Before we begin this review, I must be honest with you dear reader. I am a huge Warhammer 40,000 fan. I swallow lore, games and artwork like an obsessed Pac-Man. So, I will admit this review may seem biased at times, as I lap up all the story and lore thrown at me in the game. But this is my review, and it is what it is.
Now, with that confession out of the way.
Welcome devout follower of the god emperor, heretic psyker, damned member of a fallen legion and demon spawn alike, this is my review of Warhammer 40,000 Battlesector.
For those uninitiated, Warhammer 40,000 is bleak. And I mean BLEAK. The entire galaxy is at war with each other, every race thinks they’re right and most of humanity worships a dude that’s been dead for thousands of years, currently rotting away on, essentially, a giant booster seat, in a palace on Earth (mankind has fallen VERY far from grace). Thousands of years ago the dead dude made a bunch of soldiers using his DNA to create an army for him to basically conquer the galaxy, and bring back all the planets that were colonised by man that had been isolated due to a tear in the fabric of space. There’s a LOT of lore to go over to explain the tear, so for simplicity we’ll simply say that we, and all the other species in the galaxy, fucked up and brought demons into our universe.
These soldiers that the Emperor created were called primachs. These guys are huge and basically unstoppable. They created armies from their own genes called Adeptus Astartes or Space Marines. The Space Marines were separated into ‘Chapters’ after one of the primarchs got frisky with one of those demons and tried to kill the Emperor, resulting in the rotting mess everyone in the 41st millennium now worships, totally messed up I know. One of the chapters is called The Blood Angels. And this is who you play in Battlesector. And after that, frankly genius segway, we’ll cover what the game has you doing.
Warhammer 40,000 Battlesector puts you in charge of The Blood Angels chapter and it’s new additions, The Primaris Space Marines, effectively Space Marines 2.0. As you’d imagine, the veteran members of the Blood Angels aren’t too happy to share their glory with their one day replacements. This is told through dialogue and exposition throughout the game. This actually brings me to the first hurdle I encountered with Battlesector, the story. Whilst it does plenty of ‘This is what’s happening’ title screens and character dialogue, it never delves deeper than the here and now. I feel that this may hinder the engagement for those new to the Warhammer 40,000 genre, or those wanting to know more about what’s actually driving the decisions of various characters. As a casual turn based tactical game, this kind of storytelling and narrative would be fine and would never really be a bad thing. However, Warhammer 40,000 is not a casual theme, the lore is so rich and the universe in which it’s set is vast. Now, I don’t want to come across as ‘gatekeeping’ which is the term I think the cool kids use, I wouldn’t know. I would never profess to being cool.
I’m not saying that if you haven’t read the books and know the lore you can’t play this game. Not by any means, in fact for a casual player just wanting some shooty turn based action, this may suit you perfectly. However, it becomes apparent quite quickly that there’s a lot more below the surface that casual players may want to know, to drive the immersion.
This brings me neatly on to the gameplay. And the irony. I have never played the tabletop miniatures game, this and the whole Warhammer universe stems from. And yet, playing a turn based game in charge of a squad of space marines, working out tactics and having limited move and attack counters, seems reminiscent of those tabletop battles I have witnessed. Moving squad members to flank the enemy, using up movement points for that extra attack option, all seem straight out of a role-playing rule book.
The attacks given to your squad members differ depending on the role of the squad member. You have heavy marines, referred to as Aggressor marines, assault marines with jump packs that drop into the midst of the enemy horde, specialising in melee combat with chainswords.
And this leads onto the aforementioned enemy horde, and horde is the right term. The enemy you face throughout the campaign is the Tyranids. Think Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise, give them guns and make them super smart, you’re halfway there. Tyranids exist in giant hive ships that can contain a population sometimes in the millions. They move from planet to planet, stripping it of its resources and decimating it’s populations. A trope we’re quite familiar with. What makes the Tyranids stand out, is their ability to utilise both sheer numbers and devastating, sometimes just plain gross, weaponry. A classic example of this is their Devourers. I will borrow from the Tyranid wiki page to explain – “These weapons fling worm-like parasites called flesh-worms that burrow into their victim’s flesh and eat their way through its nervous system to the brain, rapidly destroying the victim’s central nervous system, resulting in a painful but rapid death” Safe to say I feel ill just reading that.
You are charged with exterminating the Tyranids that have taken root on the planet Baal. You must push them back and free the planet from the infestation. You do this in various locations on the surface of Baal. From old garrisons of the now decimated planetary forces to open deserts that stretch across the planet.
You’re not limited to just the Blood Angels either, you get the chance to use the Sisters of Battle. Think nuns in armour that like fire, A LOT. Small handfuls of them become available to you as the story progresses. This mixes up the playstyle and injects some fresh tactics as you take on the countless hordes thrown at you. I’m not exaggerating when I say, the hordes, at times, never seem to stop and to complete that particular mission becomes more about completing an adjective, than killing everything you see. See my first look here on our Facebook page – Facebook where I fail miserably on that adjective idea.
This brings to my final sorepoint with Battlesector, the difficulty. When you first start out, the game reminds you that a tutorial is advised before dropping into the campaign. I strongly advise anyone that plays, to do the tutorial missions first, as even though you get some handy tooltips from time to time, the main campaign offers little to no assistance with moves and options. I found myself a little over my head initially, having only bothered with some of the tutorial, leaving me frustrated at why and how some mechanics worked.
This can lead to even more frustration as the campaign continues, and the difficulty ramps up significantly. Anybody that has seen my first look playthrough linked earlier, will have seen that I struggled with the sheer number of Tyranids thrown at me. Well, later in the campaign, the difficulty jump makes my video look like an easy practice session. And I think a large majority of players will possibly be put off by such a sudden difficulty spike with no warning. I was left shouting at my monitor and cursing in low gothic a few times (that’s a rather nerdy Warhammer reference)
So this brings me to both my final thoughts and final score. My final thoughts are that Warhammer 40000 Battlesector is a solid, turn based, sci-fi game. It has all the elements regular players of the genre would come to expect. It falls short on delivering an entry level game for those new to both the genre and the Warhammer 40000 universe. And yet, despite all this, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this game. And now I think I know how it works, I’m actually excited by the prospect of multiplayer and skirmish.
I give Warhammer 40000 Battlesector a 8/10. And there it is, like I promised, by biasedness.
Do you agree? Do you want to know more about Warhammer 40,000? Leave a comment below!