Recently, I was invited down to Frontier Developments’ office in Cambridge to play a couple of games. One of which I was very keen on trying, and will be able to talk about soon. The other, this one, not so much, simply because my knowledge of Warhammer is non-existent. All I know is that Roy Hodgson plays it and that is perhaps a more niche reference that will fly over the heads of many regular Warhammer players as well. But I am sticking with it.
After time with both games, I came out of Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters very impressed indeed. I still wasn’t able to separate my poxwalkers from my bloodletters, but that wasn’t going to stop me.
During our hands-on with the game we had the opportunity to try four levels: the first two that act as a tutorial, an early-game mission and finally, one of the major bosses. More on that epic encounter to come.
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters has had a very successful launch on PC, so its arrival on console is long awaited. It is a turn-based tactical game in a similar vein to XCOM and Marvel’s Midnight Suns, where players control a small army of Grey Knights through various missions to stop the spread of a plague known as the Bloom. Now, these Grey Knights are elite warriors: they don’t not miss and even when their health bar depletes, they are not down for long. But all that said, this is far from an easy ride.
It quickly became apparent that playing Daemonhunters like an XCOM game won’t get you very far. Rather than setting up Overwatch to cover all avenues, you can and need to be much more offensive here. Which is more than doable with the arsenal that the Grey Knights come packing.
Even during the tutorial missions I immediately got a sense of the scale and speed of these games. Daemonhunters feels very fast-paced compared to other tactical games of the ilk. That doesn’t mean that things are being dumbed down, you still need to think a couple of moves ahead. But the Grey Knights arsenal, abilities, environmental hazards and more all contribute and leave you with a ton of options on how to dispatch your enemies.
The scale comes from the size of some of the enemies and your surroundings. The maps are incredibly well detailed as you would expect, but you get a better look at them during some of the cinematic shots. Every time you throw a grenade you get a quick cinematic shot that will never get tiring. And if you are near an enemy that is low on health, a melee cinematic will remind you just how gory the Warhammer 40K universe can be.
The enemies look excellent as well, and some of them you get a better look at than others. They can be quite the hulking behemoths. The tutorial showed us Ere’khul, who towered over pretty much everything, and the boss we got to play, Cruciatus, was extremely daunting.
There are five bosses in Daemonhunters, and each play very differently from each other. They have been tainted by the Bloom and as a result, each have their own mechanics and methodology for defeating them. Cruciatus for example, had a shield that recharged every round before you could even get to his health bar. The amount of shield he has though can be reduced with certain weaponry, and then don’t forget the environmental hazards that are bountiful in his arena…
I am pleased to report I managed to defeat this boss, but it was touch and go at points.
Daemonhunter isn’t all just on the battlefield. Ultimately, you and your crew are trying to return home on the ship, the Baleful Edict. That is, before they receive news about the Bloom and are forced into investigating against their will. The Baleful Edict becomes your base of operations when looking into the outbreak. Here you can upgrade the ship, your knights’ abilities, classes and weapons, and conduct a variety of research. On the map you can also select your next mission; selecting one based on its rewards might help you make another mission a little easier.
Your Grey Knights’ appearance is also fully customisable. We didn’t get to spend much time playing around with this but it looked deep enough that you could spend a long time in there. And with how gorgeous and cinematic the game looks already, you’ll get to see your creations in the best light.
By this point, you’re probably curious about a release date. Well, Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters is launching on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on 20th February, so you don’t have all that long to wait. Your next decision will be which version to pick up.
It comes in two varieties: The Base Game which is priced at £34.99, and the Purifier Edition for £39.99. The Purifier Edition comes with an additional Grey Knight for your roster, Castellan Garran Crowe and his Black Blade of Antwyr. Only he can wield this mind-controlling sword, so it is best left in his hands.
Pre-orders also come with 15% off the retail price and the Relics of Titan equipment pack. This contains:
- Domina Liber Daemonica Tome
- Destroyer of Crys’yllix Hammer
These are heavy with Warhammer 40K lingo, but I have been reliably informed they can help you out in the early missions. Pre-orders aren’t yet live on the Xbox Store, but we will let you know when they are. But don’t forget, Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters is already up on Steam now if you can’t wait for the console release.
If you can wait though, it doesn’t look like you will be disappointed. After our hands-on we were left very impressed with the transition to a controller, the fast-paced nature of the turn-based gameplay and the gorgeous visuals. There is a lot to be excited about in Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters on Xbox, even for a Warhammer noob like myself.
Huge thanks go out to Frontier Developments for offering us the chance to visit their offices for some hands-on time with Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters.