Warhammer Darktide Machine God Update
Image via Fatshark

Darktide’s Secrets of the Machine God Update Doesn’t Change the Game

Darktide, oh Darktide, how you frustrate me. Self-righting admirably after a wonky launch, developer Fatshark has continued to add to the game with patches and updates of varying sizes. Secrets of the Machine God is the latest of these, but despite some decent additions it still doesn’t add that certain something Darktide really needs.

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For those who haven’t partaken, Darktide is a co-operative shooter based in the Warhammer 40,000 universe where players fight through hordes of cultists and zombified poxwalkers in a dystopian megacity. Think Left 4 Dead with more of a focus on melee, and a sci-fi setting that is both Grim and Dark (oh, my!). The guns are punchy, if often imprecise, and I still giggle with unfettered glee when I hit the button to rev my weapon before sawing a heretic in half. It’s got fantastic gamefeel and a grimy, lived in setting, but it’s long been held back by instabilities and unsatisfying loot systems that stop the gameplay loop really solidifying.

Warhammer Darktide Machine God Update
Screenshot by Siliconera

The update, Secrets of the Machine God, adds a new level, a new story character, and several weapons to Darktide on top of an array of quality of life upgrades. Perhaps the juiciest part are the weapons, which include two-handed pickaxes for the hulking Ogryn class, a double barreled shotgun, and the iconic Bolt Pistol for others. They all feel great to use, especially with the tweaks to how bolt weapon rounds explode at a certain range, but they don’t especially stand out from the pack. We already have shotguns and automatic Bolters after all, so while the new additions have their own idiosyncrasies they don’t offer new options or playstyles to get excited for.

The new level encounters similar issues. In it, players travel to a new area of the hive with its own short storyline and some frosty scenery, alongside a secretive new character codenamed Swagger. It’s a nice addition with some slightly more involved tasks to perform mid-horde, and the banter remains entertaining without getting irritating. It fits in perfectly with the missions already available, but that’s sort of where the problem lies. It doesn’t really shake up the (admittedly very satisfying!) gameplay loop the game has been refining since launch. As for Swagger, he’s well voiced and could lead to some new directions to explore later down the line, but for the time being he feels unnecessary when we already have several characters aboard our hub ship that we barely know.

Warhammer Darktide Machine God Update
Screenshot by Siliconera

Prior to the update, Siliconera was invited to a preview event followed by a Q&A session with the developers and early access to a test build. The atmosphere was informal, with designer Maxime Montera, Executive Producer Juan Martinez, and Team Lead Luigi di Domenico showing off trailers and some of Fatshark’s plans for the game before a brief break as they answer the door for their pizza. The developers seemed keenly aware of the community’s biggest gripes with the game as they laid out their future plans for the crafting system, and spoke about wanting to explore more of the less-explored hive city setting, rather than jetting off to other worlds and the like.

Darktide continues to teeter on the edge of greatness, and having seen how solid its predecessor series Vermintide became after successive updates, I have confidence it will reach it. But Secrets of the Machine God just doesn’t deliver the kind of impactful changes or additions the game needs right now, even if it is still very fun.

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Image of Elliot Gostick
Elliot Gostick
Elliot is a staff writer from the mist-shrouded isle of Albion, and has been covering gaming news and reviews for about a year. When not playing RPGs and Strategy games, she is often found trying (and failing) to resist the urge to buy more little plastic spacemen.