Space Hulk: Deathwing is a Warhammer 40,000 first-person shooter that puts you in the shoes of a Space Marine donning Terminator armour. March through narrow passages as well as grand hallways as you shoot, burn, slice and smash your way through a space hulk infested with Genestealers.
The Special Missions section is the single-player skirmish version of randomly generated missions available in multiplayer mode. On the plus side, it does add something extra to do if you have finished the single-player campaign or you just feel like hammering xenos outside of the campaign. Your exploits also contribute to getting upgrades for multiplayer. Unfortunately, there are many minuses to how the Special Missions section was implemented (see cons).
I have completed all 9 chapters in the single-player campaign and I reckon the story was quite interesting. I guess it should not be a surprise since the developers got Gav Thorpe to work the plot. Although good, it did feel a bit short. Maybe expecting Horus Rising was too much as it was more like The Wolf of Ash and Fire.
The best way to introduce the story is to watch the introduction video.
The sounds are awesome. The guns sound powerful. Whacking with your fist or sword gives a very satisfying contact sound, even when hitting walls or railings. The ambient sounds and that of the Genestealers also sound awesome.
Although the Space Marines do not speak much, what little speech the game has, does sound very good.
The graphics are Warhammer 40,000 wonderful. Your fellow battle-brothers, the enemies, the space hulk interior, the details on weapons, the exploding sparks from your Power Fist when you pound a Genestealer into oblivion – everything in the game looks awesome.
The levels are very well designed. Although not open-world, they are quite large and you have to figure out how to move through the space hulk maze to get to your objectives. It is not all narrow corridors either. There are big halls, engine rooms and everything else you would expect inside derelict ships of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
The game tends to randomly crash to desktop with fatal errors when playing campaign missions. This happens both in single-player and multiplayer. I have not encountered the error with special missions yet. Playing roughly half campaign missions and half special missions, the crashes have happened around once every ten hours of game time. It would be interesting to see if the game crashes roughly every five hours if I only played campaign missions.
Multiplayer is a lot of fun… if you can find someone else online. Even on weekends, there are very few people playing online.
It also doesn’t help that multiplayer games do not have drop in/drop out AI replacements like Payday 2. I am sure more people would host multiplayer games if the AI buddies start with you when no other humans are around. Right now, it is just you, alone, by yourself until another human joins your game.
Another minus is you only get 2 AI buddies so your team is short by 1 member compared to playing multiplayer. Your AI buddies also work identically to the ones in the single-player campaign which severely limits how you can arm and use them. It does not make sense to me why the AI apothecary only has limited heal uses AND can only heal 1 person at a time when a human apothecary has unlimited uses with a cool-down timer and can heal an area as well as individuals.
According to the Steam timer, I have only played 17 hours and I have already finished the single-player campaign. I did play on the easiest difficulty of disciple and although I was not exploring or relic hunting, I was not rushing through the game either. This 17 hours also included dying quite a bit, playing a few multiplayer games and some special missions as well. There is no denying, the single-player campaign is very short.
Sometimes special HUD overlays get stuck permanently. The perk/buff is no longer in effect, but the overlay just stays on the screen. It will only disappear if you quit to the main menu. The extra stuck clutter is most annoying when you have just started a multiplayer game.
There is the bug where sometimes when a chapter is completed, the speech would stop working. Restarting the game would fix the problem, but it is still annoying.
You cannot see your own feet! Space Hulk: Deathwing is one FPS that has a good excuse for not being able to see your own feet. The game is like a Space Marine in Terminator armour simulator. The armour is so big that it is constantly blocking your view of things.
I had to think long and hard as to whether to put the team-mates AI as a con. In the end, I decided not to place it as a con. It is true that your AI team-mates are not autonomous for most things. So, healing anyone automatically is out. Opening, closing and sealing doors are also out. One thing that they are very good at is killing xenos, at least on the easier difficulty levels. The other thing they are good at is following your orders. Order the apothecary to heal and he will. Order the heavy weapon specialist to seal a door and he will. Order your troops to move back from the horde (ie go to a position) and they will. Although not the smartest teammates in the world, I do think they are one up on the AI of Payday 2.
Within the game, the single-player campaign story is presented via mission briefings, audio dialogue, ships’ logs and psychic vision scenes. Most of the time is spent walking around and beating the bones out of Tyranids though, so if you are after a strong progressing narrative, Space Hulk: Deathwing is NOT for you.
Character upgrades in the single-player campaign are attained by performing certain actions in the game like finding relics, making melee or psychic kills and hacking stuff. At the end of a chapter, you are given fervour points to upgrade your abilities.
In multiplayer and special missions, upgrading is completely different. When you complete or fail missions, experience is awarded. Get enough experience and you level up. Upon levelling up you get renown and a random freebie to upgrade your character. Upgrades can also be bought with the renown you earn.
To change the difficulty level of special missions, you must first start the special mission of your choice. Once in the arming area of the mission, you can press ESC and go to the options menu to change the difficulty.
Ammo is unlimited. It is a good thing too as the hordes of Genestealers just keep coming. The real challenge comes in the form of when to reload your weapon or to use a different attack type.
There are no manual saves for the single-player campaign. Your progress is saved at checkpoints which include activation of the Psygate. In a way, the Psygate activation can be used as a manual save, but there are only a limited number of activations available for each chapter of the campaign. Only your last 9 saves can be reloaded. Your progress is also saved at the end of each chapter.
I found it strange that there is a purchasable soundtrack for Space Hulk: Deathwing. I have not heard any music in the game! It amazed me that the game has such a strong Warhammer 40,000 atmosphere, all without music.
Space Hulk: Deathwing is available DRM-free from GOG.com.
I have been a fan of Warhammer 40,000 since Dawn of War.
Payday 2 is the only other co-op multiplayer game I have played and I enjoyed that game a lot, both in multiplayer and single-player.