Warhammer 40k Darktide

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Warhammer 40k Darktide review
Dan Lenois


Another remarkably solid FPS entry in the Warhammer 40k franchise

Warhammer 40k has been a staple of PC gaming for years now, and has produced a vast max of both truly amazing, and also truly mediocre, titles. It's always a bit of a gamble when you first pick up a Warhammer 40k game, as to what you'll ultimately find inside. Luckily in the case of Warhammer 40k Darkide, the pros generally outweigh the also-present cons.

Recruited for only one purpose...

The narrative driving the events of Darktide are fairly straightforward. The player's character, as well as a few others, are recruited, by a high-ranking government official with a no-nonsense attitude, to undergo missions deemed too high-risk for any normal squad. You're sent off on seeming suicide missions, making your group something of a Suicide Squad. The story itself obviously paves very little new ground in terms of innovation, but it's a decent enough premise to get things moving. Like prior Fatshark-developed games, this is a game where actual gameplay takes precedence over all else, including narrative.

We've Got Incoming...

Combat is where the game consistently hits its peak. Few things are more satisfying than facing an entire horde of enemies and bashing multiple skulls with each single melee swing, or stagging the oncoming swarm by firing your grenade launcher into their midst and staggering them. There are a ton of moments where the player can legitimately feel the danger, albeit only on the harder difficulty levels. Playing the game on its easiest or normal difficulty settings will provide little in the way of either excitement or reward, but the more you dial up the difficulty, the more chaos you're signing up for, and Warhammer 40k Darktide is, at its best, a carnival of chaos.

The art design of each level is phenomenal. Outside of a handful of other existing games like Destiny 2, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more visually-appealing dystopian sci-fi co-op experience anywhere. The level design is fairly linear but well-paced. You always have just enough breathing space between those large-scale high-stakes encounters for your characters to banter with each other, a reminder that the game never takes itself entirely seriously. The boss fights that pop up in many of the levels are intense and often satisfying, forcing you to adopt different tactics in response to the boss' behavior. It's not exclusively just a "stand and shoot" type scenario.

Progression comes in many forms...

Progression is one area where the game doesn't really impress. The game's narrative story is broken up into chunks, locked behind character levelling progress, forcing the player to stop and spend hours grinding to level up before being able to resume the campaign. This stop-go-stop-go story progression is neither particularly enjoyable nor well-implemented. The bizarre way in which players unlock weapons is likewise a tad poorly thought-out. While players can unlock new weapons by levelling up, they usually have to buy said weapons from a weapons vendor using in-game free currency, earnable by completing levels.

The vendor will offer only a handful of weapons at a time, rotating the selection every time you finish a mission. All the weapons have randomized gear scores and slightly varying stats. Simply unlocking access to the weapon merely enables it to potentially show up in the vendor's list of purchasable weapons. This system isn't entirely made clear to the player, which may create some confusion for new players. It feels as if this system, similar to those seen in Destiny 2 or Marvel's Avengers, was initially designed with paid weapons and other pay-to-win elements in mind, before eventually being scrapped later in development.

Good performance always matters...

There have been a lot of claims regarding the game's performance on systems running lower technical specifications. While the game does definitely demand a somewhat-beefy PC in order to run at higher resolution settings like 4k, it ran fairly smoothly on this end, when tested in 1080p on a desktop running a Nvidia 2070 GTX gpu, an intel i7-7770k processor, and 16 GBs RAM, as well as in 1400p on a laptop running a Nvidia 3070 RTX gpu and otherwise identical specs. During large-scale enemy encounters, there would be notable spikes in GPU and CPU usage, but nothing that dramatically impacted the overall performance. However, it's worth noting that if this is the experience on higher-end systems, Fatshark probably should have taken advantage of the game's delayed release date to double-down on optimization, rather than doing so post-launch.

Final Thoughts:

Warhammer 40k Darktide is an excellent sci-fi co-op FPS experience that will likely be enjoyed for years to come. While not quite reaching the same quality level of their initial Warhammer 40k End Times: Vermintide title back in 2015, Darktide is something that both diehard Warhammer fans, and co-op FPS fans in general, can mutually appreciate.

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fun score


Excellent FPS mechanics, great level design, and fun character interactions


Slightly excessive grind, limited content, and generic story elements