Warhammer 40,000: Dark Tide (opens in new tab) developer Fatshark has sent out an “open letter” to players apologizing for the state of the game and announcing that it will delay the launch of future content updates and the Xbox Series X/S release to focus on improving the underlying systems of the game and achievements.
We gave Darktide an 80% in our Review December 2022 (opens in new tab), calling it “the best iteration of Fatshark’s cooperative formula yet.” But we also noted that, as good as the basic gameplay is, Darktide still needed work: the crafting system wasn’t fully implemented yet, and some players reported serious stability and performance issues.
“Sure you can upgrade weapons, but if that’s all you can do, that really limits your buildcrafting potential, and thus your ability to push through to the highest difficulty,” wrote reviewer Sean Martin.
“For some, difficulty is an advancement in itself as they strive to get better at the game, but buildcrafting goes hand in hand with that progression, and without having to strive for your own specific upgrade goals or materials, once you at trust level 30, you quickly run out of things to do.”
Similar complaints recur in Steam User Reviews (opens in new tab), of which nearly 8,400 have been posted in the past 30 days, most of them negative. The situation is especially ugly when compared to the very positive response to Fatshark’s previous game, the co-op shooter Warhammer: Vermintide 2 (opens in new tab).
A few choice notes:
- How can a game be released without so much UX? Story (if you can call it that) doesn’t exist, half of the crafting options haven’t been implemented yet (at the time of writing this review), item progression is time-bound, and most of the cool cosmetics are locked behind a real money store. Have I paid full price for a freemium monetization model that most mobile gacha games use?
- Let me get it straight: the basic gameplay is really fun when the game works. Combat is meaty and visceral, and it feels great to play with your friends. That said… nothing in this game is finished or works well and the developers are extremely dishonest and continue to lie to the community all the time.
- I absolutely cannot recommend this game in its current state. It has the potential to be a very, very good game, but the developers are incompetent, so I don’t expect any major improvements for now.
- Really nice when it works, and as long as you’re okay with it being VERY barebones. But my game has been crashing constantly since December. It feels really bad when you’re half way through a map only to have the game freeze and then close. I love playing this game but I literally can’t.
- The gameplay is fine and would even be great if the performance wasn’t terrible. Everything else about this game is just an ill-conceived mess.
- It’s missing the “Early Access” tag lol
It’s worth noting that many of the negative reviews include hundreds of hours of gameplay, which I always find a little suspicious. But that dichotomy reflects a widespread opinion about the state of the game that goes back to our review: there’s real potential, but it needs work, and Fatshark hasn’t communicated well with its players.
Fatshark acknowledged in today’s update that it “couldn’t comply [player] expectations.”
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“In the coming months, our sole focus will be to address the feedback many of you have [provided]said Fatshark. “We will particularly focus on delivering a complete crafting system, a more rewarding progression loop, and continue to work on game stability and performance optimization.
“This also means we will be postponing our seasonal content rollout and the launch of the Xbox Series XS. We will also be suspending upcoming releases of premium cosmetics. We just couldn’t continue down this path knowing we haven’t addressed many areas of feedback in today’s game.”
Reply to the message Steam Notes (opens in new tab) is mixed: some users welcome the apparent change in direction, others say it’s too late to make a difference, and of course the “we’ll believe it when we see it” contingent is also well represented.
The only advantage for Fatshark is that Darktide is maintaining decent player numbers for now: according to Steam cards (opens in new tab), there are currently more than 7,100 people playing. The less rosy counterpoint, however, is that the number of players isn’t much higher than that of the five-year-old Vermintide 2, which currently has nearly 5,800 players.