In Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, you and three allies are all that stands between an army of Chaos-infested mutants and the destruction of a massive sci-fi hive city. It’s a compelling premise playing out in Left 4 Dead–style missions, and the current pre-order beta is full of promise. One of the best parts so far? Look at the four heroes – well, no one is really a hero in 40K – bickering and joking with each other.
The oil spill has four classes: Psyker, Zealot, Veteran, and Ogryn. Players can also choose their origins and life paths – as well as a few inciting incidents along the way – which lead to a much wider range of personalities. In fact, there are 21 voiceover and personality combos at launch… and hey, there are some. big personalities exhibited here.
The Zealot is a holy warrior wielding the wrath of the God Emperor, but other classes often mock them as either obnoxiously loud or downright delusional. The veteran can be a jovial guy who supports his team with a certain “just walk away” wisdom, or a bitter, battle-hardened shell who hates everyone around him. Nobody really like the Psyker, because in Warhammer 40K lore sometimes demons come out of these guys’ foreheads.
The friendliest and most charming class already seems to be the Ogryn, a large, bulky warrior who charges into battle and takes up an inordinate amount of the dropship’s cramped space. Most Ogryn I’ve met so far clearly understand the mission. They’ve usually picked a name like “Krunt” or “Gort”, and if you’re lucky enough to have two of them in a match, they’ll spam crouching face to face in their people’s dance.
Barks (short snippets of dialogue that convey important information, like an ally running out of ammo or a nasty enemy showing up) are surprisingly hard to nail in multiplayer games. Go too far, and the information can get confusing. Go too simple, and it can get very repetitive. (At least once a month, I think about the Division always screaming looters”They have Alex!”)
It is therefore a pleasure to see how The oil spill handles these lines. They are tasked with world-building while remaining vivid. In one instance, my Psyker growls at a Zealot she saves from certain death: “Against both our instincts, let me help you. The veteran sighs in relief when I throw ammo at him. “Ammo, the soldier’s best friend.” At one point an Ogryn helps me out of a fight and is oddly gentle in telling me not to worry.
There are also tons of longer main lines running through elevators and quarantine areas. Zealots and Psykers are usually at each other’s throats, bickering over the sins of the Imperium. Characters will have philosophical debates between waves of Chaos monsters, and sometimes a character will interrupt with a line like “There’s a right answer, and an answer that gets you shot.”
It’s a nice line to dance to. It would be easy to go overboard and make the cast a bunch of unlikable jerks, but I really like a lot of my castmates. We are all in the mud together, climbing the sewers and escaping death by the skin of our teeth. But none of us is a chosen one or a protagonist. We’re just a bunch of losers, bound by fate and Fatshark’s queue, and I’m enjoying the ride.