The co-operative gameplay mode of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine has been through a rough time on its way to launch. Exterminatus Mode, as its known, was original intended to launch as a part of the initial disc-based package, before being delayed and promised as downloadable content (DLC) shortly after release. The date at which Exterminatus Mode was eventually determined to arrive came and went, and yet Xbox 360 gamers were left out in the cold. One week later, and the DLC finally becomes available, ready for four friends to jump straight into the battle against their green skinned adversaries.
Exterminatus Mode is essentially a co-operative survival mode, more recently labelled ‘horde mode’, in which the human team fight through waves of increasingly difficult opponents. Players can use either the Tactical, Devastator or Assault marine types (as long as they are unlocked) and perks they have unlocked throughout the multiplayer mode, and can further unlock new additions here in Exterminatus Mode. Allowing the level system to work as an overarching progress indicator is a welcome touch, however the implementation is lacking. Players can earn experience during matches for kills etc., though it’s only totalled at the end of a session – choose to retry and the experience is lost as only the score from your last match will count.
Including two maps, ‘Assault on Hab Center Andreas’ and ‘Escape from Kalkys Facility’, both with four different arenas, the Exterminatus Mode has players battling through twenty waves of enemies, and a final bonus wave in the last arena. The first twenty waves consist of the green skins only, while the last wave throws Heretics and Daemons at the player. At specific points on each of the maps the human team will be given an additional objective, typically along the lines of capturing a base or having a single player defeat a set number of enemies within a time limit, and completing the objective will grant all players a bonus.
During the course of a Exterminatus Mode match the entire human team will share a pool of lives. New lives can be earned by achieving 5000 points, with a meter indicating this progress, or completing the additional objectives. While players are waiting to respawn they can select the default spawn point, or to spawn on an ally if they have the appropriate perk engaged, and while waiting to respawn can still view they progress of their comrades regardless of which option they choose. It’s a small touch, but one that makes a world of difference to team tactics, and provides the opportunity for a last moment decision change.
Despite the rumours that Exterminatus Mode would offer additional Achievements, no such increase has yet been offered. It’s a shame that no addition has been made, as it would certainly help to bring players back into the fold that had been distracted by more recent releasing, including multiplayer orientated titles such as Battlefield 3. As it stands, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine still has a keen audience, and finding matches of Exterminatus Mode is certainly easier than it could be as we make our way through the season packed with new releases, but if the DLC was intended to encourage gamers away from the season’s highlights, THQ will need to bring the further additions sooner rather than later.