You’ve got to love a Warhammer 40K video game, right? Whilst I’ve never found myself enamoured with the franchise as a whole, the video game spin-offs have always proved to be entertaining – I mean, what’s not to like about bulky Space Marines fighting off against an evil alien threat?!
Following its initial release on PCs back in 2016, Space Hulk: Deathwing has now re-launched as the ‘Enhanced Edition’, bringing with it a host of improvements as well as a release on the PlayStation 4. I didn’t get the chance to play the game the first time around, but after playing through the first-person shooter now I’m admittedly left wondering what exactly has been enhanced – it’s not a bad game, sure, but it’s certainly one that could’ve done with a bit more polish.
Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition puts you in the bulky shoes of a Terminator of the Deathwing – one of the most feared units within the Space Marine’s ‘Dark Angels’. You’re tasked with exploring the Space Hulk Olethros and destroying the Genestealers, a grotesque alien threat.
I’ll admit that I know very little about Warhammer 40K lore so maybe I didn’t always fully understand a lot of what was going on, but I still enjoyed the tale. It’s ‘goodies against baddies’, with the ‘baddies’ being nasty aliens and the ‘goodies’ being massive armour-wearing men with huge guns. Obviously, there’s a bit more depth than that, but it’s easy enough to follow regardless of how much Warhammer 40K lingo you know.
You’ll make your way through nine missions in Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition’s campaign, with each one sending you through the atmospherically dark environments you’d expect from the franchise whilst making you face off against hordes of enemies. It actually looks quite impressive at times too, with only the occasional hiccup as far as the visuals are concerned.
The problem is, whilst the levels look good, they’re not always well-designed as far as gameplay is concerned. The objectives are hit and miss and typically simply send you across the map to kill foes or find something, whilst the fact that the environments are so large means that you’re often just trudging along and not doing much else in between. Don’t get me wrong, there are some impressive set pieces to be found, but given that levels are padded out with boring exploration in between them all, it’s hard not to feel a little bit underwhelmed.
At least you’re not alone on missions, with either AI controlled team mates making up the rest of the squad or real-life players when playing online. Blasting thought the game with real-life players actually greatly improves the experience, and I found that I had a lot of fun when playing with friends – it’s a whole lot better than simply issuing bog standard commands. It makes the iffy level design all the more bearable too, whilst the team-work aspects also compliment the scale of each showdown you find yourself in during the game.
Whilst the missions themselves aren’t packed with thrills, the fact that you’re part of the Deathwing means that you’re going to be armed to the teeth with brutal weapons, both ranged and melee. There are a ton to use in the game and they’re all bloody impressive, and you’ll see the Genestealer threat fall thick and fast when you’re gunning them down. You’re able to customise the weapons you use as well as your class and abilities, so you can fine-tune your loadout to perfectly suit your play style. There really is a surprisingly impressive amount of depth to it all.
Of course, being so well-equipped means that you’re incredibly bulky, something which is frustratingly represented in the game by a slow movement speed. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not moving at a snail pace and I suppose it is realistic, but you’ll certainly notice that you’re not the most agile of protagonists. Given the aforementioned size of the levels, this can make it a bit more of a nuisance when dragging yourself across the long distances.
A new addition that comes with the enhanced edition of the game are the Special Missions, which allow you to tackle randomised objectives either in solo play or online with other players. It’s a neat idea that adds an extra sense of longevity to Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition, though unfortunately all of the missions take place across the existing campaign maps. Given that the single player campaign is already guilty of offering dull missions that aren’t exactly thrilling, it didn’t really bode well for the Special Missions.
At least when you play them online there’s a levelling up system in place where you can improve classes and unlock new cosmetic items, whilst the addition of a whole new class to the game, extra weapons, and new enemies does make it a bit more interesting to tackle too.
Something I did notice when playing through Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition was that it suffered from quite a few technical issues, with the game featuring some very lengthy loading times as well as a sketchy frame rate. Some of the more hectic battles against the larger groups of enemies would see the game take a real hit in the frame rate, almost to the points where it felt unplayable at times – this wasn’t a very common issue though, so it can’t be held against the game too much. It could have certainly done with a bit more polish, especially since it’s meant to be the ‘enhanced edition’ of the game.
Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition isn’t a terrible game and it has its moments where it really shines, but unfortunately some dull level design and annoying technical issues can make it more of a frustrating experience than anything else.
There’s no doubting that it will make you feel like a bona fide Space Marine with its intense showdowns with the Genestealers and the bulky (though mighty impressive) weaponry you have at your disposal, whilst playing online with friends can be a genuine blast. Overall though, it’s hard not to feel a bit disappointed with Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition.
Developer: Streum On Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PC