Warhammer 40,000 Darktide preview: One Hell of a job - MrLiambi's blog


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Thursday 25 August 2022

Warhammer 40,000 Darktide preview: One Hell of a job

There's always room for a little co-op action in the world of gaming.

After its traditional, fantasy-themed Warhammer: Vermintide games, developer Fatshark is turning to the world of Warhammer 40,000 next. And, we've gone hands-on at Gamescom 2022. 

Plus ça change 

Darktide transplants more of the same gory and chunky combat from Vermintide's quasi-medieval setting into the grimdark future, with each player taking control of a prisoner tasked with the worst of janitorial jobs. 

You'll make your way through levels infested with mindless ravers and a variety of more threatening enemy types, ticking off objectives and trying to survive regular swarms of enemies. 

So far, so familiar - Vermintide was already a known quantity even before you consider that it was straight out of the Left 4 Dead playbook. 

The thing is, though - that's fine. It's a formula that has worked before and works very nicely again right here. Levels that you can get through fairly quickly make for easily-digested chunks of game; and co-op makes everything more fun. 

Admittedly, the section we played through didn't exactly bring new ideas to the table - bar for some slightly complicated layouts to work your way through - but the more important factor is that the combat itself feels great.

The impact of your shots (whether from a gun or staff) is just hefty as anything, and you've got a few abilities to juggle while you do so, including a bit of dodging using the jump button.

The game therefore flows together really nicely. And, as long as your squad sticks together (which can be a struggle when bots get involved), it feels really good to manage the flow of enemies between you.

Characters to choose 

We played as a mage character whose staff attacks had to be managed against a Peril meter that needed regular venting. It's a fun mechanic that actually changed how we had to play and plan out attacks. 

Other characters promise more gunplay, and those weapons pack real punches. The actual character models are fantastic too, oozing personality and the sort of gross quirks that Warhammer fans love. 

This extends to the voice acting too. The chatter between characters as you move through levels is fun and witty enough to not be grating. It remains to be seen if there's enough variety to sustain replays but, for now, we're won over. 

Playing through a single level (and getting completely monstered more than once) gave us every reason to believe Darktide will continue the impressive legacy that the Vermintide series has established. 

Quite the looker

Crucially, Darktide also looks and sounds fabulous, with gritty detail and a really excellent sense of scale. You'll look up gaping lift shafts to see them extending far into the distance, but the levels around you feel cobbled together and ramshackle in a way that is distinctly 40K. 

The lighting is moody and evocative, with smoky haze seeping from vents and dull lights adding to the sense of dirt and grime as you explore - although this is doubtless something that'll change level to level.

The sound design echoes around you, too, with enemies that you can hear chattering and moaning around corners. It's eerie but also useful from a gameplay perspective - the perfect one-two punch. 

It's really impressive how Fatshark has built on its work in the Vermintide series. This is the sort of iteration and relatively cautious growth in ambition that marks out a canny developer carefully maintaining high standards. 

Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/games/reviews/162380-warhammer-40k-darktide-review

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