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Warhammer 40,000 : Darktide | The return of maton

Dec 09 - 07:46, by adaur

Warhammer 40,000 : Darktide | The return of maton Well, Vermintide, I lasted 40 hours before I stopped playing it. Vermintide 2, on the other hand, took me on board for 120 hours. And for Darktide ? Wow, 15 hours, can you believe it? Yes, that's right: pull up a chair, I'm going to have to explain a few things to you and it's going to be long.

Yes, sorry to greet you with a big bucket of cold water, but Fatshark's latest, which was supposed to arrive on conquered ground, has been getting badly ground down since its release. But let's take things in order and start with its story. Here, your character is a prisoner sentenced to death. Oh, that's okay. No need to make that face: such sentences in the Warhammer 40,000 Imperium are as frequent and commonplace as a police check at home. A routine when Chaos, still him, is going to make an incursion on the planet where your character is incarcerated.

At this point in the text, I guess I've already lost 75% of you, so let's try to make it a little more simple: you're a prisoner who is offered amnesty in exchange for full cooperation with the local authorities, in order to stem the invasion of a force of slobbering monsters and other zombified soldiers. There, that's better? It's crazy how we always make a mountain out of a molehill of Warhammer stories, when all you have to do is remove all the "technical" language to see it more clearly. But back to our dear Warhammer fans.

Here, the story is written by Dan Abnett, a very talented writer, who wrote some very good books* like Eisenhorn, The Ghosts of Gaunt, to name the most famous. And you know what? It doesn't feel like it at all, since the poor cinematics show a mute hero being mocked by a bunch of NPCs just able to remind him over and over again that he is not trustworthy. Yes, cinematics, because in Darktide, unlike Vermintide, the missions are mostly like secondary objectives, letting the story unfold via cinematics triggered when your character exceeds certain experience levels.

Come on, we'll try to reassure ourselves by saying that the scenario will certainly be developed in the course of the updates, but this doesn't hide a really curious treatment and tone of the universe, with some winks to pop culture and other jokes, which are mixed with a strange soundtrack oscillating between organ and a kind of technoid drone closer to cyberpunk than to grimdark. Really strange. But let's talk about the game, starting with its most visible novelty.

* Yes, I know: all things considered, since we are talking about Warhammer books. But still.

Crushed with blows. If you're coming from Vermintide, you'll notice that the characters are now created by the players. Yes, no more Inquisitor or Witch with their predetermined appearance and history. At first glance, you'll have to settle for choosing a class: an Ogryn to take the hits, a Psyker to neutralize special enemies, a Zealot specialized in hand-to-hand combat and, of course, a Veteran skilled in ranged combat.

The fights are more focused on firearms and, good news, Fatshark has done it right.
As you may have noticed, there are four classes compared to five in Vermintide. A bit of a pity, even if the stronger specializations of Darktide's archetypes will help to make up for it. But that doesn't mean that our avatars are soulless shells, as each agent creation starts with a series of questions. Who are you? What have you done that's noteworthy? Where are you from? So many questions to be answered for... nothing. Come on, there are those purple eyes reserved in the character editor for the Cajuns, but everything else seems totally unused, with for example avatars who will exchange rather generic dialogues during their missions. Weird, weird. Nevertheless, there is the character editor, rather complete, which allows you to create your own character. You can choose the size, the skin color, the hairstyle, the (many) tattoos... There is enough to spend a little time there, before launching you in the big bath by going to fight.

Inspired by Vermintide 2's Chaos Waste mode, Darktide's missions come with a few random modifiers, like that killer fog.

The time of the carceral. From a gameplay point of view, the regulars will be in their little shoes, the recipe of this "Left 4 Dead with loot" being repeated, so to speak, identically. In fact, the game offers a change of pace with more gun-oriented battles and, good news, Fatshark has done it right. There's no need to dwell on it, but you should know that the guns are very satisfying to handle and all of them offer their dose of punch, from the laser rifle ideal for sticking heads in the distance, to the big bolter which becomes a pleasure when you have to clear a horde.

However, this hasn't stopped the developers from improving the hand-to-hand combat, with attacks that also feel much better than those of Vermintide, whose donuts sometimes feel like they're hitting in a vacuum. Here, every blow, whether it's with a knife or a huge hammer, feels heavy and impactful.

So, shall we play cash-cash?
In Vermintide 2, a store allows you to buy cosmetics by spending money or Schillings, a currency obtained during your games. It's not a big deal: those who want to support the studio or treat themselves will pay for the premium cosmetics, while the others will spend the game's currency.
Fatshark has just abandoned this recipe in favor of a much more classic and even too close to free-to-play store, with its monkey currency to be bought with real euros. You know, the same currency sold in packs so that you always have a little money left over, but not enough to buy anything else.
Let's be clear: it's a disappointment, both for the fact of having a cash-shop in a rather empty game, and for the feeling of having to pay to look like something, as the cosmetics you get while playing are not very nice.

[IMG]If we have to remember one thing about Darktide, it's that it was just unmolded too hot.[/IMG]

And what about the rest? Here again, Fatshark seems to have approached the recipe of Vermintide with some adjustments at the margin, in order to make it more enjoyable. Here, it's the Psykers - equivalent to the Witch - who get a final warning before burning themselves out with their spells. Here, it's a system of healing stations that allow you to get back on your feet if you manage to bring them a battery. Something to keep the regulars busy, while newcomers will mostly see an efficient mix between cooperative FPS and hack & slash. At least, until all the flaws and other gaping holes in the content jump out at them all.

Better in jail than never. If there's one thing to remember about Darktide, it's that it was just unmolded too hot. So hot, in fact, that I don't know where to start. Let's talk about what will probably make everyone scream, with the lack of crossplay. Mind you, we're not talking about a problem that prevents PC and console players from playing together, but the impossibility of joining someone playing on the Gamepass version if you bought the game on Steam. Really ugly, even if the developers swear they are working hard to offer this essential feature as soon as possible.

Avatar customization is much more advanced than in Vermintide 2, but it's a shame that the few really nice cosmetics are reserved for the store.

In reality, all this is not much compared to the poverty of the gameplay, which nowadays does not include crafting, limiting it to a simple improvement of our equipment. And what about the loot, almost inexistent, the weapons offered at the end of the game being extremely rare* and replaced by credits. Yes, stupid credits, that you will have to spend at an equipment manufacturer whose list is randomly generated. If you don't feel an ounce of excitement, know that everything is normal.

It's hard to explain such a step backwards, except that Covid could have heavily affected the game's development and forced the studio to put it up for sale in this state to recover finances. A theory that will not, unfortunately, make us forget this sad reality, namely a very simplistic Vermintide if we compare it to its elders, even on the day of their respective releases. A game where nothing pushes us to play over and over again. A game where you complete a mission, you collect your credits, you take a (sporotrich) look at the store and "oh but you saw the time, well it's not all that but there is a way". Sadness. The pure one. The real one.

But let's leave on a positive note: Fatshark has proven its know-how in game as a service with Vermintide 2 and the foundations of Darktide now seem solid enough to hope for a bright future. We'll just have to be more patient than expected.

My opinion? If the gameplay base is solid, Darktide is nevertheless far too poor to encourage us to spend dozens of hours on it, in the hope of finding a more powerful gun or an even more beautiful armor. There's no need to rush through it, unless you want to support the developers and enjoy the simple joy of a split skull with a chainsaw sword. What do you think?

Genre: Left 4 Dead with loot
Developer: Fatshark (Sweden)
Publisher: Fatshark
Available Platforms: Windows, Xbox Series
Test platform : Windows
Download : 55 GB
Languages : English
Price : 40 for the game

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