by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Adding a Good One
Gaming lore has it that games in either of the two Warhammer universes are as plentiful as needles on a pine tree. Lore also has it that - good - games in the Warhammer universes are scarce as a four-leaf clover. With Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus, Kasedo Games is looking to add one to the latter category, and from what we saw at Gamescom, they may do just that.
As the name suggests, Mechanicus has you play as Magos Dominus Faustinius, a commander of the tech-savvy Adeptus Mechanicus branch of the imperial army. Your latest mission brought you to Silva Tenebris, a recently rediscovered tomb world littered with long lost technology just waiting to be rediscovered as well. You’re about to find yourself in a whole heap of trouble, though. Your Tech Priest accidentally tripped some kind of alarm. You’re not sure what it does, but what you do know is that - something - bad will happen soon, and that Necrons are starting to wake up all over the place to stop you from preventing that.
Troops and Priests
Our demonstration focused primarily on everything that the game has to offer - outside - of the turn based combat that makes up Mechanicus’ core. For me, one of the standout features was the staggering amount of customisation that could be applied to your Tech Priest army. Before I get into that, let’s have a quick look at the more generic Troops. Currently there are seven different Troop types such as the Skitarii Vanguard that causes chain damage, and the fire spraying Kastelan Robot. Five of the Troop types unlock as you progress through the game and all types receive upgrades over time. Being nothing short of cannon fodder, there’s no additional customisation.
The Tech Priests, however, are the complete opposite. They are your bread and butter soldiers in the field, valuable and wildly customizable. Using blueprints that you find in the field, you’ll unlock additional Mechanical Augment upgrades that can be mixed and matched at will. Each Tech Priest has a maximum of 12 slots for augments. How many of these you can fill is determined by your augment capacity, which is researchable, and the combined item cost of each individual augment. Not all augments come with blueprints though. Unique weapons can be found in the field. Unlike blueprint weapons, which can be made at will as long as the crafting materials are available, found weapons cannot be replicated and further add to the uniqueness of their wielder.
Achievements are Not Boring
I’m usually not that fussed about Steam Achievements, but I’ll make an exception for Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus. This is because of how the Canticles of the Omnissiah are implemented. Linked to Steam Achievements, these are basically combat cards that can be played once during each mission and that give a boost to your soldiers’ health, give additional armour points, and more.
Clues as to which Canticles to best bring on a mission can sometimes be found in its mission briefing. You can’t let that distract you too much though, as it may be more important to keep track of mission difficulty. Each time you choose a mission, every unpicked mission will increase in difficulty. If you’re not careful, a mission may become too difficult to win!
Missions start on a 3D, blueprint-like map of a dungeon. You’ll move around the dungeon until you encounter an enemy or trigger a text-based event. Resolving a text event will change something in the dungeon, and not all change is good. One example given was that the Necrons would start their turn first for the next mission. It’s good to keep a good pace, though. The dungeon will get harder as you spend time in it, and at some point you’re likely to wake up its boss which will promptly start hunting you. This adds a fair bit of stressy drama to the level, especially since bosses are tough as nails. Reaching your goal quickly while avoiding the level boss will be the difference between life and death. Luckily, though, Priest don’t suffer from permadeath, even if they do take a good while to heal.
A Worthy 40k?
I left the demonstration pondering some of Mechanicus’ other features. Cognition points, for instance, sounded especially fun. These can be gained in-mission by capturing certain locations or by playing a Canticle card and then spent on firing heavy weapons, gaining health and a range of other specials. I also liked just how much lore and story has been pumped into the game. Ben Counter, of Black Library fame, wrote upwards of 100,000 words to support the game, and that’s a huge amount of text crammed into the 50 playable missions. With 30 missions to complete each playthrough - your timer to prevent disaster runs out at 30 - and potentially 30 end bosses trying to hunt down my squad, I suspect we’re in for some pretty tense missions. It won’t be long to find out though, as the game launches on Steam on November 15.