Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Multiplayer Hands-On

Say hello to Space Marine's eight-on-eight multiplayer suite, with Space versus Chaos Marines, three classes, and customisation aplenty.

Warhammer 40K aficionados keeping an eye on Space Marine will be well versed in the action shooter's single-player campaign: a mix of third-person gunplay and rugged hack-and-slash melee on a war machine factory planet, with you in the giant stomping space boots of Captain Titus, Ultramarine. But never mind carving up orks in an eight-to-ten-hour story mode. What of multiplayer?

The game's multiplayer is based on eight-versus-eight online team combat, pitting good-guy Space Marines against traitorous Chaos Marines. You progress through 41 levels, flitting between three classes and murdering your way across five maps in two modes: Annihilation, a first-to-41-kills frag match, and Seize Ground, in which teams fight to capture and hold map control points. Though two multiplayer modes and five maps seem an undersized offering, we're told to expect further maps as downloadable content (some free, some paid-for), and there is compensation in the breadth of character progression, by means of a stream of unlockable weapons, perks, and cosmetic customisation options.

The three Space Marine classes are assault, tactical, and devastator. Tactical is the most versatile breed, with eventual access to the most weapon types. Devastator is the heavy-weapons guy: a lumbering, walking turret who can plant himself on the spot, forfeiting all mobility for a higher rate of fire. But assault class (known as raptor class on the Chaos Marine side) is our favourite so far. This is the most mobile, melee-focused of the bunch, specialising in up-close brutality with the iconic chainsword, for instance, as well as the mammoth power axe. Assault class marines also come equipped with jump packs: short-burst jetpacks that let you jump high and glide down--or crash down hard, with a disruptive area-of-effect stomp attack. In our time with the game, we had the most fun ground-stomping from on high into small knots of marines and then clubbing away with a bulky melee weapon.

With the exception of the story mode's cinematic execution moves and the class-specific abilities in multiplayer, the control schemes in single- and multiplayer closely resemble each other, including the ramming sprint attack for quickly charging into a fray. A character's health comes in the shape of a slowly regenerating life bar and a separate energy shield with a quicker recharge time.

The multiplayer maps are inspired by locations from the story campaign, combining grim and gothic aesthetics with heavy industrial, battle-shredded scenery. One map is set across a partially wrecked bridge, cluttered with debris; another moves you belowground, into a network of gloomy concrete vaults. Hab Center takes in the ruins of the factory planet's residential district. Basilica and Manefactorum, meanwhile, feature cathedral-like factory buildings and more open areas. The mix of open, outdoor areas and confined spaces with low ceilings and overhangs tasks you with playing to your class's strength; jump packs are all but useless in cramped interiors but are handy for hopping to higher ground outdoors, and devastators do well finding a defensible spot from which to rain down fire on a choke point.

The jetpack-equipped Assault class marines are our favourite so far.

Progression and customisation are where Space Marine's multiplayer has the most depth. As you accrue experience points (the sum of your basic XP for regular kills and bonus XP for skill and variety-based challenges), you rank up towards the level cap of 41, gaining access to new armour pieces, weapons, and perks. Each armour element has numerous style and colour options; developer Relic boasts of 1.8 billion possible combinations of cosmetic choices, and heck, a good few million of those wouldn't even be multihued, mismatched eyesores (bronze greaves, magenta vambraces, lime shoulders). For those with a taste for Warhammer 40K canon, on the other hand, there are complete armour sets for official Space Marine chapters--among them Black Templars, Blood Ravens, Space Wolves, and Ultramarines. The same goes for Chaos Marine warband armour, with the armour set selection including those of the Iron Warriors and Emperor's Children.

Canonical Space Marine weapons are similarly plentiful, among them the chainsword, thunder axe, plasma pistol, flamethrower, bolter assault rifle, and heavy bolter, with the booming heavy weapons reserved for the devastator class. Among the grenade types are nifty blind grenades: flashbangs which turn opposing players' screens white for more than long enough to let you saunter up and slay their sightless character. And added to the weapon selection, the wide range of perks--which make weapons more powerful, or let you carry more grenades, and so on--turn the three basic classes into templates for customisation. The tactical class gets eventual access to the sniper rifle, for instance, letting you spec out your tactical marine with sniper war gear and accompanying perks.

As in the story-based single-player mode, everything feels weighty and grounded (with lashings of controller rumble), if not precise or elegant--fitting enough for hulking, one-tonne space soldiers. With just a couple of modes to play in, multiplayer might not make for a main attraction in Space Marine, but the game's combat system, a decent melee-shooter hybrid, makes for some brisk, boisterous player-versus-player.

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Discussion

33 comments
Crist93
Crist93

I don't normally go for shooter games, but this got my attention. Heck, I don't even normally play Marines on the tabletop and this looks cool. I'll wait until it drops in price though. On the Hordes idea, I think something like a Space Hulk mode where players fight hordes of Genestealers would be awesome, not to mention canonical, considering GW's deep involvement with their IP.

kazumashadow
kazumashadow

Looks great in all aspects but the customisation really got my attention.

Train_Of_Lies
Train_Of_Lies

@Thoragoros whilst I agree with you that it would be cool to have a survival mode, i.e, Last Stand, similar to Dawn of War 2, never relate something with awesome Space Marines to something as feeble as CoD. I cant wait for this game to come out, preordered it, cant wait till i can get me some Imperial Fists Armour and a Lightning Claw (assuming there both in it) Im so excited. FOR THE EMPEROR!!!!!

jpsp1986
jpsp1986

Seems just like a hack and slash game hitting the same button over and over. I hope this game does well.

simon1812
simon1812

hoping I will be able to download a demo version from PSN.

ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

They should re-create Dawn of War Last Stand in this mode with the same style maps and characters with the 3rd person hack and slash perspective. This game looks awesome to.

Thoragoros
Thoragoros

They should have some kind of 'Survival Mode' against Orks or Chaos, like CoD has with Zombies.

clemoda
clemoda

I totally agree with the dude who said "horde mode" That would be awesome

cobaltattacker
cobaltattacker

@MagicAd They won't be spending their lives desiging Space Marines because it goes down the last detail and its pretty simple. Its really easy for them because for the models that you can build of Space Marines, Chaos, and Orks, have billions of different ways to be built if you have the creativity. And all the of the combinations are just purity seals, different helmets, shoulders, weapons, iron halos, colors, etc. Thats what make Space Marines so great, the difference, diversity, and variety of the space marine chapters. One of the reasons its like this is because so you can see what their honors and what they have achieved in battle.

jamesjgraham
jamesjgraham

I've never been a fan of multiplayer bunny hopping games. As far as I can see there's nothing new here and looks alot like Halo.

Gruug
Gruug

Third person shooter.....not my favorite format. Probably not a game for me.

MagicAD
MagicAD

1.8 billion combinations? Anyone else worried that they'll spend the rest of their life designing Space Marines?

Cirkelinespark
Cirkelinespark

Wow! I didnt think the multiplayer part was gonna be this great. I'm getting this!

Zingoe1
Zingoe1

I was on the edge with the game and after seeing this and the customisation I'm sold :)

TheHappyCamper
TheHappyCamper

I agree that a Horde mode would be a perfect fit. Still remember and own the original Rogue Trader book, with the Crimson Fists being over-run. I'm loving all the customization as well, looks really detailed.

gladin09
gladin09

purple and gold? soul drinkers here I come! but seriously this is looking quite good just hoping the will reveal co-op details.

W00kie_Smuggler
W00kie_Smuggler

No doubt they'll add in some sort of horde mode later on, similarly to Dawn of War II's last stand mode which was released as a free DLC after the game came out

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

@Atheosis I was expecting co-op campaigns to cover this. But we've already been told to expect DLC, which I hope they are releasing so they can focus on single player rather than stripping the game down.

Atheosis
Atheosis

No swarm mode fighting waves of Orks? That's a bit puzzling...

maxwell97
maxwell97

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only CoD. :D But seriously, this sounds awesome! Too bad we have to wait for September...

Ronnie_Rim
Ronnie_Rim

@the_hunger Races aren't the issue, considering this game is called Space Marine and they would completely destroy every other race. The issue is only 2 game modes, but I guess that's worth it :)

EvrenDawn
EvrenDawn

This looks cool but I still want there to be some type of co-op where you fight waves of orks.

Krinnium
Krinnium

im glad they worked in some sort of competitive multiplayer, since i was all but convinced that they would just stick to coop. this is gonna be awesome. i hope they have a coop last stand type game tho, where you can play as those classes. that would be sick

the_hunger
the_hunger

5 maps? 2 races? Sounds a little thin on initial content. I'm going to wait and see if they do a GotY edition, in which they bundle all of the DLC into a game worth buying.

dbzrulez77
dbzrulez77

but what about co-op i wish they come out and say if it will have it or not...

Archer_97
Archer_97

man, this game looks good. the multi-player looks really good. dang, now i've gotta buy xbox live gold again -_-

Ashman555
Ashman555

This does actually seem like a good game for once