Review – Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector

I remember the days when 90% of Warhammer games we got were Space Hulk variations. From Space Hulk: Tactics to Deathwing, mobile titles, everything was about Space Marines in broken ships. Which was cool, but limited. In recent years, we’ve finally gotten a bit more variety, thankfully. Not just with 40,000, but with Fantasy and even Age of Sigmar getting some love. And what Space Marine games we do get, they’re more than just old board game adaptions. And that’s where Warhammer 40000: Battlesector fits into all this. At first glance, you’d probably think just another turn-based Space Marine game. But that’s underestimating both the flexibility of Warhammer and the skill of Slitherine and Black Lab Games.  

One of the coolest things about Warhammer 40000: Battlesector is that it’s the first 40K game set in the new edition. While other games have come out following 9th Edition’s release, this is the only one (so far) developed with the new world order in mind. That makes it a fairly big deal for 40K fans, as for some it’s their first chance to experience the new changes. The way it directly references big 9th Edition events and ties them into the main narrative is way more than most Warhammer games get.

Voice-over set against some fantasic looking art is the main way the story is told between missions.

The story takes place following the fall of Baal and the opening of the Great Rift. The Imperium has been split in two, and chaos runs rampant. A mighty crusade fleet, dubbed Indomitus and helmed by a Primarch himself, has been assembled to push back the tides of evil. The campaign begins as the Indomitus Crusade reaches Baal and aids the beleaguered Blood Angels in regaining a foothold on their homeworld. Soon the Crusade marches on, but delivers reinforcements in the form of mighty Primaris Space Marines. These next generation specimens are key to retaking Baal from the ravenous Tyranids. Across the campaign, you’ll attempt to accomplish just that.

And you’ll do so by engaging in turn-based combat across a grid board. Nowadays most combat like this is in the XCOM formula. Battlesector could have easily continued the trend, but instead foes for something more classic. No prominent cover mechanics, Overwatch heavy gameplay, and an emphasis on patience and exploration. This is a much more fast paced title, with fully fleshed out melee and ranged mechanics. Line of sight is king, any movement beyond two squares in a straight line is a charge, and the only reliable kind of cover is hiding behind other units. It’s kind of a refreshing change of pace to be honest and proof that XCOM isn’t the only way to do things.

There’s even a Photo Mode, which, while not the most expansive I’ve seen, is still better than none.

Another difference is Warhammer 40000: Battlesector‘s campaign mechanics. Much like the way the combat is heavily inspired by the tabletop game, so is it here. First off, you customize your armies composition by point value. Each unit (which is a full squad) is worth a specific number of points. This value can change depending on what equipment and abilities you have customized that unit type with. Every mission has a maximum point value allowance, which you have to follow. So at the beginning of each mission you have to customize your army based upon point allowance, enemy variety, and even terrain. After all you’ll need more nimble fighters for uneven terrain. All together, this makes for an incredibly strategic system that’s also incredibly loyal to the tabletop ruleset.

This being a Warhammer game, Campaign isn’t the only gameplay mode. There’s Multiplayer, and Skirmish which is essentially singleplayer Multiplayer. Both follow the same basic set-up as a campaign mission, except you have the full roster available at the start. At launch you can play as either the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter or the mighty Tyranid Hive. But Black Lab have already announced more factions are on the way. Not to say the two factions included are lacking, not at all. Both feature large rosters with plenty of customization options. But more is always better. Especially when we’re talking a multiplayer mode like this.

You gotta carefully craft not just your army, but their starting position on the battlefield as well.

Warhammer 40000: Battlesector is another great example of Games Workshop’s hands-off approach with the license working wonders. It’s such a fun game, with a great fast paced take on turn-based combat. Fast, flashy, and both factions play true to form. A great blend of melee and ranged, which is a tough combination most 40K games struggle with. Especially turn-based ones, but it’s not an issue here. The story is great, and the way it’s tied right in to the main narrative is fantastic and needs to be done more. There may only be two factions available for multiplayer, but the variety even just these two bring to the table is enough for now. Especially with plenty of more content, both for single and multiplayer on the way. All in all, not a game for Warhammer or turn-based fans to miss out on.

Graphics: 7.0

It’s not the prettiest game ever, especially the terrain, but the models are lovingly detailed and animated.

Gameplay: 9.0

It’s one of the closest video game adaptations of tabletop Warhammer, so much so I’m kind of surprised Games Workshop allowed it.

Sound: 6.0

The soundtrack and voice-acting is just there, neither particularly good or bad.

Fun Factor: 9.0

While only having two factions (for now) does limit skirmish and multiplayer a little when compared to tabletop proper, they’re still fun to play with, and the campaign is fantastic.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is available now on PS4, PC, and Xbox One.

Reviewed on PC.

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