Warhammer 40k: Darktide is the newest co-op-focused action game from the award-winning team behind the Vermintide series, Fatshark. In Darktide, you play as one among thousands of rejects who have answered the call to defend the hive city Tertium before the planet falls to chaos. Darktide has many similarities with Vermintide 2 but heavily emphasizes hybrid combat, with many classes focusing on ranged or melee.
If you’re familiar with Vermintide 2 or want to dive into the world of Warhammer 40k for the first time, this Darktide beginners guide will go over the basics needed to survive on Tertium.
Work together or die alone. Warhammer 40k Darktide is a team game, and several benefits and threats encourage you to stick close to your team to overcome these odds. All classes in Darktide have their strengths and weaknesses, but most importantly, they have an Aura effect.
Sticking close to your allies grants you buffs and regenerates your Toughness. The buff you receive depends on the teammate you cling to. For example, standing in a Psyker’s Coherency will grant you bonus damage toward Elite enemies, or being next to an Ogryn will increase your heavy melee attack damage by 10%.
Even more, you can set up your character to increase this aura amount through some traits. You will find that it pays dividends to have a proper class build. For specific guides, feel free to check out some of our other content, including our guide on how to play and build the Psyker in Warhammer 40K: Darktide.
Several enemies can single you out in a fight and take you down quickly without a helpful intervention. The Plague Hound and the Mutant both rush one member of your team and will incapacitate them, causing them to take tons of damage unless they are killed or stopped beforehand.
Compared to the Gutter Runner or the Life Leech from Vermintide 2, these enemies are far more difficult to dodge or halt in their ambush. Even veterans of the Ubersreik 5 will quickly perish if isolated.
Darktide Beginners Combat Guide
Darktide has a tutorial in the form of the Psykhanium and will introduce many combat tactics throughout the opening part of the game. Yet, we thought it important to capture the most important tips and combat mechanics here in our guide for beginner Darktide players.
While Darktide has added much more ranged combat to the series, the game is still very melee-focused. Even Sharpshooter players will need to get their hands drenched in combat when enemies close to melee distance.
In this part of our Warhammer 40k: Darktide Beginners guide, we will go over some of the most important things new players must learn in order to survive the hordes.
Light vs Heavy Attacks
Every melee weapon in Darktide can perform light and heavy melee attacks. Light attacks are performed using a simple click, while heavy attacks are made after the player holds the melee attack button and charges up the attack.
Light attacks can be performed quickly and can keep the masses at bay, yet for more heavily armored opponents, they are not enough. For anything more powerful than basic melee enemies, you should consider adding heavy attacks into your combos.
Chaining Melee Attacks (i.e. Melee Combos)
When a player continuously strikes an opponent without a break between strikes (excluding heavy attack charge-up times), they perform a series of chained attacks. The different swings within chained attacks have different angles of attack and can do different amounts of damage.
The simplest attack chain is to continuously press the light attack button while fighting. This is likely what beginners to Darktide reading this guide will do most often. Yet, you can also chain heavy attacks and combine light and heavy attacks into a single combo chain. As you play more, you will experiment and learn to chain different attacks together and introduce blocks more into your fighting.
Note: Because chained attacks have different angles of attack, you need to keep refocusing your aim. In particular, overhead strikes are more prone to miss than sideswiped. Overhead swings are often the latter attacks in chained melee combos.
Special Weapon Attacks
Beyond the simple light and heavy attacks, some weapons also have special abilities that can either perform a unique special attack or change the nature of their next attack. As an example, the chainsword, when revved, will eviscerate the next enemy struck with a light attack on the chainsaw of its blade.
Blocking and Dodging is Essential to Surviving Combat as a Darktide Beginner
Blocking is vital for new Darktide players to survive in melee combat. This is especially true against elite enemies that you need to stay engaged with, striking each other back and forth.
You Can Push Hordes of Enemies Back
The key to blocking is timing your blocks and your counterattacks. For instance, you can push a group of enemies back while blocking if you execute a light attack while simultaneously blocking. When you are being pressed hard by a horde, use a simple push to give yourself some breathing room to strike back.
If you want to do more than just push your enemies, you can perform a follow-up attack after a shove by holding your attack key (as if performing a heavy attack) while simultaneously blocking. One word of caution for Darktide beginners is that this move will use up a significant amount of stamina. Thus, don’t think you will be able to spam it.
Dodging is an Important Skill You Must Learn after Reading this Darktide Beginners Guide
Dodging is important for all Darktide beginners to learn. It can allow you to evade both ranged and melee fire. However, it is important to note that you can only dodge melee swings if you have a melee weapon active.
To dodge, simply move sideways or away from your enemy and then press the button to jump. You will perform a quick dodge. If timed right, your enemy will swing and miss you completely.
Beginner Darktide Players Must Learn to Use Grenades Effectively
Because Darktide features so many large hordes of enemies, grenades will be vital to your survival. Interestingly, and what many beginners to Darktide don’t know, is that each class has its own unique grenade. While the Veteran Sharpshooter flings a more conventional fragmentation grenade, the Ogryn will actually hurl an entire box of grenades.
There are different ways you can fling a grenade in Darktide. The simplest method is to press the light attack button for a quick throw. Depending on your aim, this could go in the right direction. However, if you want to hold the attack button a bit longer, you can see the arc to perfect your aim. In intense combat, you will find yourself using the simple quick throw most of the time. Yet, to hit enemies precisely behind cover, you may want to focus on the aim.
You can also perform an underhand throw by using the heavy attack button once you’ve engaged your grenade. Underhand throws cannot go very far. Think of the difference as whether you want to take out a nearby hoard or one running up to you. Be careful when using the underhand throw, as it will detonate quite near you.
Use Your Combat Ability to Get Out of Sticky Situations
Don’t forget about your combat ability. It will get you out of many tight squeezes by significantly enhancing your combat prowess.
Toughness is a Very Important Stat that All Players, Including Beginners to Darktide, Must Learn to Master
A player’s toughness represents a sort-of shield that protects them from incoming fire. Any damage taken will first go to reducing toughness before it takes from HP. This is important for all Darktide beginners to learn and consider, as HP is much tougher (pun intended) to refill.
Beyond it being easier to replace toughness, attacks that damage your health directly will stagger and stun you, making it much harder to fight back. Do what you can to keep your toughness up, especially if you are running a tanky Ogryn build in Darktide and are soaking up most of your team’s damage.
How to Replenish Your Toughness in Darktide
As we’ve already established in our Darktide beginner’s guide, toughness is a vital stat to focus on keeping as high as possible. Here are the two best ways to regenerate your toughness:
- Killing Enemies in Melee: When you strike down an enemy in melee combat, your toughness will replenish. this is great for melee tanks like the Ogryn or Zealot, who are often in close-quarters combat. However, for the more ranged Psyker and Veteran classes, this makes it harder to keep up your toughness.
- Squad Coherency: You can also regain toughness by staying close to your allies. Therefore, ranged combatants should either stick somewhat close together or should stay at least close to their tanky allies in case they need to regain toughness via Squad Coherency or their own melee assault.
Many Maps Contain One or More Points of No Return
Many sections in Vermintide 2 and Darktide have points of no return in their maps. Be extremely cautious to stay within reach of your team when crossing one of these thresholds. These are especially dangerous since you cannot return to previous parts of the map once crossed, making it impossible to save a lagging teammate or obtain any resources you missed. We hope Darktide beginners will heed this tip from our guide and will pay attention and not recklessly cross this divide.
Stay on the Move
Dodging is one of the main elements of staying alive in Darktide, so staying on the move is extremely important. Once the combat music kicks in, how else could one survive hundreds of enemies swarming at you? Agility is critical because enemy attacks will not track sudden jolts of movement. Be it side to side or backstepping, always be dodging!
This will take practice, but we hope this and the other tips found in our Darktide beginners guide will help keep you around long enough to take down your enemies and make it through!
Beginners Need to Manage their Stamina in Darktide
Beginners just starting out in Darktide must learn that their Stamina bar is another critical resource that will save them better than bullets and steel ever will. In Darktide, sprinting drains your Stamina; once your bar is depleted, your sprint will turn into a light jog until you release the key. However, while holding a melee weapon, using your block button will allow you to block hits equivalent to how many Stamina pips you have.
Some weapons only block three attacks, and some can defend against significantly more, but blocking will always help. More powerful attacks, like heavy overhead attacks, will shred through your Stamina, so dodge and block whenever possible.
Still, your Stamina has one more important use, shoving. If you attack while blocking, you will perform a shove, which knocks back all enemies in front of you in a cone arch. Not all enemies can be pushed, like monsters or elites, but shoving your way out of the horde, then weaving and dodging your way around scattered enemies will save you tons of health. If you grow accustomed to the rhythm of melee combat, you will quickly find a rhythm among the carnage.
Take a few strikes, block, shove, repeat. Incorporate dodging into this rhythm, and you’ll be fending off hordes while taking minimal damage. Of course, this rhythm chain gets more complex depending on the weapon and if you are using heavy attacks, but that’s where practice makes perfect.
We usually guide Darktide beginners to practice with new combos and challenging mechanics early instead of waiting until the game is too challenging to make testing out new moves viable.
Experiment with Different Weapons
Darktide is set to launch with over 70+ weapons available across all classes. Each Class has its own unique arsenal, but many more weapons are accessible across all characters. For example, Psykers can only use Force weapons, and Zealot builds in Darktide can only use the Flamer. Experiment with different weapons to find the perfect fit for your playstyle, and complement the strengths of each of your rejects.
We strongly recommend all beginners to Darktide learn your weapon’s strengths and weaknesses to master Darktide’s ranged and melee combat. Weapons like the hatchet do an exceptional job at hacking apart single targets, making it well-suited for eliminating elites. On the other hand, swords provide better cleaving, making them potent at carving through basic enemies and hordes, so mix and match wisely.
Beyond the type of weapon you use, each weapon has varied weapon stats in Darktide. Examine these stats carefully to see which version best suits your particular playstyle or role. These stats can be quite confusing to new players, so be sure to check out our linked guide for a deeper explanation as to what every stat means and when/why you’d want to use it.
Weapons May have Different Movesets
One significant difference we noticed in Darktide is that many weapons have different movesets. Melee weapons can have different named variations, Mark I, Mark II, Mark II, etc. When swapping weapons, even if they are the same type, inspect them to see if their moveset changes.
For example, some variations of the Catachan Knives have parts of their light or heavy attack string swapped with single target strikes or cleaving swipes. If you prefer your current weapons moveset, be sure that your upgrade has the same moveset, or your next game will have some unforeseen changes.
Darktide Beginners Should Experiment with their Traits
As you level up in Darktide, you will unlock new traits, and each Class has a variety of unique buffs or changes that will impact how you play. These traits are passive bonuses that will augment how powerful or tanky your reject becomes.
For example, one trait for the Psyker grants them rapid Toughness regeneration every time they land a killing blow with their Brain Burster. Many trait rows will follow a rhythm. Typically the first row for every Class enhances the way they restore Toughness, while the final trait alters their primary ability.
Choose the traits that will elevate your playstyle and turn you into the finely-tuned victory machine you are meant to be. Will you be a duelist, taking on elites one-on-one, or a deadly horde cleaver, standing stalwart in the face of a swarm? Mix and match your traits with your weapons to achieve your goals.
For beginners, we have created additional Darktide guides to help you learn which traits and weapons work well together. For instance, check out our guide on how to build the Veteran Sharpshooter class in Darktide to turn him into an elite-monster slayer.
Every item in the game will grant your character more Power, which roughly translates to better scaling for abilities and other attributes. Gaining the most amount of Power is essential while leveling your characters. Once you get into the late game, your power cap will easily be reached from having high-level weapons and a maxed-out reject. Your real Power starts by obtaining bonus stats on your weapons and traits that help finalize your build or provide you with massive buffs.
Don’t worry about Power while leveling because it becomes more of a requirement when you are in the late game. Take the time to experiment with weapons and Traits to find what works for you because that power level is worthless if you are not having fun.
Share your Resources
Don’t hoard all the ammo crates and medic stations to yourself; Darktide is a team game. Health and ammo are limited in Darktide and are vital resources for yourself and your teammates. You can tell how low a player is on ammo based on the colored bullet icon next to their character portrait, so be sure to spare ammunition for those in need.
Manage your Health
Your HP bar is an expected resource you must manage, but when you take damage without the Toughness to block it, your maximum health begins to drop. Taking certain types of damage or having a Grimoire in your inventory will reduce your maximum HP. Health stations are the only way to replenish your max HP, but every station varies between 1-4 uses indicated by the small blue lights on the front.
Check how many uses there are before using a health station since your teammates can be far more beat up than you are and will appreciate the gesture for good health.
Pinging can Help Guide other Darktide Beginners
Pinging is also highly important in Darktide, especially when working with other beginners who need more guidance. Like Vermintide 2, you can only ping items, equipment, or special enemies.
Pinging highlights enemies, making them more visible for a short time, and giving your teammates a heads-up on an oncoming priority target. Scab Maulers and Shotgunners can blend in with hordes; pinging them will help your team isolate and realize the threat before it takes someone out of the fight.
Equip the Right Curios
Curios in Darktide will offer your character stat boosts that can be invaluable. Either augment or complement your build with your curios to either further increase your best stats or shore up any weaknesses. They are another tool in your arsenal to fully customize your character.
Know your Role
Each Class has a focus or a role they excel at that makes them different from the rest of the rejects. While their role shouldn’t be the only area they excel at, no matter your build, you should remember your character’s strengths when playing that role.
For example, the Ogryn is the clear tank class, which excels at staggering hordes of enemies, knocking elites to the ground, and defending their teammates. You can build them to be a killing machine or an unbreakable bulwark, but at the end of the day, you are still playing the Ogryn.
There’s a lot of diversity in the way you play Darktide, which is why we are so excited to play. Stick to your strengths as a character, and your party will flourish. Again, this also ties back into your traits, weapons, and melee movesets.
Wrap-Up of Our Darktide Beginners Guide
That’s our beginners guide to Darktide, set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. We are overwhelmingly excited about the potential Darktide has, and it’s shaping up to be one of the best co-op releases in recent years. However, if you want to take a step back and look at Fatshark’s amazing Vermintide 2, we highly recommend playing it as well. We’ve even released a Vermintide 2 tier list to help you get started with the right class. Good hunting, Rejects!