Space Hulk: Deathwing launched to mixed reception on PC two years ago. Although a planned Xbox One version was sadly cancelled, the new and improved Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition is now available on PlayStation 4 and Steam. This new version adds extra content and corrects a few issues that plagued the PC version of the game. But is it the squad-based first-person shooter that Warhammer 40,000 and Space Hulk deserve? Read on to find out.
Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition takes place in the dark sci-fi Warhammer: 40,000 universe. It follows the adventures of the Deathwing company of the Dark Angel space marines as they explore a gigantic derelict spacecraft (space hulk) that holds long-lost secrets of their military order. The space hulk is also filled with countless Genestealers, a genetically engineered subgroup of the malevolent alien Tyranids.
In the single-player campaign, you play as a Librarian, an archivist gifted with psychic powers and combat abilities. Your character is ever-accompanied by two AI space marines, one of whom is an Apothecary (healer). Players can issue simple commands to these companions, but the radial interface is clumsy and poorly suited to controllers. You can basically tell them to heal yourself or each other (the dummies won’t heal on their own), or guard a spot, but that’s about it. The AI itself could be a lot better, but you’ll be thankful for whatever support they offer when fighting hordes of enemies.
Each campaign missions basically consists of exploring a large map, completing simple objectives, and defeating hordes of Genestealers. The combat itself is pretty fun, with ranged and melee weapons, rechargeable psychic blasts, and dash attacks at your disposal. There are no items to find other than collectible relics, though, nor any reward for killing enemies. An experience system would’ve made kills more rewarding.
Healing is limited to your Apothecary’s few charges. These can be refilled, and your weapons can be swapped out, by summoning a PsyGate to teleport back to your Techmarine crew. But you only get three PsyGates per level, so it’s possible to run out of heals and/or lose your teammates (who otherwise can’t be revived mid-mission) and be forced to restart the level.
Although the strategic elements of past Space Hulk games have been drastically toned down here, you do have a few franchise-appropriate options such as sealing doors and hacking turrets. The turret hacking is so terrible as to render it pointless, however. From the map, you can choose to hack a turret, which takes several seconds. This switches your view to the turret’s, allowing you to control its fire. But taking a hit makes you lose control of the turret, so you can rarely get enough shots off to make the hacking worthwhile in the first place.
Levels in Deathwing have few or no checkpoints. The only way to resume mid-level is by loading an autosave. There are no manual saves, either. Having to load up one of many scantly labeled autosaves is frustrating, especially when you’re still at the mercy of whatever your team’s health and supply counts were at the time of the autosave. Deathwing really needs either a proper checkpoint system or the ability to manually save. Also, the loading times are excessive on PlayStation 4.
The campaign disappointingly lacks co-op support, but Deathwing at least offers a separate online co-op mode. There players can select multiple classes (including the Enhanced Edition’s new Chaplain class) and team up to wipe out enemies from a variety of maps. Multiplayer lacks a compelling progression system, but there are plenty of weapons and cosmetic items to unlock if you get into it.
The Enhanced Addition also offers a new Special Missions mode. This mixes things up by randomizing objectives and enemies. You’d have to really get into Deathwing to bother with Special Missions, but they certainly do add potential playtime and a little sorely needed variety.
Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition isn’t the highly polished Warhammer 40,000 shooter many hoped it would be. The lengthy loading times, poor squad AI and command system, lack of campaign co-op, and general dearth of variety all keep Deathwing from greatness. But a wonderful dark gothic atmosphere and fairly strong visuals might be enough to please avid Warhammer 40K fans. I do enjoy the game, but I wish it was far more polished.
Space Hulk: Deathwing – Enhanced Edition is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.