Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun PC Review

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun by developer Auroch Digital and publisher Focus EntertainmentPC Review written by Robert with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a retro-inspired shooter developed by Auroch Digital and published by Focus Entertainment. I'd like to start by first thanking the good folks over at Focus Entertainment and Auroch Digital for providing a copy of Boltgun for review. I've been known to be hyper-critical of the slew of Warhammer titles that we've seen in the last ten years; at one point it felt like Games Workshop was just slapping the Warhammer title on games, then ushering them out the door. Fortunately that's not the case here with Boltgun; the grimdark setting of the 40k universe is ripe for the taking and that's what's happened with Boltgun. While I'm certainly a fan of "Boomer Shooters," the recent history of garbage with Warhammer titles on it, I was cautiously optimistic ... and Warhammer 40k: Boltgun is easily one of the best Boomer Shooters in recent memory.

I really hadn't considered a retro-inspired shooter for a setting for Boltgun and after burning through Boltgun a couple times, I'm kicking myself for it. The game starts off with you deploying planetside via one of their wicked orbital drop pods and you are then able to take control of Malum Cordeo Caedo, a member of the Sternguard Space Marine out of the Ultramarines chapter. As you're on your way down to the surface of Forge World Graia, your insertion pod is flung off course by enemy fire and you land alone, in the midst of Chaos Marines and Demons. Landing in the carnage of the botched landing, you're whisked through a quick tutorial then you're on your way.

If you grew up PC gaming in the 90s, there's a good chance that you'll feel right at home with Boltgun's aesthetic. Taking strong cues from the FPS titles of the 90s, Boltgun wears its heart on its sleave. The big, blocky, near-voxel design and the vividly colorful lighting effects might seem at odds with the brutal grimdark future of Warhammer, but it works, and works extremely well. Though designed with that retro-feel, Boltgun has a unique beauty that is at odds with such a brutal and visceral title. Levels are expansive, well laid out, and though not as detailed as other Warhammer titles (such as Total War: Warhammer 3 and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide), Boltgun is one of the best looking games in the franchise, and one of the best "boomer shooters" to hit the scene in recent years. 

Weapons, from your chainsword to your meltagun to your shotgun, all hit with just the right amount of oomph. The Boltgun, your first ranged weapon, is so incredibly satisfying to mow down the denizens of Chaos with it. For those not in the know, a Boltgun or "Bolter" is essentially a giant assualt rifle, but instead of shooting bullets, they're tiny rockets/grenade. Needless to say, when it hits the pulpy flesh of a demon, the squelch is quite welcome. (side note: I absolutely adore the billboarding of enemies- "billboarding" is when sprites always point in the direction of the player- it's a wonderfully-90's thing).

Sure, Boltgun looks good, has an expansive collection of maps that help keep the campaign fresh and at times, incredibly spicy (but not in the good way)... but how does it sound? If anything, this may be the weakest link in the overall experience that Aurch Digital is trying to sell here. While the voice acting is actually phenomenal, it's with the reuse of the "ah" sound that happens any time you off a human bad-guy that weighed on my nerves really fast, given how many times you'll be in combat with them. 

Along with the reused sound effects, the soundtrack just missed the mark with me. By the time I was 2 hours into Boltgun, I finally turned the music off as it was adding to the cacophony and made it extremely difficult for me to work around. Turning the music off definitely improved the experience for me. Once the music was off/down to a very low level, you can hear the hollow footsteps of Caedo's power armor or the echo of a grenade explosion that sounds distinctly different pending where you're at in the level. These little details being drowned out by the overbearing noise. Most of the weapons sound great (especially the chainsword) though I was pretty bummed about the Heavy Bolter. It sounds like bubbles popping underwater and for being an oversized Boltgun ... was really underwhelming. 

Though Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun can be finished in about 7-8 hours, it's still an entertaining romp through the retro-esque, gore-infused, grimdark future of Warhammer 40k. There are enough secrets throughout the levels that in order to seek out those goods, you'll want to take it a bit slower and more methodically. This may sound at odds with the fast-paced frenetic action of a boomer shooter, it actually works out very well. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is fast, chaotic, and feels great as you go smooshing your way through hordes of Chaos, but there are times when it's nice to just take a moment and soak in the dirty, grungy, and relatively unpleasant-looking environs of Forge World Graia. Though I enjoyed the relatively simple and straightforward story, some may be feeling a bit unsatisfied with it, while others (like me), are just thrilled to be entertained with some good old fashioned FUN. Much to my surprise, I WAS having fun, and a whole heck-of-a-lot of it, too.

Score: 8.5 / 10


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