Review – Warhammer 40000: Mechanicus (Switch)

Console releases like this can be a proper second chance for games. Not that Warhammer 40000: Mechanicus was a bad game, far from it. It was and still is one of the best titles to use the license. Although to be fair that’s not exactly a high bar to clear. Still, Mechanicus had a fantastic story, great atmosphere, and was an intriguing hybrid of dungeon crawling and tactical combat. However, it had some pretty significant issues that sunk an otherwise impressive ship. My original review stated my hope that these problems could be rectified, but also my doubt that they would given the extent of the revamp needed. Yet Bulwark was up for this challenge and the game received aggressive updates as well as a major DLC addition. This Switch release of Warhammer 40000: Mechanicus provides new players with this ultimate version of a fantastic game.

This is a guy who likes the sound of his own voice very much.

For newcomers, Mechanicus is a narrative focused dungeon crawler with tactical grid-based combat. So for anyone who already has the Switch port of XCOM 2 and figures they’re good on tactics games, this one’s a bit different. The premise is that the Adeptus Mechanicus branch of the Imperium (technology worshiping cyborgs) followed an ancient transmission to the world Silva Tenebris in search of knowledge. What they find instead is a hidden hive of Necrons (evil machine zombie mummies) on the verge of waking, and their arrival has drastically sped up the process. Thus the Necrons need to be stopped and the mystery of Silva Tenebris solved in order to avoid galaxy wide catastrophe. No big deal.

Each room has a chance at an event, most of which will end poorly for you.

Silva Tenebris is what’s called a Necron Tomb World, which means it’s filled with Necron tombs. Gameplay alternates between exploration of these tombs and tactical battles against their inhabitants. During exploration, you move room by room through the tomb, encountering and resolving a variety of events each with multiple endings. However, you have to be careful as the more you explore and the deeper you go, the Necron awareness level grows. Because of this, stronger more numerous Necrons will appear during battles. Thus each mission is a balancing act. Even if your exploration was incredibly rewarding, it’s meaningless if you’re entire squad is wiped out before you can escape.

The only right move here.

While the battles are mostly what you’d expect, there are a few intriguing tweaks. The biggest are cognition points, called action points in any other game. Whereas in most tactics games each unit has it’s own collection of these points, they’re a shared resource in Mechanicus. Only specific abilities require these points however, which balances this out. Basic movement and a variety of weapons have no cognition point cost. Also unique is your army composition. There’s your main Tech-Priests and then your cannon fodder Skitarii troops. Tech-Priests function much like your standard XCOM soldier, though a bit more punchy and far more important. On the other hand, your troops are largely expendable, and should mostly be treated as such. Also they’re far less dependent on Cognition Points than Tech-Priests, which is their biggest strength in combat.

So. Many. Loot. Slots.

Now for the new stuff that takes Warhammer 40000: Mechanicus to the next level. Firstly, there’s a whole new range of difficulty options, chief among them permadeath. It’s not just your average permadeath either, as it comes with one helluva bite. Unlike XCOM when you lose a Tech-Priest, there is no replacement. Lose too many and it’s game over man, game over. Soldiers as a finite resource is a bold move, but a thrilling one. It also raises the importance of your Skitarii, which is great for army variety. Speaking of variety, equipment and skill trees have been completely rebalanced. This caused build variety to go from one easy god build to a ton of viable options, which dramatically increases replayability. Finally, there’s the Heretek DLC that adds a new skill tree, new weapons, and a whole new mission line and story.

You can’t disable achievements if there’s no achievements to disable.

As it stands, Warhammer 40000 Mechanicus is the best Warhammer game on consoles (sorry Vermintide II). It comes with a great narrative penned by a good Black Library author, with strong gameplay to accomany it. The issues that plagued the original release such as lack of difficulty, replayability, and build variety have been all but fixed due to dedicated post-launch support from Bulwark Games. Rounding it out is the small yet mighty Heretek DLC, that provides an interesting side-story to the main game as well as a bunch of toys to try out. Fans of Warhammer 40k, strategy games, and dungeon crawlers should all give this game a shot, there’s a lot to love here.

Graphics: 9.0

It looks just as good as it did on PC and performance wasn’t sacrificed for it.

Gameplay: 9.5

It was already a fantastic game, but after the rebalancing and DLC additions it’s nearly perfect.

Sound: 8.5

There’s no VA work, but the soundtrack is perfectly haunting and atmospheric. Necron grunts and screeches are also properly eerie and unsettling.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Mechanicus combines the excitement of a dungeon crawler with the strategy of a fully fledged tactics game. My dream game incarnate.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch

A copy of Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus was provided by the publisher.