Warhammer 40,000: Darktide eliminates the scripted heroes of Warhammer: Vermintide 2 and replaces them with player-created characters, allowing the player to choose their own origin, personality, and class. It makes for some fantastic barks and witty banter, but it also gives players the welcome option to double up on useful roles instead of forcing each party member to be unique.
While it’s delightful to spend time with most of these characters, it’s tough to get a sense of how they actually play without taking them into some higher-level matches and unlocking their signature arsenals. Based on developer Fatshark’s previous work, it’s safe to expect further balance changes to come down the line, as well as new classes and archetypes as eventual DLC. But for now, here’s how the class roster stacks up in Darktide’s launch period.
The Veteran is a member of the Imperial Guard, cast down to prisoner status and freed only due to the luck of being in the right place at the right time. Don’t feel too bad for the Veteran, because they currently stand at the top of the pile of Rejects. Their core fantasy is very simple to explain and comprehend: They’re real good at gun. Right now, they’re good at everything else too.
The chainsword is a powerful melee tool for going through hordes of baddies like a knife through butter, and of course, the Veteran also has access to an arsenal of ranged weaponry. Their combat stance highlights special enemies, which makes them adept at taking out priority targets like Poxbursters or Scab Snipers. While, unlike the damage-dealing Psyker, they require a lot of ammunition, they’re also much less of a glass cannon than their comrade. Right now, the Veteran is just good at everything, and a reliable pick at all levels of play.
The Ogryn is an interesting contrast to the Veteran. While the latter is a jack of all trades, the Ogryn is specifically a master of being a big, thicc tank. His shield gives him a powerful tool to deal with the game’s toughest enemies (like the Daemonhost), by absorbing damage and blocking staggers. There are few better feelings in Darktide than blocking a chokepoint with the Ogryn, having your sharpshooters crowd around you to find clear shots, and holding the line while your comrades shred the heretics at hand.
The Ogryn’s big strengths are paired with big, obvious weaknesses. He’s an unwieldy guy, and without a Veteran or Psyker at his side, he’s going to struggle against Snipers, Poxbursters, and Gunners. His explosive strength doesn’t carry over to long-range solutions, making the Ogryn the ultimate team player.
The Psyker triumphs at lower levels of play, and is one of the most fun classes to use right now. Instead of a grenade, the Psyker uses a brain burst to explode a heretic’s head in a shower of gore and green smoke. After a few levels, they trade in their gun for a force staff that shoots Palpatine lighting or manifestations of psychic force.
The Psyker takes more work to play than the Veteran, largely thanks to the Peril system. As the Psyker casts, their Peril builds. At 100%, they have the nasty tendency to blow up. They also get a stacking buff every time they kill an enemy with a brain blast. That buff slowly decreases over time unless they keep on poppin’. The Psyker is high maintenance, squishy, and falls off at higher levels — but they’re also the most satisfying class in my book.
Here we are with the weakest Reject in the current crew: the Zealot. The Zealot falls behind the Veteran at sustained damage, the Ogryn at frontline utility, and the Psyker at eliminating priority targets. There are changes that I can see making the Zealot more engaging — perhaps giving their special ability a lock-on, à la the Vanguard in Mass Effect 3’s co-op, or buffing their signature melee warhammers to outpace the Veteran.
While the Zealot is my favorite class in terms of sheer flavor — I cackle every time my Zealot howls praise to the God-Emperor with the fervor of a Twitch streamer — the class is just... OK. The flamer’s fun, and the warhammer has a meaty swing, but if you forced me at lasgunpoint to eliminate one of the classes, it’d be the Zealot.