The 90s were full of fast-paced first-person shooter games where players explored 3D environments populated by menacing 2D sprites. The sprites were a necessity born from the power of PC hardware at the time, and eventually, FPS games dumped them in favor of full 3D models. Even though many modern FPS games offer cutting-edge graphics, there are still nostalgic fans who miss the days of Doom's 2D sprite monsters. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun from Auroch Digital and Focus Entertainment was made with those nostalgic FPS fans in mind.

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is firmly rooted in the traditions of 90s FPS games. The combat is almost non-stop, with seemingly endless waves of 2D sprite creatures thrown at the player with little respite. Enemies explode in a splash of red and green gore when killed, which players accomplish using the typical arsenal of FPS weapon types, albeit with Warhammer design twists. While players spend most of their time killing enemies, levels are also filled with secrets to discover and multicolored keys that are necessary to reach the end of any given stage, not unlike the classic FPS games that inspired Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun.

While Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun combat feels ripped straight out of the 90s for the most part, it does take some inspiration from 2020's Doom Eternal with its melee attacks. Doom Eternal established a healthy rhythm of melee finishing moves to go along with its adrenaline-fueled gunplay, and Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun's Chainsword weapon establishes a similar feel. Players zoom to highlighted enemies and can make quick work out of many of them using the Chainsword, and there are times when the game almost plays as if Doom Eternal was made 30 years ago.


Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun combat is fun for the most part, but the enemies can be a little tanky at times, which can slow down the momentum quite a bit. The especially-busy stages can be frustrating, as it becomes incredibly difficult to dodge incoming projectiles. This is exacerbated by the checkpoint system that can leave players in a bind, saving their spot in a stage at a point where they have low health or ammo, so it's next to impossible to win without starting the level over from the beginning.

Something that alleviates this issue is the fact that Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun has an invincibility toggle. If players get stuck, which is bound to happen, they can turn on invincibility until they regain enough health that normal gameplay becomes manageable again. This accessibility feature is greatly appreciated as it can save Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun players from wasting time by replaying levels from the beginning, but it would have been preferred if the checkpoint system was implemented in a way that players didn't need to restart or switch on invincibility. On the bright side, invincibility doesn't disable any Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun achievements, so at least players can use it if they need to without getting punished.

Unfortunately, there's not much more to Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun. Levels are bland and repetitive, and it's easy to get turned around because everything looks so similar. This appears to be a deliberate design choice as part of Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun's attempt to replicate 90s FPS games, but it's something that should have stayed in the past. While it can be fun to turn the clock back, there's a reason why the industry left some of these ideas behind.


Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun's use of the old multicolored keys trope gets old fast as well. Many levels have players collecting a red key, a blue key, and a yellow key, in that order, rarely deviating from that formula. There are times when the keys are difficult to find, which keeps players from engaging with the fun part of the game - the combat - to instead walk around until they happen upon wherever the next key is hidden.

Boltgun shoots itself in the foot with its inclusion of yet another old FPS trope that was better left in the 90s. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is separated into three Chapters. Completing a Chapter means losing access to every gun one collected in the preceding levels, minus the titular boltgun. The logic behind this in old FPS games was that each of their Chapters or Episodes basically started things at the beginning in terms of balance, so having the more powerful guns would make things too easy. That's not really true in Boltgun; there may be fewer enemies when players start a new Chapter, but the difficulty doesn't seem to really change in any significant way and so depriving players of their guns is an unnecessary annoyance. It doesn't take a terribly long time for players to get most of their weapons back anyway, making it that much more pointless.

Besides taking players' weapons away from them, the end of a Chapter means a boss fight, but sadly, this is another area where Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun stumbles. Boss fights in the game are repetitive, with players basically fighting the same end-Chapter boss three times. The game rarely introduces new regular enemy types after Chapter 1 either, so while combat in the game is genuinely fun, the repetition ensures that it doesn't come close to reaching its full potential.


Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is polished and runs perfect, with fast-paced and exciting combat. Gamers that grew up playing 90s FPS games will get a kick out of how much it borrows from Doom, Quake, and the like, but many will tire of the archaic design choices that have been abandoned by modern games. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun represents the best and worst of 90s-era FPS games, so while it has a solid foundation, it fails to deliver truly compelling content to go with it, making the game difficult to recommend to anyone that's not a hardcore Warhammer fan or who isn't desperately nostalgic for the 90s.

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is available for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant was provided with a PC code for this review.

warhammer 40k boltgun review
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a self-described 'boomer shooter' that pays homage to retro FPS games from the 90s.