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Darktide (mini-review) - 40k realized

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tenbones:
So I'm in the final beta (launch is in two weeks) of Darktide. And I can say with total confidence that 40k has finally arrived.

What do I mean by that? Yes there are over 40 WH40K videogames to date. And in their time there were some good ones (Space Marine for it's simplicity was fun), but most are tactical affairs which our minds fill in the dramatic blanks. Spacehulk in its various iterations were hella-fun, but lets face it, they only teased us with what we *feel* 40k should be like.

Fatshark proved in Vermintide (1 and 2) that unlike all the other studios with the Warhammer licenses, they envisioned a very particular mode of engagement that speaks to the essence of Warhammer - fantasy or 40k. That feeling of creeping frenetic dread. The inevitable tidal wave of clawing fang and tooth-gnashing that threatens to consume you and all you love unless you're willing to fight back against hopeless odds. When they announced Darktide last year or so... their first foray into 40k, everyone was quietly on the hype train but too scared to admit it in this day and age. The fear of woke bullshit, or the inability to pull off 40k, or the gameplay feeling derivative of their own genre which unto itself wouldn't be horrible... but just be "oh... okay."

What they produced however is... transcendent. A rarefied glimpse of the power of videogames to come so dangerously close to our Theater of the Mind, that you're stunned at the fidelity of all those precious silly details of TTRPG lore are sitting right in front of you IN PERFECT CONTEXT that your instantly immersed. For the uninitiated, it is a stunning descent into underbelly of a very singular aspect of the 40k universe, and it's ugly and yet gloriously realized.

Teaser here

You're not an Astartes, so lets get that out of the way. You're effectively the lowest of the low - a criminal doomed to execution, but are pulled from your grisly fate (in a very nicely done prologue mission) to serve the Inquisitors to "investigate" the potential uprising of Chaos in a Hive city called Tertium. Sounds straightforward... and it is. But your character, is built on a mini-lifepath that dictates your interactions with the other PC's in the game. You can completely customize your characters - male/female, tattoos, hair, everything. So it feels very... eerily RPG-like. This *IS* an FPS co-op game. And yet... it feels like you're in a tightly bound RPG doing mission-based adventures of mega-high-octane suicidal danger.

The *detail* of the setting - the underbelly of a Hive City, is *staggering*. It feels exactly like what you would envision from the books and game. Dank. Scary. Wretched. The enemies are horrid and need to be cleansed (for the Emperor of course) and you're entire singular purpose is to survive and cling to life both narratively and literally - with three other souls as doomed as yourself.

Intro Trailer Here

Combat is TIGHT. The weaponry is straight out of the game - with the each weapon handling entirely differently. The starting game has over 70+ weapons with more as the game develops. Everything Fatshark learned in Vermintide is now on full display but now heightened due to the fact this game is equally ranged combat as it is melee.

The *music* in the game is FUCKING INSANELY good. The entire game is steeped in atmospheric soundscapes and music that OOOZE what you only imagined 40k sounded like. They're channeling your imagination in front of you and in your ears. It's astounding sound-engineering. You'll hear every squelch, every bone snap, the rattling jangle of your Auto-cannon as it feels recoiling away in your hands, the thudding pounding of your Ogryn pal as he thunders past you into the fray. Gorgeous and gorgeosity!

The Four Classes
Psyker There are Psykers (yep - you can play a Psyker and it's *awesome*). So satisfying to telekinetically decapitate someone.
Ogryn (no females thankfully). They're huge behemoths cutting down swathes of the heretics with each swing!
Veteran Marksman Lasgun glory! Sidearms of chainswords and axes, the bog-standard soldier of the Imperium. SOLID.
Zealot Preacher For the Emperor! Sure you're sentenced to die. But death is the reward for service to the God Emperor. Melee specialist and totally hell on wheels. (and batshit psycho).

Each class has it's own "specialties" but everyone does ranged and melee but some are a little more focused. Each class has *very* tight gameplay and internally can be focused into modes unique to each player. Each class has its own Talent trees but play entirely differently depending on the loadout of weapons and gear you choose and of course the player's own style of combat.

This game has a pretty hefty requirement to deliver this experience - your PC should be beefy and be rocking at *at* least last generation's GPU's. I'm running a monster machine and even I raised my eyebrows that with the full fury of my PC it recommended my Ray Tracing be set to Medium (I'm running a 3070ti with 16gigs of DDR5, and an i12  CPU). BUT everything else is pegged to the max. Without Ray Tracing you can easily play this with a 2000-series (or AMD equivalent) and it will still be superb.

And for those that say "I don't do FPS"... let me just say: this game is special. Vermintide proved even casual play can be done with PUG's and while the controls are simple, the gameplay is extraordinarily deep. There is included a training room where you can literally spawn mobs to stand there and let you beat on them to practice with your weapons. If you have any friends - and can play this together as intended, your experience will be insanely good.

The developers are on the record that they have access to the *entirety* of the 40k universe. This game is their testbed for future stuff. They were asked about specifically about Astartes vs. Tyrannid content in the future. Their response was "Hmm. That would be interesting... wouldn't it?" Yes, the collective "pang" sounds of everyone's dicks slapping against their armored cod-pieces could be heard across the internet (you do wear an armored codpiece don't you?). So yeah there are some big things looming for Darktide.

I *highly* recommend this game, I'm only in the beta and I can see this game is not just setting a standard for 40k gaming, but it's showing what a good game company with passion can deliver. It's one of those really rare moments where a licensed property is given its just due. If you have *any* interest in Warhammer 40k, you're on notice with this game: it has arrived. And it's glorious.

TheSHEEEP:
It IS a pretty good game, no doubt.
And I also think it has the potential to surpass VT2.

But I'd say it is still very rough around the edges and would advise caution or waiting a few more months.
The game crashes constantly for me and all others I played with - thankfully, the game's reconnect works flawlessly and fast(ish).
The UI also needs lots of work - there is a very distinct lack of feedback when it comes to objectives.

Another issue is that everything looks so samey, I get lost constantly in a map that I played before at least a handful of times.
I really hope that's just an issue for that map and not on all maps...
I never had this problem in Vermintide 1 or 2 since the maps there were all very varied and easy to read/navigate in, so I kind of doubt it's just me being confused by the level design so far.

Oh, also for vets of Vermintide:
I'd say the game is a lot harder due to the sheer amount of ranged enemies as well as how they constantly surround you.
But to make up for that, you do have a rechargeable shield (plus normal non-rechargeable-aside-from-healing-items health).

Yabba:
Wanted to say that overall Warhammer based video games seem to be getting better. A little while back gw seemed to be pushing out crappy mobile game over crappy mobile game. But now with the release of Total War 3, darktide, Shoots Blood & Teef, and the upcoming release of boltgun. I think gw is going for more high quality and experimental games which so far have all been hits.

King Tyranno:
All four of the environments are gorgious. The graphics are great and the sound effects too. It does feel like the most realised version of 40k yet.

But the actual game is in an unacceptable state. It was clearly released after a huge period of mismanagement and faffing around. Delays wouldn't have fixed that because there's a clear lack of vision and that handicaps any development.  There's very little actual content. Four maps that you will quickly get bored of no matter how pretty they are. Four classes with rigid progression and aggressive Meta that handicaps you if you don't follow it. The game is so incredibly repetitive. There's wonderful weapon variety but getting to the actual fun weapons like the Plasma Gun or Bolter is not worth the amount of constant boring slog you have to do. And don't get me started on all the stats just being bars that are hard to read. The entire time I was playing I was wondering "is this it? This is the game?" Yup, this is the game. It's been released in a clearly unfinished and broken state. No,"It's will be fixed eventually" is not a valid excuse. It should work NOW. On release. This is a paid product. I paid money for it. It's not free to play despite pretending to be even after you buy the game. I expect a game that is made well. This game has so many problems for the price they are asking for. It feels like an early access title. Especially seeing as we're missing features like the full crafting they promised. And the fact they have the gall to ask for even more money for their cosmetics shop pisses me off to no end. The game isn't finished. It's not even playable half the time.

tenbones:

--- Quote from: King Tyranno on December 03, 2022, 07:20:03 AM ---But the actual game is in an unacceptable state. It was clearly released after a huge period of mismanagement and faffing around. Delays wouldn't have fixed that because there's a clear lack of vision and that handicaps any development. There's very little actual content. Four maps that you will quickly get bored of no matter how pretty they are.
--- End quote ---

The multi-use environmental maps disagree with you here. It speaks to the genius of design that they are modular and you don't realize it until you actually look around. You can *see* other parts of the map where other missions are actually done and it feels familar, but it's not the same precisely. As someone with well over a thousand hours in VT, where each map was exactly what you're describing here - even there I wasn't bored, mainly because I played on the highest levels where map-knowledge was necessary because if you don't go the Grims and Tomes, you're effectively wasting your time playing.

This shows improvement on every level of design. If you're a casual player, then yeah, you might get bored sight-seeing. If you're going to play at Stage 5... you probably will be too busy trying to survive and finish the mission to wonder about if this map is the same.



--- Quote from: King Tyranno on December 03, 2022, 07:20:03 AM ---Four classes with rigid progression and aggressive Meta that handicaps you if you don't follow it. The game is so incredibly repetitive. There's wonderful weapon variety but getting to the actual fun weapons like the Plasma Gun or Bolter is not worth the amount of constant boring slog you have to do. And don't get me started on all the stats just being bars that are hard to read. The entire time I was playing I was wondering "is this it? This is the game?" Yup, this is the game.
--- End quote ---

You're playing the beta build? Stats are in the game now. Yes - you have to grind for better gear, how is this a criticism? Literally every game like this. And frankly the Meta is soft, because the difference between the "high end" weapons and the rest of the weapons is largely due to random stat-generation (You want high damage/ high finesse). Further, each weapon absolutely feels different and handles different in play. What more could you ask for?
 

--- Quote from: King Tyranno on December 03, 2022, 07:20:03 AM ---It's been released in a clearly unfinished and broken state. No,"It's will be fixed eventually" is not a valid excuse. It should work NOW. On release. This is a paid product. I paid money for it. It's not free to play despite pretending to be even after you buy the game. I expect a game that is made well. This game has so many problems for the price they are asking for. It feels like an early access title. Especially seeing as we're missing features like the full crafting they promised. And the fact they have the gall to ask for even more money for their cosmetics shop pisses me off to no end. The game isn't finished. It's not even playable half the time.

--- End quote ---

I literally don't understand any of this. My videocard (a brand new 3070ti) took a nosedive on this game and went up in smoke (replace is on the way - it was the videocard not the game). But I tossed in a 1660 Super, and I'm able to play without any problems. Sure I'm not running Ray Tracing and the settings are set to low and even then the game looks and plays well. Now I'm not saying you're wrong - if you're having technical issues. I'm merely saying I'm limping along with a super-budget videocard and the game is playing beautifully.

So our experiences seem to be very different.

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