Warhammer 40K: Darktide will allow players to make their own character when they boot up the horde shooter, but no matter what their Reject looks like, each of them will serve the Imperium of Man. While Darktide might set itself apart from the large, galaxy-destroying wars that can take place in the Warhammer 40K setting by locating its plot entirely on one planet, there are still elements of the universe’s lore that must be added in order for fans to feel as though they’re still playing a Warhammer game.

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The Imperium of Man is one of those deeply important things to the Warhammer 40K setting included within Darktide. For the uninitiated, it may be tricky to figure out what the Imperium of Man actually is. It has been mentioned multiple times in the various trailers for Darktide, but it has yet to be properly explained by Fatshark. Essentially, the Imperium of Man in Warhammer 40K is the name used to describe all the systems, planets, and people humanity commands.

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What is the Imperium of Man?

Thousands of planets and trillions of people make up the Imperium of Man. It is the most dominant faction in Warhammer 40K, though it is consistently under threat from Orks, Tyranids, Chaos, and all the other races that make up the galaxy. In order to protect itself, the Imperium of Man has developed an enormous army made up of many types of troops, including the iconic Space Marines that have featured in so many Warhammer games.

Another branch of the Imperium’s military is the Astra Militarum. Unlike the super soldiers that are the Space Marines, the Astra Militarum are largely made up of regular soldiers that unfortunately don’t sport any impressive power armor or weapons. The Rejects players will make in Darktide fall in to this category of soldier, as they are pressed into the service of the Astra Militarum following the infestation of the Chaos god Nurgle within the game’s setting of Tertium.

The relationship that the player’s character has with the Imperium of Man will likely depend on the customization options they pick. Beginning with the archetypes, the Veteran and Zealot will be mostly happy to serve the Imperium, while the Psyker and Orgryn are more likely pressed into the fighting. However, the player does get to influence their character’s opinions and reactions to the Imperium somewhat through the voice they select for their Reject. Darktide has thousands of voice lines, allowing for different personalities to shine through in the customizable characters. This could make a disillusioned Zealot, for example, or an Ogryn that identifies with the causes of the Imperium.

The reason why the Zealot will mostly be happy to serve the Imperium is largely down to its Emperor. Unsurprisingly, the Emperor in Warhammer 40K is the Imperium’s most important person, as he is the central figure that the vast majority of its citizenry worships like a god. This worship essentially gave the Emperor the powers of a god, but he can’t effectively use these powers considering he spends most of his time as a corpse kept alive by a giant chair. Those who are most devoted to the Emperor, like the Zealot class in Darktide, gain unique abilities that allow them to fight more effectively and even banish daemons from the material plane.

The Imperium may represent humanity in the galaxy as a whole, and it may consider the Chaos faction in Warhammer 40K as its biggest enemy, but this doesn’t make the faction a good one. As Warhammer authors often try to remind fans, no faction in 40K can really be considered morally “good.” In the Imperium’s case, it is largely made up of fascist, authoritarian dictatorships in order to exude as much control over its populace, as show by the protagonists in Darktide being criminals who are conscripted to fight against zombie daemons. It is highly likely then that Darktide players will quickly find out the Imperium certainly doesn’t have their best interests in mind.

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide releases on November 30, 2022, for PC and Xbox Series X/S.

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