Warhammer 40K: Space Marine
's free Exterminatus mode hit two weeks ago, but given that I have the game on 360 and there were some issues, I had to wait an extra week to roll around in it myself. That being said, it was totally worth the wait.
One of the latest in a growing trend of wave-based endurance modes, Exterminatus puts you in the big, metal boots of your multiplayer Space Marine character, teaming you up with three buddies to take on all the Orks (and, later, Chaos Marines) ever. These thirty-wave onslaughts, currently set on two maps ripped almost directly from the game's campaign mode, provide a nice change of pace from the game's initial two multiplayer modes, as well as carrying over your experience (but not any perk-unlocking weapon challenge progress) toward your overall multiplayer level.
Two maps doesn't seem like a lot, but as you progress through enough waves, your party is forced to move to different sections, with brief breaks to re-arm and take a breather in between. And, even then, the areas in the different sub-stages are open enough that each ubermap may as well be three small-party multiplayer maps in and of themselves.
A couple of elements particularly stood out for me when it came to setting Exterminatus aside from Gears Of War 3's Horde mode, Halo's Firefight, or any of the other endurance modes out there. For one thing, while your party only shares four extra lives, a bar underneath the available respawn indicator fills as you kill more enemies, giving you the chance to murder your way to extra respawns as the game continues. Even when the life counter is maxed out at four, you earn an extra 1,000 exp every time you fill it, so it's not as if it's going to waste. Also, as you play, usually at the start of a wave, the game will throw challenges out for bonus experience, such as one player killing X number of enemies on their own within a set amount of time, or the entire party collectively getting a certain number of headshots. Some are integral toward further progress in the game, such as taking all the capture points in a map or defending one capture point from an especially heavy wave long enough to capture it, and the challenges seem to change every time you go in, so as not to become stale.
The mode's not perfect, however; aside from the refills every ten waves, there's no ammo refills to be had besides what drops off the enemies, and that's just as random as it is in campaign mode. This can become particularly frustrating if you're playing a Devastator class, as their heavy weapons either burn through ammunition quickly or, in the case of the lascannon, hardly carry that many shots in the first place. It's also not that great for anyone rocking a Vengeance Launcher on a Tactical, as those burn through shots pretty quickly as well. In some ways, it serves to balance out some of the more effective weaponry, but at the same time, there's not much hindering the devastation to be unleashed by an Assault with a decent melee weapon and half a brain, and it can turn in-game chat into a festival of "Need ammo, who's got some near them?"
Still, it works amazingly well on the whole, and such difficulties can be averted once you work out a loadout that's more suited to the shot economy and survival required for Exterminatus. What's even more delightful is that the next DLC pack, Chaos Unleashed
, expands on this mode by putting you in the role of a Chaos Marine, once again cutting through Orks and, this time around, Space Marines, including a few new units on a few new maps. Granted, this one won't be free, as Exterminatus was, but between more nacho-y goodness and a new capture the flag mode for multiplayer, it's sounding quite worthwhile.
If anything, the sort of treatment Relic's been giving this beast is a great example of how to do both DLC and online passes right. For those unaware, Space Marine
features an online pass system that caps any leveling progress in multiplayer beyond level 6. Multiplayer and Exterminatus are still playable, however, even without the pass, which makes a for a great "the first one's free," taster that's bound to get that extra few bucks out of used-game purchasers. Add to that the fact the download for Exterminatus clearly shows four more DLC slots as "Locked" when you acquire it, and you've got one hell of a draw for players who come in late to the game or on the cheap.
The extent of support THQ seems to be promising for this game also goes a long way toward easing the sting of the unlikelihood of a sequel
, given that Relic are currently balls-deep in work on the Warhammer 40,000 MMO. I, for one, am delighted they're still doing as much as they can for Space Marine
even with the manpower needed to build 40K Online, and if the same dedication can be expected for the latter, I may break my vow to avoid paid MMOs in 2013. Hell, if they decide to wrap up Titus & Friends' adventure as a quest line, you might even suck in an extra fistful or two more of subscribers.
And, if you're looking for a brother in arms, I tend to rock an Assault with a Power Sword or a Dev with Lascannon, and my Bolt Pistol headshotting skills are a little disgusting. Gamertag's on the right. Just sayin'.
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