When I was a kid, the lore and concept of the Warhammer 40,000 universe always fascinated me. It is a disturbing and horrifically violent setting that takes science fiction and fantasy tropes to a grim extreme. It revels in its darkness and over-the-top violence so much that you can't but feel compelled to join in the madness — preaching the Emperor's name or screaming "WAAAAGH" at the top of your lungs as you charge into the thick of battle.
Over the years, the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game has seen its fair share of video game adaptations like the Dawn of War series, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Space Hulk: Deathwing, and the upcoming Warhammer 40,000: Darktide among others. And that includes today's subject, Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector, a turn-based strategy game developed by Black Lab Games and published by Slitherine Ltd. The PC version will be released on July 22, 2021, with Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 ports coming soon afterwards.
I previewed the first few missions of this game back in May, and it was an interesting experience that I wanted to see more of. Now, we have the full game in our hands, and I'm happy to report that Warhammer 40,000 fans will definitely have a great time with this title. It may not be one of the best games on PC, but it is worthy of the Emperor's praise. So let's rev up our chainswords and find out what makes this campaign worth signing up for.
Bottom line: The only major flaws holding this game back are that there only two playable factions and only one faction gets their own single-player campaign. But aside from that, Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is a great, addictive strategy game that wonderfully translates the rules and action of the tabletop into a video game format.
- Fun and challenging turn-based combat
- Customizable armies to suit your playstyle
- A lengthy singleplayer campaign
- A cool Photo Mode to take epic screenshots
- There are only two factions in the game currently
- It can get repetitive after a long play session
- Not much to do after the main campaign is done
- It can be difficult to get into at first
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector PC review: The good stuff
|Category||Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector|
|Title||Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector|
|Developer||Black Lab Games|
|Minimum requirements||Windows 10 64-bit|
Intel Core i5-4460 3.20GHz
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 / 2GB VRM
|Play time||27+ hours|
|Players||Single, two-player PVP|
In the singleplayer campaign, you play as the Space Marines, an army of genetically modified superhumans designed to protect humanity from aliens, mutants, and heretics seeking to destroy them. The Space Marines are categorized into several chapters, and the one you play as in this game are the Blood Angels. Your mission is to purge the moon of the Blood Angels' homeworld, Baal, from an infestation of Tyranids. The Tyranids are a race of insatiable, horrific, bloodthirsty predators who travel the universe to devour every living organism they encounter. If they aren't stopped in time, the Tyranids will grow in number and invade the Blood Angels' homeworld.
Your crusade to purge the moon of the Tyranid swarm will have you take part in 20 missions. Before each mission, you can decide what types of units to send into battle so long as they don't exceed the army point buy cap. These units can include ranged units like Intercessors who shoot enemies at long distances. Assault Squads who jump over large distances to engage Tyranids in melee combat. And Elite units like the Dreadnoughts can stand toe-to-toe with the largest of Tyranids and act as living shields for your units. There are many more units to unlock as you progress, but I won't spoil the surprises for you.
After every mission, you are rewarded with points which you can spend on skill trees that increase the stats of your units, unlock new weapons, and give your hero units new abilities.
Warfare with the Tyranids is conducted in turn-based combat on a grid-based map. Each mission has a set of objectives that must be completed quickly to stop the enemies from respawning (unless you turn off enemy respawning before starting a new campaign). Once they're done, you will have to purge any surviving Tyranids from the field.
What sets Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector apart from other turn-based strategy games is its emphasis on aggression and momentum. There is a cover system, but it is mainly there if you need to make a tactical retreat to save your units from enemy fire. Otherwise, shooting enemies from behind is not optimal because they will get the same cover bonuses as you do. At first, I thought this was counterintuitive, but then I realized as the campaign went on, the game doesn't want you hiding behind cover; it wants you to meet your enemies head-on.
This is because every unit has a momentum meter which fills every time when you kill an enemy. Once full, you can empower your unit's abilities for a turn or gain an extra action point so they can attack multiple times in a single turn. Plus, your main Hero Unit has a special Command ability where after killing enough units, they can call forth aerial support to do bombing runs or summon backup units.
It was hard to get into at first, especially in the first few missions since you don't have many units to work with, but I ended up loving this game's combat system. It felt so rewarding, charging headlong into the literal jaws of death, only to come out on top and be rewarded for my aggression.
Plus, I like the fact that you can customize your army for different playstyles, whether they be for long-range bombardments or close-combat brawls. For example, I made my Space Marine army almost entirely out of close-combat specialists who flew across the sky, stomping on enemies as they landed and hacking them to pieces. It was so satisfying crushing a Tyranid's skull, getting my momentum meter filled, then getting an extra action point to finish them off as they were fleeing. And you can use the game's photo mode to pause the action and take screenshots to immortalize these epic kills forever.
But that doesn't mean the game is easy because even on medium difficulty, you will be punished hard if you charge recklessly without a plan. You will have to decide when it is best to attack or make a tactical withdrawal when the situation is looking dire.
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector PC review: The not-so-good stuff
As much fun as I had with this game, there a couple of weak points in the game's armor. My first and biggest complaint is that there are only two factions to play as in the game at the moment, Space Marines and Tyranids. You can play only as Space Marines in the singleplayer campaign, and Tyranids are playable only in skirmishes and multiplayer. As a result, it can get repetitive after fighting the same batch of Genestealers or Intercessors for too long.
My second complaint is that there's not much to do after the main campaign is over aside from doing it again on a higher difficulty, playing the skirmish mode where you get to fight AI opponents, and the multiplayer mode where you fight people online. The good news is that the developers have stated that they plan to add more factions and other content after the game has launched, much like they did for their previous game, Battlestar Galactica Deadlock.
And finally, as I mentioned earlier, this game can be difficult to understand when first starting out. Especially if you are used to strategy games where facing your enemy out in the open is usually a bad idea. But if you take your time to learn the mechanics with the game's in-depth tutorial, it will be worth it in the end.
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector PC review: Should you buy?
Overall, if all my criticisms just boil down to me wanting more, that should tell you how much I loved this game. It is a fun, brutal, and faithful adaptation of the original Warhammer 40,000 tabletop, worthy of any Warhammer 40,000 fan or strategy fan's purchase.
If Black Lab Games can expand on this game's solid foundation, we could see the beginning of another great video game series set in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium.
The Emperor protects!
Bottom line: It may be lacking a variety of playable factions, but it more than makes for it with tight gameplay and a meaty singleplayer campaign that Warhammer 40,000 fans and strategy fans alike will enjoy greatly.
Alexander Cope is a writer for Windows Central and iMore that has been gaming since the 16-bit era.
I enjoyed Sanctus Reach, hope they will add Orks and Imperial Guard in future updates...
They could also add in Necrons, Tau, Eldar, Dark Eldar, and any of the many Chaos Marine legions. There's so much potential here. :)
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