Warhammer 40,000: Darktide – Strategy Guide to Damnation

A handy guide on good practices and strategies for Damnation (Tier V) difficulty.

Guide to Practices and Strategies for Damnation (Tier V) Difficulty

Prologue

Alright, Rejects. You’re willing to step things up to the highest difficulty? I’ll do my best to help you out.

Damnation is where teamwork is vitally important to the success of the mission. It’s where you should know your role, how you should play, what pace you should play at, and what risks to take. Be prepared for the worst- enemies spawning next to you, hordes of gun-laden enemies desperate to shred your newly-earned armor pieces, and whatever Nurgle deems funny to throw at you for a laugh.

Now listen up, because I’ve been hearing a lot how “x class is useless” or “y weapon is worthless”, or perhaps the like of “only z weapon is viable.” Such talk is blasphemy!

Every class and weapon is viable on Damnation, with the proper playstyle and fit. You don’t need meta weapons/builds for success, but it can certainly help one get accustomed to the jump.

That being said, don’t expect an easy time if you’re not synergizing with your team. Despite what some heretics preach, this is a team-based shooter. If everyone is playing high single target DPS with no crowd clearing potential, expect difficulties.

The most important point, however? Have fun. Remember, none of this is worthwhile if we aren’t damn well enjoying ourselves, are we? This game is going to throw whatever tricks it has up its sleeves at us, so expect failure and praise those blessed moments by the Emperor!

Now, let’s get on to the meat of this guide: Roles!

Roles

More often than not, you have the classic Holy Trinity: Tank, Damage, and Support.

The way I see it, we have Control builds and Clear builds. One controls the battlefield in whatever way they see fit, and the other Clears it out. This is what I consider to be the most fundamental roles one could play as a character.

Depending on your weapon and character choices, you will fit within one or more of these roles, which are subdivided further.

Crowd Control

You create space within melee range for yourself and teammates. Pushing enemies, staggering them, stunning them, anything to buy time for critical actions. You’re also in charge of holding front lines.

Examples: Crusher/Power maul AoE blast, Flamethrower stagger, Pushing, Ogryn Charge, Psyker ability, rumbler.

Ranged Control

You suppress anything that wields a gun, to alleviate pressure from large, concentrated groups of shooters, leaving them vulnerable. More importantly, within high intensity engagements, you overpower specials to prevent catastrophe (I.e. a sniper shot, incendiary bomb, poxburster kamikaze, you get the idea)

Examples: Stubber suppressing fire, explosions (Grenades/Flashbangs), flamethrower, close-combat aggression, rumbler, kickback.

Elite Control

You stagger/interrupt elites and their attacks to prevent damage taken and to prevent the front line from being pushed. Crushers, maulers, ragers, any of those windbags should be your priority for “preoccupying”.

Examples: Crusher/Power Maul AoE blast, Surge staff, grenades/flashbangs, Force Sword push attack, Ogryn charge.

Horde Clear

You melt waves of enemies so your teammates can focus on objectives, priority targets, and keeping pace with time. Work together with Crowd Control to group up enemies and make use of chokepoints for greater purging efficiency.

Examples: Flamethrower, Ripper, Cleaving weapons, Stubber.

Gun Clear

You take out deadly ranged targets swiftly and efficiently, and make sure that shooters don’t sneak up on off-angles, flanks, and behind your team. Snipers, Shot/Gunners, and Reapers are your top priority if called out.

Examples: Braced Autogun, Laspistol/Lasgun, Ripper/Stubber, Surge staff (Vs. Armored), Revolver.

Priority Clear

You dish out high damage to eliminate elites and specialists based on their threat and your opportunity. Focus fire to make sure that targets are eliminated quickly, and call out your eliminations (The bloody kill confirm system’s on the fritz again).

Examples: Brain burst, Kantrael MK XII, Helbore, Grenadier Gauntlets, Thunder Hammer, Force Sword special attack.

The following terms refer more to the ‘Style’ of how one contributes to the team. They’re a mindset, built on the roles chosen above.

Tank

You can reliably revive/assist teammates when necessary and hold attention from lethal targets (High volume of gunfire, groups of armored elites, reapers, etc.) if needed. Ideally used with “Control” roles. If the team absolutely needs to push to a location or challenge enemies, you’re there to help.

Examples: Ogryn (No interruptions when reviving), Slab Shield (Holding choke points in high density), Psyker w/ Kinetic Deflector (Bonus points for Deflector Force Sword). Veteran with Unwavering Focus. Zealot with crit damage reduction build. Weapons with high dodges help immensely for safety and for evading gunfire. Weapons with high stamina help with revives.

Support

You focus on covering your teammate’s back, staggering elites to prevent them from landing overheads/stunlocking, calling out horde and elite locations in advance, and alleviating pressure from other roles by assisting them (I.e. helping frontline out, killing ranged, targeting specialists). Mix of “Control” and “Clear” roles.

Examples: Surge staff (Nigh-endless CC allows your teammates to be hyper-aggressive). Grenadier Gauntlets (Shooting at teammates to give space), Force sword push attack (Stunlocking elites). Psyker ability/Psyker Laspistol special push (AoE knockback to give breathing room). Using versatile guns (Quick and accurate works for a lot of situations) such as autoguns/lasguns can help take care of ranged enemies/specialists if other teammates don’t have an angle.

Specialist

You sacrifice versatility/defense in your build to focus on maxing out your killing power, ideally focusing one of the “Clear” roles (Horde, Gun, and/or Priority). Having multiple specialists that can diversify or stack their roles is extremely effective, if properly done.

Examples:

Horde Clear -> Flamethrower (Best In Slot), Vet Grenades, DoT Builds (Bleed/Fire), Trauma/Voidstrike, high cleave melee weapons (Heavy sword, Eviscerator, Cleaver, etc.).

Gun Clear -> Veteran Sharpshooter with ‘Counterfire’ (Best In Slot). Voidstrike (Charged for both high single target headshot and AoE damage, primary attack for ranged fodder), Ripper/Rumbler for grouped shooters (Ogryn is inefficient for spread out ranged enemies)

Priority Clear -> Veteran Sharpshooter with Plasma/Revolver/Overpenetrating weapons & ‘They Bigger They Are…’ (Best In Slot), Ogryn with Grenadier Gauntlets (Especially with headshots), Brain Burst with ‘Kinetic Barrage’ (Efficient and powerful). Zealot thunder hammer with QQ cancelling.

Now that you have a better understanding of what you should focus on in terms of combat, let’s delve into strategy, with Pacing.

Pacing

Alright Rejects, let’s discuss the importance of knowing when to move up, when to fall back, when to hold a position, and when to expend resources.

If a team moves too fast, Nurgle will send more enemies or even his own monstrosities. If a team moves too slow, Emperor forbid, attrition quickly becomes an issue as ammo and health demands cannot be met.

Here’s some important information related to pacing that can help with assessing your situation:

  • Bosses do not spawn in the same way as your average foe. That is, they are in fixed spawn locations and will appear once a threshold is crossed. Knowing when a boss will show up can make or break a mission, as you essentially get to choose when to fight a boss with proper knowledge, and without, well, the fight chooses you.
  • Knowing the locations of Medicae stations can prevent wasting a Medkit, and even the actual station itself. If only one teammate is low health, but has extra wounds to spare, it’s best to hold onto a medkit if you know a station is up ahead.
  • Completing objectives quickly can also lower the amount of resources spent overall within a match. Aim to steadily progress the objective, but fall back if safety is a priority or there is a high concentration of enemies. Engagements ebb and flow, so find the right point and commit when the time is right.
  • If a teammate dies and is respawning, quickly retreat and attempt to coerce a closer spawn location for them. Chances are if you just crossed a spawn location, the next one will be a while away. Likewise, if a teammate is too far back to revive, it may be better to push ahead in an attempt to advance their spawn location without wasting too much time.
  • Every area has what are called ‘roaming enemies’. These enemies are idly sitting around, waiting for you to aggravate them. If you advance too quickly, you will pull too many roaming enemies in addition to what the Nurgle throws at you. In calm situations, taking out enemies far ahead can help reduce stress during higher intensity engagements.

Strategy won’t get you everywhere! You need to strengthen your mechanics if you want to slay with the best. First things first, let’s start off with a little self-defense, shall we?

Mobility & Defense

Survival is key when it comes to damnation. In this war zone, you’ll be faced with drones of drones who know nothing more than to load lead into your lead head. I’m lookin’ at you, Ogryn.

That being said, sometimes luck just isn’t on your side in some cases. This world is flawed in many ways, and is cursed by the chaos gods. In such cases, it is best to accept loss and to learn from our mistakes. E’en the Emperor’s chosen are bound to fall once in a while. Keep your spirits with you, and your team will greatly appreciate it. We’re all trying our best out there.

Ahem! In this topic, the main focus is knowing how to dodge properly and to defend yourself. This means managing stamina, using natural cover, and most importantly, dodging and sliding.

Dodging is your best tool for avoiding melee attacks; Sliding is your best tool for avoiding ranged attacks.

Combine them, and you get an extremely powerful tool at your disposal. So what is a dodge-slide? It is when you dodge in a direction, and when you reach the end of the dodge while crouching, you slide an additional distance ahead.

Quite handy in a pinch, and applicable to nearly every combat situation. Listen up Ogryns, because learning this technique can transform you into an unstoppable monster. Snipers will learn to fear the name “Ugg”.

Do note! This can indeed be rough on your hands, especially with the default control configuration. In my case, I have bound both ‘Dodge’ and ‘Sprint’ to [Shift], and ‘Crouch’ to [LAlt]. Due to dodges only being sideways/backwards and sprinting only being forwards, there is no clash with binding them together. I also have ‘Sprint’ and ‘Crouch’ both set to ‘Hold’ for these purposes. You might be able to macro it, but know the timing changes as dodge-stamina wears out.

Dodge-sliding takes dodge-stamina, but not push-stamina (Intuitive, isn’t it?). In order to prevent exhaustion, switch between sprint-slides and dodge-slides. However! Regardless of how low your dodge-stamina is, you can infinitely chain dodge-slides to keep avoiding bullets.

For Psykers, your force sword, despite having a shorter dodge distance, will never run out of dodge-stamina, and thus enables dodge-sliding without exhaustion!

Survival isn’t all about dragging your rump on the ground like all those infested pox hounds. Cover is important, especially on the highest difficulty. Limit the amount of sightlines that your foe has on you by hiding out in shelter and hugging walls. Unless you’re slipping out to get a sightline on a baddy yourself, there is nothing to be gained by standing out in the open.

I’m not only talking about avoiding our gun-happy friends, neither. Hordes and crowds are much easier to deal with when you’re not surrounded on all sides. This means more fuel efficiency for our flamethrower zealots out there. The denser you can get the hordes, the more you can get out of your flamethrower and cleaving weapons.

Sharpshooters! ‘Ye paying attention? This part is ‘aimed’ at you. If you’re pinned by ranged enemies and you have a wall as cover, make sure you properly use it to your advantage. You get to choose how many enemies are able to shoot you by controlling how far out you are from your cover. Limit your angle of attack by hanging close to the edge, and use tight sightlines to make it extra challenging for your enemies to shoot back.

If you have a Revolver, Plasma Gun, Helbore, or any other single-shot weapon, that’s even better. Peek out from cover, shoot a target, return, repeat. (If you’ve ever seen Overwatch grandmaster Zenyatta gameplay, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

Stamina management for pushing is important. Psyker has the fastest stamina regeneration delay, followed by Zealot, then Ogryn, and finally Sharpshooter. Your fancy power swords are destructive, but it’s all Horde Clear and no Crowd Control. This is why the Power Maul and Crusher are so powerful- they have amazing Crowd Control, without needing to sacrifice stamina to generate space.

Dodging prevents push-stamina from regenerating. On Sharpshooter, this becomes problem as push-stamina is already hard to recuperate. For Zealot and Psyker especially, due to their ability to quickly recover stamina, they can dodge more freely.

This brings me to my next main point of discussion: Positioning!

Positioning & Holds

Some situations call for hunkering down and grouping up with your fellow rejects as you reach a ‘high tide’. When enemies are great in number and in strength, your position and how well you can hold it determines how much pressure you face. This is why stagger and crowd control are important.

Try as you might, you can’t kill everything as soon as they appear. Heretics will group up and huddle closely together, which is good news for some people and bad news for others. Tanks help deal with these situations as they stop enemies in their tracks, prevent their mighty blows, and keep tight spaces manageable.

When you’re holding a small room in order to avoid gunfire, or a hallway with minimal room, whatever wicked conundrums you find yourself in, stagger will help give you breathing room and make you feel ‘Safe’. Holding a spot can allow Gun Clear and Priority Clear to do their duty, or even allow Horde Clear to use their ammo/time more efficiently.

Note the locations where heretics can drop down close by, doors that harbor ill-borne trappers and bursters, common sniper sightlines, enemy climb-up points, choke points, and natural cover. These will inform your decision on whether a spot is worth holding or not.

Having an escape route can be useful in a pinch. Vaulting a railing, dropping from a ledge, moving with your Ogryn’s charge, or making use of AoE stagger to create your own escape route allows you to be confident with your holding spot in case of emergency.

If you’re Tank, focus on holding the front line of the position or other high-threat angles that teammates are not taking care of. If you’re Support, watch for the odd enemy that appears from thin air and make sure they don’t get a cheap shot on your mates and focus on clearing. If you’re Specialist, do your job and call out potential threats to the hold (Bomber throws, Flamers, Bursters, Snipers).

When the horde lightens up, the team is allowed to move from the position to focus on an objective, advancing, or to get better ground. Do not waste time by focusing on random poxwalkers, as there’s always going to be random trash around. If you see a group of shooters advancing on your position, you must react! Change position, focus fire, advance, whatever you need to do to make sure your front line doesn’t get obliterated by gunfire.

Epilogue

All right, that’s about enough for today, I’d say. Some of you may agree with my methods, and others won’t. What’s important is that you focus on learning from every failure and improving over time.

There’s more that could be covered, such as communication, resource management, handling bosses, and dealing with certain specials. Not only that, but also the discussion of specific builds with each character, ‘meta’ builds, synergies, and individual weapons at some point. We’ll see how it goes.

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