Fatshark Games’ latest installment in its Warhammer series, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, offers a grim and gritty new setting for players to explore and slice through. The game offers both a traditional single-player campaign and an online multiplayer mode where players can level up their fully customizable characters as they shoot and slash their way through some of the goriest, bloodiest missions that Warhammer games have ever offered. Like the previous installment, Warhammer: Vermintide 2, the game relies heavily on multiplayer cooperation as players fight through hordes of enemies. Fatshark has clearly been practicing their craft at creating Warhammer games prior to Darktide, and it’s safe to say that all their hard work has paid off.
How does Darktide compare to other Warhammer games?
Arron: Darktide easily lands in the upper echelon of Warhammer games. While its technical issues can be a bother, it more than makes up for it with its scope of content, an excellent translation of its setting, and ingenuity for the genre. Most Warhammer games try to translate the strategic elements for which the tabletop war game is known. Hence, it is refreshing to see a 40K game more concerned with immersing players in the world with a chaotic first-person perspective.
Justin: This is my first experience with any Warhammer video game, but Darktide stands out as one of the year’s best shooters. Smooth controls and an incredible soundtrack offer a level of immersion unrivaled by any other shooter in 2022. Graphically, the game is impressive and gory enough for any Warhammer fan to find their money’s worth of amusement. Regarding replayability and graphical fidelity, Darktide reminds me of the recent Doom games. Much like my initial experience with Doom, I was in awe of how graphic and disturbing the developers made some animations and action sequences. There’s impeccable attention to detail in everything from character models to environment designs, and the liveliness of the game is accentuated by the cartoonish voice acting.
What are the most noteworthy aspects of Darktide?
Arron: For me, the most noteworthy aspects boil down to the game’s presentation and replayability. Its four unique classes offer entirely different ways to approach missions, with more coming in the future to mix things up. They each have their own abilities and weapon classes that help differentiate them from one another and give them their own identities. The game’s presentation is also a triumph. Its visual design, combined with a stellar soundtrack and impactful feedback when chopping through heathens, sells the fantasy of scrapping in the grimdark universe.
Justin: The game’s atmosphere is remarkable. The art direction achieves its goal of creating a claustrophobic setting that allows for various gameplay styles. The environments are carefully put together and easy to navigate, and they each become smothered in blood and gore without losing any of their beauty. Every moment in the game is further brought to life with its thunderous and ominous soundtrack and incredible voice acting. Characters will often make remarks about the challenges they face within the game or some off-hand witty comment. The world altogether embraces the feeling of a brutally violent dystopia.
Are there any improvements that can be made to the multiplayer?
Arron: Apart from server connection issues and poor optimization on some hardware, the biggest improvement I’d like to see in multiplayer is its lobbying system. Darktide utilizes a mission selection menu similar to the one found in Payday 2, where players select a mission from a map. However, players can’t change their character afterward. Of course, they can change up their loadout, but being able to switch characters would be welcome, especially when using matchmaking with random players. I can count on one hand how many missions I played where every player was a different class, which is unfortunate when they all fulfill such specific roles.
Justin: Darktide’s multiplayer is generally well put together. It is easy to connect with other players, but the loading times and framerate drops while playing online were substantial and common enough that I often found myself frustrated. Luckily, these few issues can likely be patched out with updates in the near future. Despite its few problems, playing in multiplayer was still thoroughly enjoyable.
Is the game accessible enough to recommend to casual gamers?
Arron: Darktide is accessible for players of all types to a point. Similar to the developers’ Vermintide series, the upper difficulty levels of missions can be incredibly punishing. They require immense cooperation and communication between players that many won’t be willing to undergo. Playing early difficulty levels, however, is an excellent experience for any player to jump into and enjoy.
Justin: To be frank, I enjoy very few shooting games, and I found that Darktide had a lot to offer. The controls are easy to pick up, and all of Darktide’s engaging elements make it difficult to put down. Anybody that has played a shooter on the PC will likely already be familiar with the controls, and the atmosphere and characters are incredibly interesting. Though the difficulty spikes can seem unfair at times, this game is easy to recommend to players that are familiar with first-person shooters, fans of Warhammer, or people looking for an interesting new shooting game. However, Darktide would be tough to recommend for people that are new to the genre due to its complexity and unforgiving difficulty as it progresses.
How would you describe this game’s replayability?
Arron: Like most games, Darktide’s replayability relies heavily on the player. If one is a big enough fan of Darktide to really master each of the classes, there are a ton of hours to be found in the game. This is increased even more so through the skill tree of each class and the array of weapons in the game, allowing players to experiment with numerous approaches for each one. And that is all in the game at launch and isn’t accounting for Fatshark’s announced post-launch support plans. However, it is also easy to imagine that some players who prefer distinct missions or more procedural variation between repeated runs to have a difficult time with replayability. Darktide missions change much less than missions in Left 4 Dead, for example, and players who want the game to provide new situations and moments consistently will likely move on after fully leveling one class.
Justin: Unless players are great fans of Warhammer, this title will probably only inspire one playthrough. Darktide is crafted well enough to keep players engaged for a long time with its art direction and chaotic gameplay, but it does very little to warrant revisiting after playing through once. It’s easy to imagine that many players will become bored with formulaic missions, even when trying to play with a different class. Despite this, the game is a tremendous amount of fun to play with friends and interesting enough to keep players glued to their keyboards for many hours.
Overall, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a worthy successor to Fat Shark’s previous installments. Simultaneously challenging, beautiful, and relentlessly brutal, Darktide stands out as one of the best cooperative titles in 2022. Compounding an intense, addicting gameplay loop with an unbeatable atmosphere genuinely lends to the title’s replayability. While those new to Warhammer or first-person action games might not see the appeal, anyone looking for an interesting and gory shooter to play with a friend will find that Darktide has hours and hours worth of fun to offer.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is available now on PC and Xbox Series X|S.