E3 2016: Space Hulk: Deathwing Hands-off Impressions – Let there be vermin… in spaaaace

Space Hulk: Deathwing is the latest in the long-running series of games set in Warhammer 40,000 tabletop universe from Games Workshop. You once once again don the armor of a space marine tasked with ridding the universe of the many dangers that lie in the shadows.

This time around, though, you’re confined to the recesses of a gigantic castle structure called the Space Hulk, that drifts through the Warp, an immaterial space that lies within the dimension of Chaos. That’s where the Genestealers come from, one of the Warhammer 40.000 universe’s deadliest threats, one that you’ll face from level to level as part of a small team from Deathwing, a sect of Dark Anges, which are told to contain the most feared and powerful of the space marines.

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All that fiction aside, the game itself plays like a mix of a a MOBA and an FPS – you and your team are basically attempting to control mob after mob of endless enemies, as you make your way towards an exit. There’s absolutely no way you can destroy everything, so your only means to survive is to open a way into the hordes of enemies, control them as best as you can so your team can progress further and then close the paths behind you throughout the way. This description might sound a little familiar if you played the isometric version of Space Hulk, which also made use of this mechanic, born out of a tabletop variation of Warhammer 40.000.

While Deathwing doesn’t really sound very varied on paper, it’s very much the opposite in practice. The levels shown in the demo showed quite a lot of visual and level design variety, making good use of the Warhammer license, drawing vast clerical looking spaces which contrasted with cramped, dimly lit corridors and frankly claustrophobic corridors. The distinct visuals helped set the mood for both gameplay and cutscenes. Due to time constraints, the latter didn’t get a whole lot of exposure in favor of everyone getting to see the game in motion in the limited amount of demo time.

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In terms of actually shooting things and setting up traps, Deathwing felt pretty tight, with a certain weight to every action, which makes sense, considering the amount of armor your characters wear within the game. Regardless of the class picked for each of the units, and trust me, there are plenty of those for fans to play around with, they all seemed pretty powerful in their own regard.

The same goes for the practically endless enemies you’ll face, a crazy mix of Starship Trooper-ish bugs with nightmarish creepy crawling hunks of disgusting legs. But frankly, you’ll be more worried about killing and getting the hell away from these guys than getting a good look in when you actually play the game.

Space Hulk: Deathwing is set for an end of the year release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Here’s a bit of gameplay you can chew on til then:

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