The item progression system, and why it feels bad

The item progression system in the Beta is absolutely horrible, and it’s keeping the game from being as fantastic as it could be.

For starters, overall progression is a bit slow. But what makes progression feel really horrible is the fact that you constantly feel like you hardly have any agency over what you’re being “allowed” to play, and how it feels like you can’t really influence progression at all. It doesn’t feel like the progression is something you are working towards, but rather like something that just happens to you regardless of your effort.

This is because new gear is gated behind both RNG, and time limits (inventory refresh / limited weekly quest reward currency). The RNG also makes it so that you have no real control over what weapon type you can play on the highest difficulty you can handle, because you’ll need the item power for that. And the time-limit means that you aren’t held back by resources but rather by having to arbitrarily wait before there is a chance the weapon you want comes into rotation. And sometimes you get a big upgrade out of nowhere, and sometimes you don’t get anything useful or more powerful for ages and there’s nothing - no amount of effort - that can change that. It feels as if it was all deliberately designed to be as frustrating as can be… Completely baffling…

I just can’t get over the fact that Darktide’s progression is simply worse than Vermintide’s (already impopular) progression system in every single possible way. In Vermintide the crafting system at least gave you a measure of agency over what weapons you could try / play during progression, as the crafting system let you make a decent version of the new weapons you just unlocked right away. No such thing in Darktide. And in Vermintide the rate your power increased was directly proportional to the speed you could finish levels. In Darktide it doesn’t feel like the correlation is that clear at all.

These things, together with the fact that unlike in Vermintide you can’t use aquired resources to help level an alt, really disincentivise trying out other classes. I can’t imagine that this is going to be good for the health of the game beyond the first month. It will only lead to worse player retention, as people who are getting bored with their initial class would rather just play another game instead of grinding out another class through a progression system that is anti-fun, doesn’t respect player agency, and generally feels unrewarding.

I really hope that a proper crafting system just isn’t in the Beta yet, but will be in the full game. (Whatever happened to those “plasticsteel” pickups and such from the last Beta anyways?) Or else this game is going to be received as merely mediocre instead of awesome.