Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is currently in beta, accessible to anyone who preordered it. That means everything about it is subject to change. Quite a lot of change, if the roadmap to launch is anything to go by. Still, plenty of people are playing it already and we're among them. Here are some of the potentially heretical things we've learned already that'll help you survive in Tertium Hive, at least for a little longer than you would otherwise.
You can buy items you can't use
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: If there's something for sale in the armory exchange but it's grayed-out, that means it's beyond your current trust level and can't be wielded. That doesn't mean you can't buy it. If you see some real sweet kit and don't want to risk it being cycled out of the shop (which refreshes every hour) before you can earn enough tokens to afford it, bag that thing now.
And if you're running low on tokens, you can always earn some by salvaging old stuff you don't want any more. Select something in your inventory then hold down x on your keyboard to recycle it for several hundred grimdollars.
If you're not feeling the Psyker you're not alone
Fraser Brown, Online Editor: After seeing how much fun Sean was having with the Psyker in the previous beta, I absolutely had to take this brain-popping killer for a spin. Conceptually, the Psykinetic class is brilliant. You're a psychic sniper that's always on the cusp of losing your shit and exploding, because each time you use your power you generate Peril—a deadly resource that you'll want to keep low, low down.
Unfortunately, the Psyker was deemed far too powerful last time, and Fatshark overcompensated, nerfing the hell out of it so that popping a brain generates more Peril, and your ultimate only discharges half of it. A recent hotfix (opens in new tab) rebalanced the Psyker a little, and the class can shine in certain situations, but it definitely feels in need of another pass.
Don't forget every weapon has a special action
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: This is an easy point to forget from Darktide's quick training mode—every weapon has an alternate ability, which is by default bound to one of your extra mouse buttons. With my Ogryn's starting gear I can do a bash attack with the barrel of my shotgun or a big open-palm slap on a whole line of enemies with my melee weapon equipped. For some weapons, this alternate ability is especially useful, like revving up the blade of a chainsword for more damage. Gotta rev your chainsword, man.
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Some of the Ogryn's hand-to-hand weapons do an uppercut on mouse-five that staggers enemies, making it easy to get in a heavy attack and knock them down. It's great for taking melee elites out.
Meanwhile, the Veteran Sharpshooter's rifles have a lamp that turns on when you press the special action key. It's a running joke in 40K that lasguns are basically flashlights, but in the darker levels that light is pretty handy.
Rise and (meat) grind for weapon practice
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: After the psychic tutorial ends there's a menu called "Meat Grinder" you can't access until you hit trust level 2. Return to Sefoni in the Psykhanium when you do, because the Meat Grinder is where you can safely test the new weapons you'll unlock against enemies who don't fight back. Learn each new axe and sword's combo chains, practice your grenade throw, and get used to the kick from big guns. You can even see the DPS (damage per second) number pop up after each hit.
While you're at it, practice shooting at armored enemies to see which bits are the most protected. Scab Maulers, the guys with chain axes who wear welding-mask helmets, don't take much damage when you aim for the head. Unless you're a Psyker of course, in which case no amount of metal's going to stop you from popping their brains. (We haven't encountered any enemies hiding tattoos of hexagrammatic wards under there, yet.)
Stay close… like, really close
Sean Martin, Guides Writer: In Vermintide 2 it was always important to stick together—you never knew when a sneaky assassin might jump on your back and need to be blasted away by your team-mates. Darktide has even more special enemies that can grab and pin you, from charging mutants to the net-firing trappers that will wipe your whole squad if left to their business. You need to watch each others' backs. But sticking together plays an even more important role in Darktide—replenishing toughness, which is effectively your shield against damage. Even though melee kills can replenish this shield, Darktide is significantly harder if you head off on your own, so stick close to your squad and keep your toughness topped up.
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Staying in Coherency keeps your aura feats working too. The Veteran Sharpshooter's feat scavenger hunt gives hands out free ammo for every elite killed to anyone in Coherency range, for instance, and other classes have similar passive auras. On the subject of passives, take it away, Wes…
Learn your passives
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: Every character class in Darktide comes with a number of passive abilities that should guide how you play your character and your role on the team. For example, the Ogryn has an innate 25% buff to melee stagger damage, making him an ideal up-close-and-personal bruiser. But more important is his passive skill Loyal Protector, which allows you to take damage while reviving allies without being interrupted. Being the one to revive an ally in an intense firefight could make the difference between a loss and survival.
The Veteran deals increased damage to weak spots, making them clutch against big boss enemies. The Preacher can survive a deathblow and gain temporary invincibility once every 90 seconds. Whichever class you play, remember how these passive skills can benefit you and the team.
Wounds are different to health
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Your health is represented by a row of white bars, and you get less bars on harder difficulty missions. (Toughness, the protection that refills when you score melee kills or maintain coherency with allies, is the blue bar above that.) Those bars are called "wounds", and each time you come back after being revived by an ally, one of those wounds turns purple and is lost. Corruption, which you can get by carrying grimoires or being hit by certain attacks like a Pox Hound's pounce or a Pox Burster's detonation, also chips away at them, turning your health purple by degrees.
When all your wounds turn purple, or if you aren't revived in time when you fall, you'll be captured. The other players can still bring you back, but they'll have to fight a couple of guards and untie you after finding where you're being held. Healing at a medicae station gets rid of corruption, so be nice to your local surgery servitor.
Don't go chasing penances
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: I get it, you want to change out of your prison pants. Chasing cosmetics and achievements by trying to earn every single penance is a bad idea, however. Some of them are distractions from achieving the objective and best tackled with friends (or bots when the singleplayer mode arrives) rather than a poor group of randos. Others are a waste of time chasing until you hit level 30 and unlock endgame feats.
Take the Veteran Sharpshooter's penance that demands you kill five tagged enemies by shooting their weak spots in a single volley fire. (Please, take the etcetera.) One of the Veteran's level-30 options is called counterfire and it lets you tag basic rifle-toting Scab Shooters, plus it extends the duration of the volley fire ability whenever you kill one. We all want the Killshot's Duty trousers now, but unless you fluke it you're better off waiting until level 30 rather than wasting time and effort now.