UPDATE: This is an old review. Latest review for update 6 can be found here.

A Warhammer 40,000 Survival Shooter

It’s dark. It’s graphic. It’s AWESOME. Based on a tabletop wargame from Game’s Workshop, Space Hulk: Deathwing is a co-op first person shooter set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. You and your team assault a ‘space hulk’, which is essentially a pile of derelict ships that have been crammed together, accumulating into one huge pile of space debris. Some of these ships are tens of thousands of years old, and it’s your job to go aboard and eliminate any threats that have set up shop, and gather any relics of importance to the Emperor! You get to play as Terminators from Dark Angels chapter of the Space Marines! GLORY TO THE EMPEROR! I’ve never played Left 4 Dead, but lots of people have compared the two during my streams. While the game is eye candy in the first degree, the rest of it is pretty disappointing.

Space Hulk: Deathwing Breakdown

You can pick up the game for $39.99 MSRP from anywhere Steam keys are sold. The best deal right now is at Green Man Gaming for $27.69, and clicking this link helps me out too. Deathwing offers two game modes, a single-player campaign and multiplayer. In the campaign, you play as a Librarian, and are accompanied by two AI controlled NPC terminators. In the multiplayer mode you and three others form a kill team to delve deep into the cryptic ships of the space hulk. In the multiplayer you can choose from different classes.  Both game modes offer 9 chapters to play through, as well as different levels of difficulty. Also during your travels through the space hulk, there are relics to find and collect. As each chapter/level begins, your XP is reset. You earn skills and weapon upgrades as the chapter progresses.

What Makes It Fun

I mentioned the eye candy graphics earlier? Space Hulk: Deathwing is a visual masterpiece. I bought a new graphics card this week and cranked up the settings to ultra. Now I just sit back watching in awe. I’ve gotten a few stream comments about how great the game looks. The terminators look great, the gore looks great, and even the visuals of the setting itself will blow you away. The story seems interesting too. Yes, I actually tried the campaign mode and found myself wanting to know more. You can affect the environment to a small degree. When you put a bullet hole in something, it stays. You can shoot bells, forcing them to ring at the pace of your machine gun. You can pop heads off tyranid corpses by walking on them. These little things are nice, and complement the already great visuals. Unfortunately for now, that’s where the pros stop.

What Makes It…Not

For me, the biggest problem with this game is unforgivable. The multiplayer co-op is almost completely unplayable. Lots of lost connections during and between games. This particular bug has existed since the beta, which is really surprising since the initial release date was delayed 5 extra days. Another issue is not actually being able to see available games to join. Facepalm worthy right there. A patch fix has been promised in the next few days, but it’s still gonna be an uphill battle. Steam reviews already hit a 45% low, and that’s a lot to dig out of. I also don’t like that Space Hulk: Deathwing multiplayer has no progression. Your XP is essentially wiped after every chapter, and you have to earn your skills and weapons all over again. Kinda feels silly to leave behind the new gun that you just upgraded to, and forget the skills you learned not 30 minutes ago. Seriously, how does a healer forget how to heal themselves?! And the NPC terminators that follow you around in the singleplayer are complete rocks. You have to micromanage everything about them. Hordes of enemies coming at you, and you have to stop YOUR shooting so that your Apothecary stops HIS shooting, and walks over just to keep you up. Also, walking through doors is one of the biggest hassles in game. The NPCs block the doorway so you can’t close it, then they literally block the panel so you can’t see it, or physically get to it yourself to do it. And you are having to manage this with hordes of screaming aliens pouring in to kill you. Really, really bad AI folks. There are just a ton of little bugs too throughout both game modes. While these aren’t necessarily game breaking, they are super annoying. An example would be not saving my audio settings, so while I’m streaming, I blast my audience (and myself) every time I start the game. Another example is not being able to fire a newly equipped gun until you use your secondary weapon first. WTF?!?

The Bottom Line

While I can ignore the little bugs, and almost anything that happens in the singleplayer mode, not even being able to connect to a multiplayer match is a deal breaker. This is an easy game not to recommend. If the current sale prices hang around, and if the patch fixes the multiplayer co-op, then it might be worthwhile. I’d really love to test drive this game on the hardest difficulty with 3 friends. I can see grouping up and blasting your way through this game being seriously fun, especially if you’re on the more tactical-minded side of things. I get flashbacks of DOOM when traipsing through all the darkness and gore. The potential is there, but there’s a lot of work left to be done.

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