Warhammer 40K: Darktide lets you purge heresy from the land and gives you the chance to play with 3 friends, making the purging so much better. Darktide is a game that I’ve been following ever since its first teaser two years ago. You can read my preview of this game here. I have become an avid miniature painter because of this game, even though I’m sure that I won’t find time to play the game itself. After spending quite some time with Darktide, I’m now going to relate how I feel about this game.
First and foremost, I wish to shout from the top of my lungs that THIS GAME IS AMAZING! Now that I got that out of my system, let’s start off with the game’s basics. Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a co-op, mission-based first-person shooter. Players choose from one of four available classes, each with their own skills and specialties. After creating a character, the player can start queueing up for missions in the game’s central hub.
When you choose a mission, you are matched with three others, placing them in teams of up to four players. If there aren’t enough human players, the game will fill the number with bots. The team must then go through the level, accomplishing the mission (and the occasional side mission). After finishing the mission, the players return to the hub, upgrade their weapons, and repeat.
For this review, I switched up my lovable psyker to a Veteran Sharpshooter character, hailing from the destroyed planet of Cadia. As a Veteran Sharpshooter, it’s my job to take down the elite enemies that spawn during missions. When they’re not around, I help out by clearing out the other filthy heretics. Although this game is a first-person shooter, just like in the Vermintide series you also get into a lot of melee combat, and it shows in Darktide. I and my trusty shovel were splitting skulls and purging the lands of the unworthy.
Seeing the head and body parts of heretics fly off with every weapon swing felt very pleasing. I never felt like my shovel, then later on in the game, my chain sword was useless. When I tested out the Power Sword, I was able to cleave armored enemies easily, but the feel of the huge chain sword was too good to pass up.
Now when it came to ranged combat, each of the ranged weapons in this game felt amazing to use, albeit in different situations. Whenever I needed to clear a mission seriously, using the automatic-firing Autogun and Recon Lasgun helped in clearing out large hordes of enemies. Now and then I would use the Helbore Lasgun to snipe out distant foes.
If I felt like contributing a little more to the cleansing of unclean, I would use the Emperor-blessed Boltgun, which fired mini-rockets at the unworthy spawn. Although melee combat is the main focus, the game’s gunplay is still amazing, especially when fighting hordes of filthy heretical cultists.
Now unlike a lot of other first-person shooters, the gameplay relies heavily on the fun of carving your way through hordes of enemies. Warhammer 40,000: Darktide does not fall short on this at all. The level designs lend greatly to the atmosphere. Darktide’s setting, the Hive City of Tertium, is a dark and somber place, and you feel that as you roam its streets, buildings, and sewers.
This is amplified by the enemies, who are mostly Nurgle cultists. Nurgle, for those not familiar with Warhammer 40,000 Lore, is the chaos god of disease and decay. You see this in the maggot-infested enemies, with their faces falling off as they screamed Nurgle’s name.
But what really brings the game together is the music. This game’s sound design makes sure that there is never a dull moment in the game. It slows down when you’re just walking through the city, and it picks up as soon as more enemies show up. Not to mention boss battles, where the music especially goes hard. This is thanks to Jesper Kyd, who made this amazing soundtrack to kill heretics too. This is especially true for Disposal Unit (Imperium Remix), which plays during boss fights. If that doesn’t make you want to take on chaos cultists, I don’t know what will.
Darktide does a really great job at setting the tone, mood, and atmosphere for a Warhammer 40k game. I, however, have two major problems with it. The first is that after a while, the game does become a grinding game. The novelty is there, and I found myself playing it for hours at a time. Once you reach around level 20, though, the game just becomes a quest to upgrade your equipment. Every mission, I go to the shop, and I check if there are weapons stronger than my current ones. If there were, I would buy it. If I couldn’t afford it, I would run missions until I could. This just loops again and again and again. Eventually, playing it alone wasn’t as fun anymore. Playing with friends does make it more fun, but this lack of a good endgame is one of the game’s weak points.
The other major problem I have with Darktide is that the story is lacking. Yes, the cutscenes are nice and well-voiced, and the in-mission interactions were great. The problem is that they’re so spaced out that you can actually forget that the game has a story. I would be playing the game for an hour or so, and then suddenly get surprised by a cutscene. There’s so much lore and beautiful stories in Warhammer 40,000 lore, and I wish they had tapped into this part a lot more for this game.
To summarize this review, Darktide’s gameplay and story are an entry point to the Warhammer 40k universe. The game nicely represents the grimdark atmosphere of the franchise and manages to capture the brutality of that universe. Darktide’s gameplay mechanics like the combat system are amazing, but the gameplay loop does leave me wanting something more. Darktide’s story itself is nice, but it would be better if we had more of it. This game has potential, and if Fatshark gives it the same treatment it gave Vermintide, this has the potential to become the game of the year. Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is out now on Steam or Windows for $39.99 and is worth every penny. You can also get the Imperial Edition for $59.99.
This review was written based on a PC review code for Warhammer 40,000: Darktide.