What do Darktide's weapon symbols mean?

Darktide weapon symbols on a shovel and axe
(Image credit: Fatshark)

Something that's frustrated a lot of players in the Warhammer 40,000: Darktide beta is not knowing exactly what a weapon is like before it's in our hands. When you see a new autogun or chainsword in the armory there will be a couple of words to sum up its strengths, like Mobile or High Capacity, some numberless bars for attributes like damage and reload speed, and then a trio of icons that are as inscrutable as any of the Chaos runes drawn on the walls of Tertium Hive. It's hard to know what you're buying.

Though there's no mouseover text on these icons in the beta, press the V key while you're in the menu to inspect a weapon and you'll bring up an information screen that provides their names, if not descriptions. (The combo attacks of melee weapons are also shown here.) Some are plain enough, and a few will be familiar to those who played Fatshark's previous Warhammer game, Vermintide 2. Others are still straight-up inscrutable. I've spent some time in the Meat Grinder testing room to figure out just what all of the weapon symbols and stats mean.

Ranged weapon symbols

The three symbols for each ranged weapon describe, from left to right, its primary attack, secondary attack, and special action. These are mapped to left-click, right-click, and mouse-five (likely a thumb button) by default. The bullets beneath a gun's symbols tell you whether that firing mode is: 

  • Semi-automatic (one bullet)
  • Fully automatic (two bullets)
  • Burst-fire (two bullets with a circle between them)

A single bullet followed by an arcing trail means it's a projectile weapon that will drop over distance and needs to be aimed high. The one that looks like a shotgun shell next to a stream of pellets? That's a shotgun, yes. It'll fire in a cone.

Here are the many other symbols you'll see on ranged weapons.

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Hip Fire: Shooting without aiming first. If there's a lightning bolt symbol in this position instead, that means this is a charged weapon and holding down attack increases the damage of the shot.

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ADS (Aim Down Sights): Will zoom in when aimed. As with Hip Fire, if there's a lightning bolt symbol in this position then holding down attack will charge up the shot, as with certain patterns of lasgun and force staves. 

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Braced: Some guns, like shredder autopistols, don't do the aim-down-sights zoom when you right-click. Instead they switch to a tilted, two-hand-hold that doesn't zoom but does seem to increase stability a little. 

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Torch: A flashlight, for our American readers, not the thing you combine with pitchforks when forming a mob. 

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Special Ammo: Has ammo types you can switch between. Normally seen on shotguns where it lets you alter the firing spread to a flat horizontal line rather than a broad cone. Perfect for dealing with a horde if you aim at their heads. 

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Vent Heat: If you played Sienna in Vermintide, you'll be used to the need to manage heat. In Darktide it's more likely to be a plasma gun that's about to cook your goose than a wizard's staff, but the principle is the same. 

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Strike/Bayonet Attack: While switching to a melee weapon is basically instantaneous in Darktide, switching back to a ranged weapon takes time. Gotta ratchet that slide to keep the machine spirit happy. A weapon with a strike attack will be able to deal with the sudden appearance of a single weedy enemy behind you without having to go through that rigmarole.

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Bash: Like Strike, but a staggering attack that doesn't do much damage. Some melee weapons also have a bash as a special.

Melee weapon symbols

The first symbol represents a weapon's light attack, the second its heavy attack (triggered when you hold down the attack button), and the third is its special action, mapped to mouse-five. Make sure to bring up the full details by pressing V, because melee weapon combos often include different attacks that won't match that symbol.

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Strikedown: A vertical slash that does more stagger.

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Relentless: A horizontal slash with a decent amount of cleave for dealing with multiple targets.

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Vanguard: A diagonal slash somewhere between Strikedown and Relentless in terms of utility. 

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Assassin: A slash with increased Weak Spot damage. Aim for the head, or somewhere unarmored.

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Parry: Holding down this special will let you block, then automatically riposte to counter-attack enemies who melee you. 

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Punch: You can probably figure this one out for yourself. 

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Activate/Defensive Stance: Indicates a secondary mode, like revving up a chainsword's blade, or placing an ogryn's slab shield to use as cover.

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Special Melee Attack: An individual attack that isn't part of a combo. 

What do the item rating and stats mean?

(Image credit: Fatshark)
Darktide guides

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

(Image credit: Fatshark)

- Warhammer 40K: Darktide tips (opens in new tab)
- Darktide classes guide (opens in new tab)
- Darktide system requirements (opens in new tab)
- Can you play Darktide solo with bots? (opens in new tab)
- Darktide curios guide (opens in new tab)

Every weapon in Darktide has a rating number. The higher that number, the more points will be spread across its attribute bars. That doesn't mean all its bars will be higher, however. Though a higher rating often means a better weapon, sometimes those extra points won't have been spent wisely. Keep an eye out for high-rating weapons with low damage bars in particular. 

As for what those attributes mean, some are self-explanatory, like reload speed, but others are a little more opaque. Here's what the more confusing ones mean.

  • Mobility: Bonus dodge distance. This is more complex than it sounds. Each weapon type has a different base dodge distance, and a different number of dodges you can perform in a row before that distance drops off until you reset the chain by performing a block or attack. A low mobility rating on a weapon type that begins with a high dodge distance, like a combat knife, might still be better than high mobility on a weapon like an axe that begins with a low dodge distance. In Vermintide 2, Mobility also made you better at sprinting and might do something similar in Darktide, but if so it's a slight improvement I haven't been able to detect.
  • Cleave Targets: The number of enemies that will be damaged in a single swing. You can increase this by swinging the mouse horizontally as you attack.
  • First Target: How much damage the first enemy hit by a cleave will take.
  • Cleave Damage: How much damage will spread to subsequent enemies in a cleave.
  • Finesse: Bonus weak point damage.
  • Defences: Reduces the stamina costs of blocking.
  • Penetration: Reduces the amount of damage negated by carapace armor.
  • Stopping Power: How likely it is to stagger enemies on hit.
  • Crowd Control: How likely a shield is to stagger enemies on push.
  • Collateral: How much suppression it causes, reducing enemies' aim and sending them into cover.
  • Stability: Reduces the amount of recoil when firing and the amount of sway in ADS.
  • Ammo: Can influence the total amount of ammo carried as well as the amount of ammo in each clip. This is the one bar with actual numbers next to it, so make sure to check them. 
  • Charge Speed: How fast it powers up charged attacks.
  • Warp Resistance: Reduces the amount of peril generated, peril being the stuff psykers build up as they use their abilities and which needs to be managed carefully to prevent their brains blowing up.
  • Quell Speed: Increases the speed peril drops off.
Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

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 (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), 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.