Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters is a fast-paced turn-based tactical RPG developed by Complex Games and published by Frontier Foundry, and released on Steam and Epic Games Store on May 5, 2022. The last turn-based game I played in the Warhammer 40K universe was Mechanicus back in 2018 which was great fun. However, Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters has stepped it up several notches with great graphics, cinematic sequences like overwatch and grenade throwing, excellent voice acting and expansive missions that utilise the XCOM-style combat with a 40K twist.
Armoured in faith, shielded by devotion, the Grey Knights’ very existence is rooted in mystery, enforced with mind-wipes and executions. In Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters , players experience life in the 41st millennium and follow the journey of these elite warriors in a narrative penned by acclaimed Black Library author, Aaron Dembski-Bowden. We must root out and put a stop to an insidious plot to infect the galaxy with the Bloom, an intergalactic cosmic plague capable of rotting worlds into oblivion.
We commence the game seeing the Astartes Strike Cruiser: Baleful Edict approaching the shrine world of Gaheris. Against orders to withdraw, Commander Agravain, Brother Ectar and Tech Priest Lunete push forth to complete their quest to take out Ere’khul, and organise an assault team to head down to the planet with Agravain leading the charge. Playing the introductory mission, I was impressed with how far units could move over the battlefield and seeing cinematic combat moves like setting up overwatch or smashing through a pillar and directing where it falls to take out more baddies. It all feels very fluid and active when moving your troops and engaging in ranged or melee combat, depending on the space marine’s class.
The level of detail in each mission is insanely good and features probably the best playable environments I’ve seen in a turn-based game like this. Unfortunately, in the ending moments of this first mission, the framerate dropped to an almost unplayable rate. I saw Agravain fall in the fight against Ere’khul and it is here we are taught about our soldiers have Resilience which indicates how many critical wounds they can survive over the campaign. As Knights gain in rank, they will earn more resilience. I thought the frames would improve back in the menu, but it did not. Some quick googling gave me some settings to hard-set in the Nvidia control panel, and that improved the game’s performance greatly being able to play on high settings again. Hopefully future patches will improve this for new players.
Once I sorted the graphical issues, I got stuck into progressing the game and, like XCOM, there’s so much to consider. The Baleful Edict ship is badly damaged and with the Commander dead, we step up in his place to get the ship and everyone back to Titan. Ector and Lunete guide us through research, repairing and upgrading ship systems, managing your troops in the barracks as well as traversing the universe map. The voice acting of the main characters is outstanding, bolstered by actor Andy Serkis lending his voice to Vardan Kai, a Grey Knights Space Marine grand master we meet a few missions into the game.
Conversations with these characters in between missions gives you narrative options and a good insight into the lore surrounding Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters. I don’t know much about the Warhammer 40,000 universe, however each game I play teaches me more and thankfully you don’t have to be a subject matter expert to be able to enjoy and get engrossed in the story. The game’s combat is the main attraction and it never disappointed (even when I did lose some decent marines due to my own mistakes).
You command a squad of four marines, each with their own class abilities and weaponry. There’s Justicars who are tanks, Apothecaries that can heal, Purgators with heavy weapons and melee-focused Interceptors. You can choose talents using ability points as they level up, as well as equip any new weapons you gain after finishing missions. Most carry at least one grenade, and I don’t normally use grenade-type weapons in these turn-based games, however they were so useful in this game. Though there were some missions that had a glorious deed which are challenges for that mission which will reward you with more requisition rewards, and one was to not use grenades in the mission, doh! In other missions, you will have blooms of enemies that will spawn after ‘x’ number of turns and will keep spawning until you take them out. As such, rather than methodically trying to kill each enemy one at a time, the game encourages you to take risks and use various options to efficiently defeat the enemy as quick as you can.
The mix of ranged and melee combat was great, and the use of overwatch from both me and the enemy team meant a lot of re-strategising on the fly. This versatility, along with the various finishing moves you can carry out meant every mission was different enough from the last that combat never felt stale or overused. Most levels are huge, with plenty of options to move around from cover to cover, and each space marine had so many AP that they could cover large amounts of ground each turn. You can blast enemies, knocking them off buildings or blow-up environmental hazards around their formation, causing them to scatter. The plague blooms started to become a major headache in some missions, boosting the enemy and spawning more mobs as you try to push forward, or survive enough turns to be extracted.
This is especially intense if you had to roll out with your backup teams while you’re A and B teams take a rest to recover from injuries. You can take injured squad mates into the field; they just have health and other penalties that could be too risky. Death can be punishing, and if you’ve ever felt the loss of one of your favourite soldiers in XCOM, it feels the same here.
Overall, Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters is the best game I’ve played in the Warhammer universe to date both graphically and for the versatile combat mechanics. I usually struggle with these turn-based combat games after a few hours as the difficulty ramps up, but the versatility of combat here gave me plenty of options to get out of multiple pickles. I highly recommend this game, even if the 40K universe isn’t your thing, but you’ve got to be a fan of the XCOM formula.