It’s been a long time since I’ve done it but hey this time I really had to test this thing for you.
Well, Vermintide, I lasted 40 hours before not touching it anymore. Vermintide 2 will have me on board for 120 hours. What about Darktide? boarf, about fifteen hours, do you realize? Yes, that’s it: take a chair, I’m going to have to explain a few things to you and it’s going to be long.
Yes, sorry to welcome you with a big bucket of cold water in your face, but Fatshark’s youngest, who was supposed to arrive in conquered territory, has had his face grinded badly since his release. But let’s take things in order and start with his story. Here, your character is a prisoner sentenced to death. Oh, I’m good. Needless to make this face: this kind of sentences in the Imperium of Warhammer 40,000 are as frequent and commonplace as an identity check by the police in our country. A routine when Chaos, always him, will make an incursion on the planet where your character is incarcerated.
At this stage of the text, I imagine I have already lost 75% of you, so let’s try to popularize it a bit: you are a prisoner who is offered an amnesty in exchange for full cooperation with the local authorities, in order to stem the invasion of a force composed of drooling monsters and other zombified soldiers. Well, is it better like this? It’s crazy how we always get a mountain of Warhammer stories when you just have to remove all your “technical” language to see things more clearly. But back to our dear Warhammer fans.
Here, the story is written by Dan Abnett, oh so talented writer, at the origin of very good books like Eisenhorn, Gaunt’s Ghosts, to name only the most famous. And you know what ? It does not feel at all, since the cutscenes, poor, show a mute hero being rebuffed by a bunch of NPCs just able to remind him over and over that he is not trustworthy. Yes, cutscenes, because in Darktide, unlike Vermintide, missions mostly feel like side objectives, letting the story unfold through cutscenes triggered when your character goes beyond certain experience levels.
Come on, we’re going to try to reassure ourselves by saying that the scenario will certainly be developed over the course of the updates, but that doesn’t hide a really curious treatment and tone of the universe, with a few nods to the pop culture and other jokes, which rub shoulders with a strange soundtrack oscillating between the organ and a kind of technoid jam closer to cyberpunk than grimdark. Really strange. But let’s talk about the game instead, starting with its most visible novelty.
If you’re from Vermintide, you’ll be sure to notice that the characters are now player-created. Yes, finished the Inquisitor or the Witch with their predetermined appearance and history. At first glance, it will therefore be enough to choose a class: an Ogryn to take the blows, a Psyker to neutralize special enemies, a Zealot specialized in hand-to-hand combat and, of course, a Veteran who is gifted in hand-to-hand combat. distance.
Combat is more gun-focused and, good news: Fatshark has it covered.
You will have noticed it: that makes four classes against five in Vermintide. A bit of a shame even if the more marked specializations of the Darktide archetypes will help to pass the pill. But that doesn’t mean our avatars are soulless shells, with each agent creation starting with a series of questions. Who are you ? What did you do that stood out? 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 Cadians, but everything else seems totally untapped, with, for example, avatars that will exchange rather generic dialogues during their missions. Weird, weird. There remains, however, the character editor, which is quite complete and allows you to create your own convict. Choice of size, skin color, hairstyle, (many) tattoos… There’s enough to spend a little while there, before you jump into the deep end and go fight.
Inspired by Vermintide 2’s Chaos Waste mode, Darktide’s missions come with a few random modifiers, like this knife-cutting fog.
From the gameplay point of view, the regulars will be in their little slippers, the recipe for this “Left 4 Dead with loot” being taken up, so to speak, identically. In reality, the game mostly offers a change of pace with more gun-focused combat and, good news: Fatshark delivered. No need to dwell on it, but know all the same that the guns are very satisfying to handle and all offer their dose of punch, from the laser rifle ideal for sticking heads in the distance, to the big bolter which becomes enjoyable when necessary to clear a horde.
A point which however did not prevent the developers from improving the melee, with attacks which also offer much more sensations than those of Vermintide, whose donuts sometimes give the impression of hitting in the void. Here, every blow, whether delivered with a knife or a huge hammer, is accompanied by a feeling of startling heaviness and impact.
In Vermintide 2, a shop allows you to buy cosmetics by spending money or Schillings, a currency obtained during our games. Not enough to break three legs at an Aven: those who want to support the studio or have fun will go to the cash register for premium cosmetics, while the others will spend the in-game currency.
This recipe, Fatshark has just abandoned it in favor of a much more classic store and even too close to free-to-play, with its monkey money to buy with real euros. You know, that same currency sold in packs so you always have a little savings left over, but not enough to buy anything else.
Let’s be clear: it’s a disappointment, both for having a cash shop in a rather empty game, and for the feeling of having to pay to look like something, the cosmetics obtained while playing are not incredible.
If we have to remember one thing from Darktide, it’s that it has just been unmolded too hot.
And for the rest ? Again, Fatshark seems to have approached the Vermintide recipe with tweaks at the margin, to make it more enjoyable. Here, it is the Psykers – equivalent to the Witch – who benefit from a final warning before burning themselves out with their spells. There, it’s a system of care stations that allow you to get back on your feet if you manage to bring them a battery. Something to keep regulars busy, while newcomers will see above all an effective mix between cooperative FPS and hack & slash. At least, until all the flaws and other gaping holes in the content are obvious to all of them.
If we have to remember one thing from Darktide, it’s that it has just been unmolded too hot. So hot, even, that I don’t know where to start. Come on, let’s talk about what will probably make everyone scream, with the absence of crossplay. Please note, we are not talking about a problem that prevents PC and console players from playing together, but about the impossibility of joining someone who is playing on the Gamepass version if you purchased the game on Steam. Really ugly, though the developers swear they’re working hard to deliver this essential feature as soon as possible.
The customization of the avatar is much more advanced than that of Vermintide 2. Too bad however that the few really nice cosmetics are reserved for the shop.
In reality, all this is ultimately not much compared to the poverty of the gameplay, which today ignores the craft by limiting it to a stupid improvement of our equipment. And what about the loot, which is almost non-existent, the weapons offered at the end of the game being extremely rare* and replaced by credits. Yes, stupid credits, which should be spent at an equipment supplier whose list is randomly generated. If you don’t feel an ounce of excitement, know that everything is normal.
Difficult to explain such a step back, except that the Covid could have heavily affected the development of the game and forced the studio to put it on sale in this state to recover finances. A theory that will, alas, not make us forget this sad reality, namely a very simplistic Vermintide if we compare it to its elders, including the day of their respective releases. A game where nothing pushes us to chain the games. A game where you complete a mission, you pick up your credits, you lazily take a look (sporotriche) at the shop and “oh but you saw the time, well that’s not all that, eh but there are the road “. Sadness. The pure. The truth.
But let’s leave on a positive note: Fatshark has proven its know-how in terms of game as a service with Vermintide 2 and the foundations of Darktide today seem sufficiently solid to hope for a bright future. You just have to be more patient than expected.
- Six weapons won in fifteen hours during this test.
On the technical side, if a 3060 runs the game between 50 and 60 fps with practically all the details at full blast, Darktide reinforces its “unmolded too hot” aspect with too frequent crashes to be honest. Launching a game is the promise of seeing one or two players who suddenly disappear due to a crash, a temporary freeze that desynchronizes the client with the server and other things. In short, there is still work to be done.