I’ve been a big fan of turn-based strategy (TBS) games ever since I first played Master of Orion 2. Since that time, the Warhammer 40K franchise has gradually grown on me, even though back in the day, I couldn’t afford the miniatures.
Therefore, video game adaptations were much easier to get into since they were less expensive. However, not too many Warhammer 40K games have been that good, the exception being WH40K Dawn of War.
Fortunately, strategy master Slitherine have been coming out with great WH40K games for years now. Back in 2018, they debuted Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War, which was my first WH40K TBS game. The game came with four core factions—the Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Necrons, and Orks. Since then, they’ve added a veritable plethora of DLC, including additional factions such as the diabolical Chaos Space Marines and the ravenous Tyranids.
Since there isn’t any diplomacy like in most 4X games, many of the things I’ve always found tedious about the genre are non-existent, and the gameplay flows very well. Warhammer 40,000 Gladius is basically a 4x sandbox game. There is no preset campaign, but there is a questline option that nudges you in a general direction.
It also comes with a lot of options that you can toggle it off and do your own thing if you so desire, but it is a bare bones questline. I find it pretty helpful though, and enjoy following the emergent gameplay as it unfolds. Gladius is very much a play your way kind of game.
The map settings are highly customizable, down to how many terrain features you want. Other examples of settings include map size, wildlife density, resource density, allow/deny certain DLC, biome density (various biome choices per map), and much, much more.
Warhammer 40,000 Gladius is mostly based around combat and it really shines in its presentation. The units look absolutely phenomenal, and the animations are fun to zoom in and watch. I particularly enjoy queuing up several units quickly, and watching their movements and attacks unfold without pause.
Additionally, the soundtrack fits the dark future environs really well, and adds to the grimdark ambiance. Much like the Warhammer 40,000 universe, this game is all about war. The turns generally flow quickly, though I imagine that is in large part because I play against AI. This means no waiting on AFK players on the enemy team. I just have to wait for AFK players on my own team…
My experience in Gladius is with both Space Marines and Imperial Guard, mainly the latter. I find playing as the little squishy mortals to be fun since they don’t have any beefed up super-soldiers like the Space Marines and have to rely on overwhelming numbers and lots of vehicles to defeat their foes. It’s also a blast to play them against the Tyranids since it scratches that Aliens and Starship Troopers itch.
There’s a good mix of high-level strategy, tech-tree and resource management, as well as engaging unit vs unit tactics. Games rarely require the kind of commitment that a 4X game might typically need.
I’ve played several multiplayer games with 4-5 people, and it has been very stable. I’ve played exclusively versus the AI and find it quite adequate. To this point I’ve clocked over 180 hours in the game, and I’m still ready for more!
The quick game pace in Warhammer 40,000 Gladius and the truly remarkable graphics are the big sellers for this game. The one big wish list item I have would be the Dark Eldar faction, since they’re the last main race that hasn’t yet been added.
Warhammer 40,000 Gladius is a pretty darn great strategy game, and something I hope Proxy Studios, the developer, builds on. This amazing game has completely changed my outlook on Warhammer 40K games. I would definitely hold it up as one of the best Warhammer 40k games available in 2022.
Warhammer 40,000 Gladius is available on PC (Steam).
So, get those gaming PCs ready for action!
Score: 9 out of 10.