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[News] Warhammer 40K Darktide Review - Left To Shred

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When I spoke to several teams making games in the Left 4 Dead lineage, they each had some unique thoughts on why the game, and its resulting genre, works. But they also each echoed one similar thought: Pacing reigns supreme. Horde shooters, like Warhammer 40K Darktide, can live or die on the flow of its co-op missions. Aided by an AI director, missions must be tuned to reliably challenge, but not necessarily overwhelm the player. Impressively, Darktide gets this aspect of its grimdark missions exactly right, though the ways in which the game adds new layers don't work quite as well.

Darktide is not just a Left 4 Dead-like, it's also the spiritual successor to Fatshark's previous series in the genre, Vermintide. Moving the experience out of the base Warhammer world and into the far-flung and grimdark future of Warhammer 40K comes with a major makeover both cosmetically and mechanically. The biggest new addition comes in the form of an arsenal of firearms that have no place in the hard fantasy of traditional Warhammer. But in the 40K era, things like hand cannons, assault rifles, and electricity-infused projectiles not only fit right in, but also dramatically alter the flow of combat by adding more range-based considerations.

This massive shift is well-implemented, as enemies will match you blow for blow. Fighting from a distance will see them trading shots and taking cover, and if you--or they--are able to close the gap, they'll quickly swap to melee combat. When this happens, Darktide leans into the still-great crowd-control elements first seen in Vermintide, where both nuanced swordfighting and mindless hacking and slashing are usually viable techniques--though on higher difficulties, the former naturally becomes more crucial.

Gunplay is a bit uneven, but I suspect it's sometimes intentional. The recoil on some low-level guns, like one I was given in the tutorial, is wildly powerful, but it feels like a deliberate penalty for having such a lackluster weapon, albeit also a weird first impression. Other guns, like a revolver I equipped as my witch-like Psyker character, was easier to manage but much less powerful, but she also boasts a ranged spell attack that is meant to disable or even decapitate singular enemies at a time, giving her more than one way to cull the herd from range.


The arrival of hordes is expertly paced, which is paramount in this genre.
Each class comes with trade-offs like this, demanding that you buff your allies with your own strengths to cover up their weaknesses, the way the great games of this sort should emphasize. Smartly, your armor doesn't replenish unless you're near your allies, which adds a great new wrinkle to the way this sort of game punishes lone wolves.

Link: https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/warhammer-40k-darktide-review-left-to-shred/1900-6418008/


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