Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader

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Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader review
Samuel Corey


A brand Redeemed

A Brand Redeemed

It wasn't that long ago that Warhammer as a video game brand was all but synonymous with sub-par shovelware. While it's still true that the bad Warhammer games outnumber the good ones, we have seen a swing in the other direction with solid games like Necromunda: Hired Gun, and Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun. Yet more impressive than either of those titles is today's game, if only because the scope of a Warhammer CRPG is considerably more significant than the scope of a Warhammer FPS. We're fast approaching a time when gamers will not inadvertently grit their teeth upon booting up a new game and seeing the Games Workshop logo.

Indeed, after Rogue Trader I found myself very quickly changing my opinion on it from "pretty good for a Warhammer game" to just plain "pretty good." A lot of that can be attributed to the fact that developer Owlcat just knows how to make a good CRPG after their outings with the Pathfinder series. Characters range from well-written to downright compelling, and the world of the 41st millennium is rendered in all it's grim-dark glory. You never forget for a moment that you are in a galaxy-spanning theocracy where the head of state is technically a mummy, where the manually labor is performed by lobotomized slaves, and where most of the computers are re-purposed corpses.

Best of all you're the game gives you ample opportunity to roleplay as your character, the titular Rogue Trader. For instance, I selected Commissar as my background profession, so when a crew member, panicking under the strain of a difficult situation mouthed off at me, I had the option to tell the poor bloke that I never tolerated insubordination in my regiment, and execute the coward myself. That is the sort of niche character decisions that will reward multiple playthroughs with different classes and backgrounds.

Even when this stuff doesn't directly impact the game mechanics or the story-line it is absolutely crucial to keeping the player's involvement in the story. When you're invested in your character and actively thinking about how they would act in the situations you find them in, you cease to think about what would give you the best loot or secure the most allies. Having such role-playing options lets the player get carried away by the setting and the characters.


Ironically for a game based off of a table-top war simulator, the combat in Rogue Trader is probably the least remarkable aspect of the game. It is the usual turn-based affair where your characters have a set number of movement points and action points that control how far you can move and how many attacks and skills you can use each round. It's moderately engaging in the big encounters where you fight a final boss or a significant monster but the various random encounters that fill space in-between crucial story sections and major engagements all feel like more of a time-sink than anything else.

That said there are a few niggles here and there that managed to piss me off. For starters, melee attacks seem to be way more accurate than ranged attacks. My bolter-wielding Adeptus Soritas could empty a clip at a cultist and miss every time, while some dude with a club can reliably take down multiple enemy combatants. It makes me want to leave everyone with a rifle back on the warship, and fill my party with tough looking street kids armed with baseball bats and golf clubs. I understand that melee and ranged attacks need to be balanced so that melee characters aren't simply gunned-down but there had to be a way to do this without making the ranged focused characters feel useless.

Buggy Mess

Sadly, being an Owlcat game means that while the writing is solid and the world-building is impressive, also means that the game will have some significant bugs. Some are present right from the very beginning, like the fact that the audio voices seem to come and go at random intervals. I understand that this is a big game with a lot of dialogue and that there's no way to record all of it on Owlcat's budget, but surely it couldn't have been intentional for the same characters lapse between reading and not reading their lines in the course of a single scene.

The bugs get worse as the game goes on with frequent crashes and other problems spiking up in the third act and beyond. These are the same kind of issues that Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous had at launch, and fortunately in both cases the games subsequently became more stable and polished with future updates. So you may want to wait a little while before picking up Rogue Trader. However, even with the bugs, Rogue Trader is an excellent CRPG set in one of my favourite sci-fi settings, and I would be remiss not to give it a glowing recommendation.

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fun score


Offers the player the opportunity to role-play their character and give them some real personality, Does a great job of building the grim dark setting of the 41st millennium., Provides some interesting options for character customization.


Combat encounters can become a bit dull, Ranged attacks seem to miss way too often, Quite a few bugs especially as you get further along in the story