If you’re a Darktide player looking to get the most out of your melee weapon arsenal, you’ve come to the right place! This post covers every single one of Darktide’s melee attack types and how to use them in attack chains—from tactics for single-powerful enemies to massive hordes. You can look forward to learning new techniques as well as useful strategies for using your melee weapons in different situations.
Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced veteran, by the time you’re done reading this guide, you’ll be ready to take on any challenger with confidence!
Melee Weapon Attack Types in Darktide
Warhammer 40K: Darktide has a multitude of elements to master while cutting down hordes of heretics and Chaos-worshipers. Darktide shares many familiar elements with its predecessor, Vermintide 2. Yet, it focuses more on hybrid combat instead of boosting melee as the primary way to fight. Whether you are a Vermintide 2 veteran or new to Fatshark’s titles, there is a lot to unpack about the game’s revolutionary melee combat.
Darktide’s melee weapons function similarly to Vermintide, but there are a few minor differences that you might pick up if you were a massive fan of their previous game. In our opinion, the melee combat of Darktide is somewhat easier, but it still has quite a bit to master.
For starters, let’s talk about the different attack types for Darktide’s melee weapons. Typically you will notice each weapon has a light and heavy attack chain when inspecting them. Before we talk about attack chains, we need to discuss what each attack type means. We will be primarily focusing on melee weapons only for this topic.
Vanguard is a wide-sweeping attack that cleaves through multiple enemies, likely making it one of the best moves you can have on a weapon. The majority of Darktide’s combat will revolve around cleaving through multiple enemies in a single swing, making this move fantastic for any weapon.
Strikedown is powerful yet situational. Its main strength is being the best attack type for dealing with a single enemy. Typically you would want a weapon with Strikedown as a part of its attack chain for dealing with heavily armored elite units like Crushers, Reapers, or even Mutants.
However, Strikedown is fairly weak when it comes to multiple enemies, and it’s often best paired with a horde-clearing ranged weapon, or else you might be stuck cutting down one Poxwalker at a time.
Relentless is described as a wide attack that staggers multiple enemies at once; however, this varies somewhat depending on the weapon. In Darktide, these melee weapon attack types typically change between big swings like Vanguard or an almost cone-shaped attack.
Regardless, this attack type focuses more on crowd control than raw Cleave damage, which assists in keeping hordes at bay and armored enemies off-balance.
The Assassin attack type is typically found on weapons such as the Catachan Combat Blade. However, the difference between Assassin and Strikedown lies in that the Assassin weapon attack type consists of quick stabs, like when wielding a knife, whereas Strikedown attacks primarily involve big overhead swings.
Assassin attack types in Darktide can be very effective for dealing with smaller enemies or quickly eliminating one priority target at a time, but they quickly falter if you cannot hit weak spots.
Special Action Attack Types in Darktide
Next, we have melee weapon attack types that are special actions in Warhammer 40k: Darktide. Special Actions are bound to a separate key or button, which allows you to perform a special attack that is sometimes unique to the weapon.
The Punch attack type is extremely strong in certain situations and should not be underestimated. On the surface, it is just a tiny, quick uppercut that hits a single enemy. This attack is hilarious to spam on a single enemy and has been an impactful part of Darktide’s combat. The Punch is not only fun to use but also ignores stagger reduction and can interrupt enemy attacks.
If you are up close with a Scab Mauler and they are winding up for a heavy overhead slam that will decimate you, retaliate with a punch. Punches are also commonly found on Ogryn class weapons, and they can almost stunlock a Crusher with punches alone. The punch attack type can also be interwoven into your attack chain to stagger the enemy or make them open to follow-up attacks.
As we previously mentioned at the beginning of our guide, there are a few differences between Vermintide 2‘s and Darktide’s combat. Parrying is a simple and effective way to counter a single strike. Every melee weapon in Vermintide can be used to parry, but in Darktide, that is restricted to certain weapons, such as the Devil’s Claw Sword.
Parrying is very helpful for avoiding damage or turning the tide of a deadly duel in your favor. To parry in Darktide, you need to hit the special action button, and your reject will guard against the next attack. This window is very generous, and if you deflect an opposing strike, you can follow up with a deadly counterattack.
3. Special Melee Attack
This is one of the two most diverse weapon attack types in Darktide: the Special Melee Attack. This varies depending on the weapon; as an example, we will use the Munitorum Sapper Shovel, since most players have used this weapon in the tutorial. The Special Melee Attack of the Shovel is a quick poke that ignores Stagger reduction and has increased Impact and Damage against armored enemies.
Special Melee Attacks typically have a longer animation, thus making them not ideal to use in the middle of your attack chain. However, if a weapon does have a Special Melee Attack, it does have a time and place for it. For example, when it comes to the Shovel, we would treat it as a variant of the Punch, mainly used for interrupting armored targets to create space.
Hands down, the most versatile and essential weapon attack type to know in Darktide is if your weapon has an Activate feature. Usually, this means a special weapon function must be powered up to use a specific move. For example, the Power Sword’s Activate effect is to imbue the sword with the powers of the Warp, making your next attack hit extremely hard.
The Chainsword and Eviscerator both rev up their motors, allowing the next attack to tear through flesh and armor. Other weapons, like the Slab Shield, can break that standard, enabling you to enter a defensive stance and block all attacks from the front. The Slab Shield’s Activated attack is so strong the defensive stance allows you to block all attacks from a Deamonhost.
Weapon Attack Chains in Darktide
Now that we explained the different weapon attack types, we can move on to the attack chains. Each melee weapon has a light and a heavy attack chain. A light or a heavy attack will cycle through a few moves and then reset. For example, we will use this Heavy Eviscerator:
Example of What Chaining Melee Weapon Attacks Means in Darktide
This Heavy Eviscerator has a four-part light attack chain that opens with a Strike Down, then cycles into two Vanguard sweeps before finishing with a single Strike Down attack. Mashing the light attack button will cycle through all these attacks, then reset after the final strike.
As for the heavy attack, the Heavy Eviscerator opens with a Vanguard attack followed by a Strike Down swing before resetting.
By reading this weapon’s attack chain, we know that it is an excellent weapon for cutting down groups of enemies and eliminating high-priority targets.
As for its Special Attack, the Heavy Eviscerator revs up the motor, and your next light or heavy attack will shred through your target, dealing a large amount of damage and applying Bleed stacks. This Special Attack cannot be inserted into your attacks, thus interrupting your chain.
Sometimes It’s Good to Interrupt Chain Attacks in Darktide
There is more to Darktide’s melee combat than simply spamming light and heavy attack types in Darktide; you can interrupt your attack chain by blocking, shoving, or pausing for a brief moment. Typically, we want to employ blocking or shoving to interrupt our attacks; however, newer players might ask why we want to interrupt our attack or attack chain.
Suppose you are in a scenario where you need to cleave through a dozen enemies and don’t want to use the Strikedown move. If you’re going to chain Vanguard strikes together, you can use one heavy attack, block, and then shove your enemy’s way and follow up with a repeat. Because you interrupt your weapon attack chain with a block and shove, you reset the attack chain, letting you cycle your Vanguard strikes so long as you use one heavy attack followed by a shove to reset.
The same situation applies to multiple different scenarios. If you need to strike a single target but don’t want to use your Heavy Eviscerator’s Special Attack, you can use one light attack, block, and then use another light attack. You can mix and match your light and heavy melee attack types in Darktide at any point during your attack chain, but it will always reset the chain.
Related Guide: What is Toughness in Darktide?
Combing Heavy Attacks into Your Attack Chains in Darktide
This is where melee attack chains can become quite confusing, but this showcases the depth and advanced mechanics of Darktide’s combat. Like Vermintide 2, your attack chains can be interrupted with blocks or shoves, but you can interchange lights and heavy attacks to make unique combos.
You can weave in heavy attacks to change the combination of your moveset. As we previously mentioned, the Heavy Eviscerator has two Strikedown, and two Vanguard moves in its light attack chain.
This is a more difficult combat mechanic to nail down, and it will require you to spend hours practicing with one weapon. However, we will do our best to explain how to perform these attacks, but we assure you it’s easier to learn by practicing in the Meat Grinder.
Darktide’s Rules for How Heavy Attacks Can be Inserted into Attack Chains
For every melee weapon in Darktide, there are two types of heavy attacks that you can interchange with their light attack during an attack chain.
- If the light attack in the chain is an odd number, it will be replaced by the first heavy attack on your weapon.
- If the light attack replaced by a heavy is an even number, the second heavy will replace it.
- If the weapon has only three attacks in a chain, you will only be able to replace the second attack in the chain with a heavy attack to perform the second type of heavy attack.
Attack Combo to Only Perform Vanguard or Cleaving Attacks
If you need to perform only Vanguard or Cleaving attacks, try the following weapon attack chain:
- One Heavy attack (Vanguard)
- One Light attack (Vanguard)
- One Light attack (Vanguard)
Completing this attack chain will allow you to skip all single-target Strike Down moves and prioritize only Cleave attacks. Using the Block is also crucial because it disengages most enemies and significantly reduces the time it takes to reset your attack chain.
Simple Attack Combo to Maximize Single-Targets Attacks in Warhammer 40k: Darktide
However, if you wanted only to use single-target attacks and wanted to prioritize those Strikedown moves, here is an easier combo:
- One Light Attack(Strikedown)
- One Heavy Attack(Strikedown)
Both attack combos may be easy on paper, but they can be pretty challenging to pull off once you’re in the heat of a fight. Think of it like a rhythm, and keep track of the numbers in your head or learn the animation of each swing to know what stage of the weapon’s attack chain you are currently in.
Conclusion on Weapon Attack Chains and Weapon Attack Types in Darktide
That is our guide for learning the various types of melee weapons and attacks in Warhammer 40k: Darktide. It will take a long time to master, especially if you enjoy using multiple weapons. The melee combat in Darktide is one of the main elements that has been brought over from Vermintide 2, and it is one of the key reasons why both games have groundbreaking melee combat.
Good hunting, Rejects!