Warhammer 40K: Space Marine is one of those games that I never expected to see a sequel. It’s been 12 years since the game launched on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, and my hope had begun to wane. I’m lucky my lack of faith didn’t land me in a torture amp because, by the Emperor, we are not only getting a sequel, but one that is bigger and better in every way. I recently went hands-on with Games Workshop and Saber Interactive’s collaboration. After the brief gameplay glimpse and the awesome CGI trailer we received at the Game Awards Show (you’ll find these below), I was excited, but there’s so much more here than we expected. Through the destruction of our enemies do we earn our salvation, so let’s go hands-on with Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2.
If you need a refresher, Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2 places you in the Power Armor of Captain Titus, Firstborn captain of the Ultramarines Space Marine chapter, and commander of the 2nd Company. He is an Adeptus Astartes – the mightiest of The Emperor’s Angels of Death, and soldiers to the Imperium of Man. They are genetically modified humans made from the Primarchs themselves. They are deadly, they are almost impossible to kill, and they are who you call when failure is not an option.
After completing his mission defending the Forge World of Graia from the Warboss Grimskull and the Chaos Sorcerer Nemeroth, Titus was turned over to the Inquisition by one of his battle brothers on suspicion of heresy. While he was cleared of wrongdoing, the suspicion of heresy tends to stick like glue. Reinstated but demoted to the rank of Lieutenant, Titus now faces a new threat. Taking place during the Fourth Tyranid War, the insectoid monsters threaten to overtake the entire universe with their ever-surging numbers.
To take on such an insurmountable threat, Lieutenant Titus will need an advantage. As such, he undergoes a dangerous surgery reserved for Firstborns called the Rubicon Primaris. This surgery has a 61.6% failure rate, but if successful, would give the recipient insurmountable strength, speed, and the abilities of a Primaris. Also known as the Calgarisian Rites, this surgery involves cracking open the body of a Space Marine from head to toe, installing three extra organs – a Magnificat in the brain to stimulate growth, a Belesarian Furnace which releases hypersteroids and corticostimulants to all but prevent a Marine from dying, and Sinew Coils of durasteel that encase every tendon and muscle in a metallic sheath to grant tremendous speed and strength. If the Marine survives this incredibly destructive procedure, they’ll be granted power beyond any mortal to be used in service of the Emperor.
Unfortunately, the Tyranids have evolved in new ways as well. This hivemind of armor-covered insects have conquered and swept across the galaxy using their biomechanical Hive Ships, and all seems lost. However, the Space Marines have a completely new advantage that they didn’t have the last time around – friends.
Benefiting greatly from Saber Interactive’s previous work on World War Z, Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2 supports cooperative play for up to three players at launch, allowing you to experience the entire campaign as a team. It also utilizes the same tech in that proprietary engine to feature massive amounts of enemies on screen, and look gorgeous doing it – there is no shortage of Tyranids to kill.
While the demo we played is single player (and it is completely valid to play the game entirely solo, just like its predecessor), Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2 shifts the focus to the cooperative capabilities of your Tactical Squad, be they human or AI. Whereas the first game had a steady drip of power-escalating weapons, there’s already plenty of obvious opportunities for interlocking and cooperative firepower. Bolters, Auto Bolters, Chainswords and Combat knives are just some of the arsenal this time around. With up to three people being able to play cooperatively, the ability to create interlocking fields fire and complimentary weapons fire gives entirely new ways to play as a team. For example, during one particularly nasty section of the demo, there were literally thousands of Tyranids flooding the area, with no end in sight. A Meltagun does amazing work at setting them on fire and rendering them all to ash, but it only has four rounds before you’ll need to reload. Having a second Marine backing you up with a Heavy Bolter to lay down suppressing fire, while a third uses their chainsword at melee range while unleashing Righteous Fury to raise the whole team’s attack potential and defense, can help suppress the unstoppable tide, or at least holding it back until you can rescue the nearby soldiers during their tactical retreat.
Just watching the footage above, there’s one thing that’s incredibly clear – they are using the next-generation power of the new consoles and PC to deliver buckets of viscera. Blood glistens off armor and chunks of bone and flesh go flying when you pull a chainsword through the enemy’s body. There’s an incredible density to all of the environments as well, and I can’t wait to see more of them. The sheer amount of enemies on screen is also absolutely bonkers. If you want to see a great example of what happens when you leave the previous generation behind, look no further – Space Marine 2 is a visual treat.
The last thing I wanted to point out from this hands-on preview might be a moot point as this Collector’s Edition is already hard to come by. Nevertheless, here’s a quick rundown of what’s in the box:
- Collector’s case with unique artwork
- The game’s official steelbook
- ‘The Art and Making of Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2’, a 64-page book
- A physical copy (digital for PC) of the game with exclusive box art
- Digital items (TBA)
- The ‘Macragge’s Chosen’ DLC for the game
- An 8.25” x 6.7” Lieutenant Titus hand-painted resin statue
The best news is that we won’t have to wait long as this one stomps our way in the Fall of 2023. I cannot wait to get hands-on with my friends as we carve up Tyranids like the fodder they are. Look for our continued coverage, as well as our eventual multiplayer review, right here at GamingTrend.com
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).