Looking at Hedge’s “This isn’t COD nor was it designed to be like COD” response, the implication is that weapon modification and customization wasn’t part of the “design philosophy” just how “crafting weapons doesn’t make sense in the lore.”
But let’s be real. Look at all the Lasgun and Autogun variants that perform differently and are slightly visually distinct due to different weapon furniture, shorter or longer barrels, different stocks, et cetera.
Seems to me that at first, they were building modifications, attachments, and customization options for the weapons. Then as the game’s development failed to meet the initial release date and not wanting to delay the game any further, they scrapped this and went for the anti-player RNG system.
Customizing your weapons with attachments and mods that could have RNG stats and perks would be extremely satisfying and interesting for continued progression and makes perfect sense for the setting. It also would have allowed for easier content expansion. For example, the Bolter in the game could easily receive combi-attachments as part of an update if they went down this route.
And I believe they were going down this route and then switched to what we have now, which is not very interesting! Optimally, you hoard crafting resources not to use as you level up, but once you’re level 30 and can buy the strongest base weapons to upgrade with said crafting resources. The upgrades are not visible, your weapon looks the same as everyone else’s, instead only performing better based on its randomized statistics, perks, and modifiers.
This is honestly the biggest problem with Darktide, in my opinion.
I believe Fatshark is quite focused on player retention as many mechanics in-game are obnoxious and basically malicious, only justified by the possibility of keeping players in-game for as long as possible or to keep them coming back; maybe even every hour. (The weapon shop timer is a prime example)
But honestly, this only works for short-term player retention. What I mean is that most players will level up their preferred classes and acquire at least satisfactory rolls of their preferred weapons. And then there’s not much to progress towards. Fortunately, the core gameplay is fun, so many will keep playing just to play. That box has been checked.
Still, a better way to have gone about it would have been a new - and fitting - weapon progression system since Darktide is a shooter taking place in a setting where there are millions of guns; and bludgeons; and swords; and other deadly instruments.
Let’s take the lasgun as an example. The base lasgun could easily be extremely customizable. Variants already differ in the amount of ammunition, the amount consumed per shot, the damage, the rate of fire, and so on. Moving these variations to parts and mods that the player has control over them would keep players experimenting for hours and hours.
Plus, the RNG could easily be moved onto those parts and mods, making the upgrades just as time consuming as the current RNG bullsh!t, but without being so blatant and with the pay-off being better and more visible.
In addition, the base version of each weapon would have to be viable on their own, creating less situations where new players take bad rolls of iconic weapons into the game and are afterwards a little disappointed.
The RNG parts the player is working towards - buying from that timer shop, finding in missions, maybe - could have positives and negatives, thoughtful trade-offs the player must consider; and perhaps with enough crafting materials and good luck, those negatives could be removed and the weapon itself purely empowered.
Anyway, this kind of system seems to have been the initial intent and then they abandoned it.
We can hope for basic customization, like the ability to put sights and scopes onto the weapons, and maybe we’ll be able to switch out the flashlights and bayonets, but I doubt it.