Trying to build a lasting legacy in games can be a hard task, but for Swedish studio Fatshark, the trick is replicating the success it found with the excellent Vermintide franchise. Even with the imminent arrival of Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, it remains to be seen just how much more improvements the studio could make to an established formula but as it turns out, just like the ever-changing experience of every combat scenario, our time spent in the Closed Beta Test of Warhammer 40,000: Darktide has been a pleasant surprise, and then some.
Here’s what are the three things that should excite both newcomers and veterans in the world of Tertium.
#1. Streamlined For The Modern Warhammer Experience
If you are new to this side of the Warhammer world, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is not a bad place to start. We have the Hive City of Tertium at the centre of the conflict between the Inquisition and Chaos itself, and that’s about all you need to know if you want to start things off.
Dive a little bit deeper, and you can add your own twists to the four classes. The Veteran, Zealot, Ogryn and Psyker are all recognisable faces, but on a gameplay level, they make sense instantly. The Veteran is great at range, the Zealot wants to do business up close, and Ogryns are tanky beasts that should always be the vanguard. Lastly, the Psyker are as close to magic as you will get in Warhammer 40,000: Darktide.
Their backstories and whatnot might not matter beyond flavour text, but for those invested in this universe, you have every choice to deck out your character as you see fit. Roleplaying remains a distinct and entertaining possibility, and the real action has only just begun.
#2. Gunplay Funplay
One of the key hallmarks of the Vermintide series was its utterly satisfying melee combat systems, and that remains the case in this new adventure from Fatshark. Enemies are still going to rush you, forcing players to get knee-deep into blood and guts.
However, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide goes further by making ranged combat a vital cog in the combat machine, not as a replacement, but also an excellent enhancement to something many has rightfully lauded over the years.
Between slicing and dicing the agents of Chaos into itty bitty pieces, ranged weaponry has become easily one of the best parts of the game. Having a partner that can mop up the enemy hordes from a distance is always valuable, and considering the varied level design and enemy AI, players will need all the help they can get.
It is also useful to see some of the tools that Warhammer 40,000: Darktide provides players, to complement this new emphasis on fighting from afar. Need to clear a cluster of enemies? Chuck a grenade into the masses, or use the Ogryn class as a weapon itself by rushing and pushing against the hordes. Prefer a breather rather than rushing headfirst into danger? Get behind cover and pray for the regenerative shield to kick in. There will surely be more such examples when the full experience launches on 30 November.
And that’s the crux, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide truly feels like an evolution of the formula Fatshark had seemingly perfected over the years, rather than a forced change or implementation. Knowing the same love and attention that have gone into this new project only bodes well for the community thirsty for more co-op action like this.
#3. Teamwork Making The Dream Work
And, of course, with the legacy of Vermintide, it was inevitable that Warhammer 40,000: Darktide once more pushes the boundaries of co-op play and how best to enjoy the visceral action awaiting in Tertium.
The core gameplay loop can always be experienced with bots, but nothing quite replicates the enjoyment of having a full team of four going up against overwhelming odds. It is clear that the various classes are meant to play off each other, synergising in different ways for potential new ways to play.
When everyone does their job accordingly, it becomes a harmonious medley of destruction, and when someone screws it up, it becomes a scramble for safety as the world falls apart in front of you. Either way, it’s pure fun.
Progression in Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is also helped by this continued focus on cooperation, as things will only get more hectic as you get deeper into the game. This means more difficult foes to contend with, better rewards, and hopefully, a better team to take on the challenge.
At this stage, there is no doubt that a solid foundation has been built for Warhammer 40,000: Darktide. Even as a Closed Beta Test, there is much to like already from Fatshark’s latest offering, and it would not be difficult to translate that to the finished product come 30 November. If this is what Tertium has to offer then, consider us packed and ready to die for the Inquisition.