For anyone who's been into so-called boomer shooters (FPS's we used to call them), I suspect that Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun was among the most anticipated games of this year. There may be dozens of Warhammer games released every year, but there are very few that they are actually worthwhile. On the contrary, Boltgun, from the time it was first announced, has shown that it could easily compete with the top titles in the genre, such as Dusk, Prodeus or Ion Fury, all of which, it should be noted, are aimed at a specific audience willing to look past early 90's era VGA graphics and focus on gameplay.

Hello, sunshine.

A gameplay that's modelled on the original, all-time-classic, Doom and if you were lucky enough to play it in its prime, you know very well what to expect from Boltgun. An FPS that involves a standard story, giving our Space Marine an excuse to slaughter everything that moves, including of course Chaos Marines and daemons of Chaos. Those who are familiar with the lore will certainly feel a bit more familiar than someone who hasn't been involved in at all, however that doesn't mean that not everyone can enjoy the title equally.

So this is an adrenaline-fuelled FPS that focuses purely on the fast-paced action and the challenge of having dozens of opponents in the same arena at the same time. For the most part, Boltgun features relatively linear maps, which on the one hand are a far cry from the labyrinthine constructs of its inspirer, and on the other hand are not limited to a series of sequential, claustrophobic corridors. There are plenty of cleverly hidden passages to search for, besides, after the completion of each mission a message appears about how many secrets were discovered, and it almost never leaves the player idle. There will always be an enemy, smaller or bigger, lurking around the next corner, while there are not a few times when we are called upon to... purge all the heretics, in a frenetic situation reminiscent of the epic battles we experienced in the unforgettable Doom Eternal.

The usual result of a fierce battle.

To avoid misunderstandings, Boltgun does not copy the mechanics of the aforementioned id Software masterpiece. Instead, it relies on the tried and tested formula of placing dozens of power-ups inside the arena (ammo, weapons, health or armor) in order to have a regular source of supply for our Space Marine, without any trace of "modern" features, such as e.g. auto-heal over time or artificial difficulties like limited stamina. Even though our hero's suit weighs tons, the agility and speed of traversing the game's (several the truth is) levels can only be compared to a feline.

Apart from his sturdy suit and the built-in chainsaw that helps us in the most... close encounters, the Marine has a remarkable array of weapons, starting of course with the boltgun, which proves to be a solid weapon for most situations (and is the only one that can receive temporary ammo power-ups, if we discover the secret object). Later on, the game supplies us with several interesting weapons, such as the familiar shotgun, plasma gun and heavy bolter, but also more specialized ones, made specifically for bosses and tough situations, such as the meltagun, vengeance launcher and grav-cannon. It's worth mentioning that we never felt overpowered wielding any of them, either because the enemies are quite durable and require a little extra effort to defeat them or because we are surrounded by so many of them that any slackness in our movement can be fatal.

The plasma gun is powerful, so make sure you are not too close to your target.

Boltgun is by no means an easy game (even on the most "human" difficulty levels) and don't be fooled by the first, exploratory levels. From the middle of Chapter I onwards, it's a bit of a chaos that doesn't put the reins on for another two chapters and ten to twelve hours later. Undoubtedly, for the genre and style of the game, the double digit number of hours qualifies as sufficient and believe me, after watching the (frugal) finale of the game, there's no way you won't feel "satiated" by the experience. However, we do have some objections to some design choices the developers made, such as limiting the first chapter to only having four weapons (because of this, the final boss tested my nerves too much) and the fact that by the middle of Chapter II, we've seen almost 90% of what the game has to offer in terms of enemy, level and weapon variety.

One could say that more or less, the same thing happened in the older shooters, however I can't deny the fact that in the last hours of the game, I was getting tired of the repetition and the lack of new ideas. However, after a short break, I was back in full force to rid even more heretics of their miserable existence. Boltgun is perfect for a few short gaming sessions, and the fact that saving is allowed anywhere and not just through checkpoints takes away the stress of having to replay a difficult battle again if for whatever reason we want to stop the session.

To go in or not to go in?

After all, the game is quite addictive, a result of the excellent implementation of movement in space and the robust feel of the weapons. And the combination of the various firearms with the chainsaw's melee capabilities result in an unparalleled bloodbath and carnage worthy of Warhammer's reputation. So in the action part, Boltgun gets an A+ and if it was released under the veil of an AAA title, with production values to match, we might now be talking about one of the most important games of the year.

The atmosphere of the game is quite dark and gloomy.

However, since the game has a retro aesthetic, as good as it is (which has one of the best implementations), in 2023 a lot of people will ignore its existence to their eyes' delight. And it's a shame, because Boltgun is one of the most fun FPSs we've played in recent years, and certainly a game worthy of the Warhammer name. At the very least, it runs flawlessly from day one of release, without the need for apologies from the developers and a bunch of patches afterwards.

We would like to thank AVE Group for providing the review code.

Go to discussion...



Purge The Heretics

Finally, a decent Warhammer title and one of the best boomer shooters we've seen.

Γιώργος Δεμπεγιώτης

Lover of action, shooter, adventure, RPG's and sometimes racing games, he prefers mainly single-player gaming. Every now and then he breaks out into a multi, but he doesn't overdo it.

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