[Disclosure: A review copy was provided for the contents of this article]
Having already completed Space Hulk: Deathwing in something like 2015 (or whenever – all I know is that it was fucking ages ago,) I’m struggling to understand who this new Enhanced Edition is supposed to appeal to? Is it existing PC players, who simply install a free patch? Is it console gamers, for whom this mildly revamped edition offers a minor revamp, or is it the very small number of Games Workshop fans who simply missed the initial PC release?
By asking the question, I actually think that I’ve given myself the answer. The Enhanced Edition is clearly intended to create a tenuous excuse for the millions of console-only players to dive into the Deathwing excuse for the first time, which probably explains why it is, at best, a minor upgrade on the original. There are no new levels or missions and there is certainly nothing as comprehensive as an additional campaign to fight through.
Instead, the Enhanced Edition content is limited to a boatload of cosmetic upgrades (or shite, as I call it when in less polite company) as well as a ton of more interesting unlockable content. Whatever you want to equip your bastard-hard but miserable-as-fuck Space Marines with, you can expect to pay a high price for it. From guns and upgrades to armour detail, everything in the Enhanced Edition is going to cost you thousands of in game credits, earned by battling hordes of genestealers and their hybrid brethren.
Unfortunately, this approach means that you’ll likely complete the game several times over before you create your final, desired loadout. That’s fine if you like the game and can stomach a level of repetition that is uncommon among modern games, but I do think such dedication will be rare among modern gamers. Unfortunately, Deathwing lacks the really exciting moments that make similar games such as Vermimtide and (of course) Left 4 Dead so compelling.
That said, even if the Enhanced Edition features are a bit lacking, it’s not like the base game was especially lacking. For starters, it’s a sci-fi dungeon crawler that is exciting, intense and suspenseful – the only limitation being that the enemies themselves are hardly a match for the Space Marine Terminators to begin with, let alone with their ever expanding arsenal of weapons and powers. You’ll probably complete the game without dying, or at the very least, you’ll die infrequently.
Enemies are mostly just of the melee variety, albeit with different levels of inbuilt bullet sponge. A few can return ranged fire, but with the Terminator ability to zoom and highlight threats, you’ll almost always get the first shot off. If you choose a pure melee build, that’s fine too – you can chop almost anything to bits in just a few hits, whilst an in-squad apothecary and access to a mid-mission warpgate allows several opportunities to heal. You can even make specific builds for each kind of Terminator, but this only serves to compound the easy difficulty level by allowing high levels of player specialisation.
The game looks fantastic throughout (I’ve played on a PS4 Pro and a high end PC) and it sounds just as good. Everything is built to exacting Games Workshop standards, so Deathwing oozes authentic lore. From the way the Terminators speak to each other to the way the genestealers look, you won’t have a shadow of doubt about the universe you’ve invested in. For all of the flaws, there are few gaming experiences as invigorating as unleashing a volley of chain gun fire into a corridor full of xenos and watching them descend into a roil of bloodied limbs rolling ever closer to your fire base.
Returning to my opening statement, Deathwing in its Enhanced Edition form is probably worth revisiting on PC if it costs you nothing to do so. Console gamers might as well assess the merits of the original game – which were not insignificant. This is still a hugely atmospheric game. It still takes the best of the Space Hulk premise and makes it more gamey, with features like a charge attack that Terminators have never had access to on the tabletop. It still offers a decent cooperative or solo shooter experience that requires good teamwork and squad management. If it sounds like your cup of tea, then it probably is, so for that reason you should: