I don’t know why I’m writing this. Sometimes daydreaming is therapeutic. So here we go.
I’ve already enumerated (here) the issues I and other community members have with DARKTIDE, most notably around the progression, gear/item, and mission system. Instead of rehashing that I’m going to jump straight into describing a conceptual framework for how I’d like all of this to work if I was behind the drivers seat.
When it comes to character skills and leveling up, I’d love to see a mix of payday 2 type skill trees combined with character-archetype specific skill trees. What would this look like?
I imagine having a series of small skill-trees that are each tied to a specific set of gameplay mechanisms. So, you could have skill sets for:
- Sword melee weapon skills
- Axe melee weapon skills
- Blunt melee weapon skills
- Staff/polearm melee weapon skills
There’d also of course be skill trees for different ranged weapon types: auto guns, pistols, bolters, lasguns, plasma, etc. There can also be some generalist skill trees that aren’t tied to weapons - things like easier carrying, faster movement, better jumps or dodges, increased health, “armor” bonuses to toughness, etc.
Each of these skill sets would function as a mini-skill tree (similar to payday 2) where it would build on some of the base characteristics of the associated weapon types and grant you improved capabilities within those weapons. Better cleave or stagger, special bonuses to push attacks, higher mobility (move sped, dodging, etc).
As you level up your character (say level 30 is the max) you’d get a skill point at each level that you can apply towards skills across the different trees. You’d be hard-capped at a certain number of points (eg 30), and the idea would be that within then trees you’d have to make some decisions about how far down a particular branch you invest versus spreading points around to get access to more abilities but at a lesser level of effectiveness.
You could of course respec and reassign skill points freely.
When it comes to the Character/Archetypes (i.e. Veteran, Ogryn, Psyker, Zealot), these would each have 2-3 unique skill trees associated with them, that tie into their unique/core functions and ultimate and grenade abilities. Each would have a tree that ties uniquely into toughness (eg temporary HP) management to give them a different play style flavor.
Psykers for example could have one skill tree focused around peril management and different effects for being at high/low peril. This could also tie into the customizing the effect of their ultimately ability - letting you tailor it from a huge peril discharge that damages enemies to a team buff ability that imbues your teammates with psychically enhanced attacks (just examples). Psykers could have another tree dealing with warp charge generation and how brain burst functions. And then they’d have a tree focused around defensive abilities and how they generate toughness and/or around use of force staves (as a unique weapon tree).
Same could be done with the other careers, having a tree focused on their unique weapon options, their ultimate ability, and other unique mechanics.
I’d completely ditch item level and the need to eventually get higher rating/power level gear. As you level up (say through the first 15 levels) your access to different base weapons would gradually unlock. You would then have to spend some gold to purchase a license to access a given weapon (and specific variations you wanted). Once you had access, you could get multiple copies of the base weapon at will (or paying a nominal gold cost).
Variations within a given weapon would not be randomized (as they are now) but would instead be distinct, named variations of a given weapon weapon with a deliberately designed distribution of stats. Most weapons would NOT have variations in the core damage output (since people will just min-max to that), but the variations would tie into other attributes (mag size, reload speed, ready speed, stamina, dodge distance, etc.)
All weapons would be customizable using a slot based crafting/mod system. Sticking with the series paradigm, you can install up to two mods that contain a “property” effect (eg +X% damage vs Y) as well as slots for up to two blessings/traits. I would ALSO have some special function mod slots depending on the type of weapon. All ranged weapons would have slot for different types scopes/sights (reflex, zoom, iron sights, etc), as well as an accessory slot (laser sight, bayonets, flash light, etc).
Crafting mods would require both having a copy of the mod “part” you want to install, as well as paying a modest resource cost (could be gold or crafting materials scavenged from the map). You’d acquire crafting materials as you do now.
As for acquiring mod parts, these would show up as potential mission rewards (more on mission rewards in a bit) but could also be purchased directly from the tech priests using the fancy/premium currency you get from competing quests/assignments. Two of the same mod item could also be refined/combined to get a better version of it in a RNG-less manner.
I’d also love to see a system where certain feats DURING A MISSION have a chance to reward each person in the team with with a mod part (or blessing). What if each time you picked up a Grim it would notify the team that it contained a blessing. If you bring the grim successfully through the mission, the whole team gets the blessing. How cool would that be? Scripts could work the same (albeit with a lower chance). What if every elite ranged unit has a small chance to drop a ranged weapon mod? Each melee elite a chance to drop a melee weapon mod? A copy of these mods could drop for each team member so there isn’t loot fighting. Killing bosses would reward you with a bonus chance to get a special mod reward at the end of the mission.
FYI - All cosmetics for weapons (and the player body) would be tied specifically to penances feats. Having some basic choices available for purchase with gold is fine too.
All in all, the idea here is that characters level up and have a wide range of skills, some shared and some unique to the archetype that they gain access to. Every level up gives you a skill point to invest. You’ll automatically get access to different weapons/items as you level up, but would use your gold to purchase individual copies that you could then go on to modify. The mod system is then the only source of RNG, but there are ways to purchase things you want directly as a workaround to waiting for something specific to drop.
It goes without saying that all gear, currencies, and resources would be shared across your characters. Obviously some gear is unique to certain characters (ogryn stuff, psyker stuff, certain other weapon types, etc) - but I think people understand that.
The mission selection screen should provide a range of randomly generated missions with a base primary mission, always one secondary objective, and 0-2 mutators. Any pre-rolled mission should be playable at any desired difficulty level (basically this is exactly how Deep Rock Galactic does it). You can of course hit quickplay or select your own mission parameters.
Let’s break this down:
First of all, every mission should have some sort of secondary mission objective that gives a bonus for competing it and has a strong incentive for doing so. Scripts and Grims need to tie into tangible rewards (ie as described above for providing mods). How about “monster hunting” where you need to locate some special trigger on the map, and it provides a guaranteed boss fight (with a commensurate reward). There could be special that requires finding and lugging a power pack through a chunk of the level, and and when hooked up opens a room with a special chest reward. Or carry barrels to blow open a passage way into some forgotten corner to find an artifact. So much potential to explore here.
When it comes to selecting a mission relative to secondaries, you can pick a pre-rolled mission or a partially customizable one. I’d use something where you either pick the mission overall and get a randomly generated secondary, or pick the secondary and get a randomly assigned mission. Or let you could pay some special “token” (eg for every completed pre-rolled mission you complete you earn a token) to run a specific mission and define all the parameters you want.
Next would be the mutators / difficulty modifiers. There should be a nice pool of mutators (for discussion sake just consider all of the possible mutators from winds of magic and chaos waste effects). The pre-rolled missions could have one or more mutators assigned, or of course you could spend a token to define what exact mutators you want to run with. When hitting the quickplay button, you select the difficulty you want, but could also define the number mutators you’ll accept (0 -2). Quick play would put you into a pre-rolled or customized mission so long as it met your quick play parameters.
Mutators would provide fixed rewards, such as additional normal/special currencies, bonus crafting resources, or an increased chance for a mod reward, etc.
As a final mission element, I’d love to see the weekly assignments work such that you have an option to pick one of three “operations”, that would provide you with a fixed reward (eg a mod or blessing). The track would require doing a sequence of specifically pre-rolled missions (again similar to Deep Rock where your active “assignment” is a sequence of specific missions). This would encourage a baseline amount of players running the pre-rolled missions.
You could only have one active operation going at a time and when you compete it another set is randomly generated (maybe you can only have one generated per day max). But in this way, depending on your availability to play the game, you can lock in a reward you’re going for and word towards it over however long it takes. If something juicier comes along you can abandon your current operation and jump to a different one. I’d also be down with operations offering up occasional cosmetic rewards or resources as well as mods/blessings.
Overall, I’d love to see changes like this that has a nice pace to progression and gives players something fun to work towards, but that dosen’t make players slaves to RNG or over-the-top levels of grind. I feel like the above would strike a nice balance while staying within the spirit and structure of the current game.