Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector Preview

Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector
Black Lab Games / Slitherine

Games Workshop has been accused by many for lending out its venerable Warhammer IPs a little too liberally. Indeed, many of the Warhammer 40,000 games I come across are digital versions of dumpster fires. However, one company that has captured the grimdark vibe of the Warhammer 40K universe perfectly, is Slitherine—after all, they’ve either been developing or publishing these games for many years.

Slitherine has teamed up with Black Lab Games once again. Black Lab Games previously brought us the outstanding title, Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock. And although Cylons do resemble Space Marines somewhat, we’re in a whole new ball game here. Their new project, titled Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector, is almost upon us.

Battlesector’s main campaign takes place when the Primaris Space Marines relief fleets have just reached the Blood Angel chapter homeworld of Baal. What they find there are vast hordes of Tyranids munching on everything on the planet and turning it into protoplasmic goo. Part of the allure here is to showcase how the regular Space Marines interact with their more recent Primaris Space Marine cousins.

After all, these Primaris versions are bigger, stronger, faster, and have even more internal organs than the already Übermensch-y genetically modified Space Marines. And you’ll see that they waste no time getting to work—as soon as these babies touch down they start wading into the xenos (Warhammer 40K jargon for aliens) right away.

Gameplay-wise, each of your Blood Angels units has a number of movement points (MP) and action points (AP) that they can utilize during each round. One of the things that I really like about this game so far is that you can move, then stop, then move again, etc., instead of having to fully commit to a single movement, and then that’s it.

You can spend your action points shooting at Tyranids, throwing grenades at them, or activate any number of special skills or weaponry that each unit comes with. There’s Overwatch, where you can wait for xenos to rush you and then hose them down, but there’s also a lovely little maneuver that I’ve never seen in a tactical game—Fallback.

With Fallback, you can order a unit to execute a tactical retreat, i.e. move backward whilst firing at whatever foe they are facing. When they do, they’ll get a defensive buff. This maneuver comes in handy for when your frontline units have taken too much damage and you want to move them back behind other units (or cover) and get a free parting shot in there as well.

Speaking of combat, cover, range, and even elevation all come into play. Each of these elements also influences each unit’s accuracy and damage. In a cool twist, each of the units in the game has their own health bar, so getting a unit wiped out weakens that unit as a whole.

There are all sorts of nifty units for you to command in Battlesector. You’ve got your bolt rifle-armed Intercessors, badass Aggressors with grenade launchers, ground-shaking Librarian Dreadnaughts, uber-powered Sanguinary Priests, flying Assault Marines, and even Land Speeders. When you play your units aggressively, they are also awarded what’s called Momentum. Once you build up enough Momentum, your hero units can call in some devastating special attacks, such as air-to-ground strafing runs.

Visually, Battlesector has to be one of the best-looking Warhammer 40K games I’ve seen to date. Each unit, friend or foe, looks highly detailed, even when zoomed in close. But the combat effects are what really blew me away (no pun intended).

The thunderous staccato of bolter fire sounds fittingly heavy, while the melee sounds have a nice hefty clank to them. Seeing a squad of xenos attempt to rush a squad of your Blood Angeles and watching as they get melted down in weapon’s fire reminds me of some of the great combat scenes from Starship Troopers film.

So far, Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is shaping up to be one of the better Warhammer 40K titles out there. I do like the focus on two of the most iconic factions in the game at the moment and hope they add additional factions (Necrons, purdy please!)in the future.

RATING: 8.4/10

Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector has some great graphics so you’ll need a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. Therefore, you may just want to invest in a superior gaming rig:

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