What A Game Could Have Been; Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
There was a time I was invested in Warhammer world, when I was much younger playing the Dawn of War games. That was back then, nowadays, I have other things going on. I always hear a thing or two about Warhammer, especially now, so I got the gist of what it was really about. With vested interest in buying Total War: Warhammer III later on.
Enter Darktide, which is a first person co-op survival game, akin to Vermintide and L4D but taking place in the 40K universe instead. Where I expected a functional game, instead I got was a buggy mess all over. I would get insane Netcode loss in lobbies, graphics artifacting, performance stuttering, and yeah, occasional crashes.
My experiences playing from Game Pass has been pretty mixed bag as a result of all these issues and some more. But past that I found the fun in it, I never played Vermintide, but now I can see why people talked about it, and the influences that carried to Darktide shows promise.
Out of 4 distinct classes, I picked a Psyker, then picked out my backstory from place of birth to how my character grew up in the military fascism of the empire itself. Before started the game in a prison ship, as it later on deals with an invasive force that got my character to redeem himself and reenter service into the empire.
The gorgeous background art, slick brutal neo-Gothic aesthetics and feel, pervasively extended to everything else I've seen in the game, does really make me feel like am actually playing a 40K game. There's also the amazing audio and BGM that helps to sink in the experience as well. Reminds me of the Chronicle of Riddick games.
There was a tutorial section right after the prologue, and it was pretty lengthy, after an hour, right then I started doing the missions. Sadly, nobody was added to my matchmaking, so I played with bots. Starting at Sedition difficulty, the easiest one.
My first match was a mix of melee combat, gunfighting, and magic/telepathy. The part that really kept it engaging were the waves of enemies you could chop and take down. The ragdoll physics, so well done, I could intuitively tell whether they were down or not, without the crosshair indication. Enemies were mounting in piles, just to easily surround us and kill us off. I left my telepathic head blowing ability for the big guys.
And even if the game was easy because, this difficulty I guess is for farming. The second difficulty, Uprising is hard enough even with bots. In the later missions, I thought I could finally have players in my game, but not really. I played this with Game Pass, and sadly to note, crossplay with both Steam and GP would only come later. Till then, the matchmaking would be abysmal.
One of the interesting things about this game, is how much you get to unlock as more missions are played and rewards earned. I bought a couple of new weapons like a new blade, and firearm. Although I did want to change my cosmetic wears, those would take 7-9 missions long before doing so. Loot is colored tier, so my start was one at silver.
The U.I. is questionably lackluster, as it looks like something straight out of an esports or mobile game. Nothing surprises me as certain items I have to buy, requires me to spend actual money to acquire. Mostly stuff that are fancy cosmetics.
I have tried playing many missions as possible, heck I went alone to Martyr difficulty, thinking I will get people to play with me. No, that didn't happen. I left the mission queue and just went back to playing what was feasible. Next thing I knew, the game kept crashing mid-game. In fact, alongside that are various issues I'd had to deal just to run the game.
There are neat ways to upgrade weapons with the resources farmed. While I did lack this one time, I was trying my best to find someone to play the game with in the lobby while also fixing the cause of the game crashes. Not to mention the bugs I've faced.
Some of these weapons come in all sorts, because they went to the effort of putting so many good weapon types for access here. Compared to Vermintide, this game is more militarized, but also well enough feels like a good FPS with brawler elements in it too. There are various abilities, mechanics that provide good crowd control.
I've searched, searched, finally, I got to play with someone. Dude was super friendly, and we played various missions to help me grind and finish them for full reap of rewards. I was getting sick of the crashes and losing progress. Plus, playing with A.I. isn't fun, as to how barebones they function in games. They don't even use abilities.
So with just the two of us, we took care of station cleaning messes, finding intel in enemy bases, and took out some of the most disturbingly formidable boss fights in the game.
Outside the waves, there were even the enemy classes we had to deal with, like snipers, bursters, hounds, trappers, shotgunners, etc. All them creates different levels of tension whenever you're dealing with the mob of enemies. Kind of like L4D, but there are way more different types of these. Each very distinct in their role to play.
Me and my new co-op buddy tried making the game fun by amping the difficulty further. Malice as it turns, is better played with 3 real players, and with such a shoddy matchmaking system for the GP version, it didn't really help me much.
Now, I know that patches will be out, and will fix before adding crossplay in the games. I mean, it's a co-op game, why couldn't they have made the crossplay easily accesible at launch for all platforms, including the Xbox Series systems?
I want to keep playing this, heck there's so much potential that even the community that called out the game's condition said that this has potential, which can be all reached later on. I know I haven't really advanced further enough with my character, and that if the issues that are pervasively ruining the game, gets fixed, I'll be all in. Deep Rock is one of my favorite games, and I've been etching to play these survival types since. But for now, the bugs, little to no matchmaking, the terrible netcode, performance problems, and such, are really dampening on the fun factor. Probably a wait for sale.
The same thing happens to me with this game as with wow, I'm much more interested in the lore than the game itself, I don't know why, but no WH40K has caught my attention enough to dedicate the hours it deserves.
Oh man, this is cool. I'm not usually a fan of this kind of L4D style games, but everything I've seen in your post I recognize that it has attracted me quite a lot, especially the class theme. It's a shame about the problems it has, especially the performance related ones which are usually the worst for me.
Updates have rolled out just recently, I'll let you know if things have improved since.
War hammer, that series that somehow finds the way to end up ruined no matter how cool is the source material and keeps finding people that sucks at it, ha, ha, ha, great done :)