Right now DRMs are underwhelming, but we are also just starting a round of story with a different pacing than we have seen. A lot of modifications can, and likely will, be made to DRMs. Here are my thoughts on how they could evolve.
Somewhere in the giant pile of messages from the studio, they mentioned the ability to upgrade our DRM NPC allies. I see 4 possible upgrade avenues: gear, skills, stats and appearance. There are two ways to earn upgrades, individual work and community work. Upgraded NPC gear would be earned by individual players. When grouped for DRMs, the player with the highest unlocked gear determines the gear upgrade for the instance. Skills and stats would be unlocked and upgraded by the community using current tech. For instance, the community would get 6 days to progress through tiers with each tier unlocking a stat increase. For skills, the community would get 6 days to upgrade the stats of a skill that becomes available after the timer expires. The work from individual players unlocking gear upgrades could be mapped to the community unlocks.
Appearance would be a little harder to manage. We would need named NPC heroes. Thankfully we can use this model to make or find them! Make a new NPC or use an existing B or C list character. Build and upgrade their stats, gear, skills, and appearance using a combination of community work and ranked choice voting. As the story progresses the community could choice the fate of the heroes. Are they stationed permanently somewhere or do they move on through a side story?
The potential of DRMs really shows when we consider a zone built just for this model. The zone would have a spectrum of possible upgrades. When the episode begins, we would begin assigning our work to different goals. At the end of the episode, we could compile all the player and community work and votes into the end form of the zone. As long as the story can be replayed, the only thing that can't be replayed is the community working towards a specific goal. New community goals would arrive.