Ah, the wonderfully messy world of Warhammer 40k videogames. A treacherous realm where 50% of the titles are solid gold and the other half are so mind-numbingly mediocre, it can only be chalked up to the malevolence of the warp. They’re a mixed bag, in other words. Games Workshop, after keeping a tight grip on its IP throughout the 2000s, apparently got tired arms in the 2010s, and it seems like they pretty much let anyone with a pitch make a Warhammer 40k game nowadays. Can you name at least three Primarchs? Right, you’re in!
On the bright side, this means we get a lot of Warhammer games, and who’s going to complain about that? After all, no one can make you play the bad ones. We also get a lot of different kinds of Warhammer games, perhaps more than we would if Games Workshop struck up a deal with a big publisher for exclusive rights to the property. There’s 40k shooters like the upcoming Darktide, turn-based games like Battlesector, RTSs like Dawn of War – all sorts.
But for all that variety, it’s clear that across the vast majority of Warhammer 40k videogame adaptations, there’s an overwhelming focus on the Space Marines, and the wider spectrum of Imperium factions in general. What’s up with that? Why is the only Xenos game on the radar, the upcoming Shootas, Blood & Teef, the most indie 40k adaptation yet? (I’m not knocking it, by the way, it looks fun!)
We already deal with an overabundance of Space Marines in regular Warhammer. But there at least it makes sense – the models that sell the best get more support, simple as. You might argue that the same thing applies to games. It’s a safer bet to centre your title on the most popular faction, right? No, I say! Well, actually, probably. BUT! By restricting their focus to the forces of mankind, I reckon devs are leaving a ton of cracking video game ideas on the shelf.
As we at Wargamer have already proven ourselves the very best at coming up with imaginary Warhammer 40k games, let’s dream up a few more using just Chaos and Xenos. Each and every Warhammer faction could work in a strategy or FPS title, so we’re going to avoid such low-hanging fruit and instead bring you some real innovation. Here are four great Warhammer videogame ideas that don’t rely on the humans.
An Ork racing game
My favourite thing about the Orks is their amazing, unlikely machinery, so some kind of Ork racing game, a digital take on Speed Freeks, is a no-brainer. You’d want to include car combat of course, and put a lot of time and effort into modelling damage. Perhaps the soft-body physics of BeamNG.drive or Wreckfest wouldn’t be the best choice, but I’d want to see bits falling off these machines all of the time. Ideally, most races would end with only a couple of vehicles reaching the finish line, smashing their way on the final lap through a course littered with car carcasses.
Alternatively, you could go full Mario Kart – cartoon graphics would mesh well with Ork humour, and power ups could be car parts and new weapons that are hastily bolted on.
A Genestealer Cults stealth game
Apart from the Raven Guard, Space Marines aren’t exactly known for their stealth, so this is a great example of a game genre that only the Xenos can do justice. You could approach this idea in a number of ways. Perhaps you’re leading a squadron of brood brothers and genestealers around in a strategy stealth game like Shadow Tactics, relying on each member’s unique abilities to take down foes.
Or perhaps this idea works best as a more traditional third person stealth game. Dishonored seems like the obvious point of comparison – you’re a Genestealer Magus, say, using your psyker powers to slip around a hive world, stealing equipment and preparing for the uprising. Of course, the only correct way to play is the high chaos route.
A Tyranids game where you’re the monster
Now that we’re some distance away from the tremendous flop of Evolve (remember Evolve?) it seems like video games aren’t afraid to let the player be the monster again, and we’ve seen a couple of different devs take on the concept in the past couple of years. There’s a lot of different ways you could approach this – from the open world carnage of Maneater, to the side scrolling body horror of Carrion. Whatever floats your boat, now seems like fabulous timing for a game starring the Tyranids.
Even a Tyranids Dead by Daylight could probably work, though with the way that game is grabbing hold of every scary creature it can get its mitts on, it seems more likely that a Tyranid Lictor will just appear in the base game. Soon you’ll be able to be horribly murdered as an Imperial Guardsman alongside Nancy from Stranger Things.
A Daemon dating sim
Come on you cowards, do it.