Warhammer 40,000’s universe is not known for being shallow. It is documented in hundreds of different novels, lore stories, and rulebooks, each delving into the history and abilities of his many factions in the 41st millennium. With that in mind, the creator of the incredibly layered Pathfinder series, Owlcat Games, is the perfect 40k CRPG developer. After just 30 minutes of watching Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, Owlcat seems well on its way to creating a game of dizzying depth and complexity.
At Gamescom 2022, I sat down with Game Director Alexander Gusev to watch him play out two combat scenarios against a crew of Drukhari warriors (sadistic space elves, for 40k illiterates). I was. At first glance, Rogue Trader’s turn-based combat looks a lot like XCOM. A party of six companions navigates a battlefield built on a grid that dictates movement, cover, and weapon range. But as the turn goes on, you begin to realize that Rogue Trader has the potential to rival the most strategic RPG battle systems ever made. With 40,000 lore unique opportunities, it offers a huge library of combat skills that must be carefully set up to get the most out of them.
Screenshots of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader – Gamescom 2022
The devastating psychic abilities and guns that can turn enemies into red-paste stains are exciting, but I’m surprised to find that what impresses me most is the planning layer before the kill. Member Pascal is a Tech Priest who can survey enemies to identify weaknesses and exploit them in attacks. Its attack can be enhanced by using the Machine Spirit Holy Spirit skill, which blesses the weapon and increases its attack value. Finally, Pasqal’s firearm – a volatile plasma gun – can be overcharged to deal devastating damage (if you’re willing to take the deadly risk of backfiring). Combining these three steps of her can be devastating to enemy characters. This seems to be his one of Rogue Trader’s simpler strategies.
While most turn-based RPGs employ this kind of forward-thinking, I was struck by the fact that every character in this demo had a unique strategic ability. Even, you can have your own skills thanks to Rogue Trader’s multi-tier career ladder. All characters have a basic class, but they progress to advanced tiers, then elite tiers, and further specializations. class to identify. Another party member, Idira, is also an adept, but as an unsanctioned psycher (see Illegal Space Wizards), her upper and elite tiers leverage Pascal’s adjacent but distinct areas, such as precognition. So while both characters have similar skill sets, they can evolve into distinctly different specialties. I hope this avoids the classic RPG pitfalls of pointlessly doubling down on having two companions of the same class with her.
In this combat demonstration, Gusev uses Idira primarily as a magical cannon. Other characters, such as the Inquisition’s Inquisitor Heinrix and his Abelard in The Seneschal, are tanker fighters that can be enhanced and provide shields when needed. Gusef had Yidira use her Psychic Shriek, blasting a wave of her eardrum-busting sound towards the Kabbalite her Warrior. However, the Psyker’s power weakens and destroys the Veil, the barrier between reality and the realm of demon-infested chaos. There is, warns Gusev. I don’t see any of those terrible things, but Gusev tells me I have to be careful as both friendly and enemy Psyker abilities weaken the Veil. is another thing to watch and track as the turn progresses.
A more obvious strategy for XCOM veterans is Jae, one of Rogue Trader’s soldier-class characters. She can move and attack her twice per turn. This is a pretty standard skill compared to deadly screams and channeling to machine gods. But when you combine that with a more specialized character buff, she could be an explosive force on the battlefield.Rogue Trader’s tactical depth seems hidden in the gaps between characters. and how they layer their skills to create a much more impressive strategy than their individual companions.
The final piece of the puzzle is Rogue Trader himself, the captain of this entire venture. They have the ability to issue orders, effectively giving allies within range an extra turn for free.Desperate that a powerful enemy he could not completely defeat in one turn and would have to be attacked again. We all know the pain of suffering. Rogue Trader seems set to mitigate such situations. There is no doubt that they display their skills, but the Rogue Trader’s most important job (at least in combat) is to take care of their comrades. It seems to be about liberating sexuality.
The last major system Gusev showed me is Momentum, a stat that increases with each attack and recovery. High momentum allows characters to use ultimate style abilities that can be a devastating finale to multi-turn strategies. For example, a daring transgression is a “heroic act” that allows a character to move and attack multiple times during a turn. In short, it’s a deluxe version of the soldier’s basic skills. However, what’s really interesting about Heroic Acts is that it can be used even with his low Momentum. An alternate version of Daring Breach is Desperate Rush, which allows the same skill to be used, but the character is stunlocked for 2 turns. Again, this forces you to plan a multi-turn strategy. Either build momentum and come up with a way to unleash a daring breach ASAP, or use Desperate Rush now to devise a plan to keep your next fighter protected. Two turns.
All of this paints a picture of an RPG battle system as tactically rich as a dedicated strategy game, and there’s still much more to discover (enemies can also use Momentum and have their own to build it). (including having a method of But while Warhammer 40k’s tagline might threaten “there’s only war,” Rogue Trader is more than combat. Combat is the least fun thing about Warhammer RPGs, at least for me. What is the world we visit? Allies we make? Surely a fine line between Puritans and heretics to see our own brethren tear each other apart? Also, unfortunately, it’s not an easy thing to show off at a busy gaming convention, so the Gamescom demo focuses on combat. If there is, Owlcat’s hand appears to be an incredibly safe haven for Games Workshop’s deep-sea sci-fi universe.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.