PAX East 2023 - Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a Warhammer-Themed Shooter from 1999
Warhammer games are a dime a dozen these days, with many offerings to choose from. Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus puts a team of transcended cybernetic humans in a fight for their lives in turn-based strategy, and Necromunda: Hired Gun puts players into the steel underbelly of a Hive world fighting various enemies. Each Warhammer game has something unique to offer players, from strategy to action. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun dials it all back to 1999 in roaring fashion.
A follow-up to 2011's spectacular Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a first-person shooter sporting the visual look of Doom and Quake with the aesthetic of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The game looks like a first-person shooter on an upgraded desktop PC running Windows 98 and the best drivers at the time. While this may be blasphemous to say in the Warhammer universe, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a match made in heaven.
Accept Your Orders
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun takes place sometime following the events of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. The efforts of Captain Titus and the Ultramarines on the Forge World have sent ripples through the Imperium, as it involved an Inquisitor succumbing to the effects of The Warp and being instrumental to the invasion of the planet. Drogan's research is heretical and gone unnoticed. As a Space Marine, you set off on a mission to quell the enemies of the Imperium.
The first thing that strikes players is the visual style. The cutscenes are heavily pixelated and filled with sprites. Even the opening cutscene with the Inquisitor explaining the situation felt like something I would have seen coming out of an early 3D realms game. The animations are limited, and the overall vibe feels right at home with the retro-futuristic styles of the 90s, as seen in Stallone's Judge Dredd.
Rip and Tear
Shortly after, I was plunged onto a frozen mountainous planet and tasked with dispensing the justice of the Imperium. Even with nothing but a chain sword, the Ultramarine is a dangerous adversary. Like a hulking tank, I could run across the battlefield and get the drop on heretics. They were the typical rebels. Armed and dangerous but weak in flesh and bone. Following the rules of Doom, I ripped and tore through them with ease and satisfying action.
The demo took me through a small maze, and I uncovered the game's namesake: The Boltgun. In Warhammer lore, the bolt gun is the primary weapon of the Space Marines of The Imperium. Big, loud, and bulky, these handheld cannons fire large rounds at their enemy, perforating large gaping holes through whatever they tear through. This particular boltgun is remarkably blessed by the Omnissiah. With its blessings, the bolt gun is immeasurably powerful. It felt like I became an unstoppable hulking mechanized behemoth that spreads fear across the stars.
Give No Quarter
The rest of the demo was what I'd come to expect. These types of shooters rely specifically on speed, accuracy, momentum, and energy. Move fast, shoot faster. Strike hard, strike quickly. Be aggressive but watch your back. Exploring the outside of an abandoned base, the enemy was already numerous and unflinching, and while Space Marines are powerful, they are not invincible. Death can come quickly if one is not careful.
Shooting felt spot-on. Every moment had a sense of weight and gravity to it. Tearing through the enemy was visceral and exciting. Like its ancestors from the 90s, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun gave players immense power and a formidable challenge to overcome. A rocking, head-banging soundtrack echoed through the shooting and chaos. I was having a great time, and it was only the beginning of the game.
For The Emperor
Later in the demo, chaos marines were introduced. These marines are formidable and can receive more damage but nonetheless can be felled by applying the chainsword. I was introduced to the shotgun, which could annihilate enemies at close-range. The waves of enemies grew larger and larger. "Bring it on!" I said as I faced them head-on. There was even a Taunt command that has the Marine intimidate the enemy and riles them up to fight.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a match made in heaven. The shooting is spot on. The visuals are excellent. The sense of weight, speed, and aggression is fine-tuned to the context of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It's a delightful variety of action and mayhem at the most dangerous corners of space. I welcome this approach with the highest of praises.
Praise the Omnissiah
The Warhammer 40,000 universe is a fascinating dystopian setting of cosmic eldritch creatures and cybernetically enhanced soldiers, among many other things. While I never played the tabletop games, the games have been rich in lore. Each game has provided a new corner of this dark and evolving universe that has been unendingly fascinating. Each game holds merit, and it entirely its own story. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun seeks to make its own mark and blaze a trail across the cosmos.
There is plenty more to offer than what I was able to play. The Warhammer 40,000 universe is rife with cosmic monstrosities and conspiracy. There are many factions, from the Genestealers to The Dark Eldars. There is a bevy of weapons to use and choose from and mysteries to be unearthed stemming from the Inquisition and The Warp. Whatever Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is set there, I am already there ready to be deployed.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is launching in 2023 for PC and consoles.