With Patch #9 having dropped, I figured it is a good time to discuss the overall status of Darktide.
To cut to the chase, Darktide is struggling on a number of fronts. There are long-standing issues that continue to be ignored by the developers, opportunities for improving balance and build diversity that are not capitalized on, and no significant content additions appear in sight
Let’s break down some of the specifics.
CRAFTING & PROGRESION
- #BreaktheLocks - The locks on blessings and parks are awful and continue to aggravate the player base. This is especially egregious for Blessings because it is a time-consuming task to even find the blessings you want in the first place, let alone also finding at least one on a good weapon you want to use. We’ve been complaining about this for 5+ months!! Give us an option to use diamantine (or something!) to permanently remove locks! Community has been begging for this.
- Resources are still painfully silo’d between characters - Resource silo’ing (dockets, melk bucks, crafting materials, etc.) continues to stymie players’ motivation to play multiple characters. Please provide resource sharing between your characters, it would make a tremendous difference in keeping gameplay fresh if players can freely move between characters without stopping progress on another.
MISSION SELECTION & PLAY MODES
- Mission selection terminal is still bad - Still no ability to select missions at any given difficulty. Please just provide an expanded pool of missions with an assortment of modifiers, and let us pick whatever difficulty we want for each. Always keep some low and high intensity modifiers in the mix. Additionally, it would be great if players could pay dockets or something to pick their own mission and parameters directly.
- Bots are still terrible. Bots are practically useless and need improvements ASAP. It would be great if they actually used players’ off-characters with their gear and equipment (like in VT2).
- Solo-mode and Truly Private Lobbies Still Missing - This was something anticipated back in December. Still not fully implemented.
- Social & Strike Team Coordination is still bad - Why is there STILL no option to keep your strike team together after a mission (or opting in to stay with the team). Why is there no option to queue immediately into a new mission? The game and lobby feels cold and lifeless, and a large part of this is because team’s don’t get to stick together and build some rapport. Really annoying.
- Blessing Balance is a Mess Still - While there have been many improvements to blessings, there have also been facepalm levels of poorly thought out changes. There are so many blessings that are just total garbage that the result is most weapons have 1 or 2 clearly best-in-slot blessings and that’s it. With such poor balance on the blessings, the “build diversity” that’s possible is tragically limited. Everyone chases the same couple of blessings.
- Weapon Balance needs work, especially within different Marks - Overall balance for weapons seems fairly good at this point (although there are of course exceptions). However for weapons with multiple marks, it is often the case that one Mk variant is clearly superior to the others. Weapons need more fine-tuning so that there are reasons to take other marks.
- Premium cosmetic shop still hasn’t been updated in months - which I’m fine with given the developers stated focus on getting the core gameplay right. But the pace of core changes is soooooo slow.
- Need weapon skin versions for all the different weapon marks - It feels “unfinished” that for weapons with different marks, weapon skins are only available for “one” of the marks. For example, the skins available from the Armory for Force Swords only use the Illis Mark weapon model. Where are the Obscurus or Deimos skins?
CONTENT, CONTENT, WHERE IS THE CONTENT?
All of the above are critical to very important issues to address. But the elephant in the room is that for a “live service” game there is a total absence of new content. What little content has been released since launch was all done closer to release and was, in all likelihood, stuff planned for release in the first place.
- Still no new classes - We’re coming up on 6-months since release. Still zero mention of new classes/subclasses, how these will be handled, what they will be, etc.
- Still no new maps/tilesets - The next “content drop” is supposed to include a new level in the existing Throneside map. It would be GREAT to get a new mapset / tileset entirely so we have some new environments to experience.
- Still no new missions/objectives - It would be great to see some mission objectives that are more varied. There are only so many ways and times you can put up with hacking terminals, carrying canisters, and slashing tentacles before it feels rather dull.
- Actually new weapons when? - With the exception of a few items that came out closer to release, we still haven’t seen actually new weapons yet.
- No seasonal content / special events - With this being a “live service” game the assumption was there would be some sort of seasonal content and/or special events to entice people into playing. No word on any of this still.
MISSING QUALITY OF LIFE FEATURES & MODS TO THE RESCUE
Lastly, there are a bunch of less serious problems with the game that thankfully mods have managed to fix and rectify for the most part. But as much as we may appreciate mods, they shine a light on areas of Darktide that could use some “official” improvements and shouldn’t excuse Fatshark’s failures to deliver.
A few worth highlighting below (I’m really just scratching the surface here):
- Scoreboard - For many players, the scoreboard is a nice capstone to a run and gives us feedback to assess our relative performance by. The mod is great, but an official solution would be better.
- Psych Ward - This mod was recently updated to provide a work around that lets you check shops from the character select screen so you don’t have to re-load Morningstar just to check other character items/shops. Thank god.
- Numeric UI improvements - So much critical information is hidden from players, especially things like dodge counters, team ammo levels, etc. It’s great to have this mod.
- Re-Roll Until Rarity - Can’t we just get a drop down menu to pick our perks?
- Player Outlines - so much better options. These were even in the beta at one point!
- ItemSorting - Dear lord, this is so much better for sorting a big inventory
Despite a fairly regular pace of patching and upgrades since mid-February, the game is still swirling around the same fundamental issues it has since release.
And in proper Fatshark fashion, patches often bring a number of irritating and/or unasked for changes alongside welcomed improvements. We’re often having to take some bad with the good, and it’s a shame this always feels like its the case (e.g. the recent Patch #9 made some older Penances easier to achieve (great!) but then made them only achievable in private games - WTF?!).
But to the bigger issues, crafting and RNG-insanity remain frustrating, as is the inability to pick missions at a desired difficulty and intensity and thus get the most enjoyment out of your playtime. We of course don’t know the official metrics but I have to believe people are increasingly getting fed up with these frustrations and simultaneously tired of waiting for new content. It’s not a great spot to be.
This week has the second lowest weekly average peak player counts (5,010) of any week since release (for reference, the lowest was the week of February 15 with a 4,729 average). We’re getting close to rock bottom again - and it feels like it too.