The suffocating darkness of Warhammer 40,000’s bleak future is not the place one would sometimes search out a breath of contemporary air, however I’ve come away from each session of Warhammer 40,000: Darktide reinvigorated nonetheless. Whether or not it is the vicious but darkly comedic melee brawls or the head-bop-inducing synthwave tracks blasting all through intense shootouts, this four-player cooperative FPS from developer Fatshark continuously has me grinning like an fool. Whereas Darktide remains to be getting updates and new content material throughout its pre-order beta window, sluggish efficiency points are the one factor that has tempered my pleasure for its full launch subsequent week – however even these issues do not diminish the glory that comes with chain-swording heretics in half.
Darktide opens like many different splendidly over-embellished Warhammer 40,000 tales earlier than it: with a legion of Chaos-worshipping traitors inflicting bother. The huge hive metropolis of Tertium is overflowing with zombie-esque Poxwalker hordes, gun-toting preachers spouting blasphemous gospel, and all sizes of misshapen, rift-powered boss monstrosities that you will joyously slaughter by the 1000’s as a conscripted convict. Solely six missions can be found within the beta as of this review-in-progress, so I can not choose the overarching narrative fairly but, however the cheeky squadmate banter is fairly sharp up to now, at the very least.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide Steam Screenshots
Of the 4 playable lessons, I’ve come to adore the tank-like Ogryn Skullbreaker — a tall brute that may simply knock down dozens of enemies with one lumbering swipe. That muscly stopping energy by no means goes out of favor both, as Darktide’s shockingly in-depth melee fight will persistently take a look at your hand-to-hand martial prowess. Gentle, heavy, and particular assaults are all chainable to sensible outcomes. It is endlessly satisfying to slice and cube a dozen Poxwalkers into bits rapidly, then block an incoming overhead two-handed hammer swing from one of many extra sentient enemies earlier than shoving them away. Higher but, darting into an armored enemy’s vary to knock off their shoulder pad, exposing a weak level within the course of, then dashing away earlier than they will retaliate will virtually definitely make you smile. Heck, I even let loose a great stomach chuckle after lopping off some poor sod’s arm as a result of he examined the bloody stump earlier than falling over as if this have been a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner bit — Darktide is not shy about tongue-firmly-in-cheek moments like this. I’m unsure if Ogryn doing the entire “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” routine is intentional, however it’s nonetheless hilarious.
Sadly, moving into these busy up-close exchanges reveals Darktide’s efficiency woes. My admittedly growing old RTX 2080 is not a top-tier graphics card anymore, however it’s not up to now old-fashioned that the framerate ought to decelerate to near-slideshow ranges when our bodies begin piling up. Sure, Darktide is fairly at occasions — I fairly get pleasure from wanting up from Tertium’s seedy underbelly to admire the ornately detailed superstructures above. Nonetheless, it isn’t a technical showpiece you’d anticipate to soften most trendy PCs whereas each visible toggle is on low. Fatshark has mentioned it’s properly conscious of the widespread name for higher optimization and patches are already on the best way, so fingers crossed that Darktide runs higher by the point it leaves beta.
Fortunately, every little thing tends to stabilize when you’re selecting off nasties from afar. Darktide’s firefights could also be much less frenetic than its melee tussles, however they’re no much less exhilarating, largely because of how its suppression system works. Taking pictures at foes who know higher than to mindlessly shamble into bullets will sometimes trigger them to cover behind cowl. Maintaining that barrage makes their return-fire sloppy, often leading to projectiles that miss you by a number of toes. It is lots truthful, although, since they will additionally suppress your crew. There’s this improbable risk-reward factor to suppression that forces you to both discover cowl and regain a gentle set off finger or pull out a melee weapon whereas blitzing towards the shooter. Goodness, caving in some mutant’s orbital bone after they make it nigh-impossible so that you can shoot by no means will get outdated — notably when a John Carpenter-sounding synth observe rife with catchy metallic clangs commemorates the event.
I would not sink 18 hours right into a restricted pre-order beta that chugs like this one below regular circumstances, however it’s arduous to place Darktide down. The thunderous melee battles, tactful ranged exchanges, and that ever-so-delicate balancing act between these two strategies of homicide preserve pulling me again even when a lot of the marketing campaign is not out but. I am hopeful that Darktide will preserve that thrilling momentum as the entire content material unlocks within the lead-up towards its full launch, and that the worst of its efficiency issues get addressed as properly, however I’ll have my last scored assessment shortly after launch both approach.