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As someone who grew up playing DOOM and Quake, Warhammer 40K: Boltgun is like returning home

I unload my Boltgun into the shrieking cultist of the traitor legions, a perverse mortal worshipper of the dark gods of Chaos, and the explosive rounds crack his skull open like a melon and rip his right arm from his torso.

Turning, I charge a Chaos Space Marine, slamming into the warrior, and then proceed to swing my chainsword down across his power armor, rending it in two and causing blood to burst forth in a gory fountain.

Now that’s what I call bloody justice. (Image credit: Future)

Just as the agent of chaos drops I’m charged by a Horror of Tzeentch, a demon sent forth by Chaos God of Change, with it spitting bile from its deformed maw. I rapidly switch to my shotgun and blast the Pink Horror in two, its spine left exposed to the wind, and then literally disintegrate the two Blue Horrors that spawn forth from its corpse, crushing them beneath the boot of my power armor into a bloody chowder.

A Pink Horror, literally ripped in half by my shotgun blast. (Image credit: Future)

Seriously, if this gameplay sounds like something that would appeal to you just as much as it has done to me over the past 18 hours, then I suggest reading PC Gamer’s awesome Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun review, watching the game’s trailer below (even if the voice-over is dodgy as hell), before then going and picking the game up right now on Steam. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

And I would especially insist you do this if, like me, you spent a good portion of the 1990s playing now classic first-person shooters like DOOM, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, and Hexen. This is because, from what games I’ve played so far of the recent retro-themed boomer shooter revival, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is the best of the bunch, and by quite a margin, too.

Glowing plasma doom for this Chaos Space Marine. (Image credit: Future)

I think it has achieved this lofty position thanks to three things. Firstly, this is a game that absolutely nails the core boomer shooter gameplay, which feels deliciously simple yet stimulating. You play a silent, Doomguy-like Ultramarine who stomps at terrific speed around levels wielding an arsenal of loud, deadly weapons, each of which is expert in a variety of ways in exterminating your foes. There’s some key-to-open-door collecting (although this is kept to a minimum, thankfully), plenty of power-ups to pick up, and secret areas in each level to find.

Just another day at the office for this Ultramarine. (Image credit: Future)

Secondly, aesthetically and tonally, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun absolutely nails the brief. The pixelated graphics just scream ’90s FPS and kept triggering memories of past games in my mind as I played. For example, after picking up an upgrade for the Boltgun so it fires Dragonfire rounds, it produces Quake 2 railgun-like particle effects each time a round is fired.

Facing down Chaos Terminators is thrilling. (Image credit: Future)

Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, the game isn’t slavish to retro boomer shooter above all else, embracing more modern shooter mechanics. The most obvious and useful of which is the DOOM remake borrowed melee charge pull, where the Ultramarine can quickly close ground on enemies to attack with his chainsword, snapping to them in a blink. This allows for rapid traversal through enemies in close combat, and adds extra movement and tactical options on top of the core boomer shooter strafe-and-fire gameplay. Level design is also not restricted to the typically more claustrophobic worlds found in ’90s shooters, with expansive levels filled with vistas and open battlegrounds as well as tight corridors and demon-stuffed interiors.

There was an enemy here, but then I exploded him. (Image credit: Future)

Throw in a nail-on-the-head soundtrack, which is a WH40K-perfect rock-goth mix, a punchy art style that brings the pixelated levels, foes and weapons to the fore, and a price tag that is under twenty dollars/pounds, and I feel we’ve now got a new benchmark for new retro-style boomer shooters to be judged by. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Great Unclean One I need to go purge.

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