Can you try
It is not
When you re-launch the game through steam it should re-create the appdata folder. If its not being created can you double check you’re running steam itself as an administrator? That should launch the game with the necessary persmissions to re-create the appdata folder
Can you try disabling your anti-virus as well as your firewall.
Dont launch the exe directly. You need to go through the launcher or it will fail anyway.
Can you also provide your darktide launcher logs
Check if your anti-virus has the game whitelisted. its possible your AV is constantly file locking which is contributing to long load times