Playingat launch was rough, to say the least. Fatshark had already conquered the hordes of Chaos with the two fantastic games, so bringing that kind of co-op shooter sensibility to the universe of Warhammer 40K felt like a no-brainer and an easy win. Fast-forward to roughly one year after its launch and one could say Darktide has finally exited its “early access” period.
Of course, anyone following this game knows that what was released in late 2022 was a 1.0 build, yet most of the post-launch support so far has been focused on fixing all that simply wasn’t where players wanted it to be. In practice, Warhammer 40K: Darktide has been reborn with the arrival of, and character creation now goes beyond the initial steps before jumping into the maddening action, since your avatar now grows alongside your experience playing the game.
Thehas always felt like the perfect playground to go wild with RPG-like systems, , especially when there’s so much lore and fascinating worldbuilding to draw from. And yet, Darktide’s launch state was that of a game which hadn’t really figured out how to tap into all that potential to make its co-op shooter distinct. As a direct result, many players stuck to Vermintide 2’s robust endgame and replayability.
Of course, Vermintide 2 has evolved over the years, and Darktide is just getting started, but it was baffling to see Fatshark mess up a formula that had already been locked down twice in their previous games. Not even its initial launch on PC Game Pass made it very attractive for players who weren’t willing to put up with early access-like bumps in the road.
The post-Class Overhaul scenario is much different. So much so that many outlets and veteran players are calling it “Darktide 2.0”, a common occurrence in many games that are rushed out to meet the demands of the publisher and the investors. Anyway, with the update finally out in the wild, we can safely say after a few weeks the game now offers more than a dulled-down take on Vermintide carried by its uniquely dark sci-fi setting.
Ogryns now feel like proper RPG-like tanks, and Psykers’ crowd-control options are delightfully crazy and further define their role as Darktide's “battle mage” class. The class trees resemble those of an action RPG, offering true build flexibility over tacked-on progression that feels pointless. At launch, Fatshark had already figured out (more or less) weapon and item progression, but character evolution was little more than a matter of getting your avatar to the finish line of the ranks to get a meager selection of abilities.
Now, while Darktide is far from becoming the RPG it definitely isn’t, there’s a system in place to make characters more tailored to each player’s playstyle and behaviour when things get hectic (which is quite often). Not every Ogryn stays put in place absorbing damage to shield their allies, so charge-focused, more solo-friendly builds are possible now. That’s just an example. Do you love blowing up heads as a Psyker? Double down on that aspect of the class and adjust your equipment accordingly. The system feels both solid and straightforward. There’s no need to overcomplicate things in a co-op FPS, but this degree of control over the characters was desperately needed to set it apart from the competition.
The effects of passive abilities and alternatives to the core active ones are quickly felt as you climb the difficulty ladder. With more risk, better rewards are available. It’s not just about making numbers go up before jumping into Darktide’s harsher missions. There’s the possibility of finding success with an underdeveloped character as long as the build is facing in the right direction and the overall team covers all the required bases and works well. For example, an Ogryn who uses coherency-related bonuses and carries a ranged heavy weapon can greatly improve the team’s chances of survival even if the character isn’t prepared to tank on their own taking tons of damage from the terrifying hordes.
An unexpected byproduct of this major update is that some players are now role-playing their avatars, thus improving the overall performance of the squads because now roles and classes mean something. This can be experienced all the time, and it’s hard not to do the same when your Psyker is no longer a jack-of-all-trades, but a more specific type of space wizard that you have nurtured over several missions. Inside each class, many ways to deal with heretics and the forces of Chaos are now supported, and even if this happens unconsciously, you’ll often find yourself approaching the same missions from different angles depending on the character’s progression.
This all could be even better if the game actually had a cohesive storyline to follow instead of scattered missions with their own mini-narratives; it’d add a great deal of involvement to the whole thing. It’s something that could be further developed in the future though, especially when Fatshark is promisingnow that its biggest issues have been cleaned up.
While we wait for even deeper skill trees and meatier content drops, feel free to grabat the end of November. This one’s on the house.
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