Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters Preview

Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters Header

While anime games almost always take home the prestigious Most Ridiculous Title GOTY award, Games Workshop video games give them a run for their money. There’s something about how, in addition to needing to name Warhammer or Warhammer 40,000, they’re so often taking inspiration from a particular board game spin-off, and then needing to also make themselves distinct from the other games and all the plastic and die cast models vying for your cash.

It’s no wonder there’s both a colon and a hyphen in Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters. This is a reboot of sorts that finds its roots in the late 90s original Chaos Gate, but then leans heavily into the turn-based tactical action found in the modern XCOM and its ilk.

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A Strike Force of Grey Knights coming back from a long campaign against Chaos is suddenly commandeered by a mysterious Imperial Inquisitor Vakir and redirected to counter a new emerging danger: the Bloom. It’s an intriguing set up, not least as it allows you to delve into the Inquisition’s secretive nature, but also because the Bloom is an entirely new threat from the Chaos God Nurgle that will have you bouncing back and forth between planets in the Tyrtaeus sector.

The overarching campaign puts you in charge of this Strike Force and their ship the Baelful Edict. You can move around the Tyrtaeus sector, going from system to system as you spot the tendrils of Chaos taking effect. However, you’re a wounded animal at the start of the game, needing to restore your force to full fighting power as you go. Visiting different parts of the ship let you earn new Grey Knights and craft better armaments for them with Armory Gran Master Vergne Kai, while Grand Manufactorum lets you improve the ship’s warp drive speed, boost the recovery rate of your injured Knights, XP rate and more. That mysterious Inquisitor? Well, they’ve taken to the Libris Malleus where you can study the Bloom and develop new ways to fight it.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters Ship

Head down to the surface for battle and what’s most surprising is just how rapid the game looks. Complex Games has sought to engender front foot, aggressive battle tactics, despite the inclination of many XCOM fans to turtle their way across each map, using cover and overwatch judiciously.

For each of your four Grey Knights, you have a pool of action points to spend, which you can use for movements, attacks and abilities as you please. It feels as though they can sprint from one end of a battle to the other, going from engaging one group of enemies approaching from behind to rushing over and reviving an ally that had fallen more than a dozen squares away on the battle map. They’ll also happily leap up and over cover, doing so in a way that defies the fact that they weigh as much as a small car.

That manoeuvrability means that, even with just four Grey Knights in your squad, you can deal with overwhelming enemy forces. Enemies can include everything from basic cultists, to Chaos Marines that will happily Plague Belch and lock off parts of the map with corrosive goop, and corrupted Pox Walker Dreadnaughts with grabby tentacles to go with its Plasma Cannon.

Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters XCOM combat

Every group of enemies will need different strategies to take down, such as targeting the Apostate to deprive their buddies of armour buffs, though the fundamental of flanking and breaking through cover will always remain the same. The Grey Knights have plenty of melee options amongst the game’s eight classes and numerous weapon options, so you can combine a Power Halberd wielder with the Hammerhead ability to guarantee a critical hit when you rush in for an attack – the other option is to deal damage until an enemy is stunned – giving you a choice to cut off limbs and deprive the use of weapons and abilities, or simply go for the kill.

You can also use the scenery to your advantage. Flimsy looking walkways can be shot out from underneath onrushing enemies, and towering statues from the Imperium’s gothic architecture fetish can be collapsed to deal damage. Oh, and the scenery can still just provide cover for you to hunker down behind put Overwatch into effect. Do you really need cover when you’ve got Space Marine armour, though?

Warhammer 40k Chaos Gate Daemonhunters Melee

There’s a ton of great ideas and game design flourishes found within Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters, as it tries to encourage aggressive battle tactics, pairing this with a sensational over-the-top style of action that makes these hulking super soldiers look as nimble as they are deadly. It’s easy to be a bit blasé toward each new Games Workshop game announcement, but this one absolutely has my attention, and it should have yours too!

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