Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is a TBS game set in the Warhammer universe developed by Black Lab games and published by Slytherin Software. We’ve already had a look at the beta but here’s our final opinion on the game so strap in and get ready for some glorious combat against Tyranid filth as we dive into our Battlesector PC Review!
Battlesector see’s you taking on the role of the blood angels, space marines with a particular lust for blood and violence in battle that almost got wiped out when they fought off leviathan, a huge invasion of Tyranid forces that were defeated at great cost to the entire imperium. There are still Tyranids to kill on Baal, the blood angels homeworld, and the new marines sent to restore the blood angels need some target practice.
As previously stated in the preview, I’m not knowledgeable on warhammer and wont try to weigh up the merits of the story in any great detail, but if you’re interested in learning about the universe like myself then you could definitely do worse. The story isn’t necessarily drip fed and can feel like quite a jolt between the long missions, plus it’s easy to forget details in-between. That being said, I was finding myself held firmly by the consistent tone and characterisation that oozes out of this game from its every pore.
The game is clearly made with love towards fans of the series in terms of it’s lore, but also gives you enough to go of as someone new to the experience like myself, without overwhelming you. Huge fan of Warhammer? Great, story you’ll recognise. Just want to see some manly military men fight with chainswords? Gotcha covered. But hey, if you’re not a Warhammer fan or a fan of constant macho space military talk I have to wonder why you even considered a Warhammer game in the first place, because Battlesector delivers exactly what you’d want thematically and atmospherically.
Having not played many turn based strategy games, I can’t weigh Battlesectors merits against the genre, but I can confidently say it’s a genuine thinking game that can’t be brute forced or randomly guessed, even if that is a low bar for this genre. Strategy is definitely required and an intimacy of understanding all of your units ideal strengths and positioning will see you breezing through fights instead of getting ambushed and surrounded. On one mission I had to restart because I had spread my units too thin and was quickly eliminated, so I kept the units in a tighter formation as I moved through the map and cleared the level in half the time.
Into the specifics though; firstly, the tutorial. When I played the preview the tutorial was incomplete and frankly just a bunch of units you could sandbox with to get some bearings. Now it’s been fully realised with step by step instructions and thorough explanation of the units commands and options. The best part, there are only three tutorials, each about two minutes long to teach you what you need to know. It’s sleek, condensed and gets you up and running in ten minutes, great stuff.
Secondly, I’m unsure if it was an addition to the main game or something I missed in the preview, but now when an enemy is highlighted for a particular attack you get a small dialogue telling you percentage hit chance, as well as the damage output. This is incredibly useful and lets you reposition and switch attacks until you find the best combination without having to waste valuable time experimenting to find this information, which can kill your enthusiasm stone dead if you get it wrong and have to restart.
And thirdly, the unique mechanics: Overwatch, Momentum and Command Points. Overwatch is as useful and vital as in the preview, allowing you to set up a firing line that gets activated when enemies move into it, essentially letting you attack enemies on their turn instead of yours. The second is momentum, which I find hard to fully love. In theory it’s great, the more enemies you continuously kill the more momentum you build, and once its maxed out for a unit they either get an extra attack on a turn, or an ability improves the next time its used.
This would be useful if it weren’t for the fact that you lose momentum when you don’t fully utilise a unit, which can easily happen when the action is all over the place and different units attack on different turns. Over the course of my time with Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector I think I only managed to utilise the momentum system a couple of times, but ultimately that could be me just being a sub par player. As a mechanic it shows potential, but I couldn’t utilise it enough to make it feel truly inspired.
Command Points however are incredible and if it was in the preview, I feel sad I didn’t use it. If not, it’s a great little extra bit to either help clean up or turn the tide. Command Points slowly build up as you take out enemies and build up objectives, and require both the appropriate amount to use an ability, plus an action point from the commander unit. However, the pay off is huge, as the ability I used the most required one command point, and is essentially calling in air support as a drop ship annihilates anything in a four tile line. There are other abilities I used less often, but this is a great addition to the gameplay that feels like a strategic wild card you can play to turn the tide.
Overall, the gameplay is still enticing and thought provoking, and the many systems never feel bogged down due to the good tutorials and the gradual unlocking of new units and abilities as the game progresses. The unique mechanics add to the gameplay instead of detracting, so if you’re a fan of Turn based games I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy Battlesector’s gameplay.
Also added are a skirmish and multiplayer mode, with the skirmish being a fully customizable ‘freeplay’ mode, allowing you to customize both factions units, the map, rounds played and points limit. The multiplayer allows you to play either natively or online, unfortunately I wasn’t able to try out the online currently but I’ll be giving my best once the player base picks up.
There’s very little to say that hasn’t already been said in the preview regarding the artistic style and aesthetics. All the units look suitably menacing with unique models allowing for very quick battlefield analysis even zoomed out, the animations are weighty and crisp (as much as can be conveyed by essentially miniatures), and the environments, whilst basic, have enough visual flare to feel like actual places and not just generated terrain maps.
The audio of Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is a standard fare, with units having unique dialogue lines when selected or under attack, with weapons like chainswords and plasma rifles clearly having thought and care put into the feel their sounds would give to the attacks. The voice acting for cutscene dialogue is great, delivered with a real guttural feel but a sense of control as well, like these are toughened military warriors rather than steroid abusing maniacs with guns.
The OST is also largely unchanged from the preview and hits all the right notes for the atmosphere and tone being conveyed, a unique blend of universe spanning majesty coupled with this bleak desperation of constant war, something I’ve come to realise is extremely Warhammer.
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector – Verdict
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is a pretty good TBS game, with great unit variety and provides a fully immersive Warhammer experience, at least for a novice to the universe like myself. The gameplay was engaging, showed me some complex mechanics succinctly and there’s enough visceral feedback to make you really feel like you’re mowing your way through Tyranid scum. It can drag on sometimes and occasionally the scale and number of units to command is daunting, but overall it’s a great experience and I’d recommend it to fans of TBS games and Warhammer alike.