September 9, 2014 by brennon
Warhammer 40,000 Eternal Crusade is setting itself up to be a massively multiplayer game of epic proportions. While it would be an immediate reaction to call it an MMORPG it’s certainly got a lot more in common with games like Planetside 2 where you have a persistent world that’s constantly being fought over by huge groups of players. All that sounds very, very cool. But is this Founders program they’re offering a good way forward?
What’s The Game About?
In Warhammer 40,000 Eternal Crusade you play as part of a faction from the 40k universe. Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Orks, and Eldar are clashing on the planet of Arkhona. You take on the role of a soldier within one of these armies playing as the likes of Tactical Marines, Terminators, Nobz, Dark Reapers and the like trying to control sectors of the game world on a massive battlefield map. You will have to work together with a team of other faction members to launch raids against bases and take control of them for your commanders.
At a basic level you’ll be playing as the troops mentioned above (plus a lot more) and the gameplay is very similar to that of Space Marine that came out on Xbox, PS3 and PC a few years ago. You’ll be hacking, slashing, shooting and driving around tanks (Predators & Rhinos have been shown off so far) taking over points on the smaller ‘gaming arenas’ to convert them over to your side. One neat thing that came up in discussion on base capture is that when it turns over to your faction the terrain and buildings will morph to fit your group. If you took over a Chaos captured base over time it would turn into an Imperial, Eldar, or Ork one. A nice touch giving your faction a real presence in the game world. It certainly says “we were here and kicked your ass”.
Building more on the gameplay aspect of things as I mentioned before it plays a lot like Space Marine right now, some of the assets seem to be directly from that game but I could be mistaken. You will be gunning down your enemies or swooping in from on high with a jetpack and taking down your foes. When they’re downed you can either let them bleed out onto the floor or execute them with some rather spectacular results much like how you’d finish off an Ork in Space Marine.
Of course it’s not just killing. There will be roles for support like Apothecaries who will heal units on the battlefield and more I don’t doubt. One of the coolest features, and something that’s appeared in other games of this ilk, is that you can grab a Rhino and drive it up towards where the action is before deploying it as a rally point for your faction. Need to get your dead comrades back into the battle quicker? Now you have a perfect forward spawn point.
At a higher level there will also be roles to fill as Commanders and Heroes on the battlefield. Commanders will get an aerial view of things going on below and it was even hinted that they might be able to call in strikes and all sorts from the skies. Planetary Bombardment or Eldar Webway Gates popping up anyone? On the subject of heroes they also play a vital role in the battle. Once you gain enough requisition points one of your team in the conflict can take on the mantle of a hero. Mentioned in the gameplay video above was the Chaplain for the Space Marines and the Bloodthirster for the Chaos Space Marines. They will each have a massive ‘one shot’ power that can critically change the battlefield, as well as being super powerful, but once that’s spent they are vulnerable to attack and can give massive amounts of cool loot to the enemy. Team work once again becomes the focus as you’ll want to join together to keep your heroes safe on the battlefield. How very 40k; selling your life for your leader!
What’s cool is that the developers are listening to what the community wants and they are taking any suggestion, no matter how crazy, into consideration. At one point the developer got really excited and talked about jumping out of a Thunderhawk with your Assault Marine, flying towards the surface of a planet, landing on another flying craft and ripping the pilot out of the seat before falling to the planets surface. Epic. These guys really seem to ‘get’ Warhammer 40,000.
Away from the player vs player faction conflict you’ll also be able to take on Tyranids in a series of player vs environment based encounters. The Tyranids could well be the great balancing force on the planet and it would be cool to go on ‘Raids’ with fellow faction members to deal with Hives on the planet. In a comparison to Space Marine you could see these encounters as the type of fighting you’d do against Orks and Imperial forces in the co-op version of online play.
Adding to the ‘cool factor’ they have also said that if you’re a grizzled veteran of the battlefield you are going to look like one. Just been into combat and fought off a four hour advance by Orks who want your base? You will look dented and battle scarred with plenty of fearsome additions. Orks will get banner poles with skulls and heads, Space Marines get Purity Seals and Iron Halos just as an example. Very cool.
If you’d like to get some serious lore nerd stuff going on then you’ll be pleased to know that Graham McNeill is penning the story and overall narrative for the game tying it all into the world of Warhammer 40,000. The dark secret beneath Arkhona is apparently one that could change the fate of the galaxy should one faction get control of it. Let’s hope the balance is sound gameplay wise then right!?
Where Are We Right Now?
As it stands Eternal Crusade is still in the very early stages of pre-alpha and the studio behind the game have decided to take the line that most game creators are adopting these days in letting you in at the very beginning. This stance to game development was born out of Minecraft where development studios realised that for access to early, and practically broken builds of the game, you could charge money and help build the future of your game. Minecraft and Mojang made it work and the game is now phenomenally successful. Other studios are doing just the same and games like Day Z would back up the success of the business model.
Eternal Crusade is doing pretty much the same but you’re dropping a significantly larger amount of money. In exchange however you get access to early builds of the game and you’ll be helping them along the way with testing and other things. You also get yourselves some interesting in-game rewards when the game finally launches in the next couple of years.
The game is in a basic state as it stands and you can see more of this in the gameplay video above from AngryJoe. Despite that however it’s still looking solid and the basis for “what am I doing in this game?” is clear. Having this sorted out at this early stage with what’s essentially a prototype is a great stepping stone forward. The gameplay above is from around two months of proper ‘work’ on the project and that’s an encouraging thought.
According to the people interviewed in the video, fellow Founders, they are also having a direct impact on how the game goes forward and the company are keeping a close eye on what the community is saying to try and make this a definitive Warhammer 40,000 experience.
Is It Worth It Then?
If you’re a PC game lover and adore the world of Warhammer 40,000 and don’t mind playing through early buggy stuff and actually helping out the developers then this is certainly worth the time and money you’d be investing. The developers behind the game have already said that their focus is on the community and they don’t care about what the ‘suits’ say about the business model or the game going forward. They have worked hard on fixing their budget to deliver the game so you’re not paying money for a game that “wont get made” because it certainly will be. The Founder Program adds to the funds that have already been allocated to the game and it will allow them to work on adding extra stuff to the game before and indeed after launch.
Steven Lumpkin is one of the team members working on the game and, in a little aside, he has done a lot of videos with TotalBiscuit on Youtube and in those discussions he has been adamant that the game is going to be true to the world of Warhammer 40,000. He even runs their Dark Heresy role-playing game online so it’s well worth noting that he is a proper nerd on the subject as are a lot of the studio!
It should also be noted that the team are looking to make this game potentially without the need for a publisher. If they get enough backers to their Founders program then they won’t need a publisher and they can go it alone making this FOR the fans. Every time you hear the developers speak on livestreams and videos they are dedicated to making this a game for people who love Warhammer 40,000 and this kind of genre.
In addition the payment structure after launch isn’t going to be Pay2Win. They have instead dubbed it Pay2LookCool. Yep, you will be buying cosmetic items that make you look awesome rather than anything that boosts your potential to own your enemies. All the fighting and combat is still on your back and indeed down to your skill.
I’m a firm believer that you should never pre-order a game because you have no idea what you’re getting but with something like this, and a powerful enough PC to run it, you might want to consider exploring the option of funding the game. They have a ‘warts and all’ style approach to game design and if the feedback is taken on board at each stage then you’re investment should be pretty secure.
The decision is yours. Just go into this with your eyes open. The game is not ‘ready’ and it’s in an early stage of production. There is a long way to go and you shouldn’t be expecting an immediate payoff.
All screenshots from AngryJoe’s Gameplay Video
Do you like the sound of the game as it stands?
"Just been into combat and fought off a four hour advance by Orks who want your base?"
"...the payment structure after launch isn't going to be Pay2Win. They have instead dubbed it Pay2LookCool."