Warhammer sure do churn out a high volume of video games.
From mobile titles to PC strategy games and beyond, it would be hard not to find a Warhammer game dropping onto your radar. Already in 2023 I have had the chance to review Blood Bowl 3, Warhammer’s murderous version of American Football and there were several more games announced during their own “mini E3” presentation at Warhammer Skulls 2023.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a first person shooter done in the style of the old arena shooters. Quake, Doom, Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein have all contributed here as inspiration. The title is one that caught my eye a few months back, mostly due to the graphical style shown in the announcement trailer, so getting the chance to sink my teeth in has been fantastic.
Boltgun comes with the pixelated look of shooter games from yesteryear; the environments and weaponry all look like they have skipped into a time machine and arrived in 2023. That said, they are absolutely gorgeous for a fan of classic shooters. Many a lunchtime at school was spent by myself in the local “cyber cafe” (ask your parents… or grandparents) playing Quake or Duke Nukem over a LAN connection, and Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun has brought memories of those happier, carefree days flooding back.
Each level is delivered through a pretty simple set up – clean house and leave. There are enemies aplenty strewn throughout choke points and sniper towers as you vanquish the demons in the name of the emperor. Warhammer fans will love seeing some of their favourite factions and enemies to the Space Marines throughout the various stages. You need to clear the enemies and find the exit – ala Duke Nukem. Some stages are short and sweet, while others have a bit more exploring required before making it to the exit.
Enemy types are nice and varied, as Boltgun tends to ease you into new levels nicely. And by that I mean you get a few seconds to figure things out before you have to just dive right in. Luckily this isn’t much of an issue as your nameless Space Marine avatar (voiced by the amazing Rahul Kohli) is armed to the teeth with weapons, allowing you to blast, rip and shred through the hordes trying to halt your progress. Occasionally a boss or two will be thrown into the mix, each usually requiring a bit more strategy than the standard minions. All are fun to fight and never do things feel unfair when taking them on with the weapons provided.
Initially you get just the Boltgun. Although saying “just” the Boltgun isn’t particularly fair, as that default weapon kicks ass. The same goes for the rest of the guns, be it shotgun, sniper or cannon; each weapon type has a satisfying kick to it as you blast through chaos terminators and cultists alike. And as enemy types are varied, it truly keeps the simple level design and objectives fresh. Facing your first chaos terminator may make you take a step or two back, but you’ll soon see them as every other enemy when more powerful creatures enter the fray.
You also get a chainsword; the iconic weapon of the Space Marine. Used in unison with the Boltgun will see you able to create a beautiful symphony of devastation across the planet. Not every weapon is made equal though, and some – such as the explosive variety – aren’t always as good or accurate enough to use against your foes. There is also a dash move that can allow you to absolutely storm through waves of creatures, splattering them with your sheer brute strength as you burst through their attempted ambushes.
That is one thing that Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun does better than even Halo: it makes you feel genuinely badass. Master Chief is supposed to be a souped up Space Marine of his own sort, but never did I feel more powerful than a standard FPS protagonist. In Boltgun I felt cool, I felt powerful and I felt unstoppable: a sheer rush of adrenaline from start to finish. Describing how you feel when playing a game like this is difficult to explain, but if you like the old arena FPS titles or just action and shooting in general, the endorphin hit from Boltgun will be at an all time high.
Levels are designed to be blasted through once you get your bearings. Simplicity and precision combined is how I would describe each city street, each stronghold and each cathedral-like gothic structure you blast through. The level design screams for multiplayer action, and that is one of my biggest (and only) complaints about Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun – there is no multiplayer.
I had really hoped to hop online and get some arena style blasting done in team death matches, or even be able to turn the difficulty up in the campaign mode, cleansing the planet for our emperor with a friend. Alas, there are no such available modes but I would love to suggest to the developers that if they decide to jump back in and give us a few levels tweaked for online with even just simple deathmatch modes, I’d have this on my daily rotation game list for sure.
I’m not even a huge PVP guy, so I’d happily settle for a horde mode for four players with a few maps. This is definitely a game that deserves DLC and online modes. It also deserves a sequel, as I had a damn good time shooting my way through the campaign, covering the main missions in around ten hours.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a hugely enjoyable title; one that will appeal to those who love Warhammer, as well as being just as much fun for those that aren’t into the franchise. No back reading is required here – just a happy trigger finger. Playing as a love letter to the shooters of the past, it manages to smooth things out via modern controls, fun gameplay and satisfying action.
Add in the budget price attached to Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun and it’s a no brainer to pick it up. Highly recommended.