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Warhammer 40,000: Darktide Review

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide Review

I don’t usually play first-person shooters but I have heard nothing but good things about the Warhammer series, so I decided to jump into the deep end and see how I would fare as a total newbie. Warhammer 40,000: Darktide was developed by Fatshark, the same team that worked on Warhammer End Times - Vermintide and its sequel, Warhammer: Vermintide 2. My friend is a huge fan of the series so he gave me a quick recap on what has been going on in the story.

“The God-Emperor” is a powerful psyker who tried to unite mankind. In his servitude to the human race, he eventually created some super soldiers that eventually revolted against him, who declared him a tyrant. During the way they knocked The Emperor down a peg, effectively turning him into a vegetable. Now he’s been on life support for 30,000 years. Crazy religious nuts formed a cult around The Emperor. Some people turn to the bad gods for succor because they offer more than just a (very short) lifetime of toil and slavery. Lots of aliens, heretics, fights, war, etc. Life is basically just used to fuel the war machine to keep the enemies at bay. With its grim and dark setting it’s perfect for the holiday season!”

Fatshark Darktide 4

Now that I am up to speed, it’s time to jump into the game. I expect to find bugs and other issues that the team will work on the first few weeks, so I will be sure to keep that in mind as I play. The one thing that I am hoping for is faster load times and improved server connections so you aren’t getting kicked out of matches before or right after they start!

Warhammer opens with a beautiful cinematic informing the player that they are a prison inmate and that they have to help fight in the war against the heretics to prove their worth to the Imperium and their loyalty to the Emperor. First you will create the character that you will play as. There are four classes from the Warhammer existing universe to select from: Psyker: Psykinetic, Veteran: Sharpshooter, Ogryn: Skullbreaker, and Zealot: Preacher. The Psyker is your magic-wielding character, they are good for crowd control and powerful blast attacks. They can easily be overwhelmed with psychic corruption if their magic build-up isn’t expelled — remember, such powers come at a cost and can kill the wielder if they are greedy with them. The Veteran is a long range shooter that takes down enemies from afar, while the other characters get in close to perform melee attacks. The Veteran also has a frag grenade that can be used to hit enemies not in their line of sight or around corners. The Veteran is great for taking down the enemy with accuracy as long as you take the time to line up your shots. The Ogryn is a tank, and the character that I chose to play as. He is essentially made to absorb the fire from enemies and to charge into the action to take down adversaries with melee attacks or with his shotgun. The Ogryn is great for keeping the masses of enemies and bosses occupied while the other characters work on clearing the objective, he has super tough skin so attacks do less damage. The last class is the Zealot; equipped with a combat axe and an auto pistol, the Zealot is made for close up melee attacks. When at low health, the more aggressive the Zealot gets the more damage they will inflict on the enemy.

Fatshark Darktide 6

Once you have selected your class, you will get to customise your character's look. I found the customisation options to be a bit lacking, and every character has over-the-top exaggerated features. Since I selected Ogryn for my class, I only had male faces to select from. I know female Ogryn are rarely used in Warhammer lore, but it would be cool to have a She-Hulk type character, who could be big and strong — but male Ogryns are currently what we have. There are options for head size and structure, facial hair, voice, hairstyle and colour, along with how many scars and tattoos your character has (if any). Your clothing style and colour is determined by the reason you are in prison which you will get to select from four different options: sedition, dereliction of duty, misplaced faith, and insubordination. I just selected based on the prison garb that I liked the most. Finally you get to name your character, or hit random and see what names the games suggest. The game suggested Dragbo so I went with that one as it reminded me of Drago from the Rocky movie. Warhammer 40k: Darktide also lets you select which of the eight planets your character is from, along with five descriptions of what their childhood was like. I’ve never played a game that lets you select this, it will impact how your character interacts with others during the game.

Now that your character is created, it is time to play through the story prologue and you get to do some basic and advanced training. As I have never played a Warhammer game I made sure to play through both so that I would be prepared for the battles to come and be useful to the other members of my team. Warhammer is not a single-player experience, you will be working with two or three other people to complete the available missions. If you decide to try and go off on your own — lone-wolf style — you will not have a good time, the game makes sure to punish players like that. If there are no allies near you, you will not get the coherency bonuses that give you a chance of survival against the hordes of enemies. If you try to do your own thing and you are overwhelmed there will be no one to save you — you are screwed. Missions can be played with friends or with other random players. At the time of writing, during the beta there is no solo mode or bots to play with. Everyone can use the character they created, there is no rule saying you can’t have a team full of Psykers, though you may have a more challenging time than if you have a team with more varied strengths. There are a selection of missions to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty, ranging from sedition level one to damnation level five. The more challenging missions won’t be unlocked until you level up and raise your “trust level”, so it will take some work to get to that point. The current missions are on a timer and will change when the time runs out so if there is a mission you are interested in tackling, be sure to try it before it cycles out. The missions all consist of a core layout: go here, do a thing, and escape. Once you complete a few of these, you will know exactly what to do, but this doesn’t mean that it will be a cake-walk. A lot of different variables will affect how smoothly the mission goes, adding plenty of replayability to the title.

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A game that relies so much on teamwork can become incredibly frustrating when it has issues connecting to servers before and during missions. The load times are quite slow, so once you finally get to play it sucks when you randomly get booted out. I had better luck when I played the game on the Steam Deck as it felt to load quicker than my gaming laptop but connection issues would still pop-up. I am hoping that this will improve as time goes on and patches/fixes are released for Darktide. Nonetheless, the rounds I did play with random people online were a lot of fun. If you don’t feel like attempting a full mission you can select quick play which will put you on a team that only has three players so you can help them complete the mission that they have already started. This was a fun way to get used to the controls before I jumped into a full mission and annoyed my fellow teammates.

If you are a fan of close combat and melee, you are going to love fighting in Darktide. I have only played as an Ogryn and his primary attack is bashing the enemy with a club/knife or using attacks like uppercuts. Due to the large size you can knock the enemy down by pushing right through them and he can take a lot of damage. The secondary attack is using a shotgun, the problem with shooting is the insanely slow reload times and even when using the sights it didn’t feel very accurate. Most of the time I would just shoot in the general direction and hope to hit something, which actually worked quite well when there was a huge horde of heretics running at me. Be on the lookout for ammo crates as it’s pretty much guaranteed the members of your team will take as much as they can, especially if they are playing as a Veteran. I was fine leaving the ammo for them and using my trusty club.

Fatshark Darktide 10

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a gorgeous looking game, and that is even with the graphics options on my laptop set to low and ray-tracing turned off. It must look incredible if you have a top-of-the-line machine! I found that the game looked even better on the Steam Deck, but that makes sense because it is newer and because of the screen size. The music does not disappoint and it is on the same level as the visuals. The sound effects of guns firing, the yelling and groaning of the enemy really make you feel like you are right there taking down the heretics with your team!

If you are a fan of first-person shooters, or games where you work with a team to take the enemy down, you are sure to enjoy Warhammer 40:000: Darktide. But be aware of the connection issues, and the slow loading times. There are constant updates and patches being put out to improve the performance so if these issues really bother you, you may want to wait until everything is worked out.

8.00/10 8

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a beautiful-looking and sounding game with fun team-combat, even for players who are new to the universe. There are some issues with loading times and connectivity that are sure to be patched in the future.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alana Dunitz

Alana Dunitz

Staff Writer

Lover of all games, old and new!

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