Space Marine: Exterminatus Impressions

When Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine launched back in September we were pleasantly surprised. We never doubted developer Relic Entertainment could pull off setting a shooter in such an expansive universe, but given the THQ subsidiary’s attachment to the RTS genre, best known for the critically acclaimed Dawn of War and Company of Heroes series, we certainly had our reservations about the just how well it would play.

Despite variety not being strong and a number of other minor issues, Space Marine offered players an engaging tale embedded within the 40k mythos with the brawler/shooter hybrid gameplay to back it up. However one thing that was missing from the final product was online co-op and we certainly felt it; with competitive multiplayer to boot Relic was going for the full package experience and though we’ve had to wait, the free Exterminatus DLC is now available across all platforms.

In essence, Exterminatus is Space Marine’s take on the so-called “Horde” mode otherwise known as co-op survival. Up to four players are dropped into an arena tasked with fighting off wave after wave of incoming enemies with the occasional objective-based round. Any experience earned during co-op will filter into your competitive ranking and vice versa, and your multiplayer custom classes are also available for use. However, unlike competitive play, there are no online weapon/armour challenges or upgrades available via Exterminatus.


As one would expect, Exterminatus starts off fairly simple, allowing players to break in their weapons and play styles before turning up the difficulty. Each wave is composed of different enemy types and as you progress they will become more unpredictable and challenging, forcing players to make use of their melee attacks and not just their arsenal of Imperium-issued death machines.

Typically you can expect a swarm of weak melee Gretchin backed by a few Orkz with the odd Shoota (Orkz with guns) here and there in the first waves before heavy weapon carriers, like kamikaze Squigs and mini-bosses, are worked in. It’s not just about digging in and mowing down everything in site though; every now and then static HQ checkpoints will appear on the battlefield and need capturing within a set time to progress, usually situated in areas where you will need someone to watch your back.

Like any co-op shooter, teamwork is essential, and though there aren’t any in-game mechanics that work with this philosophy in mind (such as team support role, ammo re-stocks, revives etc.) the principle remains. Success hinges entirely on how diligently Space Marines can approach each firefight, one mistake potentially undermining the work of an entire squad. Teams are granted a total of four life tokens and once depleted downed players will no longer be able to spawn, although the squad can win back tokens through point-scoring so it’s not always curtains if you accidentally wade into a mob of Orkz without any ammo.

Variety doesn’t just come in the form of different enemy types, your character class is more likely to determine your play style than anything. Tactical is your all-round class; they can sprint, carry medium-sized weapons and even have decent melee capabilities. The Assault class is much more mobile thanks to the use of the jetpack, poised mainly on high-damage close combat attacks though they lack a degree of power when it comes to long and mid ranged weaponry. In contrast there is also the Devastator; fairly sluggish, what these guys lack in invulnerability they make up for in raw firepower, capable of mowing down entire hordes with heavy, artillery-like weapons.

Exterminatus is definitely a worthwhile add-on, enhancing the overall package though there is certainly room for improvement. As touched on before, having a mechanic in which downed allies can be revived is something which features in plenty of Horde mode variants and feels missing from Space Marine. More important is the role of player classes; though it’s something which definitely can’t be remedied until the next possible instalment. Given the 40k universe and Relic’s familiarity with it, we would have liked to have seen other classes including Tech Marines and maybe even scouts, adding a much-needed support element not just to Exterminatus but Space Marine’s robust multiplayer.



  1. Finally DLC dedicated to the Daleks.

  2. Is this DLC free? Out of interest, just read through, didn’t read if it cost anything or not but I do occassionally miss things though. Very good impressions, by the way, getting this next week with luck :)

    • Yup it’s already on-disc with no need for any downloads. Great fun if still a bit limited. Can’t wait to see what Relic do next with the 40K license.

      • Thanks! Yep, me neither. I have massive trust in Relic.

  3. I’d love to buy Space Marine one day, Onlive rent was fun, great mix of Dynasty Warriors and if the DLC is free then thats a huge plus, wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t too.

  4. I got the full game for free from OnLive, because they were inundated with console purchases at launch, and it’s a good bit of fun. Nice, not too thinky, hack and slash action with gunplay thrown in for good measure!

    Enjoying it enough that I’m thinking I ought to buy a PS3 copy to enjoy it regardless of how my internet connection is feeling. It’s generally quite poorly.

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