Released on November 30, 2022, for Microsoft Windows and with an Xbox Series X/S port coming soon after, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide has become an internet sensation, rocking the gaming industry. First, Fatshark finessed Left 4 Dead’s recipe, releasing the Warhammer: Vermintide series’ first-person shooter survival horror game to a swarm of commercial success and high critical acclaim. The series is all things addicting melee combat featuring a disturbing Warharmmer’s End Times setting and feverishly bloody visuals.
Now, Fatshark is amping the goriness a notch higher, moving from the medieval-fantasy Warhammer universe to a futuristic grim dark setting with fewer rats. Instead, the future Warhammer universe looks a lot like a dreadful industrial planet with a ton more melee combat weapons and hordes of demon-infested chaos coming at you. It's up to you and three other players to fight off every demon in sight, bringing us the replicated Left 4 Dead fun times we're looking for, or Left 4 Demons in this case.
From gameplay to the storyline to graphics and everything in between, here’s the full-on Warhammer 40000: Darktide review.
Welcome to Darktide
Though not the most ingenious name out there – certainly not the easiest one to tell apart the worthwhileness from the tons of Warhammer games released each year – Darktide does offer the potential for “one of the good ones” seeing as it's the spiritual successor to Vermintide 2.
In the prequel, your team had an endless sea of rats coming at you. Shoot to kill each one, and you win. This time, Fatshark fast-forwards into a sci-fi dark-looking future, an industrial center in ruins of sorts, with fewer rats and a ton more plague-infested demon walkers at every corner. With an increased supply of melee weapons, all it should supposedly take is a four-player co-op team. Take them down, and you win.
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Games like Left 4 Dead, Vermintide, and Darktide have their work cut out for them. Especially when finding the balance between the player versus the opponent. With hordes of demons coming at you, you could easily get overwhelmed and get killed before you even have the chance to get to the good part.
Fortunately, Darktide has mastered the art of co-op first-person survival shooter horror games, supplying players with hard-hitting, melee combat weapons to drop their enemies like flies. The game uses great crowd-control gameplay elements like tactical sword-fighting and mindless hack-and-slash to balance out unevenness. It also allows up to four team members, whose roles you need to think through to come out alive on the other side.
Before, Warhammer forced players into a unique developer-created character for each player. Now, you’re free to choose your own class, origin, and personality, between the veteran sharpshooter, the ogryn brute, the psyker psykinetic, or the zealot preacher, which besides elevating the energy in the room, welcomes the option to double up on more effective roles.
Prison Break Part I’ve Lost Count
Remember the strategy Michael Scofield went through to plan the perfect escape? With the prison’s blueprints and all, Darktide’s take on breaking out of prison is finding yourself in the right place at the right time.
During prisoner transport, the demons attack.
In all the chaos, you rescue an Inquisitor who, in exchange for your death sentence, decides to press-gang you into a team dedicated to fighting off the demon cult and its leaders.
One thing we can agree on is that storytelling isn’t Warhammer’s strongest suit. The spotlight rather shines on the action, which, if we’re being honest, is all we’re here for. But the effort to further satirize the military and the government doesn’t go unnoticed.
Who’s ready to purge a demon-infested megacity? The Inquisitor has asked you to go down to a hive city called Tertium on the planet Atoma Prime and use every weapon at your disposal to take down hordes of demon monsters.
Ideally, you’ll want to use long-range weapons to take down as many cult worshippers as you can. Then, move to close-range combat, slashing through as many monsters as you can with chainsaws, hammers, a literal chain and sword, hand cannons, assault rifles, and more.
The closer you are to your team, healing them at just the right time or slaying as many monsters as you can, the more your armor replenishes in what’s called the “toughness” system. This raises the stakes, making you keep track of your team’s strategy and avoid being the lone wolf. The moment your armor regeneration runs out, well, let’s just say that’s something you don’t want happening in the heat of battle.
More is Good
At the moment, it couldn’t hurt to add more weapons to the roster. After all, the weapons and classes are the most engaging parts of the game. Without them, the combat would feel repetitive.
Four classes are simply not enough, and neither are the maps. Fatshark does try, though, to sweeten the deal by introducing variations in the weather, enemy and item placements, and overall layout.
Still, we desperately need more weapons, classes, maps, and depth in the story, an aspect that Fatshark promises to expand in the future. Since the very same thing happened with Vermintide, perhaps Darktide will also prove to have no bounds in the future.
For now, playing Darktide is a hell of a good time to have with friends or online folks, competing on who paints the bloodiest spectacle in their wake.
Darktide’s Point of View
A cosmetic appeal is the one thing far from Darktide’s mind. How do you describe Tertium? It’s a hive city that recently suffered from the outbreak of a plague. As a result, screaming Nurgle-infected hordes of demons ramage through the city. As overwhelming darkness descends upon the city, a heretical cult is born, seeking to control the planet, lay waste to its people, and, ultimately, have the city descend into chaos.
Darktide doesn’t intend to go easy on you. It paints the most horrific picture of a decaying city, unpleasant to the eye from every angle, and matching the immoral themes previously installed by its predecessor’s medieval-fantasy world.
Through its 13 missions, you’ll scout across various industrial areas, shanty towns, sewer systems, and gothic fortresses. Along with the missions is a neatly metal original soundtrack to knit the gory vibe in a tightly woven package.
Perhaps it's the overwhelming unpleasantries that somehow blend in together. Or, the fact that you’re a mere shadow to the hordes and outstanding chaos. The more you play, the more you start to realize, “Hey, I’ve seen this area before.” Missions start to feel redundant, and you start to reminisce about the distinctiveness of the missions from Vermintide 2.
Not to mention, each mission brought you one step closer to the finish line. Darktide merely alters the missions, tasking you with thwarting the cultists' agenda to take control of the city. To what end, I don’t know. Some form of progress will be good to know. Overall, though, Tertium Hive is a spectacular city that fulfills every notion of chaos it sets out to accomplish.
Darktide is much more than a Left 4 Dead clone. It’s the spiritual successor to Vermintide 2, set in the grimdark sci-fi future of the medieval-fantasy Warhammer universe.
From the get-go, Darktide establishes itself as a bloody spectacle, incorporating impressive both close and long-range melee weapons and combat against hordes of demon cultists. Culling the herd is skillfully designed based on skills and teamwork. Plus, the pacing is just right to keep you always busy.
It’s always a good time to play Warhammer games, and Darktide is no different. There’s no describing the thrill of paving your way through a demon-infested megacity with all sorts of weapons from chain+swords to hand cannons to assault rifles… And yes, the game can certainly use a more versatile class, weapons, maps, and progression system.
Boredom can certainly creep up on you once you’ve combed through the missions that start to become repetitive, and the progression system that starts to feel pointless. However, Fatshark promises to expand the game sometime in the future. For some, it could mean “when” rather than “if” you should play the game.
If you’re a sucker for harrowing missions and grimdark futuristic places, Darktide is perfect for you. It’s bigger and better than the sequel, only lacking in content. Compared to games in the Left 4 Dead-like genre, Darktide is a fresher take on culling herds of heathens with your mates. There’s definitely room for improvement which hopefully Fatshark delivers soon. Once they do, there’ll be nothing stopping Darktide from becoming an unbeatable force of nature
Warhammer 40000: Darktide Review (Xbox Series X/S, PC)
A Hellscape Adventure with Friends
In a grimdark futuristic world, a prisoner’s only hope of avoiding a death sentence is to take down hordes of demons. Fatshark returns with another banger Left 4 Dead-like adventure with a group of three friends or online players. Unlike Vermintide 2, Fatshark’s spiritual successor, Darktide, replaces the horde of rats with a heretical cult of plague-infested demons. Besides limited content and a few issues with progression, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a full-on bloody spectacle that’s off to a great start.