Arguably, the current state of the Gear Progression/Itemization/Crafting System is the biggest systematic issue that Darktide has.
Here are my suggestions regarding how to fix the problem.
Enjoy the read.
To make a progression system that feels good and rewarding, i think it is important for players to:
- gain power through successfully finishing missions (not by being lucky with an rng store)
- have agency over the outcome of crafting or an upgrade (minimal to no rng)
- have the feeling of being rewarded for self improvement by having the power of the equipment grow with the player’s skill and the difficulty that is successfully played on
- be able to maximize the stats of any given item, through time and effort
I will divide the following suggestions regarding itemization and crafting into three parts:
- Early game
- Mid and Endgame
1) Early Game:
- Learning the class basics while leveling to 30.
- Experiencing the arsenal of available weapons.
- Learning the basics of weapon stats, perks and blessings.
Click here to display full explanation of suggestions regarding Early Game itemization, and resulting player experience.
Suggested Early Game Progression:
The early game is there to introduce the player into the game (the player can not yet make well informed choices), so it is good to:
- have limited choice regarding item selection (hourly store and mission rewards).
- be able to upgrade obtained items (quality upgrades, maybe only up to purple).
- have access to limited customization (randomly reroll 1 perk and 1 blessing).
The system we have in game right now is mostly fine for the early game.
However, it is missing two things:
- Players should get a free version of a weapon, when ever it gets unlocked (regarding item lvl, it should always be an upgrade from the previously owned items).
- Players should be able to randomly reroll 1 blessing per item.
Reasoning and Resulting player experience:
New weapon unlocks would feel like a reward for leveling up, and give a feeling of progression, because new weapons can be tested right away (if unlocking a weapon only means that it now has a low chance to show up on the rng shop, the mentioned feelings of reward and progression are removed).
This also supports the curiosity to try out new and different things, and increases the awareness and general knowledge about the different weapons that are available in the game.
Upgrading the quality of an item and rerolling 1 perk (lvl 1-2) and 1 blessing (lvl 1-2), are a reasonable amount of customization for players who are new to the game and who are getting a potential replacement for their current weapon quite frequently. If 1 blessing per item can be rerolled randomly, that causes players to test out different things, instead of just picking one blessing which they think they might prefer.
In this stage of the game, getting power upgrades through items from mission rewards or the hourly store, is completely fine, because it happens quite frequently at this stage of the game (rate of item rewards for missions should be increased, at least until lvl 30).
It also further increases the likelihood of trying different weapons while leveling up.
Summary - Early Game Progression:
- Obtain items from mission rewards (more frequently) and the hourly store (as is).
- When a new weapon is unlocked, that weapon is automatically obtained.
- Ability to upgrade weapon quality (as is).
- Ability to randomly reroll one perk (as is, but only lvl 1-2) and one blessing (only lvl 1-2) per weapon.
Once the character is leveled to 30, a different system should follow (for Mid and End Game), in order to give players the feeling of being rewarded with progression for the time spent playing the game, and to keep people playing.
2) Mid Game and Endgame:
- Gaining a deeper understanding of how to play the class,
then mastering the class.
- Figuring out, which perks and blessings to use for which build,
then perfecting the items used in the build(s) of choice.
- Beginning to build up an arsenal of weapons to play with,
then completing the arsenal and optimizing all available weapons.
Click here to display full explanation of suggestios regarding Mid and Endgame itemization.
Suggested Mid and Endgame Progression:
The player now has a basic understanding of the gameplay and systems.
There should be meaningful progression as a reward for playing, as well as a gain of power based on player choices and personal skill progression.
I suggest that once a character has reached lvl 30, each successful completion of a mission on difficulty 3/4/5, should award a token (something like"inquisition token" or “token of the omnissiah”), which allows players to modify and upgrade their gear without involvement of RNG.
Each difficulty (3/4/5) should award a different tier of token.
(The upcoming diff 3-5 token breakdown is followed by a full explanation).
Diff 3 token upgrades:
- Upgrade all Modifiers up to 80%.
- Upgrade both Perk slots and both Blessing slots from lvl 1 to lvl 2.
- Select Perks/Blessings from list (lvl 1-2).
Diff 4 token upgrades (unlocked for items with finished diff 3 upgrades):
- Upgrade all Modifiers from 80% up to 90%.
- Upgrade both Perk slots and both Blessing slots from lvl 2 to lvl 3.
- Select Perks/Blessings from list (lvl 1-3).
Diff 5 token upgrades (unlocked for items with finished diff 4 upgrades):
- Upgrade all Modifiers from 90% up to 100%.
- Upgrade both Perk slots and both Blessing slots from lvl 3 to lvl 4.
- Select Serks/Blessings from list (lvl 1-4).
Tokens should be exchangeable for higher tier tokens at a rate of around 5:1 to 3:1.
The tokens should also be backwards compatible so that nobody is forced to play on a lower difficulty than what their skill level is. (alternatively, the system could run on simply getting 1 token for diff 3, 3-5x as many for diff 4 and 3-5x that many for diff 5)
- diff 3 tokens can only be used for diff 3 upgrades
- diff 4 tokens can be used for diff 4 and 3 upgrades
- diff 5 tokens can be used for diff 5, 4 and 3 upgrades
Full explanation of token upgrades:
Upgrade item Modifiers (weapon stat bars)
→ effect: +5% to one Modifier of choice (repeatable until reaching Modifier limit for the type of token used)
→ cost per 5% upgrade: 1 token from diff 3/4/5 + average Plasteel and Diamantine amount obtained from 1 successfully cleared mission on diff 3/4/5
Upgrade Perk/Blessing slots
→ effect: upgrades Perk/Blessing and unlocks access to Perk/Blessing selection for the slot (repeatable until both Perk slots and both Blessing slots are upgraded; in case of Blessings, access to lower lvl Blessings should also remain)
→ cost per slot upgrade: 1/2/3 tokens from diff 3/4/5 + average Plasteel and Diamantine amount obtained from 3/4/5 successfully cleared missions on diff 3/4/5
Select Perks/Blessings (upgraded slots only)
→ effect: change a Perk/Blessing of choice to a selected effect of choice (select from a list, repeatable indefinitely for both Perks and both Blessings)
→ cost per selection: 1 token from diff 3/4/5 + average Plasteel and Diamantine amount obtained from 1 successfully cleared mission on diff 3/4/5
Daily store (spending the weekly currency)
Items in the daily store should be of purple/orange quality and have stats, based on the difficulty that the player successfully plays on (display the requirement for higher quality inventory in the store).
Success on difficulties 3 and 4 should unlock the chance for items from the daily store to have bonuses, which are higher than the bonuses available through upgrades from tokens of that difficulty.
- 10 successful missions on diff 3 → daily shop weapons with Modifiers 70-85%, Perks and Blessings lvl 2-3 (mostly 2)
- 10 successful missions on diff 4 → daily shop weapons with Modifiers 80-95%, Perks and Blessings lvl 3-4 (mostly 3)
- 10 successful missions on diff 5 → daily shop weapons with modifiers 90-95%, Perks and Blessings lvl 3-4 (mostly 3)
- 20 successful missions on diff 5 → daily shop weapons with modifiers 90-95%,
Perks and Blessings lvl 3-4 (equal chance)
Reasoning and Resulting player experience:
Power should be gated behind certain difficulty in order to keep players engaged and challenged. If there is a reward for it, people will try to self improve and successfully play at higher difficulty.
In order to animate players to increase mission difficulty at a reasonable pace, the incentive to try and “leech” through high difficulty missions for power gains, is massively lowered:
- Upgrade tokens are only awarded upon successful mission completion.
- Diff 4 token upgrades can only be applied to items with fully finished diff 3 upgrades.
- Diff 5 token upgrades can only be applied to items with fully finished diff 4 upgrades.
- Tokens can be exchanged for higher tier tokens at a rate of around 5:1 to 3:1. (This reduces the incentive to leech on higher difficulties as well as allowing everyone to experience the entire progression system without playing a difficulty beyond what is comfortable, although potentially at a slower pace.)
This system would allow players (after reaching lvl 30) to keep using any beloved weapon they already have, and slowly turn it into a full 100% stat beast wih 2 max lvl Perks of choice and 2 max lvl Blessings of choice. Players could also swap around their Perks and Blessings in order to test out different builds.
With this system, each mission success would reward the player with a guaranteed, small power boost that can be applied with 100% player agency.
The time investment required to buy items from the daily store (with coins from weekly quests) is high, so the items should be around (and potentially higher than) the power level of the strongest weapons that the player currently has.
That way, players who are not yet able to successfully play on diff 4 or 5, can still get weapons that slightly surpass the upgrade limitations of the player’s skill limit.
Also, valuable weapons from the vendor, allow players to reduce the grind for upgrade tokens.
This system would create hours upon hours of rewarding grind towards a clear goal, with 100% player agency and absolutely no annoying rng.
Assuming the item starts with all 5 stats at 80%, lvl 2 Perks and lvl 2 Blessings (diff 3 upgrades all done), it would take:
- 5x2 + 2x2 + 2x2 = 18 diff 4 missions to get all 80% with lvl 3 Perks and Blessings
- 5x2 + 3x2 +3x2 = 22 diff 5 missions to get all 100% with lvl 4 Perks and Blessings
With around 40min per successful mission, maximizing one item would take around 27 hours (assuming 100% success rate), and almost every single successfully cleared heresy/damnation mission would actually increase your power slightly.
That is realistically 60+ hours of rewarding grind per class, for just one set of weapons.
Put the token upgrade vendor next to the cash skin shop, so that players do not only walk past that thing once every hour, when checking the hourly store, but once after every single successful mission.
That moment would even be associated with a nice, positive feeling, because the player is on the way to spend the earned token on a guaranteed upgrade.
FS could even add a special shiny skin (like Vermintide 2 red weapon skins) that is unlocked when an item is fully „perfected“ (or a weapon glow for a separate slot, so that it does not interfere with weapon skin sales).
Could even add an extra skin, aura, portrait frame or something similar for each class, which is unlocked once a maxed version of all class exclusive weapons is obtained.
Summary - Mid and Endgame Progression:
- After reaching lvl 30, obtain diff 3/4/5 token currency from successfully clearing missions on diff 3/4/5.
- Use tokens to upgrade Modifiers and change Perks/Blessings without RNG
- System allows to fully maximize all Modifiers of an item as well as swap Perks and Blessings at will (at a price).
- Daily store (weekly tokens) offers items at (or slightly above) current state of progression.
- Until an item has fully maximized stats, every successful mission (on high enough difficulty) grants all resources needed for a guaranteed upgrade.
- Tokens can be exchanged at a rate of something like 5:1 or 3:1 to the next higher tier, so that nobody is “forced” to play on max difficulty in order to max out their gear.
Do not be confused by the “lvl 1-x” under Blessing options. The level of the Blessing should be exactly what you choose (likely the highest one available), but not all Blessings are available at all lvls.
Click here to display full explanation of suggestions regarding Dismantling.
- There is an imbalance between the ratio of Plasteel/Diamantine gained and the ratio of Plasteel/Diamantine spent. This usually leaves players with an excess of Diamantine, while lacking Plasteel. A change in drop rates, will likely not permanently fix this issue.
- Most items sold by the hourly vendor are worthless in the mid to late game.
- After the early game, Dockets (gold coins) are almost useless.
All three problems (useless Dockets, resource imbalance, useless vendor items) can be fixed in a pretty easy way:
- Instead of giving the player only Dockets for dismantling an item, give them Plasteel/Diamantine.
- Dismantling different types of items, should produce either mostly Plasteel or mostly Diamantine (for example: melee weapons dissolve into Plasteel, ranged weapons dissolve into Diamantine).
Resulting player experience:
An imbalance between owned Plasteel and Diamantine (making the abundant resource effectively worthless) can be covered by spending Dockets (otherwise worthless) to buy items from the hourly store (otherwise worthless), and dismantling these items.
Summary - Dismantling:
- Dismantling an item should additionally award Plasteel and/or Diamantine.
- This fixes the imbalance between Plasteel and Diamantine, keeps Dockets valuable and keeps the items offered by the hourly shop useful.
Edit: Added “token exchange” option to the section “Mid and Endgame”.
The goal is to not exclude anyone from any part of the progression system as well as incentivising people to not leech through higher difficulties, while keeping the reward for players who are comfortable clearing higher difficulty missions.
Edit 2:An addition to the loadout menu should allow to save the same weapon with multiple different Perk and Blessing combinations in different loadout slots. Switching between loadouts should include an auto swap of Perks and Blessings.