Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Hands-On Preview - Cooperative Play

How many Orks does it take to defeat a four-person team of Space Marines? We find out in the game's Exterminatus mode.

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It is always time for war in the dark future of the 41st millennium. As mankind stands alone on the brink of annihilation, we take up our chainsword and join the ranks of the Adeptus Astartes--better known as the Space Marines. This session was spent running through Space Marine's four-player online cooperative mode, Exterminatus. While not initially included in the upcoming retail release, this mode will be available as a free download for all players 30 days after Space Marine launches. We ran this gauntlet a few times, and here’s what we found out.

Each Exterminatus mission was broken into different arenas. Within those arenas we battled wave after wave of WAAAGH-hungry Orks. If we survived all the waves we got to advance to the next arena. As you may have heard, there are no healing items in the single-player game--you can only recover from damage by using a finishing move to wipe out an incapacitated enemy. So in this new mode, one of the first things we noticed was that our character could no longer perform all the face-smashing, curb-stomping execution kills we had come to love in single-player. Instead, his health was managed by recharging shield and health bars that would refill when he was out of combat.

The developers explained that, in both the Exterminatus and the Versus multiplayer modes, having a character stop to perform an extensive execution kill just made him a fat target for all the other enemies. By the time you'd finished ripping one enemy apart, 10 more would have swarmed and overwhelmed you.

In addition to weathering the green tide, we were given bonus objectives to complete throughout each arena. These included capturing a particular point on the map or racking up a certain number of kills. Most were designed to simply break up the action; however, a few offered significant rewards. In one area, if we captured a particularly difficult point, it would activate a massive laser cannon that we could use to liquefy our opponents.

Whether we were killing enemies or capturing locations, we were always accruing points. These points fed into a meter that would award our team extra lives at certain intervals. All team members drew from the same life pool, so when the going got tough (which didn't take long), we found ourselves running out of lives in a hurry. Once defeated, we had to wait roughly 10 seconds before being given the chance to respawn. And if we all went down, it was game over.

We favored the jump-pack-equipped assault class for its quick mobility and access to the devastating thunder hammer melee weapon. Clad in the striking reds and yellows of the stalwart Imperial Fists chapter and its Primarch, Rogal Dorn, our role was protecting the slow-moving devastator marine. The tactical and second assault marines would fan out and target high-priority enemies that had a nasty habit of hiding in the back. Together, we were a well-oiled killing machine, working as one and burning through greenskins. Then one of us would go down, and the entire plan would go sideways. C'est la vie.

Devastators are vulnerable in close-quarters combat and need someone to cover them.
Devastators are vulnerable in close-quarters combat and need someone to cover them.

In the aftermath, our team's score was totaled, and we were awarded experience points based on our contributions to the fight. Scores will be uploaded to a leaderboard so you can compare yourself against your battle brothers worldwide. Experience points level up your character and grant you new weapons and perks to use in combat. And the progress you make for your character in Exterminatus will carry over to the Versus multiplayer mode, and vice versa. For more details on Space Marine's multiplayer, including its extensive suite of cosmetic options, check our previous coverage. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine will be released on September 6 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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