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Review | Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector


  • Great battles
  • Loyal to source material
  • Local multiplayer
  • Only one enemy faction
  • But it’s also a game

Since I share my home and life with someone who fanatically makes miniatures and dioramas, the name Warhammer is one that often falls into the Hendriks household. Often, however, I am also the one who broaches the subject. After all, Warhammer games are numerous and offhand I know that I have reviewed Space Hulk: Tactics, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, and Warhammer: Age of Sigmar – Tempestfall. I can now add Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector to that.

For this adventure in the vast science-fiction universe of The Games Workshop, we travel to Baal Secundus, a moon of planet Baalfora and one of the battlefields where the Imperium of Men fought a bloody battle with the Tyranids. Through a fortunate combination of circumstances, humanity managed to emerge victorious here, but the Blood Angels who stood on the front lines were virtually wiped out. Your adventure therefore begins by training new recruits from the Primaris (Blood Angels+) as Sergeant Carleon.

From bad to worse

Warhammer wouldn’t be Warhammer if this simple mission didn’t quickly give way to a bigger problem, complete with the overdramatic dialogue that characterizes the series. During training you regularly encounter remnants of the alien army, which is completely within expectations. Soon, however, you come across clues that suggest that a synaptic network is organizing the wild beasts to remake them into a formidable fighting force. And even that doesn’t seem to be the biggest of your problems.

With Carleon and your army, you therefore travel from one place to another on Baal Secundus to do research, add more warriors to your army and treat alien scum with bullets and a chainsaw sword or axe. Blood Angels are versatile and your soldiers of three flavors will eventually be strengthened by mechs, vehicles, more flavors soldiers and even fighters from another faction of the human army. Each unit has its own strengths and weaknesses, requiring you to make an effort to build a balanced force to complete battles with dozens of units and hundreds of characters. For example, the Primarus gain Momentum when in the middle of battle, while the Sisters of Battle are the only ones who receive it when attacked. This Momentum can be used for a power boost or extra attack, which at times can make all the difference in the huge conflicts. Many such mechanics are not well explained, such as the direction your characters face after an attack can make a world of difference, but one learns along the way.

And it goes on

The scale is both what makes the game enjoyable and terribly frustrating. The Tyranids are the Zerg of Warhammer 40,000 and rely more on their numbers than their strategy. You can also clearly see this in Battlesector. Levels are typified by dozens of enemy units, often twenty to thirty, 75% of which consist of small units that mainly serve as cannon fodder. That’s fun and exciting at first, when you’re trying to find your way around and desperately try not to be caught off guard, but once you get past that stage, you understand the exhaustion and frustration of the Space Marines when forty little pussies from all sides come rushing in.

As mentioned: this is how Tyranids are and it is in line with their lore of the TTRPG. Personally, I would have liked to see another faction in battle, such as Orcs or Nurgle, but since the game has opted for one enemy faction, the variation has to come mainly from the handful of larger units that enter the playing field and shake things up. Although that is no longer so exciting once you have found the best way to put it down. Again, this is true to the source material, so you can’t really blame Black Lab Games on this front. The technical aspect is another story altogether.

Book at hand

When you play a TRPG with twenty plus enemy units on the field, which usually consist of five to eight characters, you can assume that a lot is happening on your screen. After all, war is chaos. Battlesector knows how to put this down well, but is greatly hindered by technical limitations. For our review we were allowed to take the game on PlayStation 4 and we tested it on both the standard and Pro model. And on both, the game is annoyed by long loading times between levels, frame drops that make you say U and amen and a game that is painfully slow because the units stand for seconds before the computer makes a move.

An enemy move can take minutes without exaggeration, with no option to speed it up. In those circumstances, the enemy’s ever-expanding armies are quite a different problem from what the developer had in mind. Conflicts on the regular difficulty then test not so much your skills and tactical insight, but your patience to the test, which reached a breaking point for me at level twelve. After that I finished the game nicely (the game contains twenty levels that will keep you busy for about twenty hours), but the fun I had at the beginning of my session ebbed away at an increasingly faster pace.

Shared smart

What remains after this adventure is a multiplayer in which two players compete against each other. One controls the Blood Angels, while the other takes care of the Tyranids. The great thing about this is that you don’t even have to be online to play. This is possible through live play, but you can also play in couch multiplayer, where you pass the controller. A wonderfully nostalgic experience for the avid Warhammer fan.

Conclusion

Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is a true conversion of the popular board game, including mechanics like Momentum, turn-based gameplay and positioning. This makes fighting large battles with hundreds of puppets a real pleasure. However, long loading times, a slow AI and an enemy that gets very monotonous along the way saps its potential, making my playtime and enjoyment inversely proportional.

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