Published on February 24th, 2024 | by Gareth Newnham

Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters Review (PS5)

Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters Review (PS5) Gareth Newnham

Summary: Whether you're a fan of 40k or not. Daemonhunters is a fantastic romp and a fine example of how to do strategy right on consoles.


We are the hammer!

Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters is a satisfying strategy game with deep systems, thrilling turn-based battles, and a clear and nuanced understanding of the universe that inspired it.

On the surface, Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters is another 40K game with far too many semicolons. (It’s traditional for games set in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium to be called something that looks like a desperate attempt at Techpriest SEO). Essentially, it’s grim, dark XCOM.


At its core, Daemonhunters is a series of turn-based battles sandwiched between whole spreadsheets of squad management days of HQ maintenance. Ok, maybe it is quite a bit like XCOM, but, you see, XCOM has always been inspired by tabletop wargames, and Warhammer is undisputedly the granddaddy of that.

Though these days, the Warhammer license is easier to bag than Beavis’ Mum, thankfully, Daemonhunters is by far one of the best 40K adaptations I have played. It also successfully pulls off something far more media should attempt – a reboot of a game with decent ideas that didn’t quite work. In this case, it’s 90’s namesake Chaos Gate. Another turn-based battler featuring Marines Vs. Chaos that nailed the setting but was a dreary slog to play.

The most important thing that Demon Hunters gets right, though, is the characters and setting. It’s clear from the off that developer Complex Games understands that there are heroic people in the 40K universe but that the factions they work for and worship are ultimately all sides of the same loaded dice.

Players take command of a company of Grey Knights, the secretive and deadly order of Space Marines made up entirely of Astartes with psychic powers. The Hammer of the Ordo Malleus, The Grey Knights are tasked with eradicating demons that break into our reality, twisting and perverting anything they come into contact with

The demons themselves are the servants of the Chaos Gods, four eldritch beings that feast off negative emotions and psychic energy to break through into realspace from the nightmarish world they inhabit, known as the Immaterium or the Warp.

This is a big problem for humans because they are both psychic and prone to negativity. In game this is presented by the fact that every time a Knight uses one of their psychic abilities in battle to power up an attack, smite an enemy, or heal a comrade, points are added to the Warp meter. Once full, demonic enemies spawn, or your squad is struck down with space Syphilis. This creates a compelling risk Vs reward system, as short-term gains can lead to serious trouble a few turns later. So sometimes it’s best just to rely on the holy trinity of Bolter, Flamer, and Melta.

The most impressive thing about Daemonhunters, though, is how snappy the combat feels. Unlike XCOM, you don’t have to worry about missing your target at point-blank range due to a botched dice roll. If your weapon is in range and you can see your target, you are guaranteed to hit them. Although distance and cover do reduce the damage you deal from ranged attacks, the game’s UI will tell you exactly how much damage each attack does from different positions on the map before you sign off on a move, and It’s always satisfying to see a plan come together as your Knights use their different abilities to tear the enemies of the Imperium apart.

This is, even more, sweeter when you manage to fill the Stun Bar. This lets you wear down an enemy with a series of successive blows (until they’re, uh, stunned), then have them finished off with a gruesome execution that also gives every member of the squad another action point. This can often turn a desperate situation in your favour with a few well-placed commands and then keep on steamrolling to victory.

However, the flip side of this is also true when the game decides you’ve had things too easy and then ratchets up the difficulty by beaming dozens of enemy reinforcements in mid-battle when you’re barely holding off the hordes of pox-ridden reprobates that are already there. This can lead to you being low on health, out of resources, and with nothing left to do but get kicked from one side of the map to the other. Sure, the legions of Nurgle represent a kind of Lovecraftian existential nightmare, but having to impotently fight against that in a game with a clear win state is no less frustrating.

Be warned, Daemonhunters is absolutely brutal. Even on Normal, there’s no guarantee you won’t get halfway through its 50-hour plus campaign and have to restart because you’re completely screwed both on the battlefield and off. What’s worse, though, is that you might not realise you can’t win until you’ve put dozens of hours in. If you botch the early mission, you may as well start again because chances are you will run out of steam. I don’t make this recommendation often, but in Daemonhunters, starting on Easy for your first run is worth doing, at least until you have a good grip on its various systems and how they all interact with each other.

As well as the threats found planetside, the whole sector is also beset by a deadly plague called The Bloom. This foulpox needs to be cured before it consumes the whole system. The spread of the virus is tracked on your campaign map as it spreads from planet to planet. You quickly realise that you can’t save everyone, which means you often need to make tough choices regarding what distress calls to respond to and which you ignore. At the start of the campaign, there is a single strain of the virus; by the time the credits roll, there are five, as well as a whole other host of embuggerances like enemy vessels spoiling for a fight, ship-damaging warp storms, and cultists trying to open Chaos Gates that once five are successfully activated, is a literal game over. Each element works in tandem to create a brilliant sense of tension and desperation as you try to spin all of these ghoulish plates at once while hunting for a way to eradicate The Bloom and put a stop to Pappa Nurgle’s diabolical machinations.

Daemonhunters nails the look and feel of the source material and does a brilliant job of making the 41st millennium feel both grim and dark, gothic and horrifying in equal measure. Both the Grey Knights and the demonic hordes of Nurgle are lovingly recreated, as the bellowing, mighty, zealous barks of the emperors chosen as they crash down into combat are met by unsettling grunts and coughs from the forces of the Plague God that make them sound almost as sickly as they look. Meanwhile, the roar of Bolter fire and the discharge of psychic energy all sound weighty and cinematic while the soundtrack is suitably jubilant and sweeping, with some more low-key tracks for the game’s moodier moments thrown in for good measure.

The biggest compliment I can throw at Daemonhunters, though, is that the controls on the console version work really well. I would even go so far as to say I prefer playing it with a pad to a mouse and keyboard, which is probably the highest praise you can throw at any console port of a PC strategy game. By making clever use of the d-pad and shoulder buttons to allow the player to quickly flick between commands while using the analog sticks to control the camera and where you want your grey knights to romp across the map, it all feels pretty effortless.

However, the one thing that I did find disappointing is that the two years of additional content lavished on the PC version of the game since its release in late 2022 seems to be MIA from this version of the game. It’s a shame because stomping around the battlefield in a Dreadnaught and the extra (incredibly useful) ship gifted you in Duty Eternal, and the ability to draft in help from the imperial assassins would have made this edition feel all the more complete. The fact you still have to pay extra to play as Garren Crowe also still stings a little.

Final Thoughts

Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate: Daemonhunters is a tough but satisfying XCOM-a-like that rewards careful planning and decisive action. Although, at times, the odds can truly seem stacked against you, to the point of being overwhelming (especially when the game starts tossing endless reinforcements at you), turning the tide of battle in your favor never fails to raise a smile.

Though the lack of PC DLC and Garren Crowe still being put behind a paywall stings a little, it’s clear that great care and attention was taken to tailor the experience to consoles.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the setting, it’s an easy sell. For those looking for a fun entry point into the wonderful world of the 41st millennium but have no patience for model making or reading a mountain of novels and rule books, Daemonhunters is a brilliant place to start.

About the Author'

Back to Top ↑
  • Quick Navigation

  • Advertisement

  • Latest Posts

  • First Look

  • Join us on Facebook