The suffocating darkness of Warhammer 40,000’s bleak future isn’t a place one usually looks for a breath of fresh air, but I’ve moved away from every version of it. Warhammer 40,000: Dark Tide revived anyway. Whether it’s brutal melee fights but dark humor or stunner wave synths that explode during intense gunfights, this four-player cooperative FPS from developer Fatshark often made me grin like an idiot. While Darktide is still getting updates and new content during the beta pre-order period, sluggish performance issues are the only thing that’s getting me excited about next week’s full release – but even those problems do not diminish the glory that comes with the chain-sword the heretics in half.
Darktide unfolds like many of the other wonderfully overblown Warhammer stories in the 40,000 stories before it: with a legion of Chaos-worshipping traitors causing trouble. The massive beehive city of Tertium is overrun with hordes of zombie-like Poxwalkers, gun-wielding preachers spewing blasphemous gospels, and all sizes of deformed, fractious boss monsters that you will gleefully slaughtering thousands of people like a convict. There are only six missions available in beta since this review took place, so I can’t rate the full narrative yet, but at least for now, the teammate’s cheeky joke is also good. quite sharp.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide Steam Screenshot
Of the four playable classes, I greatly admire the tank-like Ogryn Skullbreaker — a tall brute that can easily take down dozens of enemies with a single sluggish swipe. That muscle-stopping power also never goes out of style, as Darktide’s amazingly deep melee combat will constantly test your hand-to-hand martial arts prowess. Light, heavy, and special attacks can all be chained for brilliant results. It’s incredibly satisfying to quickly slice and dice dozens of Poxwalkers to pieces, then block a two-handed hammer swing from above from one of the more sentient enemies before pushing them away. Better yet, dashing into range of armored enemies to knock out their shoulder pads, revealing a weakness in the process, then dashing off before they can retaliate will almost certainly make you smile. laugh. Damn, I even burst out laughing after cutting off some poor bastard’s arm because he checked the bloody stump before falling down like it was a piece of Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner — Darktide doesn’t mind clicking his tongue at a moment like this. I’m not sure if Ogryn’s whole “blow like a butterfly, sting like a bee” routine is intentional, but it’s still hilarious.
Unfortunately, engaging in those hectic close-up exchanges exposes Darktide’s performance woes. Admittedly, my aging RTX 2080 isn’t a flagship graphics card anymore, but it’s not so outdated that the framerates will drop to near-projector when the volumes start to pile up on top of each other. Yes, Darktide is beautiful at times – I quite like looking up from the seed-filled bottom of Tertium to admire the ornate superstructures above. However, it’s not the technical performance you’d expect to melt most modern PCs while every picture conversion is on the low end. Fatshark has said that they are well aware of the popular call for better optimization and patches are readyso Darktide ran better by the time it left beta.
Thankfully, things tend to settle down when you remove the nasty stuff from afar. Darktide’s gunfights may be less frenetic than melee fights, but they’re no less exhilarating, largely thanks to the way its suppression system works. Shooting at enemies who know better than mindlessly plunging into bullets will often cause them to hide behind cover. Maintaining that attack makes their return sloppy, often resulting in bullets missing you a few feet. However, it is very fair because they can also suppress your team. There’s this great risk-reward factor to the kill that forces you to seek cover and regain a steady trigger finger or pull out a melee weapon while dashing toward the shooter. God, the cave in the orbital bones of some mutants after they make you nearly impossible to shoot never gets old — especially when a John Carpenter-sounding synthesizer is rife with metallic sounds. attractive to celebrate the occasion.
I wouldn’t wallow in 18 hours for a limited pre-order beta that works like this under normal circumstances, but it’s hard to turn down Darktide. The thunderous close-quarters combat, the skillful ranged exchanges, and the delicate balancing act between those two killing methods keep pulling me back even though most of the campaign isn’t over yet. I hope that Darktide will maintain that exciting momentum as all of its pre-launch unlockable content and its worst performance issues are resolved as well, but I’ll have a post soon. Evaluate your final score after release either way.