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The new Warhammer Plus show looks like a 90s RTS cinematic

The trailer for Broken Lance, an upcoming Warhammer Plus animation about Imperial Knights, has the awkward energy of a Command and Conquer FMV.

Still from Warhammer Plus animation Broken Lance - an Imperial Knight, a large, hunch-backed walking warmachine, with a tilting plate on one side of the chest and a machine gun on the other

Games Workshop just dropped the first CGI trailer for upcoming Warhammer Plus show Broken Lance, and all I can think is “this is the intro to a 90s RTS game from another dimension”. Showing Imperial Knights clashing with the forces of Chaos, the animation is weightless and lethargic in a way that I absolutely love.

Broken Lance was announced in the first wave of Warhammer Plus animation shows way, way back in May 2021. The new trailer doesn’t tell us anything much about it, except that it will feature Imperial Knights, Chaos Knights, and apparently the forces of Nurgle.

Objectively speaking, Broken Lance’s animation is leagues ahead of anything that came out in the 90s. And yet there’s something about the lustreless reflections on metallic surfaces, the lethargic movement of the war engines, the simplistic and static shot composition, that takes me right back to cutscenes found in the golden era of RTS games.

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And frankly I’m here for it. I have utmost respect for the game design pioneers who burnt out the cores on their generation one Pentiums to animate planes, tanks, and robots from rudimentary polygons. RTS games were the first place that CGI cutscenes began to look halfway salvageable: a cutscene that showed nothing but angular vehicles and architecture still made for an excellent representation of gameplay.

If it was at all possible, I’d like Broken Lance to lean even further into that era. When confronted with the limitations of early CGI, 90s RTS designers made hybrid cutscenes that interlaced CGI with live action. The camp live-action cutscenes from Command and Conquer are masterful, and Tim Curry’s legendary scenery chewing performance in Red Alert 2 is a career highlight.

But they both pale in comparison to the mixed media cutscenes from Warhammer 40k game Final Liberation. There’s half an hour of them, and they go harder than they have any right to. Until the Henry Cavill Warhammer 40k film project gets off the ground, they’re still the best live action Warhammer 40k video content ever made, as this helpful compilation demonstrates:

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Can you imagine Broken Lance’s graphics, mashed up with greenscreen footage of some jobbing actors wearing sub-cosplay Knight pilot costumes? With a pumping soundtrack of synthesized light industrial metal? Peak.

For an animation project with the energy of the cutscenes from a 2000s sci fi FPS, check out Project Morningstar. For more Warhammer 40k news, follow Wargamer on Google News.