Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector – Necrons brings, as you might expect, Warhammer 40k’s ancient robotic race of Necrons to the strategy game. Fourteen new units have been added in total. There’s no story campaign to go with them, but the army can be played in multiplayer or singleplayer skirmish battles, or a brand new ‘Planetary Supremacy’ campaign mode, which comes as a free update to Battlesector, coinciding with the DLC’s release.
First up, it must be said that the metallic monstrosities within the DLC certainly look the part. The unit models and effects do a good job of capturing the feel of the Necron army. Warriors and Immortals march unwaveringly across the battlefield, or pull themselves up from the ground, bodies remade, after being riddled with gunfire. Voice lines are delivered with a pleasingly sinister robotic hiss. And the Necrons’ various green-glowing gauss weapons disintegrate enemy units in an extremely satisfying fashion. Black Lab Games has nailed the spectacle of the army.
The new units have no shortage of special abilities to experiment with, either. Overlords can summon a new unit of Warriors, when they’re not laying waste with their Warscythes; Flayed Ones can teleport to reposition or take objectives; Hexmark Destroyers can whittle down multiple targets at once or exchange movement points for auto-hitting shots. The Necrons also have battlefield support abilities to deploy – they can call down scarabs from the skies. Meanwhile, the momentum mechanic provides bonuses if you keep your units moving. In single player games, you’ll need to crank up the difficulty in order to truly require all these intricacies, as the Necrons basic weapons seem mighty strong, but the proper range of tactical options is present and correct.
It’s worth noting there are a few conspicuous absences in the faction’s roster. We’ve got the scarabs, but it seems the rest of the Canoptek machine servants are missing – disappointingly, as to my mind these are some of the more visually exciting Necron units. Still, gameplay wise, the variety is good. There’s a decent mixture of long range and melee troops, not to mention vehicles, chaff, and mighty HQ command units.
But, while the units themselves are solid, I find the lack of a story campaign really lets them down. The samey-ness of battles, an issue highlighted in our Battlesector review, is made worse when there’s no story to shake things up. Without a dedicated campaign for the Necrons, your battles are constricted by the limited range of objectives to be found in the game’s skirmish mode.
Of course, you can also take the army for a spin in the new planetary supremacy campaign mode, but this I found to be truly a let-down. It sets you up on a grid map, fighting neutral armies to take hexes which grant bonuses, gradually working your way towards tussling with two enemy factions who are doing the same. Each turn on the campaign map, you add more powerful units to your own army then choose a hex to attack.
However, every battle is nigh on identical – just move to engage with and kill all the opposing troops. No other objectives. And there aren’t any decisions of consequence to be made before the battle lines meet, so the first few turns invariably mean slowly moving every unit forwards as far as you can towards the fog of war. Any losses suffered can be recouped instantaneously after the battle, so there’s no real sense of taking part in an extended campaign, with each battle having consequences on the next.
Worse, the neutral territories in my planetary annihilation campaign were always held by the Sisters of Battle, a subfaction which, in Battlesector, has just two unit types. This meant hour upon hour of slogging my way through against extremely uniform armies. When I noticed that one of the two opposing factions was also Adeptus Sororitas, I threw in the towel. Since it’s a free update, I don’t want my experience with the new mode to overly colour this review; let’s just say it did not spark joy, and leave it at that.
Robo recap: Our Warhammer 40k Necrons 9th edition guide
Provided you’ve played Battlesector before, it’s fairly easy to determine whether the Necron faction pack is for you. If you primarily enjoy the game for its Blood Angels Age of Crimson Dawn campaign, you should probably steer clear. But, if your interest in Battlesector lies in its skirmish battles, or multiplayer matches, it becomes a far more attractive prospect, since it increases the amount of content to enjoy by about a third. Would you pay the $14.99/£11.39 asking price for the game’s Tyranids faction, as it’s currently implemented? If so, this pack is well worth picking up.
The Warhammer 40,000 Battlesector – Necrons DLC is a well-made unit pack, but a unique story or a better realised campaign mode would go a long way to improving its overall value. The toys are all there, but they could do with a better box.