Upcoming Games Workshop-licensed PC game Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader came as a welcome surprise to fans of CRPGs and the grimdark futures alike, when it was announced during GW’s June 2022 ‘Skulls’ event.
The work of Owlcat Games – developer of the well-received Pathfinder videogames – Rogue Trader can be expected to pack a deep and well-written CRPG experience, with crunchy and engaging turn-based combat.
For a little more context on Games Workshop’s grimdark sci-fi universe, you should try our guides on all the Warhammer 40k factions, the various Warhammer 40k Xenos races, and how to play Warhammer 40k for beginners – not to mention the other best Warhammer 40k games on PC.
For all the latest on the Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader RPG, read on.
Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader release date
Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader will release on PC on December 7 2023. PS5, Xbox Series S|X, and Mac versions will follow, though their release dates are not yet confirmed.
What is Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader?
Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader is an upcoming top-down PC RPG in development by Owlcat Games, the studio behind Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous.
Taking on the role of a Rogue Trader – a blend of ship’s captain, spy, trade magnate, mercenary commander, and ruthless privateer – you’ll travel the dangerous backwaters of the 40k galaxy in search of fortune and glory,
Rogue Traders are enterprising explorers, with a hereditary mandate explored the galaxy beyond the borders of the Imperium of Man. This incredibly ancient warrant is signed by the High Lords of Terra – or in the case of truly ancient dynasties – was even signed by the Emperor of Mankind himself.
In the blackness of the void, scores of unexplored worlds await, along with untold riches and fearsome dangers. These sailors of the stars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and, for the first time in CRPG history, you’ll be able to craft your own Rogue Trader. Will you be a heroic swashbuckler, an amoral profiteer or a ruthless renegade?
Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader trailers
The first Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader trailer is centred around a narration from Lady-Captain Theodora von Valancius (more on her, later). She reveals that the player character will be a scion of her dynasty. Unfortunately for Theodora, it looks like her days are numbered – we see her frigate en route towards a Necron tomb world during the final moments of the trailer.
We’ll also have our fair share of enemy factions to deal with out in the void. Between the Chaos Forgefiend, Eldar Rangers and Dark Eldar Talos (not to mention the Necron tomb) that appear in the trailer, it looks like your Rogue Trader will have their work cut out for them.
Trailer number two gives more, in-engine gameplay, featuring combat between a Rogue Trader’s warband and daemons, Drukhari raiders and tarantula sentry guns. The Rogue Trader’s team contains an Adeptus Mechanicus tech priest, Imperial Guard veteran, Eldar ranger, and even a pyrokinetic psyker.
Tantalisingly, the narrator concludes this trailer by saying that Rogue Traders have the power to “feed the Emperor’s flame – or to plunge millions of worlds into darkness.” That sounds like a morality system or branching narrative to us: the prospect of walking away from the Emperor’s light and into the corrupting embrace of Chaos could be a bold opener for the first 40k CRPG.
Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader characters
Owlcat has revealed many Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader characters, including companions. No Rogue Trader sails the void alone, and your choice of retinue will no doubt be vitally important.
Lady Captain Theodora
Lady Captain Theodora isn’t just any Rogue Trader; she’s a success, reigning over a “vast conglomerate of worlds that bring her immense wealth”. However, as the trailer suggests, Theodora is doomed to a “grim future” which will “snuff out her shining star and give way to the next Rogue Trader of the von Valancius dynasty”. Clearly, she’ll leave some pretty big shoes to fill. No pressure!
Abelard Weserian, seen in the trailer wearing a distinctive blue Imperial Navy uniform, acts as seneschal to the von Valancius trade empire. Somebody has to run the dynasty’s holdings and keep things profitable for the dynasty. Reliable, vigilant and “fiercely loyal to the trade empire”, Weserian will likely serve as a key member of your retinue.
Idira Tlass, an unsanctioned 40k Psyker, seems to be the polar opposite of the stoic seneschal. In addition to being cursed with the powers of the Warp, Idira was raised on a “distant word… lost to the light of the Emperor long ago”. Cocky and cavalier, this diviner makes up for her lack of caution “with her formidable self-control and natural aptitude”. Psykers are a crucial part of the setting, and having one on one side will be vital on your journeys.
Pasqal Haneumann is a ‘Magos Explorator’ of the Adeptus Mechanicus, tasked with seeking out the “mysteries of the universe” for the good of the Omnissiah. He left and joined up with a Rogue Trader after encountering “a schism that could shake the Imperium to its foundations”. Pasqal’s “memory unit is now a treasury of priceless knowledge”, which will doubtless make him a useful ally.
Cassia Orsellio is a ‘Navigator’ of the ‘Navis Nobilite’. Like all the mutant navigators, Cassia is gifted with a third, ‘warp’ eye that allows her to guide voidships through the deadly tides of warp space. Owlcat’s website explains that Cassia can “not only look into the enemy’s soul to instill fear in them but also use her navigator’s powers to give her allies additional strength”.
Navigators’ unique talents make them invaluable to the Imperium of man, so navigator houses are both wealthy and politically powerful. Cassia could give us an interesting viewpoint on the Imperial high life.
Yrliet Lanaevyss is an alien Eldar ranger who ‘walks the path of the outcast’. Eldar Rangers are crack snipers and masters of stealth. The Imperium of man is rampantly xenophobic, and the ancient and proud Eldar are equally contemptuous of the upstart humans, so it’s very rare for humans and Eldar to cooperate – but as consummate profit-seekers, Rogue Traders are a notable exception. Even so, expect a lot of friction between Lanaevyss and the rest of the crew.
Heinrix Von Talos
Heinrix Von Talos is a sanctioned psyker and member of the Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition
Sister Argenta is a devout member of the Adepta Sororitas, the militant nuns of the Imperial church. Armed with a holy boltgun and a burning faith, she’s a deadly and impassioned ranged fighter.
Jae Heydari is “the cream of the scum of the Koronus Expanse”, a criminal entrepreneur, deal-maker – and trouble-maker.
Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader pre-order
We’re a little hesitant about pre-orders at the best of times, and think you should probably hold your horses till you’ve read our Rogue Trader review (or at least until a release date emerges). With that caveat out of the way, Owlcat has put a bunch of different Rogue Trader pre-order options on the game’s website, presenting them as buyers ‘backing’ the game to “support the development process”. Let’s go through them all real quick.
First up is the Core Digital Pack, at $39.99. That simply gets you a PC digital copy of the game, access to the game’s beta when one arises, and a special role on the Rogue Trader Discord server.
Each pack contains all the goodies from all of the previous packs, so going forwards, we’ll just explain the additional extras included in each one. The next step up is the Premium Digital Pack, for $49.99, which will get your name into the credits, and give you three exclusive items in the game, as well as a special model for your ship.
Getting into big bucks territory now, the Ultimate Digital Pack costs $69.99 and includes digital copies of the Rogue Trader soundtrack and artbook, as well as your name appearing on a special in-game memorial. And finally, at $99, you can get the Developer’s Digital Pack, which gives you access to the earliest Alpha build of Rogue Trader the devs are happy to show people, a bridge banner, and a special thanks in the credits.