Warhammer 40,000: Darktide – Difficulty Explanatory Guide

There are some very common and unfortunate misunderstandings relating to the 1- to 5-pip difficulty ratings on missions… And it’s leading a lot of folks into really tilted, unpleasant games which almost certainly end in failure.

Difficulty Explanation

The misconception…

The first level of difficulty (1-pip) is not “easy mode”.

It’s suitable for folks starting the game up til around trust level 12 or 14; around which most players will be using primarily white- and green-rarity gear.

Do not skip this difficulty level straight to 2-pip or 3-pip missions on the basis of “being a skilled and accurate shooter” or somesuch. The differences in map difficulty is not a matter of skill, but sheer numbers and stats.

Difficulty scaling per pip?

Elite enemies spawned at the same moment, the size and number of grunt swarms, as well as the amount of medium and heavy armor units mixed into said swarms…

These are things which are kicked up a notch per difficulty pip.

Typically, in 1-pip missions you will see an elite or two spawned together…

  • In 2-pip missions, you’ll almost always find two elites spawned at once, maybe a third lesser sort such as a dog or mutant to try and throw off the squad.
  • In 3-pip missions, you’ll regularly see 3 elite units spawned at once… Maybe two special units on the side in addition.

Beyond this, things start to get rather nutty. 4-pip and 5-pip missions are “hardcore” and “hell” respectively. Neither should be attempted unless you’re fully-leveled as a character and have the best possible gear you can acquire, in terms of both rarity, item/class perk synergy and so on.

…So until the full launch is out and we can modify gear, or you get god-rolls on it all, you should probably wait on that.

In summary…

Do not misunderstand the pips and the difficulty they imply.

Do not feel ashamed of playing 1-pip or 2-pip, they take up the majority of about the first few days of play as you work to level up and get higher-rarity gear with levels to match.

Typically, you’ll want to stick to 1-pip missions at most until you reach about lvl.14… 2-pip missions until lvl.28. When geared up with your favorite and hopefully more effective equipment at this point, you may be more able to challenge 3-pip missions barring special modifiers.

Take your time to learn the game’s mechanics, how to read the HUD and monitor allied health/ammo, etc on the fly. Master your weapons and determine how best to wield them, both which foes and which scenarios they excel against.

Learn their flaws and adopt tactics and styles which compensate.

And most importantly, learn how to operate as a squad.


Do not rush into 2-pip (let alone 3-pip) missions with mere white-rarity, low-level equipment and less than lvl.10 under your belt at least.

“Lone wolves” and “speed-runners” are unacceptable within the ranks of the Astra Militarum.

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  1. I’d argue your ability to clear tier 3 missions is 50% skill and 50% of having right mix of weapons. You need someone to CC, someone with ability to wreck armored opponents and ability to deal with hordes.

    In that sense, entire party of low level players might have fair amount of difficulty clearing tier 3, just because they haven’t unlocked or are using weapons to deal with the enemies they encounter.

    Me and my buddies did tier 3’s before we unlocked our 2nd feat slot. So it’s not all about levels 😛

    • And let’s be honest here; most players are not as skilled and capable as they believe themselves to be… With several being carried hard, but never realizing just how hard they’re carried and simply remaining blissfully ignorant to the fact.

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