Vermintide 2 has had many issues with its cosmetic system that made a lot of it fundamentally unappealing, and is a big reason why there is very little on the transaction shop I consider worth purchasing (the prices are also monumentally high). Mismatching outfits and colours, clipping issues, awkward proportions and frumpy ugly looking gear being forced in alongside headwear, such as Kerrilian’s notorious head-sock, which makes most of her hats look terrible and not worth purchasing.
Another aspect I have consistently found personally unappealing are the uncanny and unnatural looking character models themselves, which often make the various hats and outfits available less enticing. Characters skin looks unnaturally coarse like sand-paper, and oily, shiny and plasticine simultaneously, combined with the exaggerated inhuman looking facial proportions, it falls fundamentally into the uncanny valley for me. This was also alongside very low quality looking first person view-models for the characters arms and hands.
I’m disappointed that Darktide’s character modelling actually feels worse and lower quality than Vermintides, especially since there is a huge emphasis placed on the character creator and further monetization of cosmetics.
I don’t understand why so many “triple-A” games do this, but the attempts to “realistically” render skin and pores basically always looks extremely unnatural and inauthentic, and ironically less real than a slightly stylized aesthetic that doesn’t attempt to push hyper-realism. It often feels like the nurgle-tainted Moebian Six and Dregs actually have more appealing character face designs, because it leans further into the fantastical, and ironically feels somewhat less gritty and ugly.
There are visible seams all across the characters body, including the neck, upper arms and shoulder blades, heads often look oversized when framing the scale of the body, and the female characters sharing the same rigging and frame of the male ones make the body proportions look very distorted, and in-game animations additionally look awkward.
Hair and eyebrows are particularly egregious, and look extremely low quality and jagged, which further emphasizes the bizarre contrast with the coarse plasticine skin. Brows look like aliased pieces of straw glued onto the characters, hair looks low resolution and often broken, not to mention the options available look extremely unappealing, and lack any sort of variety. Some of the hair options also inexplicably make the scalp shiny and reflective, and some of them share the same issue the brows do where individual pieces of hair look pasted on.
Skin and hair colours straight up don’t work correctly, the majority do not match the colour previews, and end up looking near identical. Blonde or red hair is impossible, and harsh lighting makes a lot of the skin options look absurdly pallid.
Adding on to that, the various facial sculpts and presets available do not look like real humans, the proportions look hyper-exaggerated on the majority of options, and combined with the mismatched head-scaling and broad shouldered rigging shared with all the models, it adds to the dissonance. Even just looking at the contrast between the behind the scenes footage of the voice actors for the game, the faces shown in the CGI cinematic opening, or just everyone you pass on the street, it looks vastly inferior.
Tying various skin complexion options to the facial presets is also disappointing, as that makes everyone look even more samey and indistinguishable. Almost every single person I’ve played with is using the same small handful of facial presets, so you end up with a huge amount of clones running around using the barely passable options, and most of the character creator ends up going to waste.
The major npcs like Zola and Marrow look like they were made in the same character character, in the cutscenes their skin is extremely shiny, and looks simultaneously blurry, low resolution, and overly detailed. They even have the same jagged broken eyebrows and hair.
What makes all of this even more confusing is that the actual outfits and gear the characters wear, much like in Vermintide, looks gorgeous, and perfectly detailed. You can make out interesting details that are inspired by the culture of 40K and make the various archetypes look distinct and fleshed out.
I’m completely unsure what the planned scope is for the character customization and cosmetic system, and I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a overly high priority in contrast to other elements of the game that need improvement. But I wanted to put some thoughts out there, since the constant attempts at hyper-realism are a consistently pet-peeve of mine in gaming, and I really wish companies would stop doing it, because it never looks good to me.
It would be nice to see some improvement overtime if the character creator is considered important to the player experience.