I love the concept of the hybrid combat in Darktide, and on Malice dealing with threats at all ranges is a lot of fun; it’s almost where it needs to be. However, I think the way ranged enemies are currently implemented, especially in Heresy/Damnation, is just not good for the game in the long term and is a significant problem that should be addressed. It drags the gameplay down so much, sometimes causing missions to almost take an hour to finish, and they don’t feel rewarding to clear out like hordes or specials.
It also severely detracts from the melee gameplay, and throws the whole idea of hybrid combat out the window when 80% of a mission is dealing with a shooting gallery. This all easily creates burnout and frustration for long time players. Imo, there are three contributing factors to this:
The damage and stagger is FAR too punishing. Trying to break into a group of ranged enemies just for them to 180, melt your health and stunlock you is unbelievably frustrating. I think the burst fire on mobs aggravates this even more. I don’t think ranged fire should stagger players at all, and the damage should be toned down quite a bit.
Suppressive fire and closing into melee barely works, and the ranged enemies are really hard to identify while in a heavy battle. It is incredibly obnoxious to get knocked out of a charged attack or sprint by a shooter you can’t see or who should have drawn their melee weapon.
The biggest issue by far is the sheer volume of ranged enemies creating a shooting gallery in every big area of a mission. It’s fine to have a squad or two of traitor guard attack you during a horde, but when the horde is the traitor guard it’s an absolute slog fest. Malice difficulty is much like VT2 in it’s momentum, where you’re more or less always on the move and slicing through hordes with some gunfights sprinkled in, but the high end content consistently forces you to stop and engage the troopers slowly as if it was a tactical shooter; completely at odds with the other half of the combat system. It just doesn’t feel good to play and makes for a miserable gameplay experience. It’s not challenging, just slow, painful and annoying.
The volume of ranged enemies should be seriously toned down, by like 50% at least, and I feel as though it would be a vast improvement (and more thematic) if they were treated as specials that worked as cohesive squads, instead of acting as normal, independent horde-type enemies. Each squad could have a sergeant that you can tag for your team to make being aware of shooters and dealing with them more intuitive and engaging. As it stands right now, playing the higher difficulties and dealing with the mobs of shooters is like pulling teeth, and it isn’t good for the long term health of the game as it will easily burn out endgame players.