Skip to main content

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide review-in-progress: Nurgle’s game

One of the best Warhammer 40K games, or at least it could be

If you’re a fan of Warhammer 40K, you’ll inevitably love Darktide when it's at its best. You’ll be slashing through the dark corridors of a dirty dystopia, dissolving infected mutants in a fog of blood and maggots as you swing your chainsword, with booming orchestral music soaring over the battle when a choir chimes in to complete the atmosphere. It’s impactful, it’s impressive, and it’s easy to love. When it’s at its best.

The spiritual successor to Fatshark’s Vermintide series, you’ll be fighting as part of an imperial prisoner battalion against Nurgle, one of the Chaos Gods, alongside three other Rejects. Each Reject is a playable character with a unique set of abilities that can assist the team or wipe out legions of foes.

You’ll slay plenty of Poxwalkers, which are barely a threat, but other enemies are truly tough. Bloodhounds are fast and threatening, but you’ll also have snipers and mutant blobs coming at you at all times. Elite enemies are the biggest threats, and the detailed sound design will allow you to discern which enemies are approaching while you’re in battle.

Screenshot from Warhammer 40k Darktide.

Nurgle's forces.

The playable Rejects are the Veteran, Zealot, Ogryn, and Psyker. Each class has unique abilities that you must master to make the most of each game, otherwise you’ll be letting the team down. If you’re a 40K fan, then there will be plenty of weapons and abilities for you to recognize.

The core combat and gameplay of Darktide is massively improved over Vermintide. It’s tight, sharp, and each character manages to feel unique, while accomplishing broadly similar tasks. When combined with a team of friends and a bombastic soundtrack, you’ll have an incredible time. As you battle through the game you’ll be collecting experience which you can use to upgrade your character, weapon drops, challenges, and resources for the crafting system.

The four playable classes.

The four playable classes.

At least, that’s the intention, but Darktide is actually missing a few key features at launch:

  • Crafting system (expected in December 2022)
  • Single-player mode (expected in December 2022)
  • Private lobbies (expected in December 2022)
  • Crossplay between Steam and Game Pass (expected at some point)

The crafting system is essential to the endgame, and its absence makes the game feel incomplete, like a beta or early access release. Complex, specific builds just won’t be possible for a while.

Doing battle with threatening enemies.

Doing battle with threatening enemies.

Adapting your build for specific enemies and circumstances is crucial for higher difficulty levels. The amount of possible customization is fantastic, but building the character you want is just too difficult and awkward at launch.

Another thing we can blame on Nurgle is the game’s technical performance. Some users have reported barely being able to complete missions without the game crashing, large mutants can throw players into walls – literally in, where they become stuck – adding people to a party can be awkward or impossible, load times are high even on powerful machines – the list of issues may seem fairly minor, but they impact the experience as a whole in small ways constantly. Thanks, Nurgle.

Luckily the game does have enough diverse content at launch to keep co-op shooter fans happy with the experience as it is, with the four classes and variety of weapons and missions able to last for hours of play with a group of friends. Though, the game requires you to level up each class individually, which can certainly slow down the pace.

Darktide’s gameplay and atmosphere are top-notch, and for Warhammer 40K fans, this game is a dream – or certainly will be, by the time all of the necessary features are implemented. Once the game is purged of Nurgle’s foul influence, you’ll find a lot of fun to be had with a group of friends and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide.