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Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf Preview

Warhammer 40K fans have been burned time and time again with awful uses of the license thanks to Game Workshop allowing damn near any developer to use their IP for titles. However some great games have risen out of this arrangement including Total Warhammer and Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide. We're curious to see if Space Wolf is among the former or the latter.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf Preview

context

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf is a mix of tactical SRPG and pseudo-turn-based card game set in the Warhammer 40K universe. Originally a mobile title, developer Herocraft has ported it to PC and released on Steam in Early Access, with more content promised in the final release.

Being originally a mobile title, there’s always going to be concern in various aspects. Things like microtransaction-focused game design, low graphical fidelity and framerates, bad controls and other issues are extremely common among mobile games and ports to other platforms. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the game itself, and whether the port was done proper.

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Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf is available on Steam in Early Access for $11.99.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf Preview. Staying in the red circles at the end of a turn is death for that unit.

story

Space Wolf's story, like many other aspects of the game, is not very interesting but serviceable. The dialogue is written in the style of the world and setting so it doesn't feel particularly out of place. But after the characters droning on and on about the same things with no change of stakes really being felt by us in the gameplay, we simply got tired of it and ended up skipping dialogue as fast as possible pretty soon into the experience and not really going back. Being a mobile tactics game, it's not a big deal that the story element is lacking, the gameplay is what should be focused on more than anything else, so let's take a look at that right now.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf Preview. Lots of detail in the skull cracking!

gameplay

Jumping into gameplay, Space Wolf is very different from both other SRPGs and most card games. Every unit has a hand of cards, drawing one per turn, and turns pass on a system that’s reminiscent of ATB. A unit can use two cards per turn, one action point per card. Every card used generates a certain amount of effort, and that effort generated determines the future turn order. Effort counts down on all units in the map at the same time when a turn is ended, and the first unit to hit zero will take their turn next. This allows for interesting tactics, ending turns after using a single card to get another turn quickly or control the order in which one’s own units take their turns.

Speaking of the cards, they follow a pretty standard formula. Weapons can be used within specified ranges and have their own damage and accuracy values. Some of them have chain effects which can be comboed, as well as some weapons being equippable, and equipped weapons can be reloaded by other weapons that sure an ammo type. It’s simple enough to get a quick grip on the mechanics of the game, but it’s not so boring as to make the card system pointless. It serves its purpose, nothing more and nothing less.

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Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf Preview. The menu UI is functional, and that's about it.

presentation

In terms of graphics and presentation Space Wolf is nothing special. Being a mobile title, there’s not much in terms of expectations for high fidelity graphics or support for all sorts of different aspect ratios. That said, it looks fine, it’s nothing special but considering this was a mobile game it’s a pleasant surprise to see vegetation and textures that actually look good.

The only gripe is for whatever reason, anytime the game zooms in on particle effects like fire, it’ll drop the framerate pretty harsh, but considering it’s a turn based game, we can excuse a split-second drop every once in a while. The only other part to talk about is the art style and the UI, which are both serviceable sure, but we would’ve appreciated some legitimate stylization of the game. As it stands they’re not particularly outspoken.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf Preview. A rage mode attack allows the player to click for more damage.

overall

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf is nothing special or particularly interesting. While it's better than some of the other titles to come out of Game Workshop's shotgun policy of handing out their license to anyone, it's just not noteworthy in any capacity. Other games from the IP have been much more noteworthy, like Space Marine and Total Warhammer, both of which are available on PC.

There are also other card games which arguably are more engaging and don't bother with a story mode, or have better story modes than what's on offer here, things like the Magic: Duels of the Planeswalker games. They may not have the SRPG element to them that Space Wolf does, but considering how much better the other titles are in gameplay and in other aspects, it comes as difficult to recommend. The developers deserve major props for releasing a mobile title without nonsense microtransactions and having it be a proper PC port, but one has to ask if it was worth porting it to this platform anyway.

Pros Cons
 + Combat and the SRPG genre lend themselves both to strategy and interesting gameplay
 – Combat and gameplay are also both relatively simple and don't offer much
+ A proper port, mostly, runs at 1080p/60 FPS without any issues it seems
 – Doesn't do anything new to warrant playing over other better card games and SRPGs

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