Space Hulk: Deathwing Preview – Squad-Based Bliss

Space Hulk: Deathwing – An Excellent Entrypoint For 40K Newbies

The Warhammer 40K series has gotten numerous adaptations and various genres have been attempted to be used to find what fits best. Dawn of War is a stellar example, where the massive battles of the series play out as you arrange squads and proceed to out think both AI and human player alike. Space Marine also stood out, using third person combat put you in the role of a Space Marine, kicking all kinds of alien ass in spectacular manner. Space Hulk: Deathwing takes on a new formula, though, throwing players and their friends into the hulking suits of Terminator Marines as you shoot and slice through hordes of genestealers, and suffice to say, it feels like a combination that was long overdue.

You and three friends assume the role of the Deathwing, an elite squad within the Dark Angels chapter who are tasked with taking back a Space Hulk, an abandoned ship that seemingly appeared from out of nowhere. In the cases of the 40K universe, these are almost filled to the brim with Genestealers, a branch of the all-consuming Tyranid race, and they mean business. It takes the best of the best to bring these beasts down, so why not send four giant, heavily armed marines to paint the town (or space hulk’s walls, if you will), red. You and your battle-brothers have a wide range of weaponry to make use of, and during my time in the Beta, I saw my comrades using flamethrowers, miniguns, psychic-powered swords, and beefy, aptly named Power Fists that were a personal favorite for me. Each weapon has a serious amount of polish to it. Guns rattle off with echoing fury throughout the space hulk’s desolate halls, and landing blows against the enemies both sound and feel great. Enemies are promptly rag-dolled, if not outright horribly dismembered, and it never gets old watching your friends promptly carve through a massive horde of Genestealers, with limbs flying in every direction.

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Your squad makeup has a bit of flexibility to it, as well. Librarians provide buffs to teammates, Tactical Marines make use of various firearms and weaponry, and there is even a melee-focused class, should you want to just rip and tear your way through each encounter. Each squad can also have an Apothecary, who serves as your main source of healing. They aren’t completely defenseless, though, and like their terminator allies, they are quite capable of kicking serious ass. The usual cannon fodder don’t prove too dangerous unless they come in great numbers, but there are also plenty of special variants to keep you on your toes. These special genestealers prove to be a bit more troublesome to tackle and can make short work of the Deathwing if you are careless. Much like Left 4 Dead, Space Hulk punishes lone-wolf style gameplay, and you need your allies as much as they need you. Space Hulk: Deathwing is a co-operative game at heart, and you’ll have to work with your allies to conquer each objective as you introduce every single Genestealer to the business end of every single goddamn weapon you can carry. You all have some serious flexibility in your loadouts, and as you progress you gain other abilities, such as psychokinetic blasts of lighting. There’s also armor customization present, allowing you to kit out your Terminator marine even further. The extent of this remains to be seen, but I have high hopes for some serious variety.


“Space Hulk: Deathwing is a co-operative game at heart, and you’ll have to work with your allies to conquer each objective as you introduce every single Genestealer to the business end of every single goddamn weapon you can carry.”

The game runs off of Unreal Engine 4, and it’s naturally a treat for the eyes. Streum On has paid special attention to the details in each level, and the bizarre mix of modern technology with a medieval twist really stands out in some impressive areas. While a lot of the corridors are tight fits, there are wide-open areas that feature massive machinery, and you begin to realize just how much of a task you and your allies have cut out for you. I did notice at times that Space Hulk: Deathwing did chug a bit in terms of performance when things got particularly hairy, and sadly those are the times you need to be able to react quicker than normal. I suffered a few deaths due to this, but I’m personally hoping that with the push of the release date to December 9th that this game gets a bit more polish and optimization.

There are only a few days left until Space Hulk: Deathwing releases for PCs, but there are plans for a console release following in short order. Keep yours on COGconnected in the coming days to find out what our thoughts are on the full title. If this beta was any indication, though, the Warhammer franchises continue to get some excellent entries, and that’s a damn good thing for both fans old and new.