With Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine 2 slowly stomping toward release later this year, publisher Focus Entertainment has dropped a new extended gameplay trailer showcasing our Ultramarine hero, Lieutenant Titus, strolling through some mega-gothic ruins and doing battle with a genuinely impressive number of Tyranid enemies.
Those of you who played the original Space Marine may be wondering why Titus is not a captain in the sequel, but a lower-ranked lieutenant instead. There's probably a lore-based explanation for the demotion—Warhammer 40K has lore for everything—but according to the fan wiki, the change was made to accommodate a conflict with (you guessed it) the lore: Canonically, the Ultramarines 2nd Company was actually commanded by Cato Sicarius, while the events of the first Space Marine game took place in an alternate universe in which the company is commanded by Captain Titus. Along with the lower rank, Titus has also crossed the Rubicon Primaris in Space Marine 2, meaning that he is now a Primaris Space Marine—another change from the first game.
Naturally, the details are up for debate: Some in the 40kLore subreddit think the lead in Space Marine 2 is actually a different Titus (apparently it's a pretty common name in the Ultramarines) while others say there's a small window between the times of Severus Agemman, who was promoted from command of the Ultramarines 2nd company to the 1st, and Sicarius, who replaced him, in which Titus could have held the role without disrupting the timline. There's also a feeling that, with Sicarius now commanding Primach Roboute Guillliman's elite Victrix Guard, Titus will be promoted to captain and command of the 2nd during or at the end of Space Marine 2, so Games Workshop can wash its hands of the whole thing.
Anyway, out of those deep, twisting rabbit holes and back to the matter at hand. The new Space Marine 2 trailer looks suitably big and chaotic, but I also find it a little janky and hard to parse: Titus' movements are slow and oddly choppy in paces, and the way weapons simply appear and disappear from his hands as he interacts with items is distracting.
This might seem a little odd given that literally hundreds of alien monstrosities are slaughtered in the video, but it's also not as violent as I was expecting: There's plenty of gunfire and explosions and gouts of blood, but it lacks the impact I'm looking for from a literal walking tank striding chainsword-first into an endless horde of squishy alien lizards.
Associate editor Ted Litchfield shared similar thoughts in his Space Marine 2 preview last week. "The weapons don't carry that oomph for me either—these feel like assault rifles and submachine guns and not bolters, and I think they could do with deeper, punchier audio and more dramatic enemy reactions to getting hit with micro-missiles," he wrote. "I was also disappointed by the chainsword, which rather than ripping and tearing would smack against tyranids like a pool noodle. There's just no chew to it."
"There's just no chew to it" very nicely sums up my own feelings about this trailer: It looks the part, but when I blast someone in the face with a gun the size of a Volkswagen, I want to feel it in my guts. Hopefully that will happen: The original Space Marine was an excellent shooter and one of the best Warhammer 40,000 games ever released, and like Ted I'm holding out hope that Space Marine 2 will be a meatier, more oomph-filled experience when it launches later this year.