PREVIEW: Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector

Apr
08

PREVIEW: Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector

A first look at the latest (of many) fight between the Blood Angels Space Marines and the Tyranids

Upcoming: Steam
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Genre: Strategy, Tactics
Developer: Black Lab Games
Publisher: Slitherine Ltd.
Release date: May, 2021

The Tyranids and the Blood Angels have a long history together. It was the Blood Angels who first discovered the Tyranids, and nearly got wiped out in the process. And now their home world of Baal is threatened.

Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is an upcoming turnbaed tactics game set in the venerable Warhammer 40,000 universe, and the first PC game that’s set during the “current” events of the 40k universe, with the new Primaris marines leading the charge against the Tyranid threat. Though who are these Primaris marines really, and can you trust them?

This is a preview written based on a preview build of the game with two levels in it. The game is scheduled to be released sometime in May.

A tyrannofex, one of the larger gribblies the tyranids have access to

Story

Roboute Guilliman, the Primarch (creator) of the Ultra Marines have returned and he’s bringing a great gift. The Primaris Marines. These marines are stronger and better equipped than ever the regular Space Marines. For many they’re viewed as saviors, who will turn the tide against the forces that threaten the Imperium of Man. But not everyone view them that way. Is this a way to try and control the other Space Marine chapters, and are they truly “Space Marines” or are they just vat-born creations that look like them?

From the Blood Angels, one of the first, and proudest Space Marine chapters these newcomers are met with suspicion. But can they afford to question the motives of Roboute Guilliman and the Primaris marines he brings when their very existence are threatened by the Tyranid Hive fleet?

A librarian dreadnought staring down a tyrannofex as flames keep shooting out of a leaking fuel pipe

Presentation

Battlesector is a pretty big step up in terms of graphics compared to Sanctus Reach, Slitherine’s last tactics game set in the 40k universe. Sanctus Reach was criticized at launch for looking a bit dated, but Battlesector genuinely looks quite good. The character models are of a pretty high quality and there’s some good lighting going along with that. And more importantly everything looks faithful to its source material. Both the forces of the Blood Angels and the Tyranids have units that look very faithful to their tabletop counterparts and they’re well modeled and animated. This is backed up with some pretty good sound design. Gunfire has a nice “omph” to it and the tyranid weapons sound suitably disgusting. And that’s without any of the really heavy weapons being available in the preview build.

Space Marines, always leaving a mess…

Gamplay

Ever played Sanctus Reach (if not, you should give it a try, it’s great), then this game will have a lot of familiar elements. Units are grouped into squads that you can’t split up, and everyone moves on a square grid. The game uses an IGOUGO system, that is you move your troops, then the enemy movies theirs. It’s all pretty straight forward. Many units also have different abilities, be it your regular troops being able to throw grenades, your assault marines being able to make long jumps with the jet engines strapped to their backs and your apothecary being able to heal your troops. The tyranids also seem to have their own unique abilities suitable for intergalactic space bugs, though they were not available to try.

In the preview build there were two missions available, one where you were meant to take and then hold a defensive location as swarms of smaller tyranids that, and the other was about trying to save a Librarian Dreadnought (that is a fallen space marine with immense psychic powers who’s kept alive in a walking sarcophagus with guns strapped to it. Yes the 40k setting is silly!). The two missions were both quite good and hopefully the full game will be as varied as these two.

A group of aggressors opening up on some poor gaunts

Closing Words

The preview build of Battlesector has made me really hopeful for the full game. I loved Sanctus Reach and Battlesector seems to be taking what worked from that game and making it even better, with a lot of small little tweaks here and there that make it more tactical, without being overwhelming or overly complex. Time will tell if the full game will be good as the preview build, but I’m at least looking forward to seeing more of Battlesector, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a massive Warhammer 40,000 fan.

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