Rejoice Warhammer 40K fans! Space Hulk: Deathwing is available in its full package, now on console.
The first person shooter developed and released for PC in 2016 is now available for PS4, for better and for worse. Putting players in the (oversized) boots of a team of Deathwing, you get to traverse massive ships called Space Hulks blowing away Genestealers at every turn. If you’re a Warhammer fan, there is a lot to love here. If you’re not, you might have a harder time enjoying this tactical FPS.
The good news is that the developers absolutely nailed the feeling of embodying a Deathwing member. You really feel like a soldier in a gigantic set of armour just ploughing through baddies. You move slowly but you feel powerful, especially with the massive guns, melee weapons, and choice of kinetic abilities available to you in the loadout screen. It made me wonder why Bethesda didn’t take any tips when they were making Power Armor gameplay for the Fallout series. You really do feel like a Deathwing marine, which elevates the gameplay from monotonous hallway shooter to a unique tactical one.
The thing is, while the gameplay and shooting are rock solid, the game modes tend to suffer, which is unfortunate. The biggest criminal is probably the campaign mode, which essentially serves as a tutorial before you jump into all the multiplayer goodness. The two AI partners you are given for the campaign missions are horrible. When they aren’t dead they are getting in the way, and when they aren’t doing that they are playing catch up, causing you to die with zero back up available.
This is all frustrating on its own, but the game also boasts an intensely hard experience. So when your healer inevitably dies, you’re pretty much screwed. You can use one of your limited warps to revive him, and eventually, you do get revive abilities, but early on it’s frustrating as all hell. It breaks up the momentum of clearing out the Space Hulks and just having fun when you need to warp to revive your healer, plus warping takes away from the final score you receive at the end of a mission.
Getting around this should be simple—just hop into multiplayer and play with some actual people who aren’t asinine AI. Multiplayer lets you play with a bigger squad, with a lot more depth put into team building thanks to the multitude of fun classes and variety of guns and abilities. All of the classes and items are there for the picking, which is nice since in the campaign you have to unlock everything as you go along. Unfortunately, getting into games isn’t as easy as it should be, at least for me. The entire time I played Deathwing, I only ever got into one online game successfully. Even the game I got into was almost over by the time I joined. That might have just been a problem on my end, but it was endlessly frustrating waiting for the huge load times only to get kicked from the game anyways. Even hosting games I had no luck, and playing solo is essentially impossible in this game with the huge difficulty even on early missions.
The good thing is that even playing solo I was able to traverse the Space Hulks at my own pace and enjoy the lore and detail that was put into these massive maps. As a relative newbie to the Warhammer 40K franchise, I was consistently amazed by the lore and detail put into everything. Even the style of the ships and armour and enemies stunned me. The dark and dingy corridors mixed in with these huge rooms you would find and do frantic battle in felt more grim dark fantasy than science fiction, and it just made me want to dive into the lore and franchise even more. Plus what’s more fantasy than a huge dude in badass armour slaying monsters with swords and shields bigger than he is? It’s just pure high-octane madness and I loved every second of it.
All I can really say about Deathwing is that I hope other players had more luck getting into matches than I did. When you’re playing with others is where you’re going to get the most out of the game, especially if you’re playing with competent players. Team compatibility is key in this game because death will come swirling down often if you aren’t paying attention to your teammates and your surroundings. The setting is incredible and dense with lore, and the Genestealers are all pretty fun to shred to pieces or get shred to pieces by. The game modes could offer more substance, but the Space Hulks are all so gigantic that it will be hard to see and find everything in each mission, especially with bloodthirsty aliens tracking you down. Suit up, get ready, and blast away some aliens with some giant guns and swords.