The Warhammer 40k Darktide release date is just around the corner at the end of November 2022. A live-service co-op multiplayer FPS game by Fatshark (the studio behind rat-stomper Vermintide 2), Darktide is shaping up to be one of the best Games Workshop-licenced videogames ever. We had a blast in its closed beta and cannot wait to bring you our full review. In the meantime, here’s our full guide to Darktide’s release, trailers, classes, and latest news.
Otherwise, it’s time to dive into Hive Tertium…
What is Warhammer 40k Darktide?
Warhammer 40k Darktide was announced by developer Fatshark in July 2020 – supposedly after hordes of grimdark gamers beseeched the Swedish studio to make a 40k-themed version of 2018’s Vermintide 2 – and the game has only looked more promising since then.
In fact, with the possible exception of the turn-based strategy battler Warhammer 40k Battlesector (which proved imperfect, but highly playable at review and received a pretty solid Necrons DLC), we hadn’t been this excited about a Warhammer 40k game in a long time.
Darktide is billed as another four-player co-op action extravaganza, taking Vermintide’s extremely successful hack-and-slash melee combat, adding in some classic 40k ranged weapons, and dumping you into the remarkably scary-looking, dark bowels of a Warhammer 40k chaos infested hive city to survive (plus, if you’re lucky, bring the light of the Emperor of Mankind to some heretics).
With Vermintide 2, Fatshark proved it could produce a truly atmospheric, lore-appropriate Warhammer world, and match it to best-in-class first-person slasher gameplay, to create one of the best Warhammer fantasy videogames of all time. Now, the 40k community is eagerly waiting to see if Darktide can repeat the feat for Games Workshop’s flagship sci-fi setting – and, so far… well, it’s looking pretty good.
Warhammer 40k Darktide release date
The official Warhammer 40k Darktide PC release date is November 30, 2022.
When FatShark first announced a delay to the game in July 2021, it estimated the game would release in Spring 2022. However, a further delay announced on 31 March, 2022 revealed the release date would then be 13 September, 2022.
This too was not to be, however – in July 2022, another delay pushed the PC release date back to November 30 2022.
Warhammer 40k Darktide Xbox release date
The Darktide Xbox release date is currently unconfirmed, but Fatshark CEO Martin Wahlund promised it would be coming to Xbox Series X/S consoles “shortly after” the PC release date.
Xbox players shouldn’t have to wait too long, though – as the official Xbox Warhammer 40k Darktide page lists its release date on the platform as simply “Coming 2022”.
Is Warhammer 40k Darktide coming to Game Pass?
Yes, Warhammer 40k Darktide is coming to Game Pass. It was originally slated as a day one Game Pass release, but – given Fatshark’s statement above – it’s now likely the game will arrive on Game Pass some time after the PC release on November 30.
We’ll keep this guide updated as soon as we hear more about the Xbox version’s release plans.
Warhammer 40k Darktide classes
There are currently four Darktide classes that we know will be playable when the game releases – they are:
- The Zealot – An inquisitorial acolyte type with a bowl cut, a power hammer, and a scroll down their front
- The Veteran – An Imperial Guard stormtrooper with a gas mask and lasgun
- The Ogryn – toting a massive slug gun and a cutlass
- The Psyker – A hooded, warp-powered psyker, who needs no equipment – their mind is a weapon – but has some anyway
Ever since the “writer reveal” trailer, we’ve known that the player starts the game as a prisoner (cribbing notes from The Elder Scrolls, are we, Fatshark?) but is then recruited as an agent of the Inquisition – a secretive and hugely powerful faction within the Imperium of Man.
It soon becomes clear (based on our time exploring the glorious hub zone during the Darktide closed beta) that the Inquisition has hired a small army of such agents – each of them from one of the above four classes – all bustling around completing missions all over Hive Tertium.
Fatshark has released badass Class Spotlight trailers detailing the character, aspects, in-game abilities, and playstyle of the four Darktide classes we’ve seen so far – most recently the Psyker, whose video dropped on November 13.
Each of these videos gives its respective Darktide class a subtitle / secondary name; these are actually only the default subclasses for the Veteran, Psyker, Ogryn, and Zealot classes – and we expect to see further distinct variant subclasses released later, a la Destiny 2.
The videos lay out all the in-game specifics for the classes, including their:
- Starting loadout
- Active ability (tactical or psychic)
- Passive abilities
- Class ability
- Coherency bonus (a buff you’ll get by sticking close to teammates)
Here’s a breakdown of the Class Spotlight videos so far:
Perhaps our favourite Darktide class to play during the game’s Closed Beta, the Psyker: Psykinetic class combines surprisingly potent sword-and-pistol melee skills with its core playstyle: generating Warp Charges with every kill, and discharging them in glorious, head-popping psychic takedowns.
While the playable beta version of this class was limited to one version of this psychic smite (Brain Burst), the November 13 Class Spotlight video above showcases a wider spread of deadly warp abilities, namely:
- a ‘flamethrower’ ability
- a ‘chain lightning’ ability
- some kind of area-of-effect psychic explosion ability
It’s not clear yet how and when you’ll get access to each ability – but it seems likely they’ll each be the trademark of one Psyker variant (for a total of four subclasses).
According to the video’s ‘dataslate’ text: “Psykers’ abilities are tied to the disciplines they learn to stave off madness and control their otherworldly gifts. Such disciplines run the gamut from showstopping to subtle, depending on the Psyker’s personality and tutelage.
“Psykinetics manipulate empyrean forces with the power of their mind, repurposing it to crush heads and inflict gnawing agony on their victims. They leave a trail of mangled bodies in their wake … most of whom never had a chance to react to their danger.”
A table also shows the Psyker Psykinetic‘s in-game stats and abilities – here it is in easier-to-read form:
|Psychic Ability||Brain Burst|
|Class Ability||The Psyker discharges their accumulated Warp Charge, knocking enemies away.|
|Coherency Bonus||Increased damage against Elite enemies.|
In late September, a dev blog post revealed more information about the Zealot – in particular the Preacher, one of several class options for the Zealot archetype. The Zealot class spotlight says this class has “aggressive, in-your-face type” gameplay – as the Zealots are spurred on to deal even more damage when they suffer injuries.
According to the text in the video: “Preachers yearn for the release of death and arrival before the Golden Throne. Alas, it seems the Emperor yet has need of them in the mortal world and so they fight on, blows emboldened by pious rage as their lifeforce ebbs, and fury heightened by the knowledge that each scrap of pain brings them closer to reward.
“Preachers care not if they live or die, so long as the foe is vanquished. Their faith hardens as they suffer injury and grow weaker, empowering attacks with holy wrath and strengthening their will to fight on.”
Here’s a table of the Zealot Preacher‘s in-game stats and abilities:
|Tactical Action||Stumm Grenade|
|Class Ability||The Preacher dashes forward, locking their target in Melee|
|Coherency Bonus||Decreases Toughness damage taken|
According to text in the video: “The Veteran Sharpshooter epitomises the Astra Militarum’s combat doctrine: overwhelming firepower, honed through training, and delivered unflinchingly in the heat of battle.”
“The Sharpshooter specialises in ranged combat drills, keeping the foe at a distance while bringing firepower to bear against high-priority targets.
“Though they can spray and pray with the best of them, the Sharpshooter is at their most dangerous when they take the time to place their shots where the enemy is vulnerable. Breathe in. Breathe out. Blow them away.”
Here’s a table from the video showing the Veteran’s in-game stats and abilities:
|Tactical Action||Frag Grenade|
|Class Ability||Slows down their movement to take careful aim, increasing weak spot damage as well as accuracy and handling|
|Coherency Bonus||Increased chance of not using any ammo|
According to the text in the video: “Ogryns are abhumans, a subspecies of humanity deemed useful enough to protect it rom the sanction of purgation.
“Stronger and Tougher than ordinary humans, Ogryns excel at work that requires extra muscle or indifference to pain and often serve as labourers, manufactorum workers… or, in the Astra Militarum, shock troops, and bodyguards, using their brawny bodies to shield their comrades and immense strength to smash their enemies.
“A Skullbreaker leans into the Ogryn;s foremost attribute: its prodigious strength. He loves nothing more than to charge into the thick of the fighting, shouldering aside any ‘punies’ that get in is path to delvier punishing, shattering blows against his chosen target. Often while laughing as the tiny, tiny foes tire themselves out flailing at him in return.”
Here’s a table for the Ogryn Skullbreaker‘s in-game stats and abilities:
|Tactical Action||Box of Grenades|
|Class Ability||Bull Rush – the Ogryn charges forward and knocks enemies back. After the Bull Rush, the Ogryn has increased movement and attack speed for a limited time|
|Coherency Bonus||Increased melee damage|
Warhammer 40k Darktide trailers
There have been so many Warhammer 40k Darktide trailers that it’s hard to keep up.
Setting aside the Class Spotlight videos (check those out below, under Darktide Classes) the latest official Darktide trailer is the This is Darktide Overview Trailer, released on November 22.
Ostensibly, it’s an atmospheric dive into the opening of the game’s storyline, outlining what to expect in the first few hours of the game; how the different classes play; how the missions work; and how your character will grow as the game progresses.
There are a few choice reveals, though, including the ability to upgrade your weapons’ rarity and customise their special stats via the warband’s Adeptus Mechanicus tech-priest.
Before that, we got the World Intro Trailer, released on November 10, 2022.
It’s pretty damn epic. Narrated by a well-spoken Shipmistress (perhaps a Rogue Trader) named ‘Brahms‘, the trailer describes the galaxy-wide war waged by the Imperial Guard and Space Marines in the name of the Imperium of Man – then contrasts it with the underground, secret wars of the Inquisition and its agents.
This trailer dramatically sets the scene and galactic context for the desperate, deadly, blood-soaked missions you’ll be sent on during the course of Darktide’s evolving, live-service campaign.
Before that, we got a new trailer on August 23, during Gamescom 2022. This gives us a look at the game’s character customisation, as well as plenty of gory combat.
There was also a Warhammer 40k Darktide trailer during Summer Game Fest 2022 on June 9. This gave us our longest look yet at Darktide’s high-octane hack and slash (and shoot) gameplay.
This followed hot on the heels of a trailer named ‘Rejects will Rise’, which showed us the less than glorious backstories of the four playable characters, as well as providing hints about their abilities.
The March 2022 announcement declaring the game’s delay also came with a new trailer for Warhammer 40k Darktide.
Before that, a Warhammer 40K: Darktide trailer was revealed as part of Games Workshop’s Skulls! Livestream on June 3, and dropped the intriguing news that veteran Warhammer 40K novelist Dan Abnett was working with Fatshark on the game’s writing.
The driving point of Abnett’s commentary here is to underline the game’s focus on human stories. Far from the hyper-energetic clashes of power-armoured Space Marines and Warhammer 40k Xenos horrors elsewhere in GW’s horrendous galaxy, Darktide is about baseline human fighters who simply have to make it through, against the odds. The phrase “survival horror” is used – whether for good or ill, we’ll find out on the game’s release…
For a bit more depth on the human stories Abnett means to tell through Darktide’s gameplay, you need to read this excellent Darktide interview with the man himself, over on our sister website PCGamesN.
Before that, we got our first glimpse of Darktide’s gameplay in its first ‘proper’ trailer, released on December 11, 2020.
Here, we had a decent shifty at the playable squad members in the game (including the Ogryn), and some appropriately gore-soaked footage of first-person melee combat, with the player using a chainsword, power hammer and combat knife to chop through what look like Chaos-addled cultists and traitor guardsmen.
The second half gets all shooty, showing off the massive slug shotgun the Ogryn trooper carries, a couple of lasgun variants, an autogun, and the humble frag grenade, among other implements of death.
We also see a rather distinctive-looking spiky-helmed traitor guardsman, who seems like they may be important.
Before that, all we had was the original teaser trailer from July 2020, which whet all our appetites for the idea of a four-person Imperial Guard squad trying to survive in the terrifying hellscape of a Chaos-dominated underhive, where all the lights are mysteriously out of action…
We, er… we don’t think those guardsmen made it out. Just saying.
Warhammer 40k Darktide characters
We don’t know much about Shipmistress and potential Rogue Trader Brahms, other than that she narrates the November 2022 World Intro Trailer, and appears to be a servant of the Imperial Inquisition.
It’s not a great leap of the imagination to guess that she’s Shipmistress of the Imperial Navy vessel that serves as your home base during the game – but we don’t yet know what type of role she’ll play in the game’s story and events.
Back in the original teaser trailer, the voiceover is heard – in plummy, aristocratic, British-English tones that scream ‘high-born Imperial citizen’ – reporting to an Inquisitor that they have arrived at the planet, and assembled their “recon team” (that’s you, chum) to investigate certain levels of the hive city.
It seems evident that this apparent inquisitorial agent will be the one pulling your team’s strings, setting missions for you to complete – but we don’t yet know if they will be a fully realised, named character in the game’s story, or more of a shadowy puppet master.
The briefing sergeant
It seems more likely to be the latter, however, since in the most recent gameplay trailer, the characters were briefed on their mission by a cockney-voiced Imperial Guard sergeant. (Perhaps Vermintide 2’s Kruber fell through a warp gate.)
It makes sense that a high-born Inquisitor would go through some intermediary when dealing with lowly indentured fighters like the heroes of Darktide, and this seems to be him. The sergeant’s voice pops up again and again in the trailer, so it seems likely he’ll be a ‘voice in your ear’ throughout the game.
The spiky-headed traitor guardsman
In the second half of the December 2020 gameplay trailer, we meet a distinctive, badass-looking chap, apparently in charge of some Imperial Guard soldiers who have turned traitor and joined Chaos.
Flanked by fellow corrupted troopers, this guy’s arrival seems choreographed to add maximum evil vibes. Standard Guard uniform modified with chainmail, spiked plates and a spiky helmet; an etched human skull at his belt; and a face uncovered to reveal mouldering flesh and bone – it’s the very model of a scary (yet human) 40K villain.
Dollars to donuts, this fella is one of our main antagonists.
Warhammer 40k Darktide setting
Darktide is set on the planet Atoma Prime, in a continent-sized, ultra-dense hive city named Tertium. In the writer reveal trailer, Black Library darling Dan Abnett describes Tertium as “a vital Imperial holding, essentially the capital of an enormous area of space,” and “home to billions of loyal Imperial citizens”.
“It’s not the sort of thing you want to lose – but it’s also a way for Chaos to get into the Imperium, which [the Inquisition] can’t allow to happen,” he adds.
In terms of in-game environments, the setting of a hive city allows for more variety than you might think.
Since these places house billions of people, spanning thousands of miles across (and often many miles beneath the planet’s surface, and miles upwards too), there’s scope for missions to explore all sorts: habitation blocks; vast market districts; factory units; acres and acres of churches, temples and cathedrals; surface level streets, hive ‘stacks’ (miles-high skyscrapers that make Judge Dredd’s megacities look like Lego villages), and more.
In Warhammer 40k lore, these sorts of places are pretty bleak, soulless and overwhelming at the best of times – but in Darktide, it would seem Tertium has an even worse problem: a Warhammer 40k chaos uprising.
In the 2020 teaser trailer, we saw the recon squad exploring “level six” of Tertium hive, and discovering a crowd of ghoulish, shambling humanoids (and one shadowy hulk that might be a corrupted Ogryn) which look suspiciously misshapen and diseased.
As such, it’s a pretty fair bet that Nurgle, the Chaos god of plague, decay and contagion, is working his feculent magics upon Atoma Prime.
Warhammer 40k Darktide weapons
The three trailers we’ve seen so far have been fairly open-handed in showing the game’s gory, grimdark arsenal – we’ve seen crunchy and blood-spattered footage of various melee and ranged Warhammer 40k Darktide weapons so far:
- Combat knife
- Power hammer (we won’t call it thunder hammer ’til we see the lightning)
- Ogryn-sized cutlass
- Power sword
- Thumper Shotgun (A massive Ogryn-sized shotgun that looks like a China Lake grenade launcher)
- Plasma gun
- Frag grenade
Best Darktide weapons
According to Fatshark’s data from the October closed beta test, the best Darktide weapons (or at least, the ones that killed most baddies) were:
- Brunt Special Mk1 Club
- Kantrael MG Ia Infantry
- Catachan Mk I Devil’s Claw Sword
Future Darktide weapons we’d like to see
There are some classic 40k weapons we haven’t seen yet, too, which we’d guess may still make an appearance. Take your bets, folks…
- Power fist
- Heavy Stubber
- Storm Bolter
- Heavy Bolter
- Bolt pistol
Rest assured that our eagle eyes are out for any whisper of an update on Warhammer 40K: Darktide, and we’ll keep this guide updated with the latest on the game as we go along. The Emperor protects. Probably.
Warhammer 40k Darktide beta
Fatshark is running two Warhammer 40k Darktide beta test programmes prior to the game’s November 30 release: a closed beta (which ran from October 14-16) and a pre-order beta right before release, for those who’ve pre-purchased the game.
Darktide pre-order beta
The Darktide pre-order beta will run from November 17 to November 29, and will be open to “anyone who pre-orders or has already pre-ordered the game” by that time, according to an October 21 Fatshark announcement via Steam.
On November 18, Fatshark shared a full rundown of what to expect from the pre-order beta. The broad experience is this: the pre-order beta lets your freshly created Reject access four missions in four zones from November 17. This changes to eight missions from November 21, then ten missions from November 28. The full 13 missions and five zones will be available on launch day.
There’s a new zone called Dust to explore in the pre-order beta. Fatshark also promises over 60 weapons to test out and four random conditions to ‘enhance’ your experience (expect power outages and a ‘ventilation purge’, yikes). There’s also a training ground to practice in before the full release.
The pre-order beta also includes many, many tweaks based on how October’s closed beta went:
- All-round optimisation, connectivity, and performance improvements
- Extra mouse sensitivity
- Options to turn off wobble and skip the tutorial
- Chat sensitivity adjustments (looks like the filter had an issue with the word ‘snipers’)
- Added options to test weapons before missions
- Adjusted difficulty in the ‘Cooling’ mission
- Improved lighting and HUD
- Increased weapon handling for Veteran Sharpshooter’s starter weapons
- Enemy tagging now more distinguished from smart tagging wheel
- Malice difficulty is now locked until characters are level three
- Strike teams can now play the highest difficulty level unlocked by any one party member
- Smoother chaining weapon attacks, weapon swaps, dodges, and dodge timings
- Adjusted stun and hit reactions to avoid stun-locking
Fatshark is also working on an end-of-screen scoreboard, a detailed view of weapon stats, and a mission board that doesn’t take an age to walk to. These, however, won’t be included in the game just yet.
Fatshark aims for all beta progression to carry over once Darktide releases, but says it “cannot fully guarantee at this moment” that all your progress will be saved. The progression systems are still being tested, and Fatshark may need to change or reset something as a last resort. It’s also important to note that downtime is expected on November 29 at 7pm GMT / 2pm ET.
Darktide Closed Beta
Fatshark announced on September 20 that it would be running a two-day-long Warhammer 40k Darktide Closed Beta from October 14 to October 16. The Closed Beta ran on both PC and consoles.
As standard for such Beta tests, applicants were sent a questionnaire about their platform of choice (and system specs, for PC players) before being accepted onto the Beta (or not). The Closed Beta is now over.
Closed Beta participants got to explore a restricted version of the game, says Fatshark, explaining “we will be limiting weapons, maps and missions, enemy types and other systems”. Game progression in the Beta build was be wiped afterwards, and will not be carried over into the final game.
Fatshark welcomed Beta members to stream their gameplay, however – and it invited streamers to join the game’s dedicated content creator programme for more information.