It’s been over 18 months since AIR Entertainment first reviewed the 4x strategy game Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War. In fact, I reviewed it myself, giving it a 9 out of 10 and saying it was “a silky smooth and addicting strategy title.” I even said that all I wanted was a sequel with more playable races, because your old pal jonny forgot about the wonderful world of DLC.
Since then, developer Proxy Studios has helped fulfill my wish. They added an expansion pack enabling players to wage war as the Tyranids, which I also reviewed favorably; and a Chaos Space Marines expansion pack. Recently, they released another DLC pack in which you can take on the role of the T’au Empire, an often-overlooked race of tech fanatics in the Warhammer 40k universe. Our friends at Slitherine Ltd. were kind enough to provide us a review code for the T’au DLC, which was released in late February, so I’m happy to return once more to the hex-grid battlefield and see what’s new.
As for why this review is so late, well, you’re just gonna have to figure that shit out for yourself. Onward!
In my time reviewing this game and its DLC, I’ve come to recognize and respect what makes the game so great: the incredible difference in gameplay based on whichever race of space folk you choose. This isn’t a title that simply adds new gameplay modes to switch up the experience. Franchises like Call of Duty boast a single player campaign, 694 types of multiplayer, zombies and now battle royale. That’s fine, but Warhammer 40k: Gladius goes the opposite route. You’re always on a hex-grid battlefield doing the 4x thing (building up resources and cities, taking your troops out on turn-based exploration, researching new soldier types, etc.), so the challenge is finding a race whose play style meets yours and then adapting yourself to them, discovering the nuances and tricks they have up their sleeves and mastering them in order to dominate the other players and races.
Thus, the T’au add a new dynamic to the gameplay. They rely far more heavily on tech than some of their counterparts. One major component is that players can expect to find soldiers deploying simple, controllable bots early on in a match in order to supplement T’au soldiers. For example, some bots can set up a force field on a block for one turn, stopping enemies from charging T’au units. This is great for turning the tables on melee-based enemy classes who must be on neighboring tiles to injure you. Other bots are scouts, with the ability to travel far ahead each turn and get the lay of the land so your troops can prepare.
The trick is balancing your bots and your soldiers. When a soldier deploys a bot, there’s a lengthy cooldown phase—up to 10 turns—before more can be deployed. Additionally, bots can fire at enemies, but Proxy Studios has made sure that their firepower leaves something to be desired. In other words, you can’t just spawn one unit of basic soldiers and have them sit at home drinking Mai Tais while their little sentry bots go out and do all the heavy lifting. It’s essential to have each complement the other.
The tech-dependent T’au shine in other ways as well. Jet packs help hovering hero characters avoid toxic ground blocks like wire weed and traverse over water. Some flying vehicles can serve as tank characters while others can transport up to six separate units of soldiers around faster than they can travel on foot. If you prosper enough, you’ll soon find yourself with a fleet of badass mechs traversing the planet.
Of course, in order to maintain a healthy game balance, the T’au are not always exceptionally strong. If you don’t keep an eye on their health or have a good variety of units in your company, you can find yourself outnumbered, outgunned and outlived in no time. In a few turns, you can go from The Expendables to the last minute of the Leeroy Jenkins video in a heartbreaking defeat.
As I said with my Tyranids review, I can’t bring myself to offer a numbered score to a DLC pack, so I’m going to rank this on a “Buy / Do Not Buy” system. In the case of the T’au DLC, I definitely recommend purchasing it if you’re a fan of the T’au Empire or if you’re looking for a new way to play Gladius. Enjoy it, soldier!