It’s seriously difficult to not hear about a Space Hulk game from the Warhammer 40,000 universe without yelling “SPACE HULK! SPACE HULK! SPACE HULK!” over and over. Space Hulk is more than a beloved board game from this tabletop realm; it’s a unique character in of itself.
For any heretics of the lore, a Space Hulk is a heap of garbage that floats along the Warp, which is part of the world of Chaos. They consist of pieces of asteroids, wrecked ships, and random debris. As they float along, they add in more pieces left in the Warp and can grow to the size of a moon. Space Marines see them as giant treasure troves of lost technology and research regarding the Warp and Chaos, but they’re usually filled with deadly Genestealers. In this particular incarnation of a Space Hulk, Space Hulk: Deathwing, the secret Deathwing sect of the Dark Angels legion of the Space Marines (yes, it does get confusing) have been sent to investigate this Hulk and clear out the Genestealers.
Strap on your Terminator armor, pick up your assault cannon and your bolter, and don your Flail of the Unforgiven and get ready for a beautiful first-person death spree on one of the largest Space Hulks the Space Marines have ever encountered.
Welcome to the Warp
I did mention that Space Hulks are rife with Genestealers, yes? This one is no exception. Players will team up with three other AI Space Marines or friends (local co-op or online) to scour the Space Hulk from head to toe and purge the unclean from its premises. We didn’t get a chance to play the game ourselves, but the demonstration we had was not pre-rendered footage, but someone actually playing the game while another developer discussed what we were witnessing on the screen.
As I previously said, this is all from the first-person perspective, unlike Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine from 2011. From this point-of-view, players will feel the heaviness of the armor, how sluggish the movements are due to the massive size, and therefore, the fear of how quickly the Genestealers can move. Like velociraptors, the Genestealers are pack hunters, and they will split up to herd the Space Marines into a kill zone. Everyone will have to constantly watch their flanks and their sixes for these devious creatures.
E3 2016 - Space Hulk Deathwing Preview - Know No Fear
Needless to say, with this style of combat, it’s rather intense. I tensed up watching the developer almost as much as I would if the controller was in my hands. And I do wish the controller was in my hands. I am beyond eager to jump into the Warp and take on Genestealers.
Fight and Die
It’s a WH40K game, so expect to die and die often, but you’re doing so all in the name of your Emperor, so die with purpose. Death will be brutal and bloody, and developer Streum on Studio has found a crafty way to make your own death as painstaking as possible. As your individual limbs become damaged, it affects your gameplay. For example, if your arms are severely damage, you can’t wield swords or other melee weapons. If your legs are injured, you move even more slowly, just in case you didn’t think that was possible.
The Deathwing soldiers don’t move like slugs, but with their lovely 7’+ height and massive mech-like armor, they don’t float like butterflies or zip around like Tracer from Overwatch. They’re essentially akin to tank characters, only all of your Marines are tanks; there are no assault or support characters.
That said, players will have opportunities to play as different classes within the Deathwing. Those who play alone or host a co-op session will be Librarians, who also possess psychic abilities in addition to their physical weapons. Those who join in a co-op session can play as one of the other classes, although Streum was mute on which classes would be available. I’m hoping Chaplains and Apothecaries are available to choose, and that the other three won’t be standard Terminators in the squadron. That would be boring, indeed.
At least the Genestealers won’t be the only enemies lurking in the Space Hulk. The developer did confirm that Tyranids and other horrors from the Horus Heresy era would also be present. Can’t have too many things to shoot and slice in half, after all.
As of now, the release window is set in the fourth quarter of 2016, which could be this winter or early 2017, depending on whether the developer means calendar year or fiscal year.