Boltgun: shooting your way through Warhammer 40k like its 1993

I’m not a fan of games that try to be pixelated just to look retro and ape nostalgia. I’m not talking of the enemies, it’s an artistic choice to do pixel art 2d sprites, I’m talking of the environments. Those are normal 3d environments that surely have a shader filter over them to look more pixelated than they really are (or are being rendered at 800x600, alternatively). Some of the texture work is questionable too, Quake 1 had high res textures! It’s like they used very low res textures to make sure the players can see the chunky individual pixels.
I play Doom at 4k…

edit: and watching the trailer again, W40K needs something like orchestral music with organs, maybe some synth mixed it, not generic butt rock.

Here’s some more Boltgun gameplay.

Let’s say, not a fan of this. As TurinTur already mentioned, the sound design is piss weak, and the visuals, while evoking pixelier times, are neither smooth nor appealing.

I thought the weapons apart from the plasma launcher thing looked pretty satisfying. I was mostly struck by the lack of music so it felt more bare than expected.

Unfortunately, every video I watch makes me less excited about the game. I don’t think it looks bad, but it’s now below my threshold to play an FPS these days.

Boltgun is being liked

Been waiting for this to unlock

Looks pretty cool but sounds like 8-10 hours, so I’ll probably wait for it to hit a bundle (you know it will).

Gman really digs it.

3 star review at Eurogamer.

Boltgun early impressions: (more like footnotes while I play)

-controls good, movement good (the trailer could look slightly slow but it’s decent while playing it, and you have infinite sprint button and a charge button)
-performance good (seems silly to say it, but it wouldn’t be the first “retro” game with surprisingly bad performance for what it offers). Here the gpu is doing 34-37% of utilization to get 120 fps.
-There are manual saves and quicksaves. Some checkpoints too.
-On Hard more, playing without a lot of care, I already died on the second level. But once I started to play more seriously, I’m not having problems advancing. I doubt it’s going to be a hard game. Ammo scarcity doesn’t seem to be a thing, either. At the end of the day, it leans hard on the power fantasy to being a SPACE MARINE, so yeah.
-It’s cool how the chainsaw works, it really is a bit like the shotgun-hook in DE: you hold a button that slow down time, look at a enemy at what it feels around 13 mts or less, and release the button, and you dash-attack to him. Which is an air-dash if you were in the air, in mid jump!
-Enemies aim to your future position, more or less, not where you were at the time of firing (edit the chaos demons doesn’t seem to behave this way). Their bullets have a nice red bright touch so they are very visible when they are closer.
-There are 24 levels, the first two are fairly short, but I expect they will be longer now.
-Cultists are 1 hit paper enemies, but a few of them have melt guns that can fuck you up. Chaos Marines are similar in danger but a magnitude tankier. Terminators are tougher and with faster RoF, which can be a pain in the ass if accompanied by other enemies, but they can be fairly well stunlocked on their own. I found some chaos demons that would spit at you some green goop, and others that are bit more like imps or hell knights, with projectiles of similar speed. The demon who splits in two small demons is cool.
-Visually speaking, it does a weird thing where some texture are done with big chunky pixels… just to look more retro, lol. It doesn’t make sense because they are close to other textures where the pixel size is clearly around 3-4 times smaller.
-Level design is … eh. I’m advancing linearly most of the time, breezing through, so it’s hard to notice a level design to comment.
-I don’t like the armor, it’s basically a second health pool which has too be depleted before your real health can be touched.
-Your health/armor is reset upon reaching the next level.
-The plasma gun has a bit of AoE damage, also to you, so it’s a bit like a mini rocket launcher.

Probably it’s shorter than that, we are talking of a punchy, run & gun linear FPS, not an open world RPG.
15 hours of a game like this would be actually way too long.

Yeah, I did some digging and those were the best numbers I got. It’s a bit early to know for sure, because reviewers almost never mention length for anything other than old school RPGs.

Edit: apparently the “8 - 10 hrs” figure comes from the developers’own FAQ. I see now that it’s the same guys who did Last Days of Old Earth, Ogre, etc. The former owner of Pocket Tactics sold that site to go work for Auroch. I wonder if he’s still there.

I did not, until now(“?”), know there was a British man version of the valley girl uptalk accent.

He’s an Aussie, but yeah.

Extremely early (first couple of levels) impressions - looks like a 40K Prodeus. Plays like Dusk in that it’s projectiles, not hitscan, and speed. Not too bad so far.

Most levels have been linear so far. But one of them in particular wasn’t, and it was fairly big, and man, I got stuck on it, despite being just the 5th one I think? I had the third key, but I couldn’t find where to use it, and needed some minutes of being lost and looping around the level a few times.

Which is less than ideal. It’s a conflux of factors:

-No automap or minimap
-Fairly big maps
-Confusing, samey map layouts. It’s all grey corridors with gothic detail as far as the eye can see. There are no good landmarks (ironically there are altars or space marine statues here and there, but they are not unique enough to be landmarks, they are all over the place too) or areas with distinct feel thanks to unique texture set.

Another aspect that could have improvements in audio cues in gameplay. Enemies are lacking clearly distinctive growls to indicate when you have a group behind you, when they teleport there is no unique sfx to warn you, etc. Good audio design is more than having beefy weapons sounds (although they nailed that part!).
Then again there are a lot of games with this flaw, it isn’t particularly unique to Boltgun.

I like the particle effects when you kill some demons, and they dissolve and the winds carries away the particles.

The Heavy Bolter rocks… and funnily enough, I recognized what really is: the plasma gun from Doom. It’s a high RoF, high damage gun that if you stop holding M1 and then press it again, it has a small pause to fire again the weapon.

Their level designers really didn’t know what to do with the resources. You could see how they only have a superficial knowledge of the genre. Where to put shotgun ammo, where to to put plasma ammo? Where to put health and where to put armor? How does change the combat depending of the resources placed and the layout of the environment?
Their crude solution has been to put all. The designed “ammo spot” usually has 3-4 ammo packs, one for each weapon. And EVERY time I find a grenade, the “grenade spot” always has the two models I currently have access to. And finding a big health pack + armor pack is super common, I don’t think I ever encountered an armor on its own.

an example

I think I have seen the same container with the same three items half a dozen times, it has been copy-pasted in several levels.

That said, yesterday night I played two hours almost without noticing it, lol.

A very wise post. This is a first-effort kind of shooter designed by a studio that hasn’t done shooters. As such, while it’s a decent effort, there are some problems as mentioned, like poor signposting, enemy audio cues, and the lack of care with consumable placement. A lot of heavy lifting in the game is done by the repetitive “purge” (arena) setpieces, as well.

But it looks and plays well. It just needs a careful enemy and item pass.

I was playing on the easiest difficulty just to take a look around, and I assumed on harder difficulty levels, there wasn’t quite so much junk everywhere.

My overall problem with it is that the “retro-ness” of the graphics engine limits the draw distance. What should be massive levels reminiscent of Jedi Knight are instead just soupy indeterminate distances lost in the fog. That sense of a huge industrial wasteland was one thing Necromunda got really right and it’s sorely missed here in these corridors of warhammery sprites.

Also, I’m not sold on the general zippiness of Boltgun’s space marine. Yeah, sure, the vibration rumbles when he jumps to imply he’s a big heavy space marine, but he’s mantling and leaping and charging and huffing and puffing hither and yon like some BJ Blaskowitz hopped up on meth. Which is I guess what you expect in a retro shooter, and it seemed to make sense in Necromunda because you got a Spider-man zipline and bionic dog and you weren’t really a space marine afterall. But this guy’s big heavy boot sounds – and his lack of a Spider-man zipline and bionic dog – make me think he’s supposed to be a more traditional space marine and I’m just not buying it.

I’m sure there’s a fun little run-and-gun-and-chainsaw rhythm to be had in Boltgun, and if I were more taken with the game world and gunplay, I might try to find it. Instead, this looks like yet another Warhammer game to go by the wayside…