Warhammer 40K: Darktide's had a bit of an unusual launch: throughout a two-week pre-order beta, developer Fatshark rolled out a selection of new missions and features alongside frequent bug fixes. One obvious missing ingredient was the crafting system—and on launch day, it was still mostly missing. Only one of four aspects of the crafting system is currently available, with the rest labeled "Open soon!" This hasn't sat well with some players, who've pointed out that the premium cosmetic store was ready for launch, but crafting wasn't. So I talked to Fatshark's lead developers about why they made that call.
"The amount of time we've spent on the store compared to the crafting system is just a fraction. I actually think we spent too little time on the premium store—we should've spent more time getting the bundles right," said Fatshark co-founder Martin Wahlund. (Wahlund is referencing a feature in the store that will allow players to buy the exact amount of premium currency they need, which Fatshark explained was accidentally left out).
Victor Magnuson, Fatshark's head of design, detailed why the crafting system wasn't ready for launch: it needed a redo.
"We had another crafting system that we realized just wasn't good enough," he said. "So we ripped it out and started over, and created a completely new crafting system which will be much much better. When we took that decision, it was not a happy day in the office. But we felt that we had to do it. And it's going to come, and it's going to come very soon."
According to Wahlund, part of Fatshark's focus with Darktide has been on the longterm life of the game. He said the studio made "some errors" early in development of 2018's Vermintide 2 that affected new features they could add and things they could change throughout its life.
"If we release a system and it's in there and people are using it, it's really, really hard to rip that system out and replace it with another system," Magnuson said. "People have already invested in the previous system. And from a backend perspective it's going to be a nightmare. From the player experience, it's going to be really bad. So if we released the game with a borked crafting system and decided we needed to redo it, that's major surgery, and we don't want to do that. It was a really tough call, but I think in the end players will agree it was the right call. Of course, they're never going to know how bad the original crafting system was, but it wasn't as good as this one."
How Darktide's crafting will work
During our interview, game director Anders de Geer broke down each step of the crafting system, which Fatshark intends on rolling out step-by-step.
Consecration: Upgrading the rarity of a weapon. Unlike in Vermintide 2, upgrading will not roll a new, random version of that weapon with higher rarity. It's more controlled. De Geer: "You have the base rating of a weapon where you can see how much of the total 'budget' of the weapon is dedicated to damage or handling or ammunition, that kind of stuff. That is not changed when you upgrade a weapon. So if you have a white weapon with 90% allocated to damage, if you upgrade that to orange, 90% of the total value will still be allocated to damage. So a white weapon with a high damage percentage will be an orange weapon with high damage when you upgrade it, which is a huge difference from Vermintide."
Refine Item: Rerolling perks on weapons—the passive stats like 20% damage bonus against armored enemies, and so on.
Earn Blessing: Yanking a specialized trait off a weapon. De Geer: "You can actually extract traits and move them between weapons. So they are in a sense like gems. You can take a trait out of a weapon and place it on another weapon. So that's a way for people to get the combination of traits that they want. And traits have rarities, with three tiers."
Combine Blessings: This feature lets you combine those traits into higher rarity tiers. If you find a rarity one trait and a rarity two trait, you can combine them into a maxed out rarity three trait. De Geer: "It's a way of upgrading, if you find the right trait but it's not rolled to be the highest tier. Then you can put it on your favorite weapon."
Re-Bless: Placing that trait you worked so hard to level up onto the weapon of your choice.