Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader Preview: A Refreshing Adventure

The newest Warhammer 40k game, Rogue Trader offers players a unique take on classic XCOM-style mechanics. Created by Owlcat Games, Rogue Trader is the perfect fusion of Grimdark and traditional RPG. 

Warhammer 40000 Rogue Trader Preview A Refreshing Adventure

Welcome to the Grimdark setting of Warhammer 40,000, a time of infinite war and few comforts. In this time of unending toil, you shall take the role of a Rogue Trader, and embark throughout the Kronous Expanse! Along this journey, you will meet powerful allies from all walks of life, and of all ranges of power to assist your survival. Your decisions will shape the expanse as you choose the path of a faithful imperial, the route of a heretic, or the compassionate human. No matter your choice, you will be faced with the various horrors of void space. In your goals, powerful warp entities will attempt to sway your choices and fold you to their own ends. Better still, you will hold the means of marking your own destiny as you confront the powerful Break of Dawn.

Mixing elements of classic franchises like Diablo, and Fallout, Owlcat Games has created a wonderful classic RPG set in the Warhammer 40k universe. From space Marines and inquisitors to the Adeptus Mechanicus and Sisters of Battle, there are tons of mainstays to find. Each of these characters is meant to hold their own specific strengths and weaknesses like any traditional tactical shooter. The interactive leveling system grants Rogue Trader a feeling of true customization for each of these characters. Truly the endless possibilities make this game a competent addition to the Warhammer franchise, being relatable to Mechanicus. It’s clear that the developers have tried to mix their own fresh content with lore books to produce the story! Offering a new chaotic entity centered around the basis of destiny, making an interesting addition to the lore.

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is coming soon to PC on Steam.

Feature Trailer | Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader

Story – Lovingly Crafted

The story of Rogue Trader inspires a sense of classic adventure within the Grimdark universe of Warhammer 40k. Mixing elements of mystery, valorous combat, and hidden plots you’re brought around the Kronous Expanse in an exciting action-packed adventure. With a unique approach to the general setting that evokes not only dramatics but the occasional laugh along the way. With a campy feel to some of the interactions mixed with serious undertones of real mental crises, Rogue Trader is a story of grief and renewal. 

Unique Delivery

The story is told primarily through text-based interactions with limited voice acting. The use of text fonts and colors allows for an interesting attempt at storytelling but feels ultimately cluttered. There are lore notes and subtexts that are both hard to follow and ultimately overwhelming at times. The most difficult aspect of the delivery of this story is its overwhelming text boxes. On multiple occasions, the writing seems overly complex for no reason, and overly confusing. These both take away from the story’s progression but also serve to pad out the game time as they take longer to read. Overall this could be remedied with simply more text boxes but the gameplay makes up for this issue.

Gameplay – Entertaining

Rogue Trader will instantly feel comforting to classic gamers who play titles such as Fallout 1 and 2, XCOM, and the Diablo franchise. In this way, it shares the open character creation system as well as the table-top-like turn-based mechanics. With a wide variety of playable classes and a sense of real consequence for losing, it’s a competent tactical shooter in its own right. Focusing on aggressive combat and team cohesion, Rogue Trader chooses to be difficult with short-term consequences. Characters do not die, but rather become unconscious allowing for more lenient gameplay. This favors players who want a traditional role-playing experience and not a die-hard situation like XCOM can. 

The break of dawn serves as the main antagonist of Rogue Trader

The Break of Dawn

Unappealing A.I. & Superb Combat

The A.I. in Rogue Trader can be a mixed bag due to the nature of it being in Beta. Occasionally, allied A.I. will choose to endanger your main forces by attacking enemies close to them. Often, this A.I. will intentionally put themselves in a position where they are quickly killed. Along this premise, Rogue Trader has chosen to implement friendly fire which makes the entirety of the game that much harder. Near constantly your own team will be damaged by NPCs who want a single kill. Despite this, the snappy controls and commands make the game navigable and each battle new and exciting!

Each ally has a different set of abilities that can work together with one another to achieve victory. Due to the fact that the game is turn-based, you can pay for abilities with action points as well as magic points. There is a tabletop feel that is created by the leveled character sheets, which encourages creativity among players. In the game, there are four types of combat: melee attacks, ranged attacks, Psyker actions, and skill abilities. All four of these types of games involve magic and explosives in some way or another. It’s important to note that the combat is not difficult, rather has a puzzling gimmick at times to make the fight more long-lasting. Sometimes these are not immediately apparent and thus can take multiple times to beat.

Amazing Character Creation

The character customization choices in Rogue Trader are truly something magical. With an eye for detail, the creators have chosen almost any role someone would want to play as. Mainstay forces in the Imperium are available to the player, however, there are some notable forces lacking. It’s widely believed that some of these will become more available as the game comes closer to release! The character creation is open and rounded, each style being able to complete the game on any of the three moralities. The differences between them come and end with how you start, as leveling up can get you any perks in the game. 

Hero of the Imperium

Hero of the Imperium

Beyond creating your character, there are plenty of perks, weapons, and equipment to personalize your character. In this regard, it feels like a homage to Diablo except with far more creative freedom. Perks in-game can allow for even simple weapons and armor to be extremely useful, emphasizing a level of player choice. The most important aspect of Rogue Trader is to make the experience as personalized as possible for the player. In this regard, they do so in spades by allowing you more freedom than perhaps any other Warhammer 40k title!

Improvable U.I. & Entertaining Activities

The user interface of Rogue Trader has a claustrophobic feel with too many pop-ups and more information. The entire game feels like it needs to be paced out longer to get across the information it wants to, but rushes to do otherwise. There’s a fair amount of free interfacing as you can traverse and move as you please through their tightly created maps. The hotkeys and number controls work well and are placed in such a manner that makes sense to the user. The only major issue is the camera spin controls are less than ideal and move exceedingly fast. 

The quests of Rogue Trader can go from generic and entertaining to whacky and unexpected. It seems that each of them aims to present the Imperium in a more humanized light. In the absence of navigational assistance, or if a limited map system is used, this can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. In this game, it is easy to get lost in the world because it is long and cluttered, which makes it easy to get lost. Despite this navigation issue, the mix of combat and dialogue in between keeps the world flowing and interesting!

Complex character creation and UI make this game both versatile and immersive!

Immersive character customization

Favorite Features

Some of my favorite features include the well-rounded cast of characters, particularly Pasqal and Argenta. The mix of humanizing some of these more potent figures with aspects of their Grimdark setting makes for compelling storytelling. The character creation system is also another favorite as it combines classic dungeons and dragons feels with the 40k universe! The challenging and unique combat situations with puzzling mechanics and fair combat systems. Finally, the fact these characters all resemble minis from the tabletop allows for a more nostalgic approach to the game itself. In short, this game is trying to touch on all manners of classic comforts, and succeeds in spades!

Much Needed Improvements

Despite the fact that Rogue Trader has a lot of benefits, it could also use a lot of polishing. There are several improvements that could be added to make the game feel more user-friendly. For one, add in a more competent companion A.I. that doesn’t attempt to shoot your main cast in the back. The reworking of enemy weapons to have a range akin to the players would also be useful. Oftentimes it feels like the enemy is capable of ripping holes through the main cast from distances unachievable by the players themselves. 

Adding more unique loot drops and customizable companions would also add to the quality of life for Rogue Trader. For instance, being able to create a character purely for a companion position instead of just the leader. Making the availability of more specialized enemy units can also change the pace of gameplay a lot. In short, at times the enemies feel dull except for the odd demon, there should be more to do and kill in the game. Finally adding more quests and faction interaction when trading with other nations would make the game feel more like a mercantile experience. A large part of the game’s story is being a rogue trader, however, in all cases it’s left to more being a private mercenary. 



Slow Game Progression Pacing

One of the hardest aspects of Rogue Trader‘s gameplay is by far the sheltered nature of its map traversal. The beta-testing nature of this game implies the maps aren’t fully finished, however, at best the experience felt very sheltered. At multiple points, there are dialogue options that do nothing further but send you down the opposite path. It’s hard to note that this game has these choices when they all amount to one of three options or the same result either way. Combat progresses quickly at times, picking up the pacing as you get further into the experience. Quests take a decent amount of time, however, dialogue pacing is incredibly hard to get through. Everything is dense and claustrophobic leading to a sense of being weighed down by the story itself.

A Passion Project

It’s clear despite its downfalls that Owlcat Games hold a deep respect for the Warhammer 40k universe. They are at their heart interested in creating a game that gives people a unique experience in this landscape, and they succeed! There may be a number of polishing needs, but undoubtedly the unique cast, story, and gameplay merit support. The loving care spent on each character’s design and the weaponry shows a group of people interested in fun gameplay dynamics. The story can be difficult to take in at times, however, once you settle down the humor is clearly present. Not only do these folks take their game seriously, but also the factor of fun they wanted to employ! All around; Rogue Trader was a joy to play, and the full release will be something to look forward to!

Visuals – Refreshing Quality

The graphics, animations and visual effects of Rogue Trader tells of simplistic design pulled to the outer reaches. The graphics are simple, the effects ambient, and the world’s somber as it should be for a faraway place in the grim dark universe. Its XCOM-inspired layouts for combat feel cluttered and claustrophobic, the world dark and foreboding in nature. There’s an emphasis on junk and debris across every facet of the world resembling something straight out of a natural disaster. The animations of combatants pop out, Flamers and Meltas cutting through the dull rusted steel of the Kronos Expanse. 

Ecclesiarch Dialogue

Ecclesiarch Dialogue

The character designs themselves are well done, feeling very in place for the setting they’re set in. Special attention was given to the weaponry and armor that changes the appearance of characters as they wield it. Finally, the general scheme of the layout lends to a mini/ cartoon character feel as it’s clear this is a videogame and not trying to be realistic. The overall gameplay is easy on the standard computer system, while also maintaining its own tastes. It is by no means a game that will have 4k graphics, but instead is competent as a top-down adventure RPG!

Audio – Stellar Production

When it comes to audio in Rogue Trader it feels like it isn’t completely finished yet. For instance, the game is widely text-based with some choice character expressions when actions are committed. It feels as though this game would benefit from more of its stellar voice cast. The soundtracks are great and don’t feel overly annoying or obnoxious while exploring the general world. Stylistic effects in animations aren’t overwhelming and have a good mix of sound animation. The emotional tones of the music during important dialogue succeed in helping the story carry on through slower sections. 

Overall, the sound of Rogue Trader is good for those who enjoy orchestra or choir music. It lends itself to the opera-like classical tones that you can expect from the Grimdark Warhammer universe. The music fits the styling and themes of this game perfectly but isn’t overwhelming at the same time. The tasteful use of music through each map helps the combat feel more engaging and sets a tactical tone. It feels both alien and familiar at the same time, something that sticks with you throughout the entire playthrough.

The Beta Test for Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader took place over Steam, with a key provided by Dead Good PR.

Despite its rough edges, Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader is a fun experience. The gameplay is reminiscent of Fallout, XCOM, and Diablo. Rogue Trader offers diverse character customization in beta. Consisting of charming characters and driving gameplay that's sure to leave a lasting impact.
  • Rewarding Tactical Gameplay
  • Fully Customizable Characters
  • Refreshing Classic RPG Elements
  • In Depth Text Dialogue
  • Claustrophobic Atmosphere
  • Confusing Maps and Objectives
  • Limited Open World Exploration
  • Immediate Lore Discrepancies

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