I believe that the mission selection screen and it’s mechanics need a significant overhaul as there are large issues with it. The two I have noticed most obviously are:
- Lack of choice. When picking a mission most people will be choosing based on difficulty first, then conditions/secondary objectives, then finally mission type/map third. This behaviour is heavily encouraged by the game’s mechanics and the contract system, so I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone. First you are looking at the difficulty you are capable of completing, then what are your contract requirements, then what map you want for penances, or just preference.
Personally I do not understand the choice to limit the available missions/conditions/secondaries so narrowly, for such a long period of time, as it leads to boring repetitive play sessions where for the entire session you are playing similar/the same mission, with the same conditions. The fact there are 7 different maps available is irrelevant because people will not want to play outside of a fairly narrow range of difficulties. Unless I log on close to the change over time for global conditions I will likely only see that condition for my whole session, if it then changes for the next rotation, I will likely not see it as I am regularly on at the same time, and then I feel like I have a good chance that when I log on at the same time the next day I will get the same condition I had last time again.
This particular issue may be due to the highly repetitive condition selection currently occurring (constant low/high intensity, much like the beta was almost constant endless/limited hordes), but as Fatshark have not chosen to communicate any issues they may be having with condition mechanics/balancing etc, and as the game is now on full release, I must assume this is entirely due to choice/ the algorithm used to select conditions.
The available selection is almost always a disappointment. For example, if I wanted to only play difficulty 2-3 with PUGs, my actual choice is immediately reduced to 7 missions, four of which are duplicates across difficulty 2 and 3, so I actually have 5 choices, but because of the contract system pushing me to complete certain missions, and only four of them having secondary objectives, I am limited to one mission with grimoires and three with scriptures. That is no real choice at all.
To use the current selection in front of me as an example, the 12 missions available are split as follows:
2 missions at level 1. No conditions, no secondaries.
3 missions at level 2. No conditions, 1 has a secondary. 2 different mission types raid and repair.
3 missions at level 3. No conditions. 2 have secondaries (recover scriptures), 2 mission types raid and espionage.
1 mission at level 4, low intensity condition, no secondary objective. Assassination mission.
3 missions at level 5, 1 condition (low intensity), one secondary (scriptures).
You can see that there is in fact very limited choice for each individual or strike team, which will often end up running the same mission at least twice in a row.
- Lack of availability of the missions I am required to do for my contracts. Due to the afore-mentioned lack of choice, contracts can be literally impossible to complete. Eg. the contract to complete 6 secondary objectives within the same map. If I play for 2 hours a night, every night, it is very possible that I will not see even close to 6 missions on the required map with a secondary objective within a difficulty range I can play at over the whole week. Not even giving a player the opportunity to complete their contract is unacceptable, and 14 hours on Darktide over an average week is a fairly generous amount of playtime that many will not be able to achieve. I tracked this during the beta when there were less maps in the rotation and it was possible to not have an opportunity to complete the contract then, so now that we are in full release and more maps are in the rotation, it is even more likely.
I understand that increasing the selection available at any one time will potentially increase queue times, but currently you are in danger of driving people away through boredom at the limited and repetitive choice. I would suggest instead of 12 missions randomly distributed across all difficulties, you should have at least five missions at each difficulty available with at least two of them having secondary objectives, and then maybe randomly choose to add conditions to some of those. This is just an example of an improved mission distribution, others may have ideas on improving this further. But currently I find the restrictions boring and oppressive.
TL:DR. Mission selection is boring and uninspiring and needs a significant rethink. Current system can make contracts impossible to complete.