Space Hulk: Deathwing (Warhammer 40,000)

Developer: Streum On studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: December 14, 2016

 

“In the grim darkness of the future there is onl- what’s that? I’ve used this before!? Oops”

 

Say what you will about the Warhammer 40,000 universe, but it is probably one of my favorite science fiction/fantasy universes I’ve ever stumbled upon. Way back I first came into contact with Warhammer 40,000 from the games Dawn of War, since then I began reading novels set in the universe, most being that of the Horus Heresy series. Well ever since I always try, If I have the money, to pick up any Warhammer games I come across that seem pretty good. In recent memory the franchise has been a little, lack luster, with their action orientated games, the last one I remember enjoying quite a bit being Space Marine.

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So when I was sitting about and I saw the video about Space Hulk: Deathwing showing the 13 minuets of gameplay, I got pretty excited. The game was set in a Space Hulk which is an amalgamation of fused together starships, usually infested with god knows what. On top of that you play one of my favorite things from Warhammer 40k, Terminator Space Marines. To say the least, I was excited, the game play looked good, and it got me hyped up.

Then release came out, and I’ve spent a decent bit of time with it now, but I have to say, I’m not all that impressed, and honestly a little disappointed, for a few reasons.

So before I get into why I’m disappointed, let’s give some background on the story. You play as Terminator Space Marines of the Blood Angels Deathwing chapter. You are a part of a fairly large scale insurrection into a Space Hulk that is believed to house a ship somewhere inside of your chapter, but it is one that dates back to the Heresy era, what it could house is invaluable to your chapter.

Moving forward, I have to hand it to the dev team, this game looks, and aesthetic of Warhammer 40,000 down to a T visually. Yet that’s about as far as things go in my opinion on the good side. Most of this is arguably nitpicks, and as usual your opinion may differ. However I have to say that I’ve not enjoyed myself while playing.

So let’s dive right in. Let’s start with the minor stuff. First issue I had was the sound of some of the guns. Now since Warhammer 40k has always been a table top franchise, the notion of how the guns should sound is subjective, but I’ve always envisioned them as these guttural sounding thunderous monstrosities. For instance the storm bolter in the game sounds, fairly plunky and more similar to a normal gun we have today. To me a bolter has always seemed like it would have this heavy, thunderous roar to it when it shot, after all it is basically a fully automatic mini rocket launcher.

Another issue I have with the game is that you have a stamina bar. Most games have stamina bars, and they make sense, but for a Terminator Space Marine, it does not make a whole lot of sense, again this could easily be seen as a nitpick but it’s something that bothers me quite a bit while playing.

Another tiny bother is the notion of the assault cannon and vengeance variant. They both are spinning barrel weapons, similar to that of a minigun, yet they have the spread and recoil of a fully automatic shotgun. Which, from what I understand, isn’t how they should operate. The recoil should be almost non-existent since it is bolted to the arm of the Terminator Armor and absorbed by the hydraulics in said armor, and the spread should be in a fairly tight circle.

A final tiny little nitpick I have, but this one is truly just personal, it sort of bugs me that your projectile weapons can’t pass through teammates. You might think “Oh well that makes sense though” Well yes, but the sheer size of a Terminators backside makes it almost impossible to help which ever poor sod is at the front when the swarm shows up, and you have to try and jockey around each other to actually be able to put rounds out into the swarm coming at you, and it just feels like a chore rather than fun.

So enough of the smaller details, I’ll move on to my biggest issue/’s with the game itself.

Boy oh boy, the biggest problem I have with the game is the game itself. The setting, in my opinion, causes the game to fall to pieces, which is a damned shame because of just how beautifully well they’ve crafted the space hulk. If I wasn’t told what type of ship I was making my way through, I could probably figure it out based on the level of detail they put in to the architecture of each ship… and yet the space hulk is the very reason I’m having issues enjoying the game. The loop of this game for the time I’ve played it has constantly boiled down to this:

  1. Trigger gene stealer swarm
  2. Back group into door we just came out
  3. Hold fire button
  4. Move on and repeat process.

While that can be fun starting out, the luster of this wears off very quickly. Step 2 is inter changeable with just backpedaling because they gene stealers and such just funnel themselves for you into your fire. There have been a few select moments where the AI showed a semblance of intelligence and actually dove down holes, or ran off in another direction to flank, but usually the swarm was dead by the time they pathed back to attack me again that I was able to just gun it down with ease. Like I mentioned earlier as well, because of the tight corridors, and narrow passage ways, trying to shoot past each other, because anything outside of melee and the flamer, simply cannot pass through your battle brothers.

Another issue of note, and this is something I usually forget to talk about in my reviews but it’s very worth mentioning here. The game does not really run that great. I thought maybe at first it would be just my system but after looking around, it seems this is a fairly common issue. At certain intervals, some at random, some where you’d expect, the game will just drop in fps, rather considerably, where I’ll go from a smooth 60-70fps, down to 30-40. My rig is fairly middle of the road with its build, so I imagine anyone on the lower end would have this game be almost unplayable.

That is the problem with the game, the space hulk itself, because of the very nature of a space hulk there is only so much a swarm can do to get at you, and it makes it fairly easy to deal with them, in turn making the gameplay loop extremely boring. I cannot express how just utterly sad that makes me to say either, because the story that Streum have crafted, and the look and everything is so well done, but the game falls flat in, well, it’s gameplay. From the boring gameplay loop, to the disability to fire through your squad mates to help, to the sound of the bolter, all these issues come together for me like a daemon of the warp and just squash any enjoyment I start, or have for the game.

Closing up, I’d like to reiterate, that I don’t hate this game, but I’m incredibly disappointed about it, and it makes me a little sad to see that it falls short of being a game that I’m sure many a 40k fan have wanted for a while, and I can tell that Streum tried very hard to make that game for us.

Yet I don’t think I can recommend the game at its full price, if it happens to go on sale and you have a couple of friends who are willing to get it with you, then by all means I strongly urge you to pick up the game. Outside of friends and sales, I’d say maybe wait for the price to drop a bit.

The pegi rating is 16+

The game is 39.99 USD or your regional equivalent

The game is currently out for PC

Estimated release for Consoles in 2017

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