Let’s just start this off the proper way by saying “Long Live the Emperor”. Warhammer 40K: Darktide is a successor to Fatshark’s previous games from the Warhammer franchise Vermintide and Vermintide 2. It is another first-person action game set in the 40K universe where gods exist, emperors live forever, and war is the only solution to anything, and everything can and will occur.
If you’ve never played Vermintide or its sequel then worry not, because Darktide puts you in an intro mission as soon as you finish creating your character to Introduce you to the primary aspects of the game which are shoot, slash and movement. They seem simple but this is a horde game where the only skills you need are to shoot, slash and move. You will also learn to block and learn your characters abilities and skills such as what sort of Grenades you can use but it’s very basic to catch on. The characters you choose from this time around are Human Veteran, Human Zealot a Human Psyker and an Ogryn. Most of these words will mean nothing to you just know that each has their own unique features and abilities.
All classes make sure of a regenerating shield as well as health that incurs damage once your shield drops. In-game mechanics can cause your health and shield to also be whittled down in such as essentially being cursed by “grimoires” and other items that diminish your maximum health as a penalty for picking them up and increased your end mission rewards. The feat system will serve as your talent book and is what will serve as your way to understand how much stronger you become.
I play a zealot and my primary ability is a charge towards an enemy and replenish my “toughness” which is the armor/shield resource. Every character also will gain an aura ability that helps the party such as damage reduction, deal more damage and so on. Each class has their strengths and weaknesses, some more obvious than others when you look at some of the characters physical characteristics, the Ogryn being obviously a giant tank and the Psyker being very squishy but quite capable of dealing damage.
Your player character, regardless of choice, will start as a prisoner aboard a transport which is attacked by followers of a chaos god. You save an NPC who is part of a rival faction and escape together with their squad who shows up at the end to fight off the horde chasing you. This leads into your induction into the inquisition with the promise of spare your death penalty. The primary hub is their base of operations named the “Mourningstar”.
This hub is where you will queue up for missions as well as utilize the shops and altars that allow you to purchase cosmetics or “craft” items. The word “craft” is in quotations because while the Vermintide games allowed you to craft new weapons and items you could equip, the crafting so far in Darktide is simply the ability to increase the stats on a weapon you already own. You gain new items by completing missions and purchasing them from an hourly rotating shop that shows you a few items at a time of varying quality.
Darktide’s campaign or story if you can call it that will unfold via repetitive mission playthroughs, sometimes taking place in the exact same place as a previous mission after hitting certain level thresholds while playing and replaying missions to gain experience and materials. As it stands, the plan is that it will be revealed over time like in live service games. I mentioned that missions take place in the same location’s multiple times, in most cases changes such as secondary objectives will change as well as the potential for a mid-level or end level boss appearing to change things up. It’s not the worst idea to reutilize assets, but I cannot stop from comparing the fact that they released this game in a state that I consider unfinished yet certain features, the ones that cost real money, are working just fine.
Considering how fleshed out their previous Vermintide game is currently its mind blowing how many features and systems are missing from Darktide. My primary concern is the class system specifically. As it stands right now once you choose your character class you are locked into it with no specialties like in previous games in the series. You and every other person who chose your class will play exactly the same, maybe for a while people will choose different feats which serve as talents but once the optimal build is found it will be cookie cutter builds being played by everyone. If I ignore the sub-class system and move onto crafting the question now turns into “what crafting?” We are gaining materials as we play and the fact this is a game based on nonstop fighting and wars the developer outright said “we don’t think crafting fits the theme” excuse me? You don’t think crafting fits the theme, but you are willing to sell me pink camo pants on the fully functioning cosmetic store? I think not.
Overall, Darktide comes off as an attempt by a studio to cash in on the Warhammer 40K brand once again. From the unfinished crafting system to the fact that somehow the only 100% completed feature is the paid cosmetic store just shouts, “we want your money now”. the campaign being touted as “live service” because they couldn’t even figure out what direction they were headed or how to get players to stick around to finish it is just a slap in the face to fans of the series. Warhammer 40K: Darktide released on November 30th for PC and GamePass and also had its first content update on December 15th with the addition of two new weapons and a new mission. Darktide is slated for an Xbox release in the future.