Space Hulk: Deathwing – Review

If you had to go to war, you’d almost certainly want a Space Hulk watching your back.

These space ships are spacious, speedy, and supremely well-armed. They’re also filled to the brim with vintage Warhammer charm. And thankfully for the new Death Wing video game, those traits stop the entire experience from being a complete washout.

Because at its core, Death Wing is merely a horde based, objective-focused FPS with some tactical overlays, and sadly, these most basic principles become far too obvious far too quickly.

 

As Librarian of the Dark Angels, players will assume the role of a Space Marine, able to use a warp power to move between various destinations. They’ll get to use Power Swords, as well as Assault Rifles and Bolters, but also various psychic abilities which can have various effects on the enemy. such as scalding them with flame or supercharging them with lightning bolts.

While there will be plenty of neat references to Warhammer 40k fans in the lore scattered through the maps and in the mission objectives, it will likely pass a lot of other players by. Because the narrative only vaguely has a trace compared to what you actually do in the game and is therefore easily forgotten about altogether.

The interactions between characters do really sell this theme, though, and give life and energy to the cast, but unfortunately, the passage of play feels comparatively lifeless. Most of the time you feel like you’re just wandering along corridors, navigating samey spaces, hunting down familiar foes, and looking for an exit.

Being brutally honest, it just doesn’t make for a very fun game, even if it remains an authentic adaptation of the tabletop. Especially when you have to take the long way around to reach objectives because the game decides to circumvent 5-6 direct routes to buy time.

Sure, it captures the atmosphere of the Warhammer universe wonderfully by having you stomp and clonk your way around space ships in that oversized suit. And it looks absolutely glorious in Unreal Engine 4. Easily the best-looking Warhammer game out there to date. At times, it even gives the likes of Alien: Isolation a run for its money in the tension department, but Death Wing never really gets out of third gear. The objectives become overly familiar after only the first few levels and the games stability issues also begin to stack up.

For instance, your two AI Space Marine buddies actually prove to be liabilities in a heavy fray. You’ll have to pay more attention to their health bars while deflecting the lion’s share of the Xenos. Yes, they can heal you too and fortify certain positions to protect your flank, but with limited boosters to share between the three of you, those soon run down, leaving you virtually defenceless. Especially considering your buddies are susceptible to the dreaded perma-death.

Then there are times you get rooted to the spot while you’re being shot at by certain types of heavy gunfire. It’s annoying when you’re trying to get to cover, but find your space boots have some form of intergalactic super glue stuck to them while your armour is being eaten alive.

Not to mention the dips in frame rate and juddery motions which do a great job of hampering your progress.

It all feels very Left 4 Dead in space but lacks a similar compelling hook. Each enemy does require its own strategy, with some hiding in stealth, and others coming right into your face with reckless abandon. But without any real safe haven or effective environmental spots and fortifications to build on and create an advantage, Death Wing just becomes a corridor turner where you hack, slash, blast, repeat.

Death Wing does have an RPG-esque progression system where you can harness different psychic abilities, though, while also improving the competency of your allies. You can also switch your load outs and have different weapons at your disposal. Be it miniguns or sawed off weapons. The combat also feels pretty neat. Most guns can turn aliens into smudge, filled with the desired impact, and the power sword cleaves through just about anything with satisfying ease.

Playing the campaign with friends does breathe a bit more life into Death Wing, and is easily the most recommended way to do this. Especially since humans will always be more reliable than AI counterparts. Yet, the eventual monotony will still manage to break through.

Space Hulk Deathwing is not necessarily a bad game and it will hopefully become a better one with content updates and fixes. It’s just very difficult to recommend when there are much more interesting, enriching experiences on the market. Having a series of technical hiccups go against it also doesn’t much help its case. It’s a shame as this is one I’ve been really looking forward to.

My advice, don’t go into this looking for a singleplayer gem – you definitely won’t find that. Instead, have a group of buddies at your back, delve into this together, and reap the rewards of ripping through Genestealers. Because, sadly, Space Hulk Deathwing is very much a one-trick pony, a trick which others – Left 4 Dead, Killing Floor, Verminitide – have done much, much better.


Pros
+ Satisfying combat
+ Decent Co-Op fun with good weapon and ability variety
+ Unreal Engine 4 suits Warhammer
+ Atmosphere and ambience offers great fan service

Cons
– Technically sluggish
– Very much a one-trick pony
– AI Allies are a poor show

– Possibly the dullest singleplayer FPS campaign for some time.


Space Hulk: Deathwing

6.5 out of 10

Platform review on :- PC

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,