Armageddon Awaits

By Nik Gaukroger 21 Nov 2014 0

Other than those who have spent the last couple of decades in hermit like seclusion, pretty much ever wargamer on the planet will have heard of Games Workshop?s Warhammer, and probably the most visible of its incarnations is the Warhammer 40,000 setting. Indeed I?d go as far as to say that for many people if you mention wargaming this is what they think you mean ? of course, Wargamer.com readers know it is much more than that J Over the years there have been a number of computer games, of varying genres, set within the 40K universe; now Slitherine/Matrix, purveyors of a large catalogue of wargames at the more ?traditional/hard core? end of the market are stepping in with their offering, Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon. We have been allowed to preview this (in its beta version) for you, our lucky loyal readership, so what is it like? Read on ?

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First up as you?d expect from the publishers this is a wargame. So you?re not taking the part of a genetically enhanced super-human Space Marine encased in ceramite power armour shooting and hacking his way across the universe in the name of his undying emperor; instead it is more a case of taking the part of a battle commander of the Imperium of Man (or of an Ork Waaagh! if you prefer that) dictating the tactics of their troops from a command bunker. Wargame, not FPS - so in fact it is far more like a tabletop game of 40K if you like. Also like a tabletop wargame it is turn-based with an IGOUGO mechanism ? so players take it in turns to move their troops. The whole game is set within one of the major historical events of the 40K universe - Second War for Armageddon. For those not familiar with 40K history, the Second War for Armageddon is the second (never!) of three major wars between the Imperium of Man and the Ork Warboss Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. The war was fought on the Hive World of Armageddon in the Segmentum Solar between the years 941 and 943 of the 41st millennium. So now we all know. If you want to know more Google will throw up more than you will ever need or want to know about all of this. As I said, 40K is very, very popular indeed.

 

So basic game facts

There are 3 campaigns and additionally, to introduce the game, there is a rather useful Tutorial Campaign to take you through the game?s basics and show you how things work. The campaigns are made up of a connected series of individual scenarios of which there are 30, and are themed around 3 phases of the war ? Invasion, Turning the Tide and Liberation. As you can guess from the names these are fought from the Imperial side, and there is no option to play these as the Orks. However, you can play any of the scenarios as standalone games and in this mode you can play as the Orks as well as the Imperium. Ork players who feel hard done by not having the campaign option should organise a Waaagh! to persuade the publishers this should be a future option (but best make this a polite Waaagh! please ?). All of these are single player games, but in this beta there are 3 multiplayer challenge scenarios included in the version I have played where you get to fight a real human opponent rather than the AI, and in these you also have control over your army composition. I?m told that more will be made available in the future and this can only be a good thing in my view ? no matter how good a game?s AI is it is always a greater challenge to play a real person.

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Look and feel

Armageddon is a Hive World dominated by massive mega-cities set amongst a hostile world environment. The main combatants are the invading Orks, the defending Steel Legion of the Imperial Guard, and reinforcing units from the Space Marine chapters of the Ultramarines, Blood Angels and Salamanders.

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Both the exteriors and interiors of the Hive Cities get a look in as well as the desolation between them. Units can move up the ramps onto the Hive levels as well, they aren?t just decorative.

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Additionally you also have the sound effects. Now these can be really subjective and we all have ideas about how things in games should sound, but I guess in the case of Armageddon we can assume that the sounds used have been given the green light from GW so are what they think things sound like. Have to say, somewhat to my surprise, I rather like them ? and I?m one for turning off the sounds even in games I really like. I really liked the almost ?disco? sound made by Steel Legion Sentinels when moving J Good to see were different visuals for different weapons, and there are some nice details especially in the smoke created when the heavier guns fire.

 

Gameplay

Gameplay mechanics are pretty easy to learn, so there is no barrier to getting into the meat of the game. Mastering the game, of course, will be another thing. To move click on a unit and you can move to anyone of the white dots that appear on screen. Targets you can shoot at are indicated by a red reticule and you just click on the one you want to shoot. Units targeted by shooting will automatically shoot back even in the opponents turn.

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As there are something like 300 different units in the game, each with a whole slew of stats, winning a scenario is about getting the right units fighting the enemy in the right place ? some units are better against different enemies than others. At the harder difficulty settings (there are 5 ? Easy, Normal, Challenging, Hard, and Very Hard) you definitely need to study the capabilities of your units in order to win, and also to use the terrain cleverly ? you can be rather more gung-ho at the lower settings though if you just want a rapid shoot ?em up game. This will be the hard to master aspect mentioned earlier, and is a feature of all good games.

This is the screen you want to see at the end of a battle!

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First Impression Conclusions

Put simply I?ve really enjoyed this. It is both a ?proper? wargame where skill, tactics and the like are all important, and also very much a Warhammer 40K game in look and feel. It is all too easy for a franchise based game to only hit one of those targets, but this has hit both fairly and squarely.

This preview was based on a beta version of the game, however, it was still totally stable on my modest PC and I saw (or heard) no bugs which bodes very well for the release version. I?m certainly looking forward to many hours of playing this on release, and as the potential for future additional content and/or expansion is only limited by the 40K universe I can see this being the start of something big. Roll on release day (26th November) and where is my Lasgun ?

Steam page - http://store.steampowered.com/app/312370

Trailer video - http://youtu.be/jl32o95Gb7A

 

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