Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun – Video Game Review

May 23, 2023 by brennon

Warhammer 40,000 has been the focus of many video games over the years. A few of those have been big hits (The Dawn Of War series and Space Marine) so can Auroch Digital and Focus Home Entertainment's newest offering, Boltgun, stand toe-to-toe with some of those titans?


Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun

Shop Warhammer 40,000 @ Store.OnTableTop

I got to get my hands on the new DOOM-style shooter, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun and see whether or not it could earn The Emperor's grace!

The Premise

Set after the events of the first Space Marine video game, Boltgun puts you in the ceramite boots of a Sternguard Veteran who has been tasked with aiding an Inquisitor in hunting down the remnants of the power core that features so prominently in Captain Titus' adventures back in 2011. First off, yes, I'm not kidding, this is a sequel adventure to Space Marine and features plenty of easter eggs that look back at Captain Titus' antics as he battled with the Orks and the Chaos Lord, Nemeroth.


Hunting your way across a war-torn and Chaos-infested planet, your Sternguard Veteran will find themselves tasked with exorcising this Chaos taint whilst tracking down the power source before it gets used for nefarious means by a deadly Chaos Sorcerer. You'll battle Chaos Cultists, Space Marines and a plethora of Demons under the command of the different Chaos Gods and you'll be doing it with a mean set of weapons that will be familiar to Warhammer 40,000 fans.

The story is definitely present but you shouldn't expect that to be the main draw when it comes to your Boltgun experience. All of this grimdark goodness is wrapped up in the '90s styling of a retro shooter where there is one pretty simple objective. Kill everything and do it in style.

Core Gameplay

Fully embracing the retro vibes, Boltgun has a pretty simple gameplay loop from level one. You are dropped into a level armed with your Boltgun and have to butcher your way through the forces of Chaos before getting to the exit and moving on. Whether playing with a mouse and keyboard or a controller, you'll be pretty much pushing forward and holding down the trigger for the vast majority of your playtime.

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun - Official Gameplay Trailer

A lot of other retro staples have found their way into Boltgun and will be immediately familiar to DOOM fans. You pick up health and "armour" (called Contempt in Boltgun) as you go and ammo is plentiful. Secrets are stuffed into shadowy corners of the level and they can give you full ammo for all your weapons, make you a brutal killing machine (even more so) for a small period of time or give you special ammo to slam into your Boltgun. All of these are familiar touchstones for the DOOM-esque first-person shooter.

Boltgun also throws some fun mechanics into the mix of its own too. Your Sternguard Veteran can dash to get out of danger and when in a pinch, use their Chainsword to slow down time and zoom towards a foe for a brutal up close and personal melee attack. Oh, and if you want to, you can also taunt your enemies with the press of a button and in a departure from the mute DOOM Guy, Rahul Kohli will instead bellow curses (rather splendidly) at his Chaos foes and offer up some of those easter eggs harking back to Space Marine and Titus' adventures.


Enemy-wise, you've got an interesting mix of foes to face. Many of your enemies are Chaos Cultists who die in one or two shots from your Boltgun and pop rather pleasingly into gory chunks. As you get further into the game, you'll also come up against heavily armoured Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Terminators. Some more deadly clashes are with Demons like Pink/Blue Horrors, Plague Toads, Screamers Of Tzeentch and even some more powerful Greater Demons later on down the line.


These new foes provide you with added challenge and that's where the suite of weapons available to your Sternguard Veteran comes into play. Sometimes the Boltgun just won't cut it and so you'll be using Shotguns, Plasma Guns, Heavy Bolters, Melta Guns and more. Switching between your weapons depending on the battle you find yourself in is a key part of the gameplay loop in Boltgun and you'll slowly learn which weapons are perfect at dealing with different kinds of foes.

This all comes together to provide players with an interesting and intense gameplay loop where you go from frenetic fight to frenetic fight, turning your enemies into pools of bloody gore and very much living out the power fantasy of being a Space Marine.

Does It Nail The Vibe?

In the vast majority of cases, yes. The core gameplay of Boltgun is decidedly Warhammer 40,000 and I could have definitely seen a game like this coming out back in the '90s. It's pleasingly over-the-top and you get that "one more level" feel quite often when you sit down to play. It is interesting though that this only came into play when I moved on to the later levels of the first act and moved into the second. Some of the levels in the middle portion of the game felt a little overly long and also a little repetitive too. I know that a game like this can only do so much but there are only so many times you can walk into a large arena-like space and hear that you need to purge all of your enemies. Some fun teleportation portals, demonic realms and such do help to break this up.


It's also not particularly "Space Marine" to end up playing a level only to find yourself standing there scratching your head as to where to go next. The feeling of getting lost doesn't come up often but there were some times during gameplay where I wished there was a map showing where you needed to go. It could have been done as an overlay on the screen with blips indicating certain coloured doors that you'd painstakingly grabbed the key for moments earlier. As I say, it's not a massive thing and for the vast majority of your experience in Boltgun, you'll simply be rushing through, guided by the game's use of enemy placement, and find yourself at the end of the level in no time.

Lots of the small things also help to alleviate any of the niggles I have with the level design and gameplay loops. If you stand still for a while, your Sternguard Veteran opens up his sacred text and starts reading it, when you shoot a Pink Horror, it splits into two gibbering Blue Horrors and when you dash through the bodies of the enemies you've butchered, they burst into even smaller chunks of gore than before. All of the weapons also feel suitably accurate. The Boltgun is a trust sidearm that does the job on many occasions but I also love the kickback and damage of the Shotgun, the pleasing plodding forth and thudding sound of the Heavy Bolter as it unleashes shells into your enemies and the pop that comes from a Plasma Gun hitting a rampaging Chaos Space Marine.


Boltgun isn't easy either. You can tone it all the way down and butcher your way through your foes but you can also crank it right up if you want to desperately find yourself dashing from health pack to health pack. Even on Normal/Medium difficulty, I found the boss fights and some of the arena-based purges a challenge as you have to adapt your tactics on the fly. Enemies are relentless and will constantly hunt you, coming from different angles and really keeping you on your toes. It's these moments where the issues with the game melt away and you'll find yourself fully embracing your inner genetically engineered killing machine.

The Verdict

Boltgun is undoubtedly fun. With a run time of around ten hours, there is a lot of game for you to get stuck into and the core gameplay loop is fun and offers up plenty of cool moments. Graphically, the game nails Warhammer 40,000 and the retro vibe is suitably fitting. Are there some issues with pacing? Yes. Does it feel a little repetitive at times? Yes. But, both of those issues are often pushed from the front of your mind when you get into the frenetic action where your enemies don't let up and you need to be on your game lest you fail in your mission and doom the Imperium.


I also have to doff my helmet to the folks behind the sound design in the game as that most certainly kept me in the moment. The thud of your Sternguard's boots on the ground, the pleasing power of the weapons you're controlling and the metal music that screams into life each time you get into a fight. It's all done exceptionally well and serves to keep you in the moment.

I think that Warhammer 40,000 fans are going to have a lot of fun with Boltgun whether it's on PC or on console. It's got a lot of charm and doesn't take itself too seriously. It's a simple premise for a game but for the most part, Auroch Digital have managed to nail it and make it an entertaining romp. The game is incredibly faithful to its Warhammer 40,000 roots and also that core, DOOM-esque DNA that powers your moment-to-moment gameplay. It's no Last Of Us or Red Dead Redemption but it doesn't need to be. Boltgun sets out its goals and executes them pretty darn well, much like a Space Marine executes a Heretic! Ruthlessly.

Give Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun a shot and see what you think! 

"You'll battle Chaos Cultists, Space Marines and a plethora of Demons under the command of the different Chaos Gods and you'll be doing it with a mean set of weapons that will be familiar to Warhammer 40,000 fans..."

"It's got a lot of charm and doesn't take itself too seriously..."

Related Games

Related Companies

Related Content Types

Related Content Formats

Related Product Types

Related Genres