Saturday, July 20, 2024

From Obscure Bolters to the Indomitus Era – The Insanely Nerdy Details Behind Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

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In his two Vermintide games, developer Fatshark has proven his dedication to recreating every detail of the Warhammer “Old World” setting from Games Workshop. The next studio game, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, sees the same team explore the very different – but equally dense – universe of 40K. And after a recent chat with a handful of Fatshark staff, it’s safe to say they’re as nerfed as they did on Vermintide, if not more. “How should we make the chainsaw?” asks Mats Andersson, Game Designer on Darktide, recalling an early design meeting. “Because you shouldn’t just cut. It should stay, it should see through, and then we should have a second damage that makes the [limb] of.”

The Chainsword is Warhammer 40,000’s most recognizable close combat weapon; a device swung like a medieval longsword, but with the blade exchanged for a 30-inch-long chainsaw. Hack someone with it, and the result is similar to Gears of War’s Lancer MK2 bayonet, but much more gothic. This bloody, mechanical process, described in Warhammer 40K’s many books and novels, meant that its re-creation required a slightly different approach to Vermintide’s fantastic knives and axes.“And the encoder is just like, ‘But can’t we just cut off the head? “Andersson says.” ‘No no no. You have to go into the neck and saw off. And then you tear it up and that’s where the head flies off. These are not other weapons, it is a truncated sword.

Adjust that last sentence a bit, and it could be an apparent design philosophy for Darktide: These aren’t other shooters, this is a Warhammer 40K shooter.

Like the Vermintide games before it, Darktide is a Left 4 Dead-style co-op game in which teams of four progress through levels governed by an AI “ Conflict Director ”. This AI dictates the enemies the team will face; in Vermintide these were typically man-sized rat packs known as Skaven, but in Darktide players will fight their way through hordes of Poxwalkers. These undead horrors, created by the literal god of disease, provided the perfect next step in the evolution of Vermintide’s bloody melee systems.

“Looking at the amount of guns we’ve made for Vermintide, we’ve got a set that’s sturdy enough for us to paint a vivid picture of how to break bodies,” says Andersson. “And it’s just a matter of applying that and expanding it specifically with the different enemies. There is a difference between a Shattering Poxwalker and a Shattering Renegade Guard.

Having chosen to make the forces of chaos the villains of the game, Fatshark has a huge web of potential enemies to extract (Games Workshop’s range of Chaos miniatures for the table count well over 100). “The options for using Chaos are almost endless,” says Anders De Geer, game director of Darktide, who also has a collection of Chaos Cultists on his table. “From cultists to demons to sea traitors, the scale is enormous.”

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide Screenshots

The most important aspect of Darktide’s enemies, however, is that they will often carry guns. Where Vermintide was primarily a melee game, Darktide’s 41st Millennium setting allows ranged weapons to be a much larger part of the game. This creates a variety of opportunities for gameplay encounters, as well as replication. distinct shooter and combat phases of the tabletop game – but more than that, Fatshark got the chance to go insanely nerdy to bring 40K’s vast arsenal of absurd weapons to life.

“We’ve been working on Lasgun visuals for quite a while,” says De Geer, referring to one of the more common 40K weapons. The Darktide version of the rifle is based on the M35 model, a variant chosen from “a list of 150 different models”. Some tweaks were made to the version that hobbyists will have painted – Fatshark added a side-loading mechanism – but fans have already responded kindly to the authenticity of his almost WWII-like operation as seen. seen in the first gameplay trailer.

“We want to live up to people’s expectations when it comes to guns, but we also want to make sure their favorite guns are represented,” says Steve Bigras, executive producer of Darktide. “And so there was a lot of work [thinking] ‘Is it okay if a guard can even have this? Because it’s such a cool and iconic thing. We really try to do our best to make sure that people’s favorite guns are there and that they make sense. And maybe some of them might have to squint a bit, but you’re glad you can play with them.

While the chainsaw and laser pistol are some of Warhammer 40,000’s most beloved weapons, arguably the most iconic is the Bolter; a square automatic assault weapon that shoots explosive bullets. They are the iconic weapon of 40K’s most recognizable warriors: the Space Marines. But in Darktide, you play like regular humans rather than those superhuman postmen, and the recoil of a Godwyn Pattern Boltgun would shatter the bones of a normal soldier. This meant that Fatshark had to dig a little deeper into lore to get the gun in Darktide without breaking the barrel.

“We had a [discussion about gun caliber] very early on between art and design and everyone, ”says Andersson. “We have human-sized Bolters, which is their own model,” De Geer adds, referring to smaller variations of the pistol depicted in tabletop game lore, like the Locke and Godwyn-De’az models.Adding the Bolter to Darktide’s arsenal offers a new angle to game design, as the pistol is actually a rapid-fire grenade launcher. “There are very few guns that simply function as guns,” says Andersson. “They all do different things. From Bolter, to Lasgun, to another, to anything. And by incorporating that into the gameplay, you can actually have a player use it to take out different things, and at the same time, we’re leveraging your expectations.

These different things currently consist of a multitude of Chaos Troops and Demons, but Fatshark appears to have significant long-term plans for Darktide. Someday we might stick the muzzle of a Bolter into the mouths of 40K cockney skins.

“Each interview [Andersson] will talk about Orks, but now is not the time, ”says Martin Wahlund, co-founder of Fatshark. “At some point they will matter, I promise you, but I don’t know when… We see it as a long, continuous journey, so to speak, that we want to build over time.

And, with any luck, there might be more of them than Orks in the future. “When we launched Vermintide 1, the Old World was an active IP,” recalls De Geer, referring to the original version of Warhammer Fantasy which has since been discontinued. “And then it stopped being an active IP address. And so this time, we felt we wanted to be up to date. We want to be able to connect to whatever Games Workshop is planning for the future, and so Darktide is very current 40K, it’s the latest and best in 40K. “

This means Darktide takes place during the Indomitus Era, the storyline that is currently fueling the 9th Edition of 40K tabletop. And while Chaos remains humanity’s greatest threat, this new phase has put more emphasis on the 40K alien, more exterior enemies, including skeletal necrons. If Fatshark is planning Darktide to be a platform for all sorts of 40K conflict, then they couldn’t have started development at a more exciting time for the set. The studio still has plenty of cards to its chest on the intricate details of Darktide, but what they will say indicates a reverence and a deep understanding of the 40K universe rarely seen outside of Relic’s Dawn of War games. While Fatshark still has a lot to prove, one thing is certain: the universe is certainly in passionate hands.

Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK news and entertainment editor and Games Workshop enthusiast, which is currently assembling half of Adeptus Astartes from Indomitus (like Ultramarines, sorry).


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