Overall - 80%
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a worthy successor to Vermintide. Fans of good first-person melee combat shouldn't hesitate to check this one out.
Roughly two and half years after being announced, Fatshark’s Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is finally here. Does it hold up to the legacy of Vermintide? Check out our review and find out.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide Review
Things kick off with players choosing their character and class. There are four classes in all, each with a different feel:
– The Veteran focuses more on ranged combat, but can still fight in melee.
– The Zealot and Orgryn are both melee fighters, with one being a big beefy guy and the other being a quick and nimble striker.
– Finally, there is the Psyker, this game’s version of the Fire Mage from Vermintide. He’s extremely powerful, but this can backfire and bring you down.
After choosing your class, you get a brief cut scene and tutorial. You were a prisoner, but after escaping with some of the guards you end up getting a job. Instead of dying in a cell, the Emperor puts you to work killing mutants and other dregs in the universe. As part of strike teams of four, you head out to various planets to restore smelters, kill high-value targets, and collect research over more than 30 hours of play.
Darktide is a co-op first-person melee hack-and-slash. There are guns, but most of the action is in melee if you aren’t a Veteran. And as satisfying as it is to pop off heads with a laser rifle, doing it with a Warhammer is just so much more satisfying. Games that do this sometimes lack the weight of a prop hit in melee, but that isn’t a problem in Darktide. When you strike the head, it cracks like an egg; when you hit armor, it feels like an axe going into wood; when you use the special on your Warhammer, you feel like Thor. It satisfies on every single level.
When you enter a level, you can pick between multiple difficulties and even some modifiers, such as extra mutant spawns. Each level runs from about 15-25 minutes – assuming you make it to the end. If you’ve ever played a co-op game like this, then you know someone always runs off to die alone. Thankfully they spawn elsewhere in the level, but be ready for it to happen.
Trash mobs litter the streets, and special enemies wait to pounce. You’ll kill most of the trash in one hit, maybe two if you are low-level. It is the special units you need to watch for. Trappers, flamethrowers, mutant hounds that pin you and maul your face, mutants that pick you up and throw you off cliffs, and even suicide bombers eagerly await you to slip up even once. I cannot tell you how often I rounded the corner first to find a sniper waiting for me.
As for my Vermintide players, this game is not the same. I entered Darktide expecting to rush around corners, charge enemies, and chop off heads. Instead, Darktide has far more ranged units, and they will eat you alive if you try to rush them constantly. Even as a melee-heavy Zealot, I had to use my ranged weapons to pick off a few before charging in. You’ll have to rethink how you play, but the effort is worth it.
In between missions, you visit a hub called The Mourningstar. Here you can pick up new contracts, buy new gear and weapons, change your appearance, and do some crafting. Some of the crafting still isn’t in the game, but you can still upgrade weapons to high rarities. Weapons change out every hour, so you can always find a new piece to try. Contracts are weekly missions that generally involve killing a certain number of enemies, completing tasks, or collecting items for bonus missions.
Contracts will give you a second currency, which can only be used at the Contract store. These items switch out every 24 hours, but are generally a very high rarity. They are also expensive, so don’t count on buying a bunch anytime soon. There is also a cash store, many featuring cosmetic items. These items also seem to switch every week; I found it odd and ended up not using it.
Speaking of odd, Darktide’s mission system is weird. For example, maps rotate every 15 minutes or so, but one map might switch in two minutes while another has eight to go. I think it is so you won’t repeat the same mission repeatedly. For anyone who played Vermintide, this will definitely throw you off for awhile.
I have had a few crashes, but none since launch. Still, the Steam forums are complaining about performance issues and crashes. My buddy was playing a match with me and crashed four times on one map. Even the match before I wrote this had one guy disconnect from a crash. Just note that there are still problems being reported.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a worthy successor to Vermintide. Fans of good first-person melee combat shouldn’t hesitate to check this one out.
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