Remember Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters? If so, congratulations! It’s a whole lot of words to keep in mind. You probably dropped the Quadratic Equation or something to make room for the whole thing. Now, what if that title was even longer and just a bit harder to remember? What if there was even more punctuation? That’s where the tactics game’s first full expansion, Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters – Duty Eternal comes in.
That’s right. There’s not just a colon. There’s not just a hyphen. We’re talking double hyphen games now, baby. We’re talking Warhammer.
Though the name does seem appropriately big for an expansion what includes big robots. Duty Eternal, from freshman developer Complex Games and publisher Frontier Foundry, is getting Dreadnoughts. Those are sort of walking coffins with flamethrowers attached in Warhammer 40K parlance. Dead and/or dying Space Marines are strapped into the machines to continue fighting when their fleshy bodies fail them (and the emperor).
Which is exactly how they will purportedly work in Duty Eternal, as well. The baseline tactics game from earlier this year already had permadeath if you got careless with your armored troopers. Now, the death is mildly less perma, as you can stuff fallen units into a Venerable Dreadnought for use on special “Technophage Outbreak” missions. Those are also being added to the game in this expansion, giving you new things to fight along the way. There will be one such outbreak mission available to play per eruption of The Bloom: which are basically sets of critical missions found on the overworld map in Daemonhunters. Slightly akin to Dark Events in XCOM 2.
Daemonhunters is very, very XCOM 2-like, in point of fact. Up to and including the fact that you need to make strategic choices about which missions your flagship carries you to. You can complete one or two missions for specific rewards (or to stop the spread of The Bloom, a sort of magical space virus, which the game is all about defeating). However, this means you’ll give up completing certain other semi-random missions.
Thus, Duty Eternal also introduces the Gladius Frigate. This is another new way of beating back The Bloom and its mutant Chaos God Nurgle cultists. One that doesn’t actually involve moving soldiers across a battlefield. You will instead be allowed to load up the Gladius with a second team of marines and let them complete missions for you automatically. Though there’s a chance that they might, y’know, become injured or die in the process. In which case, great! More meat for the Dreadnoughts.
Speaking of new meat: Duty Eternal also introduces Techmarines to the game. These are admittedly less exciting on paper than multi-ton death machines, but they seem like an interesting addition to the playable classes. They come with little attendants called Combat Servitors that do your bidding, but also drain the Techmarine’s action points. Meaning you get yet another extra body on the field but need to think about how and when to use it.
All of this further ties into a new resource: Archeotech. You can acquire the stuff on (you guessed it) Technophage Outbreak missions. It really seems like you’re pretty well incentivized to finish those and let your boys on the Gladius do all the regular grunt work, but it also comes with the risk of even greater threats to your very mortal units. Just like a good tactics game should.
Really, it seems like Daemonhunters is cribbing from the best when it comes to what makes a good tactics game in the first place. Archeotech and Technophage Outbreaks sound one helluva lot like the Meld material and EXALT missions from the oft-forgotten XCOM: Enemy Within expansion back in 2013. Seeing as Firaxis is busy making Civilization expansions and Marvel games now, though, I’m perfectly happy with someone filling the precise void left behind by the UFO defending franchise.
Duty Eternal doesn’t seem quite as big in scope as the biggest XCOM and XCOM 2 add-ons, but it’s also a good bit cheaper. The Daemonhunters update will drop for just $15 USD on Dec. 6, 2022. Hey, that’s pretty soon, too! Sounds like a good excuse for me to go back and finish up my mission to burn out The Bloom and remember why I had such high praise for it earlier this year.