E3 Hands-on – Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus

I have to admit I’m not very well acquainted with the Warhammer 40,000 series. It has looked like one of those franchises that looked deep and interesting, but probably too complex for a newcomer to try to understand everything about it. I’m sure there are loads of people who like it, given the fact a new video game from the franchise is released almost every single year. I had the opportunity to play a bit of the upcoming Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus at Kasedo Games’ booth at E3 2018 and despite still not knowing a lot from the franchise, I still liked what I saw.

Mechanicus was not exactly a hard game to understand, seeing as how I learned everything I needed to know about the game’s lore in a few minutes after a little chat with a Kasedo staff member. Mechanicus is a turn-based tactics game, not unlike XCOM or Mario + Rabbids, with a big emphasis on character customization.

GDC sc 2

Burn baby burn.

As per the Warhammer 40,000 lore, you control the Adeptus Mechanicus army, a group of mechanically augmented flesh-hating priests exploring a brand new planet. Your characters can be deeply customized with weapons, armor, limb replacements, as well as weird but amusing things such as extra mechanical arms and flamethrowing body extensions. You can even name them as you wish, in true XCOM fashion. It’s all about creating bonds with your freaks. You can also spend resources into creating weaker units that can help you during expeditions.

The game revolves around exploring the surface of the planet and defeating enemies inside dungeon crawler-esque maps. In a unique twist, the longer you stay inside the dungeon, the stronger your enemies become. Not by means of having better attributes, but by either receiving small battle advantages or throwing small battle disadvantages at you. The combat is just like you would expect from any other turn-based tactics game and that’s a good thing; don’t fix what isn’t broken. One nice addition to the formula is the possibility to spend extra resources in order to move a few squares more than your characters are usually allowed to.

GDC sc 5

You can edit your freaks to look as freakishingly freaky as possible.

Another very welcome addition to the turn-based tactics formula (at least for a so-called “noob” like myself) is the fact that Mechanicus has no permadeath. Before purists start complaining about it, just know the developers made sure to explain this in an actual canonical way: the Adeptus Mechanicus army revives its fallen comrades by building new versions of their bodies (they’re all mechanical, remember?) and re-uploading their memories into these new bodies. Boom, lawyered.

Another potentially great option for turn-based strategy fans, Mechanicus is a fun and surprisingly accessible title that can appease to both Warhammer 40,000 fans and people with little to no knowledge about the franchise. Its gameplay is equally deep and easy to learn and its art style is bizarre in a curiosity-sparking way. Who knows, maybe this game will be the turning point for me to go out and seek more information of what the heck Warhammer 40,000 is all about.