Warhammer 40,000: Darktide's best weapons tend to be the ones based on the setting's greatest hits—and in a setting where there's only war, there are a lot of those. Chainaxes, chainswords, force swords, power swords, stubbers, lasguns, autoguns, plasma guns, and, of course, boltguns, the preorder beta for Darktide has let us wrap our Imperial mitts around all of them. These are our favorites so far.
It only hurts when I staff
Fraser Brown, Online Editor: Getting my first force staff was really when the Psyker clicked for me. It's arguably the toughest class to play, and the nerfs since the last beta continue to sting, but with a staff in hand I felt like I had a clearer idea of my role, and an even more versatile bag of tricks.
Staves shoot out slow balls of psychic energy that are most effective at mid-range. The damage and lack of ammo management tends to make up for the slow speed, but it's the secondary attack that you'll really want to pay attention to. My first staff allowed me to summon an explosive AoE that's great at taking out hordes of poxwalkers, but others give you access to different abilities, including one that turns your staff into a flamethrower.
I recommend getting your hands on one of the lightning staffs. Your bolts jump between enemies and, while they do decent damage, the real appeal is the stun, allowing you or your team to follow-up with a killing blow. It really emphasises the Psyker's support role: just hide behind an Ogryn and start electrocuting people.
They are all of a hell of a lot of fun to use, and the one time I swapped out my staff for a fancy gun the Emperor gifted me, I immediately regretted it. Searching for ammo is for scrubs. The big downside is that your staff generates peril in lieu of chewing through ammo, and it is very easy to get carried away blasting Chaos-corrupted goons then blow up.
The ripper gun is an all-timer shotgun
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: I wrote an article called An ode to the shotgun, so I guess I was primed to love this oversized cannon of a gun for the lumbering Ogryn. It has the potential to enter "best shotgun ever" contention for me, after using it just a few times in Darktide so far. It's not the weapon the Ogryn starts with, but it's likely to be the first one you buy. That does not diminish its appeal. You get a shotgun in Doom in the first 10 seconds, and it still kicks ass at the end of the game.
Where Doom's shotgun is perfectly minimalist—fire, pump, repeat—the Foe-Rend Ripper Gun is a maximalist shotgun. You know that scene in action movies where the sadistic interrogator unrolls the kit of knives and saws and scalpels they just love doing torture with? The ripper gun is like that, but it's every murderous instrument rolled into one. First there's the burst fire, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it three shell cacophony that shreds whatever's directly in front of you. Hold down right-click and you'll fold out a steadying handle to rhythmically pump out the ripper gun's entire capacity, semi-auto style.
It's even built for shanking, with a bayonet on the front that delivers a fast jab straight ahead as the shotgun's special attack. The Ogryn's towering height conveniently puts his gun right about head level, too, which makes for easy one hit kills without even firing a shot. There are drawbacks to the ripper gun: it chews through ammo like a hungry swarm of tyranids, and entering semi-auto mode and reloading are both slow. But those just add to its texture; I'm fine with a slow reload when I get to watch my Ogryn smash the magazine off with a meaty fist every time I come up empty. I can almost feel how heavy the ripper gun is through my screen.
The Cadian's choice
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Darktide's bolters are great, maybe the best bolters in any 40K game. They sure do have a lot of recoil though, which is only fair given what they do, and I prefer something more accurate for someone with the word "Sharpshooter" in their name. (When I swap over to the Zealot with a Scottish accent it's bolter all the way.) Darktide's power sword is excellent too, definitely the Veteran's preferred melee weapon. But when I'm playing an ex-Imperial Guard soldier I want the iconic Imperial Guard weapon, and that's a scuffed-up lasrifle that has recoil for some reason. I assume the Adeptus Mechanicus engineer it into them so the infantry don't have to spend time adjusting when they switch from recoil-heavy autoguns. Yeah, that makes sense.
The Kantrael MGXII Infantry Lasgun is Darktide's best long-range lasrifle. Based on the Kantrael pattern weapons preferred by Cadian shock troopers, it's got a slow rate of fire and the hip-fire is garbage, but you want to be taking your time lining up shots anyway and if you're not at long range looking down your scope? That's what the power sword is for. Get yourself a Kantrael MGXII Infantry Lasgun and you'll be turning brains into milkshake in no time.
You call that a chainsword? This is a chainsword
Sean Martin, Guides Writer: I could play Darktide for a thousand hours and I still wouldn't get tired of bisecting heretics with my heavy chainsword. Who needs a thunder hammer when you have a weapon that can chop an Ogryn in two?
It's the perfect fit for the Preacher class as well. You can slash away at smaller hordes, and then rev it up with the special move when you're dealing with a single tough opponent. The way it feels when it bites home and staggers them is amazing, especially if you use the Chastise the Wicked ability beforehand: the crit pops midway through the revving slash, and suddenly you're looking at two halves of whatever special enemy you were attacking.
The Preacher isn't just an infantry-blending class, but also a duelist in the same way the Slayer was in Vermintide 2: facing down individual powerful melee opponents other classes struggle to deal with up close. The thunder hammer has its charged single-target strike for that purpose, but for my money, a revved-up chainsword feels the best. It's such an iconic 40K weapon, and I'm so glad that Fatshark did it justice.
Fetch the flamer
Sean: Speaking of other iconic 40K weapons, the flamer is *chef kiss*. I've seen lots of people disparaging it and claiming it's underpowered, but it's far stronger than Bardin's drakegun from Vermintide 2 ever was. Beside the fact that it can delete hordes of Poxwalkers, the way that Darktide's suppression system works means the flamer is one of the best weapons for dealing with a lot of ranged units at once, provided they aren't super far away.
The flamer also seems to stun most special enemies, letting you hold them in place while a teammate moves in for the melee kill, or just keep flaming away until they die. It doesn't have a cooldown, meaning you can keep going as long as there's ammo, and friendly fire is basically non-existent in Darktide, which solves one of the main drawbacks that drakegun had. Most important of all, it feels very fun to fire a gout of flame and watch as a horde just disappears.
PC Gamer Newsletter
Sign up to get the best content of the week, and great gaming deals, as picked by the editors.
Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.