After seeing a few negative comments about things like e.g. the loot system, I would like to add a different point of view. I am at about 250 hours and 100k kills into Darktide, with 4 lvl 30 chars. Coop games are my favorite type of game nowadays, played all of them since L4D. Despite all the problems the game has, I think i never had that many hours in this type of game, in such a short timespan. So some things are definitely done right and quite a few at that.
I must say, I like how the loot system works so far. The item shop is a good idea. You can’t just grind for a specific item, but whenever you play, you can check the shop for good items and then buy and improve them by crafting, but only to a point. It adds to the game longterm.
Also the idea with the locked perks when refining is fine, in order not to invalidate the shop too quickly. Obviously this system is not the best approach for people who just want to minmax / grind for the best gear and then boast with it by easily doing the hardest difficulty, turning even the hardest level into a boring grind. But the system is great for players that want to enjoy the game and keep returning for a long time. A few more item drops as mission rewards would be nice though and dismantling not needed weapons into crafting material would be very welcome too.
I do hope though that Fatshark is not going to listen to the whiners that complain about the loot/RNG/crafting system, most of which will just move on and abandon the game anyway, after they got what they want. This now is a well thought out system for the long run and does not need more than some fine tuning.
What really pulls down the game for many players though is the performance issues, the game is just too power hungry and especially AMD gpu performance is abysmal. My girlfriend and I can play it fine thanks to FSR, but there is a lot of room for improvement there.
Next point I saw is complains about the cosmetics shop. While I do like the cosmetics shop, I believe that the balance between cosmetics achievable by penances / playing and cosmetics to buy with money, is already now bad and will probably become worse. I did buy some Aquilas and intend to spend more in the long run, but what puts me off a bit is that the prices feel way too high for this type of game and that there are too few cosmetics achievable by other means. It is not a game where you play versus other people competitively or where you see your character the whole time (like for example in LoL). Because of that, prices need to drop by at least 50% if you want me to buy stuff regularely, but you can compensate for the lower prices easily, by adding more cosmetics and simply selling more. Easy sells and most importantly, very little production costs. Make sensible use of that and don’t rely on greed mechanics which seemingly have proven themselves elsewhere.
However, it is very important that at the same time, you add more penances and more penance rewards (skins/frames etc). In my opinion it is super important to keep the balance in favor of the free cosmetics, or you will put off players, lose sales and even lose lots players in the long run.
There are also a lot of obvious penances and rewards missing. Why for example, is there no reward frame for the “all missions on Heresy” penance? Why is there not a seperate penance line for each class for completing all missions on Malice/Heresy/Damnation? You urgently need more penances and more rewards. That’s important to keep the treadmill going. If you combine that with lower prices for the cosmetics, you got a happy playerbase which will happily buy cool cosmetics with which you can regularely update the shop. Don’t strangle the game by adding too little to achieve by gaming.
To counter the excessive loading times, you urgently need two things. For one it should be possible to check the status of your weekly missions of all characters, without changing character. Plus you need to be able to select the char you want to play, when joining a mission. So your char changes automatically when you depart for the mission and you do not have to endure more loading screens.
Another thing that would be great, is a quick way to see the achievements of players. Nice would be also to have filters, when forming a group. Make level or penances a requirement, to get into your lobby for example. At least for the highest difficulty, this is a must have in the long run.
It’s a great game so far, but in some aspects it is dangerously close to becoming problematic for the size of its own player base in the long run. The high number of negative reviews certainly mainly comes from the combination of high difficulty ceiling and bad performance optimisation. Then on top they can’t just easily obtain OP weapons (which would however kill the replayability of the game, so that would be much worse even), so they vent it in the reviews. However player numbers seem fine and if you fine tune things a bit, I’m sure it will stabilize at a decent number of active players, because you did create a gem of a game and with a good eye and much love for the detail. Feel free to contact me for more input.