You Don’t Need To Know Warhammer To Enjoy Space Marine 2

One of my favourite games of 2011 (god I feel old) was a brutal third-person action game that starred a bunch of burly men in power suits who wielded massive chainsaw swords, angrily grunted their way through conversations, and murdered pretty much everything and everyone they ran into. Oh, and I guess it was set in the Warhammer universe.


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That might sound dismissive of the 40K universe, but that was the magic of the first Space Marine game. While there was a lot there for fans of the wider universe, you didn’t need to know anything at all about the series to enjoy its brutal combat and hunky warriors. Whether you love everything about Mordheim like our features editor, Ben Sledge, or have to embarrassingly Google where Warhammer is set and still not be sure on the answer like me, there was still something for you to enjoy.

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Thankfully, that same magic can be found all over in its long-awaited sequel, Space Marine 2, which I got to play roughly 30 minutes of at Gamescom 2023. The demo begins with Titus and his team landing on a planet that was overrun with swarms and Tyranids as they prepare to do what they do best – ripping and tearing.

Titus shooting Tyranids in Space Marine 2.

Usually when I play a game I plan to write about, I do my due diligence and take plenty of notes to make sure I’m as informed and knowledgeable on the subject as possible, whether I’m interested in the world or not. In this case, though, I purposefully shut my brain off to the world of Warhammer and let myself sink into its chaotic battles without a care, eager to see if I could travel back in time a decade and let Titus’ Chainsword do the thinking for me.

I might not be able to tell you much about Space Marine 2’s world, characters, or plot without massively oversimplifying things, but what I can tell you is how great Space Marine 2 feels to play. Mowing down swarms of smaller Tyranids with your gun before dissecting bigger units with your Chainsword is just as satisfying in 2023 as it was in 2011 (and even more so thanks to just how many squishy enemies can be on screen at once).

Just because I wasn’t thinking too much about the wider world doesn’t mean that Space Marine 2 is mindless, a fact I was reminded of whenever I ran out of ammo or wasted my precious grenades on one enemy instead of saving them for the ravenous horde that was just ahead.

Titus overlooking a swarm in Space Marine 2.

Melee combat is surprisingly layered too, with counters and dodges being essential to keeping Titus brooding another day. Combine that with being able to command your AI teammates and the lack of regenerating health, and there’s a lot to keep track of all at once.

Eventually, though, everything began to click in place and I started feeling like that same unstoppable badass I was back in 2011. That feeling came in handy towards the end of my demo when I had to hold my own against a huge horde of Tyranids while waiting for a door to open and let my team through. Watching a near-endless number of monsters spill out of every corner of the map and barrel towards me was one of the most exciting moments of Gamescom for me, and one that was made even better thanks to the minigun that turned everything in my sight into Swiss cheese.

My switched-off day-two Gamescom brain couldn’t tell you why Titus was angrily killing bucketloads of aliens or even what the name of the planet he was killing them on was, but that didn’t matter one bit. All that mattered was that it felt awesome and briefly made me feel like a total badass, which is exactly what the first game managed to do too.

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine staring down tyranids while holding a thunderhammer

I walked away from my time with Space Marine 2 not only feeling like a badass that could tear a phonebook in half with my bare hands, but also feeling like I should give Warhammer a fair shake. Whether I’ll finally do that and look like less of an idiot when talking about Titus, or just enjoy Space Marine 2 for the bloody good time it is, is anyone’s guess, but no matter what happens I know that I’m excited to see more.

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