I used to be trying ahead to the discharge of Warhammer 40,000: Darktide from the second it was introduced. I’ve performed over 100 hours of Vermintide, and Vermintide 2, so I knew I might rely on developer Fatshark to ship a compelling motion recreation.
However when Darktide got here out on the finish of November, 2022, the motion was strong, however the whole lot round it felt unfinished, lacking, or frustratingly misguided. Efficiency on PC wanted large optimisations, particularly in CPU-utilisation. In-game itemisation was paper-thin, as soon as you set sufficient hours into the sport to get to some extent the place you wanted good loot.
Then there was the bizarrely aggressive monetisation. Darktide had fallen into the frequent entice of prioritising paid cosmetics and launching with an in-game retailer – in such a approach that it gave gamers the ick – particularly since giant components of the sport clearly wanted plenty of work.
All of that irked me, however the one factor I simply couldn’t recover from was the shortage of cross-play. Most of my Vermintide mates purchased the sport on Steam, whereas I opted for the Recreation Cross model. The 2 couldn’t play with one another, regardless of each being on PC.
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Whereas Fatshark has come a great distance in creating on-line methods that assist solo gamers discover teams (including devoted servers, and making a extra social expertise by means of the hub world), the studio’s video games shine when performed with mates, not simply different gamers.
All of these issues mixed merely drove me away from Darktide. I do know that’s been the case for others, too. Even on the finish of September, as I write this, Darktide continues to be sitting at a Blended consumer assessment ranking on Steam, which is true for each latest evaluations, in addition to practically all 62,000 of them.
Then there was the Xbox model, which was initially imagined to launch day-and-date with PC, however ended up being pushed again again and again, to the purpose that it began to by no means come up in common communication from the builders. It wasn’t till Fatshark formally introduced a launch date for the Xbox model final month that hope was restored.
But it surely’s not simply the October 4 launch of the Xbox Collection X/S model that’s value celebrating – this additionally marks a contemporary launch for Darktide on all platforms.
Xbox gamers lastly get to affix their PC mates and benefit from the brutal chaos of Darktide. | Picture credit score: Fatshark
The Xbox model arrives with Patch 13, which fits dwell on PC the identical day. Patch 13 is a significant milestone for Darktide. I used to be invited by Fatshark to play an early construct of the sport operating Patch 13, and obtained to pattern the whole lot it has to supply. The quick model: that is simply on the extent of Cyberpunk 2077’s Patch 2.0.
Patch 13 adjustments the category recreation totally, including new variations for each class. Class range has all the time been one thing the Vermintide video games had been good at, however the best way Darktide implements this traditional design is Fatshark’s greatest. Every class now has a fully-fledged, multi-branch expertise tree, which felt surprisingly unrestrictive.
You possibly can rigidly comply with a linear path and create a extra commonplace subclass, or you could as a substitute elect to spend your factors on the talents and passives you care about. Resetting your nodes is as straightforward as urgent a button; no foreign money or uncommon supplies to fret about. The very best half is that you would be able to save loadouts, collectively together with your chosen weapons to create a coherent builds.
That is significantly helpful for courses just like the Veteran, which excels at utilizing firearms, however the outdated class system would railroad you to spec right into a sure path. Certainly, after simply two hours of gameplay, I managed to pattern methods of enjoying the Veteran I by no means thought attainable.
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Even past the very thrilling class rework, PC gamers who deserted the sport (or by no means picked it up) have a way more feature-rich, and higher optimised model ready for them. All of the work that went into the Xbox port means the PC model goes to be extra performant. This isn’t a magic bullet; anticipate framerate drops when giant hoards are on display, but when the final time you performed Darktide was when it got here out, you’re going to really feel an actual distinction.
Whereas I used to be not in a position to play the sport on Xbox, Fatshark confirmed that Collection X will supply two modes: one targets 60fps at 1440p, and the opposite sticks to 30fps at 4K. Collection S is proscribed to 1080p at 30fps for now, however the developer instructed me it’s not ruling out a extra aggressive decision that targets 60fps down the road.
The very best half about all that is that gamers on all platforms get to be on the identical web page, and everybody can play collectively. Future content material launches might be launched concurrently throughout PC and Xbox, which actually drives dwelling how a lot of a brand new starting that is for Darktide.
This can be a good time to leap into (or return to) Darktide. | Picture credit score: Fatshark
I’m typically cautious of rewarding corporations for fixing their video games months/years later. However you may solely decide issues as they're as we speak. The Darktide of late 2023 is a recreation that helps cross-play on all platforms, runs higher, affords deeper loot, new methods to play, extra content material – and the large one: a massively revamped class system that teases infinite experimentation by itself.
The present model of Darktide is a simple suggestion, and anybody with Recreation Cross (particularly Xbox gamers who’d been ready very patiently for it) ought to completely obtain it and provides it a strive. It’s the right evolution of Vermintide 2, and a enjoyable recreation in its personal proper.