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Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide on Xbox Series X/S

After an entire year's delay, the Xbox Series S/X version of Swedish Fatshark's latest action adventure has now been released, along with major changes with a new patch.

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I played a criminal amount of Warhammer: Vermintide 2 back in the day, and loved how the Swedish studio Fatshark had achieved a nice balance between a good gameplay loop, a reasonably fast levelling system and fun features and weapons. So I was very much looking forward to continuing the adventure when Warhammer 40,000: Darktide was released last year.

But... as we all know, that launch did not go well. Darktide suffered from major technical flaws, and almost worse, the levelling system and balancing left a lot to be desired. The problems were so great that Fatshark decided to postpone the planned Xbox version indefinitely in order to repair and redesign large parts of Warhammer 40,000: Darktide. For my part, I had so many other things to play, that I simply chose to wait for the fixed version before starting my adventure as a Reject - and this month it was finally time.

Warhammer 40,000: DarktideWarhammer 40,000: Darktide

The so-called Patch 13 has been released and with it the game has finally become what it should have been from the very beginning, and with this in mind, I have now thrown myself into one of the hardest, dirtiest and most ruthless worlds I have ever visited for Xbox Series X to both check out the new stuff and review the console version.

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Compared to Warhammer: Vermintide 2, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide offers completely different production values in its presentation, which is packed with gorgeous visuals that set the tone and explain the concept. Here we play as Rejects who are (perhaps wrongly) accused of vague crimes, but who get a new lease on life by joining the Inquisition and trying to stop a Chaos takeover in the city of Tertium on the planet Atoma, orchestrated by the god Nurgle. The story always feels more present than in the Vermintide games, and even when you spend time in the hub world everything is based on, I hear people talking about things that relate to the story. Also, I think Fatshark has gotten better at taking into account the phenomenon it's based on, and anyone who knows their Warhammer 40K has plenty of little Easter eggs to enjoy.

We're offered four classes to choose from, which are quite different from each other. They are Veteran (a standardish soldier), Zealot (religious character with a penchant for fire), Psyker (uses psychic powers for both attack and support) and Ogryn (huge and powerful ogre). I found myself drawn to the brutish Ogryn and especially like how high the camera goes to illustrate that you are playing a small giant. It is possible to modify the appearance of your character with simple tools, but the fact that you are an Reject who has had a tough life will be apparent no matter what you do.

Warhammer 40,000: DarktideWarhammer 40,000: Darktide

Playing Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is pure joy. The set-up will be quickly recognized by anyone playing Vermintide, and the enemy attack in incredible numbers. There are few games that offer the same intensity of combat, with enemies pouring in at such a pace that you almost drown in them. Game controls are quick and responsive, and the weight of the attacks is powerful. Slamming someone with an axe really lets you see how the victim is torn apart, and similarly, a really strong gun can turn Chaos supporters into mincemeat.

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Co-op is usually the way forward, especially if you want to reach higher levels, and making sure you have good friends with you is often best. If you jump into groups of random players, chances are you'll get one who goes on his own adventures, another who steals all the loot, and a third who refuses to heal comrades who have been shot down. Boss fights in particular can get hairy if you don't have a well-oiled machine backing you up.

As mentioned above, the game world is dark and evil - and wonderfully designed. It is teeming with objects and details and the lighting is absolutely phenomenal even on a console. No ray tracing is offered, but there is a choice between performance or graphics. The latter provides a very stable 30 frames per second and the former 60, but I find that in the most hectic sequences it dips below 60 and is around 50 instead. Maybe not a huge problem, but worth mentioning.

Warhammer 40,000: DarktideWarhammer 40,000: Darktide

The levels are followed by experience points and other things, and with Patch 13 Warhammer 40,000: Darktide now has traditional skill trees. This makes it much clearer and therefore more fun to level your character. You can also move points around freely so there's no risk of trial and error - a solution I'm a bit conflicted about as I prefer not to be able to change the characters as much as possible. This means that everyone knows everything in the end, but I am fully aware that this is a personal preference.

Speaking of levelling, I would also like to mention that Fatshark has some work to do when it comes to making Darktide intuitive, something I often feel is a problem in console versions of PC titles. Sure, there is a review of the game system, but a lot of the menus and the hub world are not explained at all and for those who are new to this type of game, I think it is a wall that will make some people play something else instead. Also, the gate required to unlock cosmetics is way too high. I get that Fatshark wants us to trade with real money, but the result is that everyone is running around looking bland, which takes away from the experience - and not being able to unlock stuff regularly isn't fun either.

But all in all, this is a really great co-op adventure for console as well as PC, with good gameplay, great graphics and very high replay value. The changes Fatshark made really add something and the Xbox Series X version is well done. It will also be easy to find people to play with thanks to the Game Pass, and a large community is of course important in a game like this. All in all, it doesn't quite match the masterful Warhammer: Vermintide 2, but it's not far behind, and is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys hardcore action.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Incredible action, smooth game controls, varied classes, great graphics, well thought out level system, lots of Warhammer 40K love, elaborate co-op.
-
Unnecessarily difficult to access, difficult to unlock cosmetics.
overall score
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Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

REVIEW. Written by Patrik Severin

Fatshark is back with the latest addition in the 'Tide' series, which takes players to a grimy and dark Hive City.



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