It seems like there are more than 40,000 Warhammer games in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and not all of them are winners. Warhammer: 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters on the other hand is absolutely magnificent (our review), and the Duty Eternal expansion pack (our review) only made something great even better. The team at Complex Games has been hard at work, and on the eve of the 13th major update to the game, we see the next expansion to the game entitled Execution Force.
At this point we are dealing with specialists within specialists. The Grey Knights are already a secret sub-chapter of Space Marines, complete with powerful psykers and purpose-built weapons to combat the spreading threat of Chaos. Throughout the course of Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters, that Chaos spreads rapidly. In fact, there’s almost zero chance you’ll be able to stop the catastrophic power without losing a great many planets. The Emperor had the wisdom to commission this powerful group during the Horus Heresy, but they aren’t the only ones in play.
At your command is The Execution Force, a group of highly-specialized assassins brought in during the most dire moments of a campaign. Their sole purpose is taking down impossible targets. Like the Grey Knights, they are virtually unknown, even within the Astartes.
There are four types of assassins that can be requisitioned for use in battle. The Vindicare Assassin is your ranged specialist, emphasizing stealth and range to maximize damage, but wearing little armor and having even less health – keep them off the front lines. They have the ability to cripple a foe from a distance, so consider them your opening salvo. The Eversor Assassin is more of a melee-focused death dealer, able to heal themselves for a percentage of the enemy’s max HP when a melee kill occurs, and also gaining AP with an Execution. They might as well be voiced by Mark Hamill himself for how much the delight in their brutal work. Even if struck down, they explode with a blast that deals 10 damage over a block of four spaces. The Culexus Assassin is an odd one, utilizing their mental abilities to unleash psychic blasts, drain damage, inflict silence, and even close a warp gate with their mind. They gain AP when others spend it, so they take a bit of time to “warm up”. The Callidus Assassin is able to blend in with enemies, utilize poison to stun and bypass armor, and unleash a massive blast that confuses enemies. Their abilities are not generated by willpower, instead merely needing a short cooldown that is further shortened when they kill a foe. As powerful as these Assassins are, they are not meant to be your front line troops – your Grey Knights serve that role. These support troops are a devastating addition, not a replacement, and they will fall in battle – sometimes explosively.
Rather than the normal grid ability tree, the Assassins gain all of their skills with every level. They don’t have nearly the flexibility of your Grey Knights, but with as powerful as they are on the field, there’s little reason to do so. Just know that they are on loan so you won’t be tinkering with much beyond their names – it turns out that they don’t care what you call them. You can, however, upgrade and pick their equipment, which ultimately is far more important than putting on a new helmet or other accouterments.
Unfortunately for you, your team isn’t the only force getting new troops – Nurgle’s army continues to grow. The Tainted Sons are a new group of foes that include the Nurgling Swarm (they buff all Daemons in their vicinity), The Plague Surgeon (can buff their allies and otherwise augment them), and The Beast of Nurgle. This huge beast is more than capable of crushing all but the most stalwart of brothers, so you’ll want to avoid their stun and massive melee attacks.
There are a few new events that you’ll want to keep an eye out for in Execution Force. Rolling Mutations surge events cause, as the name suggests, mutations to every enemy on the map. This can be additional health and armor, toxic clouds, and worse. Generous Effusion events cause foes to throw off explosions for three turns, buffing nearby units for an additional 3 health to make them that much more annoying to take down. Add these to the normal warp surges and you now have some fresh annoyances to help keep your team moving to the objective, lest the fight become that much harder.
In addition to new troops, foes, mutations, and more, there are also some fresh new toys to play with in Execution Force. The Rad Grenade is a massive blast throwable with a reach of 10, but also inflicting bleed on everyone it hits. The new Purgation Skull will purge a single foe up to 10 tiles away, ignoring cover and setting them on fire. Autoloader Skulls, as the name suggests, triggers all targets’ reload abilities, which can be handy for resetting all of your troops to continue the fight. All of this Wargear have two additional tiers of upgrades to extend their range or add additional effects to help you push back the Nurgle forces.
Taking these troops into battle is, much like the troops introduced in the Duty Eternal expansion, a matter of choice. They are specialized, but highly effective. That said, they do take a slot normally reserved for more hearty Space Marines, so you’ll have to be very mindful of when you use them. That said, I found the ability to remove limbs with my Vindicare to be absolutely DEVASTATING. Sure, facing a Hellbrute is a harrowing experience, but hobbling him to prevent his high-speed Bull Rush effectively neuters him in battle. Taking off a ranged attack on most enemies makes them little more than a nuisance, as does stunning them so your Marines can finish them off. Keeping your sniper at elevation and safe can devastate the enemy. It folds in well with the time pressure of the always-expanding bloom. You can’t just sit back and snipe everyone as the bloom will continue to spawn in more foes, making the game much harder if you don’t proceed towards the objective. The time pressure does a great job of keeping your team moving forward, and the threat of having a foe spawn behind and nearby your sniper means you can’t leave them in the rear with the gear.
It’s not just new troops and gear for this expansion – two new mission types are joining the already-robust list. The Tentarus Hive missions have the Plague God spewing tiny tentacled nodes across the map. These nodes have you rushing all over the map to take them down, but once you do, the central node becomes vulnerable. Speed has never been something my Space Marine squads have excelled at, but the extra range of the new assassins tends to solve that problem before the Bloom spawn gets out of control.
The second mission type is a Boarding Mission. Building on the mission type that occurs when a Nurgle ship catches up with the Baleful Edict, this mission now lets you assault a Death Guard ship directly. You have just ten turns to destroy four generators, so these feel like a purposeful strike team mission. The close quarters of this mission lends itself to your psykers more than your snipers, though the extra range of your Vindicare can be useful for taking down the generators at a distance. Or you can just launch with four Grey Knights and skip the Execution Forces entirely – the choice is yours. The clock is always ticking though, so choose wisely.
Ultimately the big question at a $15 price point is whether Execution Force is necessary. I’ll answer that with a few different scenarios. If you’ve finished the game and want to take another crack at it with a completely new set of foes and tactics, then Execution Force will add a new layer of complexity, as well as fresh tools to manage the battlefield. If you’ve not started and were waiting for all of the add-ons to come out before getting rolling, then this is an easy inclusion for a fresh campaign. The question then becomes what happens if you are in the middle of the story. Thankfully, this DLC is simply introduced with a trip to your comms on your battleship where you are told you can now requisition fresh reinforcements. No special mission is required, just paying the requisition points to pull them into your available troops. As such, they fold in perfectly. So the answer on necessity is actually no – it’s not required to enjoy Daemonhunters. But do I recommend it? Absolutely. Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters is a fantastic tactical title in its own right, and Execution Force is yet another way to improve on the formula.
Execution Force was a surprise, being announced and released in short order. I don’t know if more DLC is planned for Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters, but one thing is for certain – this game continues to evolve and improve with every DLC, and Execution Force is easily the best one yet. That moment when you equip a tier 3 sniper rifle that, with upgrades, can rip the arms off of an otherwise dangerous foe from 16 tiles away makes you feel like a total badass, and that just never gets old.
You can pick up Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters – Execution Force DLC for $14.99 on Steam right now.
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).
000: Chaos Gate - Daemonhunters Execution Force
At just $14.99, Execution Force gives you fresh ways to combat the demonic Nurgle horde with snipers, psykers, poisoners, and spies at your disposal, the forces of Chaos don’t stand a chance.