Space Hulk Deathwing Interview: Shoot First And Keep Shooting

The co-op shooter’s mechanics and story discussed prior to release.

Posted By | On 06th, Dec. 2016 Under Article, Interviews


The oft-delayed Space Hulk Deathwing, from the minds at Streum on studio and Cyanide, is finally upon us and we’ll finally get to team up with our friends as the Space Marine Terminators to delete the Genestealers. Whatever you decide to do though – go solo or play with teammates – Space Hulk Deathwing will let you control four different classes and wreck havoc upon an unsuspecting populace. Thus far, we like what we see but is there a little more to Deathwing’s story?

GamingBolt spoke to the developers about the inspiration for a shooter in the Warhammer 40K universe, the story and much more. Space Hulk Deathwing is out on December 9th for PC while the Xbox One and PS4 versions arrive later.

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"The Space Hulk video game from 1993 is a big inspiration for us."

Space Hulk Deathwing will be one of the few titles in the Warhammer 40K universe to take a shooter approach rather than strategy. What inspired the idea for a shooter?

There are very few FPS games set in the WH40K universe, so we saw the potential there to create our own. Rather than porting the tabletop game directly, we want players to experience what it feels like to be in Terminator armour, on a Genestealer-infested Space Hulk. They’ll be able to visit this rich universe from a perspective they haven’t had before.

We really enjoy the level of immersion that’s possible in an FPS. You often feel a closer affinity with your avatar than other genres. This, combined with the engrossing atmosphere of the space hulk’s environments, makes for a great fit. Additionally, the Space Hulk video game from 1993 is a big inspiration for us. We played it a lot when we were teenagers – if you’ve ever tried it, you cannot forget its ambiance.

What is the story for Space Hulk Deathwing? How will it satisfy fans of the Warhammer 40K lore?

You are a Librarian from the Deathwing – the elite 1st Company of the Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter. You’re clad in incredibly powerful Terminator armour, armed with a deadly weapons arsenal and psyker powers. All the Librarians from your Company have had a vision about a Space Hulk – a mish-mash of derelict ships, asteroids and debris – that’s just emerged from the Warp. You and your squad are ordered to journey deep into this Space Hulk, named Olethros, to discover the reasons behind the vision. All you know going in, is that it’s somehow related to an upcoming disaster, as well as the distant past of the Dark Angels Chapter…

Belial, Grand Master of the Dark Angels, is taking command of the mission into Olethros himself. Considering the importance of this character, fans of the lore will understand that this Space Hulk operation is of a highly urgent nature!

What can you tell us about the game’s tactical FPS mechanics? Will players be able to issue commands to fellow soldiers during combat?

Space Hulk Deathwing is an FPS with tactical elements – giving orders to your squad mates is an important aspect of the single-player gameplay. To get the most from them, you’ll need to give appropriate orders at key moments, keeping them as effective as possible both in and out of battle.

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"A big focus of ours has been in ensuring the guns feel good to fire. We want these iconic 40K weapons to be as memorable in terms of gameplay as they are in their bold aesthetics."

Outside of the frontline, it’s your job to select the best equipment for your entire squad, complementing each other’s loadouts. Having your entire squad focused on melee combat might be a fun challenge, but it probably isn’t going to be optimal in battle. Bringing variety to your squad loadouts will offer a surer path to victory!

Just like the tabletop game, doors and entrances are of high strategic importance in Space Hulk: Deathwing. Deciding whether a door should be opened, closed, sealed or destroyed influences how the genestealer swarm can approach your squad – and how easily they can surround you entirely!

Which kind of levels and environments can one look forward to exploring in Space Hulk Deathwing?

Space Hulks are made up of elements (such as ships, asteroids and debris) taken from many different times, places and factions, across a wide span of the Warhammer 40K chronology. Players will explore a wide variety of ships – some are very industrial, while others are more in line with the classic, Gothic ‘cathedral’ style. There’s some natural environments too, set within vast asteroids. Of course, we’ve also included some surprises here and there.

What are you focusing most on for Space Hulk’s shooting? Is there an aspect which will set the game apart from other shooters?

A big focus of ours has been in ensuring the guns feel good to fire. We want these iconic 40K weapons to be as memorable in terms of gameplay as they are in their bold aesthetics. Much of your arsenal in Space Hulk Deathwing is made up of heavy weaponry. The bread and butter of this arsenal is the Storm Bolter – the classic firearm of the Space Marine Terminators. It’s essentially two regular Bolt Guns combined, firing auto-propelled projectiles. We’ve worked hard to make sure mowing down swarms of Genestealers feels satisfying, as befits such an icon of 40K!

A common loadout in Space Hulk Deathwing will see you wielding a firearm on one hand, while armed with a melee weapon on the other. This lets you adapt to combat situations as they emerge – down as many charging Genestealers as you can with your Storm Bolter, before ripping apart the remainder with your powerful Force Sword!

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"It’s been a pleasure to use Unreal 4, thanks to all the new options and possibilities it provides compared to engines our team have used in the past."

Will there be co-op and competitive multiplayer modes included in Space Hulk Deathwing?

Space Hulk: Deathwing’s features co-operative multiplayer, with all ships and missions from the campaign available to play with friends online. Unlike the solo campaign, where you’re a specific Librarian character, co-op lets you choose the class you’d like to play – Librarian, Apothecary (healer), a Heavy Weapon specialist, the Assault specialist or the Tactical specialist. Competitive multiplayer is not currently planned. We’ve had some internal discussions about its implementation, but we preferred to focus on and refine the solo and cooperative experiences for now.

Space Hulk Deathwing has been in development for a while but there hasn’t been much gameplay footage released for the same. When can fans expect to see more in-game footage?

We recently released our Arsenal gameplay trailer, which explores some of the many powerful weapons you’ll be using to purge xenos! Of course, we’ve still got a lot more to show off before launch this November.

What was it like to developer on Unreal Engine 4 and what advantages did the engine offer?

It’s been a pleasure to use Unreal 4, thanks to all the new options and possibilities it provides compared to engines our team have used in the past. The power of this new engine, the intuitive tools, the physical materials and PBR integrations have all been great. Over the course of development, we’ve been learning how to best draw out its potential for Space Hulk Deathwing.

Roughly speaking, how many hours of gameplay are we looking at in Space Hulk Deathwing?

On average, we expect players to clear the main solo campaign within 12 to 15 hours of gameplay. Of course, there’s a lot of extras and secrets to be found on top of that, and we’ve built the co-operative multiplayer to offer a great deal of replay value too.


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