I don’t want to play Darktide, I want to walk around it looking at stuff

By admin Mar22,2024

Readers may be aware that I am a Warhammer 40K orbiter, but I am not of Warhammer 40K. Recent events have conspired so that I have experienced a bunch of Warhammer 40K in a way that exposes me to the world passively, without lore dumping. I played the PowerWash Sim x 40K crossover DLC and loved it for just putting cool big machines in front of me and refusing to explain further, so when James picked Darktide as this month’s RPS Game Club Game, like someone incautiously opening the door to Mormons, I was ready to let more of the God Emperor into my life. Except, having played some Darktide, I do not want to play Darktide. For me, playing Darktide does, in some measure, get in the way of enjoying Darktide.

This is because when you play a level of Darktide you have to tear-arse through a level, running and gunning and decapitating, to get to whatever mission point you’re supposed to, and while this is fun, I would rather be able to slow down and lookit all the weird keypads made of skulls. It turns out that when you’re in a firefight your squadmates have little patience for you wanting to examine the healing station from different angles cos it looks all weird.


A floating servo-skull in Warhammer 40k Darktide
Look at this guy! What’s his deal? What does he do when nobody is around? How do you make one of these? And is there any reason it has to be a skull apart from like, ideological/vibes reasons? I love these little guys. | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Fatshark

Too much explicit lore is, like worldbuilding, the golf to my nice walk being ruined. Warhammer has a lot or lore. If you stacked it all up it would basically reach singularity. But Darktide doesn’t actually explain anything happening, really. This is partly because, I imagine, it’s thematically in line with the scrub-tier peon that you play that the upper reachers of the empire are unknown to you, but more obviously because the target audience are already fans of WH40K and do not need any explanation. For me, who has only a basic working knowledge of this world, Darktide is like being sandblasted in the face with a heavy metal music video. In a good way.

The game itself is fine, I like co-op horde shooters and this is, as observed by podcast-pal Nate, Left40KDead. But I keep being like “Woah, whenever you fast travel you have to go through hell? That’s the plot of my favourite horror sci fi film!” and then noticing a little self-propelled floating skull and wanting to know what that’s all about, then? What this torso stuck on a robot arm doing? Woah, everything looks like a cathedral! I like this big logo that’s like a skull having sex with a cog! Cool! Why is this train spitting out green smoke? I guess I don’t need to know, but it’s intriguing! Wow, my character is from a planet that’s entirely for growing food! Like, the whole planet!


A console in a multiplayer game of Warhammer 40K Darktide
Fucking magnets, how do they work? | Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Fatshark

Essentially it’s like watching a Christopher Nolan film but with a toddler constantly pointing their sticky fingers at things. And I’m not at all sure I even want to know what’s going on, but I wish I could slow down and look at stuff more while jaunting around the lower decks of this huge city-planet thing. Experiencing Warhammer 40K from the bottom up as opposed to the top down makes it all so much more interesting and mysterious.

What is less mysterious is sprinting after the rest of my group, who know what they’re doing, and not getting to look at the weird architecture and huge machines and try to figure out what they’re for, you know? Darktide is really getting in the way of Darktide. But I do like the shovel.

By admin

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