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Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun

Bolters, Daemons, Gore, oh my!

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If you were to ask a fan of Warhammer 40,000 whether they'd like a DOOM-inspired boomer-shooter where they play as a Space Marine, shooting and sawing heretics and daemons into itty bitty pieces, they'd probably answer with a resounding yes.

Enter Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun, which answers the call for a nostalgic, bloody shooter set in the grimdark far future. From its first appearance, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun has been a game fans of the tabletop and the universe in general have wanted even if it wasn't a concept they'd thought of before. On the other hand, this has also created some high expectations for the boomer shooter, from fans of the dark sci-fi setting and those interested in the genre.

As a dream project on paper then, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun has a simple but potentially difficult task of living up to the expectations placed on it. Thankfully, in many ways Boltgun does just that.

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun
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From the moment you hit play and start a new campaign, you know you're getting a faithful Warhammer 40,000 experience. You are given a short but serviceable backstory on why you need to go down to the planet below your ship and seek out an enemy of the Imperium. It's not so soaked in the lore that the uninitiated can't get involved, but it has nice nods here and there to let long-time fans know Aurochs Digital have done their research. Narrative wise, we've got a simple set up here, as we pursue a cult of Chaos-worshippers that have overtaken a planet and need to be eradicated. There are some twists and turns to keep you interested, and the end of each chapter has a lovely pixelated cutscene to give you another dose of the story, but otherwise it exists primarily to give you a reason to get stuck into the combat.

Blasting enemies apart in Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun, cutting them down with your trusty chainsword, or blowing them into nothing more than a red mist with a frag grenade are all incredibly satisfying acts. The combat is as gory, gruesome, and entertaining as you'd have hoped from the trailers for Boltgun. Trudging through the red cliffs of the planet's surface or down the narrow corridors of the overtaken Imperial facilities, you'll find plenty of human enemies and daemons that need a bullet putting in them. Most will pop like a squished grape as you let rip with your boltgun, letting you feel like you are embodying the walking tanks that are Space Marines, but among the weaker foes, you'll find plenty of stronger enemies scattered around too.

Boltgun's combat gives you the best of both worlds, as at times you can give in to your power fantasies and leave the pixelated remains of countless minions on the floor. At other points, you'll be cowering behind a wall as a greater daemon just knocked you to a few hit points in a single attack. By no means is the game a cakewalk, and at various points I found myself dying over and over to stronger foes I'd not planned to meet around the corner. It would have been nice to see a bit more variety in some of the daemonic enemies, but even when you think you've seen everything, the game throws out enemies in different combinations so you have to fight in a way you've not done so before.

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun
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Of course, shooting and killing enemies is fun, but something else that has an incredibly satisfying feel in Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is the game's mobility. You can sprint and jump incredible distances, giving combat an extra level of speed as you can zip from cover to cover or just move around projectiles heading your way to get the jump on the larger foes before eradicating the peons beneath. There are some moments in the larger levels where it can be easy to get lost, but overall I have to tip my hat to Aurochs Digital in the level design of Boltgun, especially in regards to the open spaces which let you plan out your approach to the incoming fight almost like a first-person Hotline Miami.

The art direction and visuals for Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun are filled with the nostalgic pixilation you'd expect from a boomer shooter. From the enemies to the environments to the two hands belonging to your character you see constantly in front of you, there's a great level of detail in the graphics, too. Something that shouldn't go amiss when discussing Boltgun is its sound design, as well, which is one of the main reasons the combat is so deeply fulfilling. Each weapon (yes, you get a lot more than just a standard boltgun) sounds exactly as you'd want it to, from the thunderous heavy bolter to the singing laser of the volkite caliver. Even the thumping footsteps of your Space Marine support the overall immersion tremendously. I wish the same could be said for the game's soundtrack, which works alright as a backing track to the destruction and death you bring about, but isn't as memorable as it could've been. There aren't any booming, thumping tracks that really send you into a shooting frenzy, at least in my experience.

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a game that hits hard. It has you feeling like the most badass thing in the galaxy in one minute, before reminding you the universe is a terrifying and deadly place the next. In its hectic gunplay, you can find hours of fun, blasting apart cultists and daemons in the Emperor's name. I'm not sure how well this experience translates to non-Warhammer fans, but if you're even remotely aware of what a Space Marine is, or want to capture the nostalgia of those early 90s shooters, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is surely worth a shot.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Great combat, Solid sound design, Fun levels, Serviceable story
-
Lack of daemonic variety, soundtrack feels like it's missing something, not sure of the appeal to non-Warhammer fans
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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