Today we dive into the latest 40K video game released – Warhammer 40,000 Armageddon. Just how good is it?
In addition to my plastic crack habit, I am an avid board gamer and computer (not video) game player. For the most part, I play Real Time Strategy (RTS) games like StarCraft and Tiberium Wars. This week, though, let’s take a look at GWs latest addition to the family, a Turn Based Strategy (TBS) game called Warhammer 40k Armageddon.
How Does it Look?
For those of you Old Schoolers out there, Armageddon will immediately bring flashbacks of the classic TBS, Panzer General. The feel of game play and look of the units will take you back to the glory days in the fields of Poland and France, circa 1939-40. That being said, this game is distinctly 40K.
The overall storyline means that you will start the game as the commander of a small Astra Militarum force. You will eventually have the opportunity to play Space Marines. If you are not interested in playing “Guard” or Marines, then this game may not be for you. But if you are open to that experience or are a veteran Guard player or Marine fanboy, you will not be disappointed in the options available. Your opponents will, of course, be Orks.
In regards to the graphics, yes, they are a bit “classic.” No high end graphics or state-of-the-art cinematics here. If you are expecting video game quality, you have come to the wrong place. IMO, though, the simplicity of the graphics lends to the stark landscape of Armageddon. The scenery is everything you would expect from a 40K venue. Sparse, dreary, monotone. The buildings are war-torn ruins, the mountains jagged and the landscape inhospitable. Frankly, if I had seen a tree or a field of grass, I would probably have been disappointed. The monotone nature of the landscape does not mean, however, that there are not plenty of opportunities for cover or fog of war. Try blindly moving your units into a group of buildings, and you are likely to get bushwacked by a crazed hoard of Orky goodness! Even the few “hive” tiles have the industrial feel that makes it work.
Now to talk about the units…WOW! Just about everything you can imagine is in here, including Super Heavies! From a unit of Conscripts to Warhound Titans and Baneblades, your thirst for 40K goodness will most certainly be satisfied. There is a plethora of vehicles available, including Forge World units like Destroyers and Vanquishers. The ubiquitous Chimera is there from the start, as are most of the Guard artillery units. Basilisks, Medusas, Hydras, Punishers, Griffons, all the Hellhound variants; you will find them here. The Marines come kitted out will all the standard units as well. There is no lack of variety when it comes to your choice of how you want to play this game in terms of your army build. The Orks have an equally wide variety of kit, including Super Heavies, Gretch, Boyz, Bikes, Mega Nobs, Warbosses, e.g.
How Does It PLAY?
Now let’s get to the game play. I would strongly encourage you to play the tutorial missions for two reasons. First, to become familiar with the game mechanics and units. This is especially true when it comes to which units best deal with enemy units. As you might expect, a Leman Russ is actually not the best thing to deal with a mob of Boyz; a Punisher or Flamer squad of infantry do the job nicely. The best units for recon seem to be Sentinels (including an Armageddon variant) and Salamanders. Those Sentinels are great acting as a trip wire to see when the enemy is arriving on the battlefield, or taking a peek at that group of “empty” buildings. You need to decide if you are going to kit your infantry squads out with Chimeras (I always do), and then learn when it is best to disembark them. You will also have a chance to inspect terrain effects; there are plenty of places to find cover. By the way, cover has a significant effect on combat. Use it at every opportunity.
The second reason to play the tutorials first is that it gives you an opportunity to cull your army. By this I mean that you start with pretty generic stuff. As you gain reinforcement points and units die, you can replace them with more effective ones, and also get the chance to see how other units work against certain opponents. It is highly instructive to see whether a Destroyer or Vanquisher will be more effective against armour. Which units are good against Mega Nobs? Which ones can bleed out those three mobs of 30 Boyz each? The time to experiment is during the tutorial and early main story missions.
Speaking of main story missions, this is a branching campaign style game, and your decisions affect the future options that you have. I really like the fact that you can save a game, then go back and try another branch by changing the base decision. Some will find the dialogue that goes with missions to be dry; I listen like a commanding officer receiving orders or an intel brief. It adds to the game if you decide to invest the time and get a bot more of the flavor of the venue. Another point is that if you are familiar with the Armageddon story, much of this will be familiar to you. I would still listen to the dialogues unfold. As far as the missions go, they may seem generic, but in terms of execution and objectives, they are varied and challenging. Capture objectives, escort a Titan, rescue downed flyer crews, hold a bridgehead, breakout…something for everyone.
Is it Worth It?
Would I recommend this game? You bet. I think just as games such as Space Marine for consoles, Relic for board gamers, or Black Library for fluff hounds, Armageddon allows us to experience the 40K universe from another perspective. I love pushing my plastic toys around a real table, but this allows me to do so when it is not convenient to find the time, venue or an opponent. Those digital units die just as quickly as the plastic ones.
I would also recommend buying and downloading it directly from the Slitherine website. Ever since Steam locked up my Dawn of War II games and can’t fix them, I am hesitant to put anything else in their not-so-tender care. The price is right as well…I got my for about $30 on the Slitherine site. I have played 10 missions so far…I would buy an expansion that offered other races/factions without hesitation.
Good luck Commander…you are going to need it!