"Tank: So what do you need? Besides a miracle."
"Neo: Guns. Lots of guns."
- – The Matrix
These big motherfuckers are Chaos Space Marines who have been infected with the so-called "Obliterator Virus" (Oh so subtle GW...Oh so subtle), which basically turns them into a giant ass walking Daemonic Engine of Mass Rape. It's a large walking blob of Termie armour, daemonically enhanced killing machine, and guns ...BIG guns. The first Obliterator was created when the Iron Warrior Volk was possessed by Sa'a'ram, a daemon of Khorne that claimed to have been born when the first mortal built a weapon with the intention to kill. The virus itself was rare case of brotherly cooperation between Perturabo and Mortarion.
Obliterators are rare (usually) and very sought after, due to their complete ability to butcher everyone and every thing within a 5 mile radius.
They don't work for any particular legion or worship any Chaos God individually, but they have their own insider cult with the pursuit of knowledge, alchemy and the fusion of flesh and Stehl. NOT TODAY, ZURG. Usually having a connection to techmarines or techpriests they get some KICKASS powers along with the virus, however it also turns them batshit insane. Any object they hold can get merged into them, allowing them to copy them AND produce ammunition for them....Tyranid Digestion Pool?! (Which is kind of fucking creepy if you didn't know you were infected)
The metal they get infused with turns them durable as fuck, (Wolverine anyone?) although very slow, but they have teleporters so it's all good. The Iron Warriors have a shit ton of these guys just waiting for commands due to some connection with the Obliterator cult. In fact, in a sole IW army, Obliterators can be taken as core troops. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU---- You can now spew that Dakka as a true Iron Warrior would. Though judging from BL, some Grand Companies would rather lock their Obliterators in a vault rather than leave them free to do crazy shit.
Have the dubious (and shared, with Mutilators) honour of being the ugliest models in the Chaos line, though that's to be expected when you've got a ton of clunky machinery directly underneath your skin.
They are also one of the few playable models older than Abaddon not really, unless you count Abaddon's 2nd edition sculpt being moved to a 40mm base in 3rd as an entirely new model release. At least they've got a confirmed new sculpt on the way. The sculpt is obviously a mutated Space Marine inside of a Space Marine. It's yet to be determined whether this is an upgrade to the Obliterator squad; or a brand-new Chaos unit. Confirmed, there are new Obliterators and they are Dakka AF!
Oblits were first introduced to 40K back in the early days of third edition. The basics were already in place at that point, being the large profusion of heavy and special weapons otherwise on a terminator's profile, including saves and weapon portability. When first introduced they could not charge or otherwise engage in an assault but were otherwise had power fists along with their projectile weapons for some security in close combat.
Oblits were outrageously more dangerous in the 3.5 edition Codex due to their S/T5! However, their toughness got FAQ'd down to 4(5) (meaning at the time no immunity to instant death S8) and although they didn't have a plasma cannon or multi-melta, they had access to heavy bolters and frag missiles. Obliterators gained infamy through the notoriously broken Iron Warriors list that spammed them and used Basilisks to decimate anything thrown at them before it could even shoot back. It's no exaggeration that these guys were among the reasons that the 3rd edition codex was considered to be so overpowered that GW had to release 4th ed codex to balance it.
4th and 5th
Shuffling back into an HS slot, Obliterators were probably the most used heavy support choice in the Chaos Space Marines 4th and 5th edition Codex, and with good reason. During each shooting phase, they have a choice of using a twin-linked Flamer, a Heavy Flamer a twin-linked Plasma Gun, a Plasma Cannon, a twin-linked Meltagun, a Multi-Melta or a Lascannon, meaning it matters not what the enemy is, they have a means of dealing with it. They also have Powerfists and a 2+ armor save (plus a 5+ Invul) and 2 wounds, though since they can only be fielded in groups of three at the most, it's best to keep them out of melee, since you want them free to shoot at enemies.
Their drawbacks are that aside from an extra wound, their statline is the same as a regular Chaos Marine's, meaning they can be hit with Instant Death from a number of heavy weapons. Like
Terminators Thousand Sons, they also have Slow and Purposeful, so it can be a problem getting them where you need them. Also, all Obliterators in a unit have to fire the same weapon, no mixing and matching, so make sure you know what weapon you want to use.
6th and 7th
The 6th edition book, while trying adjust units to avoid the problems where the 4th edition had some units that were so good it was pointless to use anything else, actually gave some improvements to the Obliterators. They can now be given Marks of Chaos, and they can finally use Assault Cannons (though rending has taken a hit). The only drawback they gained was that they can't use the same weapon two turns in a row, which isn't all that big a deal, especially since they have some overlapping weapons (Use a plasma cannon one turn, and then TL plasma guns to clean up the next). Though improvements to other units does mean that now they do actually have some competition in the shooting area.
This edition has had a number of changes to the unit over time. Most notably, the ability to select basically any gun ever is replaced with a generic 'Fleshmetal Weapon' that has randomized Strength, AP and Damage. A S between 7 and 9 is fine, 24 inch range is fine, but their damage is a randomized D3, but MultiMeltas and Lascannons -- the weapons they really want to use -- are randomized damage D6 with better AP. The release of the Chaos Space Marines codex buffed them slightly by changing the Fleshmetal Weapons from Assault 2 to Assault 4, doubling their firepower at no additional points cost. Also, their weapon damage is generated before they shoot along with the rest of their random stats, meaning that if you get Damage 3, the entire unit will have Damage 3 shots. That's 36 potential wounds right there.
Even bigger, the CSM Daemonkin book transformed them once more granting them stat bonuses (like T5 and 4 wounds), boosting Fleshmetal guns to Assault 6 and giving them an S+1 AP-1 DD3 close combat weapon. Additionally, they can get buffs from a Master of Possession or Greater Possessed if you're in a pinch. And best of all, they got these kick-ass new models!