In today’s blog we bring fresh insights into the characters you’ll be playing in your battle to save Atoma. Whether you’re taking to the hive city streets as a hard-bitten veteran, ranting zealot, haunted psyker or hulking ogryn, you’ll be able to pick the voice profile that suits you best!
To dive into the detail, we asked the members of our writing team (Matthew Ward, Mark Latham, Sarah Cawkwell, John French, Victoria Hayward, Jude Reid & Jeremy Vetock) to tell us a little bit about what makes these reluctant defenders of Atoma tick.
For the Emperor!
Countless billions toil in the ranks of the Astra Militarum, more colloquially known as the Imperial Guard. They’re the hammer of the Emperor, responsible for crushing threats to the embattled Imperium – usually through sheer weight of numbers, invariably while suffering an eye-watering number of casualties.
All that said, it shouldn’t be surprising that Darktide’s veterans balance two key personality traits: duty, and fatalism. Whether they’ve been fighting the Emperor’s enemies for decades or a few short years, they’ve got what it takes to go into a meat grinder and come out the other side. For some, survival comes from sticking to your orders. For others, it’s about keeping your head down and taking whatever opportunities present themselves.
Performed by Seroca Davis & Alex Jordan
Matthew: The Professional is the archetypal Imperial Guardsman: diligent, dedicated and just waiting for the round that’s going to take off the back of their head. They’ve seen plenty of action and lost a lot of friends along the way, but their faith in the Emperor has never faltered. They might not be in regular service any longer, but they’ve still got a duty to fulfill, and they’re not going to let a trifling thing like overwhelming odd and scummy rations get in the way … though it’d be nice if some of their teammates would act like real soldiers once in a while.
If you’re looking for a straight-up-the-middle (if fatalistic) soldier, then the Professional’s the way to go. They’re more tactically minded than most of their peers, and determined to make the best of a bad situation. After all, the Emperor’s watching, ain’t he? They’re the very best the Astra Militarum has to offer – if more folk were like them, then maybe Atoma wouldn’t be in its current state.
The Loose Cannon
Performed by Emma Ballantine & Aaron Neil
Matthew: Very much a different proposition from the Professional, the Loose Cannon is distantly aware that service in the Astra Militarum is a fool’s game. They’re always on the look out for an opportunity to make life easier (i.e. less suicidal) and maybe turn a bit of personal advantage along the way. But underneath it all, they’re still a proud soldier, and every bit as determined as their stuffier counterpart. And if their attitude rubs a few folk the wrong way? Keeps life interesting, don’t it?
As the name suggests, the Loose Cannon is a bit reckless, a little cavalier and very, very mouthy. While it’s an open question as to just how serious their threats of desertion actually are, they’re always ready with opinions, jibes and off the cuff remarks about everything from their teammates, to their handlers, to the fact that they’re off on a hopeless mission yet again. You can probably trust them. I mean, they wouldn’t be here otherwise, would they?
The Cut Throat
Performed by Devon Anderson & Helen Keeley
John: The Cut Throat is a terse, vengeful, professional. Their craft is a war, and they have been raised to know and execute skills of battle as though they were breathing. Their need for vengeance and bitterness comes from a single fact; they are Cadian. They have lost the world that bore them and shaped them, and that loss was not because of a failure by the people of Cadia, but because of the weakness of others. That failure cannot be forgiven or forgotten.
They absolutely do not care about anything other than their mission and getting revenge. There’s something just very cool about a stone cold killer who if they speak more than five words it’s a speech. Stone cold killer of few words – what could be cooler than that?
Sarah: The Cut Throat is a Cadian survivor, chock-full of bitterness, regret and a solid sense of injustice which manifests as cynicism and occasional sarcasm. While cantankerous and cynical, they are still trustworthy, steadfast and loyal – prepared to do whatever it takes. Frequently dispensing what they believe to be useful advice (which may or may not be the case), the Cut Throat is never happier than when there's something to complain about.
Untiring. Unyielding. Intolerant.
As an unabashed theocracy, the Imperium breeds zealotry like nothing else. When hatred is the doctrine of survival, and humanity’s dominance an unvarnished truth preached from every laudhailer and pulpit, there is never a shortage of men and women prepared to take up the sword and wage war in the Emperor’s name.
Some such zealots are formal initiates of the galaxy-spanning Adeptus Ministorum, indoctrinated into the mysteries of the Cult Imperialis. Some are firebrands and street preachers, bellowing the Emperor’s truth to all and sundry. Others still consider themselves as nothing more or less than vessels of righteousness, their higher purpose to bring fire and purpose to wherever it is needed most.
Performed by Clare Corbett & Adam Howden
Matthew: Just as the Professional is the archetypal Imperial Guardsman, the Agitator is the quintessential zealot: stern, unflinching and utterly convinced of moral authority. They have faith that can shatter mountains, and an unshakeable belief that they – and those like them – hold the key to humanity’s survival, because no one serves the Emperor as unfalteringly as they do … which, for better or worse, is likely true.
The Agitator is ideal for those who want to throw caution to the winds and fully embrace the Imperial Creed; to partake of the holy mission before them without fear, favour or doubt. You’ll doubtless not make many friends along the way – most of your teammates are a lot earthier and practical than you – but that, surely, is to their loss? Is it not said that to die for the Emperor is the highest calling? Fear not, because the Agitator always has a lecture at hand, delivered in the finest Gothic.
Performed by Neil McCaul & Sophie Wilkinson
Mark: The Fanatic is perhaps the most practical and grounded of our three zealots – less inclined to fiery oratory, and more keen to teach heretics the error of their ways with fire and steel. They’re always ready with praise and encouragement for their fellows, whether that be an Imperial proverb or a hearty slap on the back.
But what I love about this character is their inner tension. The Fanatic is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode. When heresy rears its ugly head, their first thought is not of prayer, but of righteous vengeance in the God-Emperor’s name, and they set about this task with enthusiastic … well … zeal. (While shouting some choice bits of Scots language.)
Performed by James Alexander & Haruka Kuroda
Jude: At their heart, the Judge is defined by absolute unswerving adoration of the God-Emperor. It's an interesting challenge to get into the headspace of someone who sees the Imperial Cult (appalling by modern standards of morality!) as not only something to be obeyed, but as an active force for good. They truly believe that the God-Emperor has a plan for everyone, that obedience to the faith is the sole means through which humanity can survive, and that the alternatives are infinitely worse... and they might even be right.
It would have been easier to write a character who was all about fire and brimstone and indiscriminate punishment of the even-possibly-guilty – but the more I wrote, the more the Judge developed into someone who genuinely wanted the best for the suffering masses of humanity. They're keenly aware of the social injustices of their corner of the Imperium, and see preaching their faith – and administering justice – as a way to begin redressing the balance of power.
Alone, Abused, Possibly Insane.
Life in the 41st Millennium is rough for everybody. Between unceasing war, the ever-present possibility of heretical uprising, uncaring bureaucracy, xenos invasion and the thousand tiny horrors of living as a cog in a vast, callous machine, life expectancy isn’t the greatest.
But without doubt, psykers have it worst. Hunted, persecuted, expended as fuel to keep the light of the Astronomican blazing so humanity can navigate the stars … Oh, and then there’s the possibility of daemon possession whenever they use their formidable psychic powers. We can probably forgive them for not having the rosiest outlook on life. It might be that they’re just a little bit mad, you know.
Performed by Zehra Jane & Greg Jones
Matthew: The Loner is a rare soul: someone who’s seen the truth of the Imperium and isn’t afraid to speak their mind. They’re not really trained for the kind of situations they’re being thrown into, but sheer determination – and a desire not to be killed by the obviously inferior sorts that comprise their opponents – generally carries them through.
A lifetime on the run has left the Loner cynical as to the motives of everyone … authority, most of all. But more than anything else, the Loner is convinced of their superiority, and not without cause. They’re bitingly intelligent, and their unusual perspective on the Imperium often grants an insight that their comrades lack. Of course, that’s not always the safest thing in the world. No one loves a critic.
Performed by Rachel Atkins & Dan Starkey
Matthew: It’s fair to say that the Seer … well, isn’t quite all there. For one thing, they’re 90% convinced that they’re dreaming everything that’s going on around them, which makes for a slightly fraught relationship with their comrades – or as they see it, the figments of imagination that they’ve created to populate the dream. On top of that, the Seer has a very close relationship – or at least they think they do – with the Emperor. They’re convinced that their Beloved (as they call him) will permit no harm to come to them. I guess we’ll see.
The Seer’s easily the least military-minded of the group, but they’re also the most insightful. Though they lack the world-weary cynicism of the Loner, they’re not without insights … they can even be profound, when the mood takes them. Is this divine inspiration from their Beloved? A sliver of pre-trauma personality breaking through? The human equivalent of a thousand Pterra squirrels battering away on a thousand dataslates and accidentally reproducing the text of the Codex Astartes? We’ll probably never know.
Performed by Tashinga Bepete & Jess Nesling
Victoria: A conflicting mix of pride and occasional resentment, the Savant wants to serve humanity and be a respected force for order. However, given their unfortunate risk of becoming a conduit for warp nasties, this is pretty unlikely. Despite this, the Savant remains committed to protecting the citizens of Atoma. They do get frustrated at anti-psyker jibes from their associates and in spite of (or perhaps because of) their ability to pop skulls, they’ve carefully cultivated a non-threatening, intellectual demeanour. Following their time embedded with local enforcers, they consider themselves a professional and get frustrated with sloppy behaviour from their associates.
Despite the hand they’ve been dealt, the Savant maintains a wry sense of humour and a genuine commitment to protecting citizens. They have incredible power at their fingertips, and despite the fact that most people fear and hate them, they choose to use this to prevent the tide of Chaos from overwhelming Atoma (not that anyone really has choices in the Imperium!). This fight is personal for them. In a deeply bleak setting, that little spark of hope is good to see, however futile!
Also, they can melt brains, which in my view firmly establishes them as the coolest character.
You want something stomped?
Everyone’s favourite abhumans, ogryns are long on muscle … but not the deepest of thinkers. They’re physically powerful, incredibly tough, and definitely folk you want on your side when the going gets tough. Just don’t ask them to do anything complicated.
Lacking mental dexterity, our ogryns tend towards being very focused on particular tasks and interests. They’re often confused by the little people on their team, which manifests as anything from curiosity, to contempt, to a touchingly protective attitude. After all, even the grouchiest ogryn understands that you can’t be the strongest if you’re the only one left standing …
Performed by Toby Longworth
Matthew: The Bodyguard is an affectionate and cheery lug, always looking for the best in situations and the opportunity to prove himself to his teammates – which often means putting himself in harm’s way so they can see how impressive he is. He’s always ready with a helping, meaty hand, and is determined to be seen as a proper soldier in the eyes of any Astra Militarum veterans who might happen to be nearby.
I’ve no doubt the Bodyguard actually considers himself to be the leader of the strike team and just lets the others think that they’re in charge. After all, he is the biggest, and it is only right that the biggest is leader, yes? While plenty of the other characters have their own little quirks of humour, the Bodyguard’s possibly the only one who actually wants to be in the thick of things. It’s probably a better life than most ogryns get.
Performed by Greg Jones
Mark: The Bully is a brutish, bad-tempered slab of muscle with a penchant for violence. Sure, he’s well-trained and loyal to his bosses, but ultimately the only things he really enjoys are fighting and eating. Sometimes he shows a modicum of respect for his comrades, especially if they visit some egregious violence on a tough enemy, but most of the time he cares little for the objective at hand, and just want to get on with the fun part of the job: tearing cultists limb from limb.
He can be tough to write, because he has to get his point across in very few words. But he’s also one of the most fun, especially when I get to see [voice actor] Greg Jones roaring like a maniac and laughing with glee as he rips off an imaginary daemon’s head.
Performed by Tom Dussek
Jeremy: Like all his kind, the Brawler is big, dumb and brutish but has undergone Biochemical Ogryn Neural Enhancement, commonly called a Bone 'Ead upgrade. This still leaves him well short of being smart, but he can count most of his fingers and understand some multi-syllable words … so in Ogryn terms he is frankly a bit of a genius. The augmentation process also increased his already rampant love of military authority and unshakable faith in the Emperor (or, as he would say, 'the Emp-rah'). Also, not sure if always being hungry counts as a personality trait, but it is best not to argue with a hulking creature that can chew bones like they were soft-skinned fruits.
As the saying goes, 'blessed is the mind too small to doubt'. Hulking strength and unquestioning loyalty makes for an ideal soldier of the Imperium, but remember – the Brawler has a Bone 'Ead upgrade! So he's on the verge of ... well, something. He often starts to say something, often something multisyllabic, with maybe grander strategic thinking than the average unmodified brute. But ... well, he is still an Ogryn, so it tends to get halfway out before getting garbled. But grut it ... he keeps on trying.
Also, as a leader of his kind - the Brawler is used to backsliding complaints of the less motivated, and so has learned a word to brandish upon them. Any complainers – even those quite legitimate – are labelled as 'snivellers' by the Ogryn. Combine that with the Ogryn's brutish nature and you get him telling a comrade that just lost a limb to enemy fire to “Stop snivelling …”