Players in the upcoming isometric RPG Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is free to stroll throughout the grim Warhammer universe as they like. By allowing players to build their Rogue Trader, a role in the Warhammer universe that is allowed free rein to do whatever they choose across the stars as long as it furthers the Empire’s dubious goals, developer Owlcat Games liberates fans from the boots of a loyal Space Marine.
It’s a fantastic tool for revealing a world where the majority of people simply carry out their assigned duties, but this is still Warhammer, so bloodshed is never far away. Rogue Trader thrives on repulsion in battle. Each fighter has a certain number of action points to move and employ their skills or items during turn-based battles. Fans of strategy may recognize some of this, but not all of it: According to Owlcat, it was crucial to convey a more conventional sense of power consistent with previous RPGs, even as it sought to replicate XCOM’s merciless percentage-ruled combat.
A dynamic dismemberment mechanism, which is wonderfully on-brand for a Warhammer game and transforms every death into an obscene spectacle, is one way that Rogue Trader accomplishes this. One bout saw a Druchii dissected by a careless flurry of last rounds, leaving only one bloodied leg skating around the hot ice. Unquestionably extravagant and gratuitous—middle Warhammer’s name—the gore expertly conveys the ferocious might of each weapon. According to Owlcat, getting hit with a hammer, which is more likely to smash Xenos into a space jam, will ruin someone’s day significantly differently than getting shot by a plasma rifle.
Each character’s class lends itself to a variety of playing styles in addition to the differences in weapons. A Smuggler is focused on quick movement and getting as many potshots in as can, while a Tech-Priest is capable of hitting adversaries with a variety of debuffs or energizing their friends. Each class also has a unique history. For example, the Smuggler in the demo was a former soldier who was a sprinting, gunning killing machine who had no trouble defeating a group of Druchii ambushers.
Rogue Trader is influenced by the earlier X-COM games since there is a lot of room for error between making and missing shots. A Druchii marksman fired at the Smuggler, but the bullet missed and struck the party’s Psyker in the shoulder, killing any sense of relief. This dynamic gave the shootout a lot of life, even from the other side, and created a chaotic, frenzied mood that is uncommon in many strategic games.