This game is suffering from a severe identity crisis that is holding it back

From the start of the pre-order “beta”, there has been something that feels off about the game for me. For a while I have been struggling to figure out what it was exactly, but now that the game has been “released”, I think I’ve finally nailed it down. In order to better explain, let’s first discuss the two games that Darktide draws the majority of its main elements from.

The first game is Vermintide 2. Because of course. In VT2, you play as one of five heroes in a campaign that has a very clear cut overarching plotline. Rasknitt has employed the help of the Rotblood hordes in order to deploy the Skittergate to take over and destroy Helmgart. All of the main mission paths in the game are very clearly and directly related to the goal of the Ubersreik 5, which is to stop Rasknitt and his Chaos aligned friends at all costs. Pretty much everything in the game flows from this overarching plotline, including the main gameplay loop: a ragtag group of heroes with just enough power to hold their own in the face of overwhelming odds as they fight to accomplish their goals.

When you play the game (even at its launch in 2018 mind you), you choose a specific career with a special ability to fight against the hordes of Skaven and Rotbloods. Many of them might have been broken and buggy at launch, but even so, they had clear very clear intended impacts on the gameplay. Even just standing in the Keep lobby, you could look around at your team composition and clearly see their chosen role for whatever the game was going to throw at you. It was perfectly reflected in the gameplay too. Hearing the Slayer scream “GRIIIIIIMNIIIIIIIR” as he throws himself at Chaos zombies or hearing the Bounty Hunter yell “ROAR, MIGHTY DUO” as he shoots at a Rat ogre, you know exactly what is taking place and the potential impact that it can have has you fight to defeat the enemy. This sort of cohesion gives the gameplay charm, personality and depth and it all relates back to the overarching narrative of the game. It makes the gameplay more enjoyable (for me at least, and I’m sure it does for others too).

The second game is Deep Rock Galactic. In the game, you play as a low level dwarf that is simply fulfilling their role in a much larger “machine” of sorts that has a defined goal in the game’s lore. You choose from 4 classes that have a set kit of weapons and gear to choose from. You pick and choose your loadouts within each class to fit your playstyle. You are given the simple task of accomplishing missions as “management” sees fit. These missions take place across multiple zones of the planet and they rotate. Not only that, but the game uses procedural generation across the zones of the planet to make the environments vary over time. As you play, you can see similar areas but rarely (if ever) will you encounter a mission environment that looks exactly the same. When you play, you use your kit to fulfill your chosen role in order for the team to accomplish the mission. The game really makes you feel like you’re just a lowly dwarf being sent out on mining missions across the planet. Everything is cohesive in terms of the overarching format of the game and the gameplay flows directly from that.

Now let’s take a look at Darktide. In the game, you make a series of character customization choices that ultimately determines…what color of burlap pants the game gives you? I guess you also choose how your voice sounds.

The game also has special abilities for each character. For example, when you play as the Veteran, he/she activates their special ability to…shoot slightly better and faster than usual while babbling about Traxis and Epsilon? When the Zealot uses their special they muster all of their might to…sprint 60% faster for 10 feet? These “special abilities” simply fall flat in the face of the unique abilities that each class had in Vermintide 2 (without even mentioning the fact that this game launched with only 4 main “careers” with no subclasses available).

Now what about the missions? In Darktide you are going out on missions to…do what exactly? I guess I’m out on a particular mission because some Servitor bot wants me to scan trash cans covered in Nurgle gunk. We are supposed to be lowly soldiers in the “machine” of the Imperium’s fighting force being sent out on missions across a hostile hive. But there is no procedural generation for the game’s environments. The “mission conditions” are simply modifiers from Heroic Deeds that are tacked on randomly. Other than that, the missions are the exact same every time. Oh, and there’s something about a traitor amongst the ranks that somehow maybe affects what you’re doing out on your missions? I’m not really sure about that though because the game would just crash whenever a cutscene would start.

From a pure gameplay perspective (the act of just hitting or shooting things), the game is brilliant. But in my mind, the glaring problem with the game as a whole is that it does not know what it wants to be. Does it want to fully embrace the Hero based power fantasy of Vermintide? Or does it want to embrace the “toiling peons” narrative of Deep Rock Galactic? Whichever it may be, as the game currently stands, it accomplishes neither because the gameplay and overarching narrative of the game are not cohesive. And that makes me sad because I think the potential is there.


I agree wholeheartedly. Classes are more boring and mostly less effective, characters (if you can call them that) are less interesting despite the good work on their voice acting, there is no campaign at launch, mission modifiers are boring to tears and almost universally unfun. We can see they paid basic lip service to what made the games you mentioned good but failed to incorporate them properly. But what can we do about it :smiling_face_with_tear:

I will say that I thought Saltzpyre was saying “RAW, MIGHTY DUEL” for the longest time and figured he really, really liked duelling with pistols.


Pretty much.

  • Characters/story feels shallow and uninteresting
  • Classes are watered down
  • While the graphics are nice, I think the art direction needs some help. It is too difficult to distinguish enemies, with most enemies being too “dark” and blends too much into the background. Eating shots from random ranged units, gets annoying very quickly.
  • The game runs like ass

I ended up refunding, since as of now, VT2 is better in every metric.

Thanks for the write-up, very much my feelings at this point.

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As someone who didn’t play Vermintide and came into Darktide with no preconceptions, I’m enjoying the interactions as they are. I LOVE story and lore. I’m “that guy” who won’t skip the cutscenes in a RPG (a single-player one; I won’t hold people hostage in an MMO, of course). However, I don’t feel like a really deep story is necessary for an instance-based, mission-based horde shooter.

Again, it could be my lack of expectations since I didn’t play previous games, but I’m fine with the overarching setup as it is. All I really want to do is get my loot, customize my gear, jump into a mission, slay heretics, get my loot, and repeat.

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Honestly, I think you would love Vermintide 2. It’s become a very good game after all of these years and delivers everything you say you want, except with way more loot, better customization, and missions you can actually choose.

edit: the rats are also heretics haha

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It’s partially a defect of the 40k setting. Which is everything is ginormous and nothing matters, including the events of any given book or game(excepting a handful of main characters in the setting).

See the answer is to ignore the actual settings of the premise and just do a normal character-focused story. Big picture Atoma matters less than a pimple on the emperor’s ass, but this is a terrible thing to focus on when writing an engaging story. The player has to feel that their actions matter to be engaged. While yes, expendable faceless mooks doomed to die in an unending conflict is the official setting of 40k, it’s not terribly engaging to play as. Players need a reason to care.


Was thinking about this compared to VT2 even the maps have no narrative flow. There’s no big set pieces (Skittergate, Bell etc). I really wonder what happened to this game. The soundtrack hints at an overarching narrative so I wonder if this was scrapped for the live service model that we are currently experiencing.

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I guess you could say that.

From my perspective at least, when It comes to horde games story and narrative don’t register as important (especially when I make my own narrative anyway). I sunk about 400 hours into the first 2 Vermintides and dont remember a story or reason I was doing what I was doing. I was only concerned with decapitating my next rat and improving my decapitating potential. I wasnt attached to Kerrilian (Dont get me wrong, she is a cool character), Id sooner be my own character with her build.

Darktide feels the same to me, Except now my character is me and all i want to do is chainsword my next Mauler in half, or burn a sea of chaos

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I think I would have prefered to not have the cutscenes. They were such meaningless blather that they took me out of the experience more than the loading screens lol


More things happened with the environment and maps. Darktide is very static.


Vermintide 1 river reik was a hell of a map


Well summed up.
Content wise this game feels like a step down for the players.
Classes don’t have that many probs when it comes to playstyle enabled by perks. And weapons… aren’t even an release or are class locked.

This game has issues that is for sure and sadly while the gameplay is really good, all the elements around it are so raw Ramsay might be summoned from the warp to say this is RAW


I wasn’t at all familiar with any Warhammer universe when I started playing Vermintide 2 and it took me ages to get an understanding for why we did what we did. When I grew invested in the game I started re-listening to Olesya’s debriefs and piecing things together, and eventually I made sense of it. I would say that Vermintide 2 was very lacking when discussing the main story-line, but was really good at creating interesting characters (despite a few voice lines that played in the wrong context).

I do agree that the game has an identity crisis though. I think there are two parts to it, and that they make sense in the context of the quote.

  1. There is this other thread talking about the Moebian Sixth and how we never get introduced to them, but instead have to learn about them ofrom utside of the game (blog post). That really does not make sense at all. We could’ve gotten major context in literally any way. We could get index unlock when picking up scriptures/grims/relics (are relics sitll in the game?) with location and some lore tied to that specific area or part of the map, or we could’ve have gotten meaning ful cut-scenes, hub interactions with NPCs, or literally any other kind of storytelling.
  • What I learned during the prologue: From the prologue I learned that Mr Ugly face is some kind of leader of a group of bad people, but he’s also just the dude in the cell next to me. I think that they (the bad guys) attacked the prison transport/spaceship (at least in part) because they wanted to rescue Mr Ugly Face, but other than that I feel pretty clueless. I also learned that bonding with Ms Zola is a really awkward experience and that we only get generic lines during the prologue (played it twice to check).
  1. We get all these cut-scenes that hint at a story, but in retro-spect it feels more like it’s only to introduce you to certain key NPCs (inquisitor, pilot, mech., etc.), as well as to tell you that you reached a new mile-stone by gaining 3 - 4 more levels.
  • What I (didn’t) learn from the cut-scenes: What’s really confusing about the cut-scenes is that you, on the one hand is just this random nobody in a sea of nobodies that are seemingly going through the same process, but at the same time you get tos pend a lot of time with the head honcho and you get personal briefings on a traitor in your midst. I mean, am I one in a million or am I the protagonist? I’m really confused.