Mordheim: City of the Damned Review (PS4)

Reminiscent of the classic Mordheim board game, take control of your warband in this turn-based RPG where you battle throughout the city streets in search of power, glory, loot, and the extremely valuable Wyrdstone fragments. The comet may have brought destruction, but it influenced even more chaos in the aftermath. Everything you need to know about the game can be found right here!

Mordheim: City of the Damned Review

Introduction

Mordheim: City of the Damned is a tactical turn-based RPG, based on Games Workshop's tabletop game Mordheim. Developed by Rogue Factor and published by Focus Home Interactive, the game makes its way to consoles after almost a year of being available to the PC community. After a comet crashes into the city, the different warbands begin battling for control, power, and most importantly, the Wyrdstone Fragments. Play as one of the factions in campaign mode or test your talents in online skirmishes against player opponents. You can buy the game on Steam or PlayStation Store or Xbox Marketplace for $39.99.

Gameplay

To say the game is a board game in your television is fairly loose; it has many of the same qualities and characteristics but it brings it into another play style that almost modernizes it (not saying board games are old in a bad way). It's small squad skirmishes play out in the turn-based fashion, but instead of a tile designed map where you move along a grid, you'll move them freely within circular areas. The boundary will be lit as a blue line. Each move you're allowed so many strategy points (SP) to work with, but keep in mind everything you do takes points; movements, stances, climbing, etc. You're not limited to the first circle area, though, but you will spend one of these points by passing it, where you'll enter another circular area signifying your next action point. The feeling of almost freely moving makes a big difference in the comparison to board games but still holds the essence. To better distribute the points and actions, you're given a second allotment of points known as Offence Points (OP) that will be used for combat-related actions. Occasionally you'll need to spend some of both points to perform something.

Both diversity and longevity (replay value) are found with the multiple factions to play as and build up. There're four different warbands in the base game: The Sisters of Sigmar, Cult of the Possessed, Skaven, and Mercenaries from the Empire (as of now you can also purchase the Witch Hunters DLC for more campaigning and units). Each one has unique designs, attacks, units, equipment, and more. If you've played XCOM you'll have an idea how the units you recruit work. They only get one life, so when they are killed in a skirmish, they are lost forever, and you'll then need to recruit new members. They may also survive a skirmish but yield serious damages. The more time you invest playing, the better equipment you'll gain to equip everyone with, ultimately allowing you to take on harder and more rewarding missions, as well as strength through experience they earn. In general, you'll have to keep your band of warriors running with some management aspects. You need to have a leader, which you are given to start, and you'll need to hire a hero and a few henchmen. You'll be able to swap out your leader and hero later.

Mordheim: City of the Damned Skaven Massacre
It doesn't get too complicated after you understand your role regarding managing them. They won't work for you and risk their lives for personal enjoyment, but instead as a means to get paid. Upon completing the missions you'll need to appropriately pay them what they ask from you or risk losing them. Keeping them paid well and alive will mean you get them at their best when it's needed most as you progress through levels. Along with the somewhat basic missions, you'll be able to go hunting for Wyrdstone fragments in order to fulfill shipment orders (these and are incredibly worth it). You won't be able to simply farm the hell out of the fragments; the longer your men are hunting, the more exposure they get to Warp. After so much exposure they will begin Chaos, meaning they need to be killed. It's design of missions and balancing risk and reward make the game feel diverse and worthy of your time managing it all.

In total, the game is simple in idea but complex throughout its core. Gameplay mechanics require not only time to play, but time to learn, and there is a large learning curve to it. The difficulty is found in both aspects, though; the challenging learning of everything as well as the challenge of actual objectives and missions. It'll take you time to grasp how it runs and operates, but luckily there are a dozen tutorial levels that will walk you through everything you need to know. They aren't required but highly recommended. Upon completion them, though, you'll really just need time playing the game to feel comfortable. After a few hours, you'll start to just blissfully battle in the city of Mordheim and march your warband to control and power. There's also an online feature to test when you feel ready, where you'll be pitted against another player 'warband y warband' to the death.

Mordheim: City of the Damned Witcher

Sound and Graphics

The audio sits more on the side of action and in-game sound effects than it does with the music, but it's probably better in that regards. The music is relevant to the deathly tone of everything but doesn't stand out as a soundtrack. It's more complimentary of everything else. When you're sitting there waiting for the enemy to make their turns, things can get a little boring until you hear the sound of the enemy nearby and prepared to attack. The voice of the narrator sounds similar to the one who also spoke during the old Warcraft games. He plays almost like a moderator with his voice, telling of who's turn it is and such.

The graphics are a little lackluster in detailed appearance but are far from terrible. The streets of Mordheim look eerie and dark enough that slapping on the "City of the Damned" feels more than appropriate. The gothic European vibe you get from the structures and objects laying around the environment immerse you into the demented tone of the game. Character models, for humans, skavens, and more, all have a nice amount of detail to them as well, but fall short of anything spectacular (but again, nothing to complain about as it serves their purpose and more). The visual effects of magic spells, specifically fire, feel a little underwhelming, though. I felt as if they didn't truly carry the intensity they should, but that is probably my only complaint in regards to the presentation and graphics.

Mordheim: City of the Damned Ambushed in the Streets

Conclusion

There's no doubt about it, Mordheim: City of the Damned has a pretty strong learning curve to it, but well worth the investment. The gameplay is really fun, interesting, and violent, making every adventure and skirmish a pure tactical/strategy experience. After playing through the tutorial I found learning the mechanics of the game inside and out were fairly easy but did require some additional experience on my end to work out my own bugs as a player. Once I got past the hump, it was a rewarding adventure.

The game gives you diversity in the warbands to control as well as the freedom to manage your squad, ultimately translating to a good amount of replay value. Although it is a pretty modernized version of the board game, it brings all the same characteristics and qualities of it, which may be a deterrent from those who have no played them or have an interest in their style. It's a worthy title if its universe and gameplay attract you. Hopefully, the game will receive a few updates and patches smoothing the technical issues out, but as it stands now, it is a very enjoyable game (if you have the time and will to invest time into it).

PROSCONS
 + Grim and dark environments of chaos – Strong learning curve
 + Quality RPG elements and growth – Occasional technical issues and bugs
 + Modernizes a classic board game – Menus, text logs, and more menus
7.8
Good

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