something for going over cap lvl. Same with mission reward - random gift from Emperor, which is not even guaranteed? Combined with inability to craft this is a joke. Not even a good one, to boot.
Also, where is automatic extraction like in Vermintides after the first person reaches it, with countdown? Griefers aside, once early into the game, our group had a person drop through textures, with a scripture. We were hoping to reach extraction for him to be automatically pulled out without losing scripture, but nope.
Penances: They are kind of alright. And certainly it is a nice progression from VT with achievements giving some outfits. But it took ages for most of them to be fixed, which is meh. And it is terrible that besides cash shop they are the only way to give something actually new to wear. The shop in Armoury Exchange is just recolours at sometimes prohibitive prices. It sure makes sense that the cash shop needs to give some funds for the game to run (no, it is not predatory or anything, ffs, Steam discussion whiners are another malignant tumor), but having at least some basic selection for ingame currency would dilute the impression of having a clone army chillin’ on Mourningstar. But I also assume this will be expanded in the future, as currently the list of penances is also pretty short, compared to all the stuff Cousin Okri threw at us.
UI and stuff: Overall, it is better than in closed beta, and information is displayed pretty well. BUT quite a few effects (such as those from weapon blessings) appear to avoid being shown, which is unfortunate. Same with the pain of relogging characters to check the shop… Each time sent back to the same login spot and having to run to the servitor. And inability to change character at mission start screen… And having this mission start popup closing all other windows… And the forceful sendoff into the mission after selection…? Whoever designed this, shouldn’t be getting his Xmas bonus.
And last: I really love the Taal’s Horn Keep in VT2, and they way it dynamically changes as the characters and storyline progresses. The personal touches of character’s quarters and paintings and everything… Can we have Strike Team-grouped “quarters” we could spawn at? With curios, collectibles and trophies. Fatshark could even expand shop a bit, selling some stuff for real money, since, well, vanity. This could also be linked to more player social communication - player warbands? Units?
Gotta love some specific word filters here.