It’s not very often that members of the media get to play a game that’s only two months into actual production and they get to write about it. That’s one of the first things that excited me about Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade; I got a chance to play it while it’s still raw and rough around the edges. I’m not going to lie, the game’s not very pretty right now; the textures aren’t super high quality and the terrain is pretty bland, but the aesthetics of a pre-alpha build is hardly the most important selling point.
What impressed me the most about Eternal Crusade is the vision the team has for the game. It’s is either going to blow us all away, or it’s never going to reach launch. I don’t see it being released half-assed, with only a handful of the features that they plan to implement. Eternal Crusade takes place on the world of Arcona, which is a persistent world where players will select a faction of the 41st Millennium and fight over territory.
“I’m an immerse type of player, so let’s say you and I are 40,000 years in the future and 40k really happens. We’d be sent to Arcona and the type of things we’d experience in real life as a Space Marine, Eldar, Orc, or Chaos Space Marine we’re creating in here,” Miguel Caron, executive producer, said.
A NEW DAWN FOR PVP
Eternal Crusade is a third-person Massive Combat RPG that plans to have the largest twitch-based combat scenarios ever recorded in gaming. Currently there are plans to have a four-sided conflict between the Space Marines, Orks, Chaos, and Eldar with battles consisting of more than 1000 players at a time. Additionally, there are plans to implement a Tyranid threat that can spread across the planet if not contained. All of this is going to take place on a completely open world, with the use of cloud servers, to give a single-server experience.
“One of the main unique selling points is our backend technology. Arcona is a planet and a single-server technology, which means that Russian, American, Canadian, English are all on Arcona,” Said Caron.
With all this effort being put into PvP is there going to be any room left for a storyline? Probably not because the story isn’t going to be told to players, players are going to be creating their own story and writing the history for their world.
When asked about a lack of PvE aspects in the game Caron replied: “Why is this game not PvE? Sorry, but Space Marines spend 95% of their time killing people. We do have a PvE element, but it’s very small.”
However, just because there’s no storyline doesn’t mean that there isn’t going to be a lot of fan service put into the game. Warhammer 40,000 best-selling author Graham McNeill and Narrative Designer Ivan Mulkeen have been tasked with making sure the story behind the world is relevant and that every part of the game makes sense in the 40,000 universe. I could spend days talking about everything that’s planned for Eternal Crusade, but most of those details can be found on their FAQ.
BUT HOW DOES IT PLAY?
So there’s obviously a lot of hype here and a ton of ideas that sound amazing on paper, but how does this translate into actual gameplay? While they weren’t quite setup for 500vs500 action at PAX Prime this year, I did have a chance to play a much smaller scale 3vs3 skirmish. Despite being so early in development, the combat is actually pretty fun and the controls are responsive. The game plays very similar to Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine and features all of the tools that you would expect a faction to have. I had a chance to test out the Assault, Tactical and Devastator Space Marine classes, with the Assault being my favorite so far.
The quick maneuverability of the jetpack and melee dominance of the chainsword really favor my combat style, and the execution moves are quite brutal. The Tactical Marine comes equipped with a variety of ranged weaponry, including a sniper rifle, and the Devastator absolutely lays waste with the Heavy Bolter. Combat isn’t just about shooting and swinging swords either. Agility is obviously class dependent, but many attacks can be dodged, blocked or countered. The strengths of each class also clearly shine through as a single Devastator can hold a choke point, but once an assault gets in close most slower classes won’t stand a chance.
In addition to showing off the infantry classes there were also two vehicles available to play. The first vehicle I got to check out was a mammoth of a tank, the Predator. This thing has a massive main gun and a number of smaller turrets that can all be operated by different players. One thing to note about the vehicles is that they already look very similar to some of the models I’ve seen and every turret moves and is controlled independently of the others. Basically, the Predator is a rolling death machine. Next up was the Rhino, and while it might not be as intimidating as the Predator, it can serve a much more tactical purpose. The Rhino generally serves as the troop carrier for the Space Marines, but it can also but turned into a mobile waypoint. We were able to park our Rhino in a tactical location near the enemy’s base and use it as a respawn location to get back into the action more quickly.
AN IMPRESSIVE BEGINNING
With the few classes and vehicles available for testing, I can already tell that there’s going to be a lot of depth in Eternal Crusade. I can just imagine a group of Predators drawing enemy turrets’ fire while squads of Assaults take the enemy base by surprise. Each class feels unique and essential for a well-rounded gaming experience. It’s no fun when a game has five classes that all feel the same with slight modifications, but it doesn’t seem that way with Eternal Crusade; every unit and vehicle has its own place on the battlefield. Unfortunately it’s hard to make any real judgments based on what little is currently available, but the foundation for a great game is already underway. That being said, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is definitely one game I’m going to keep on my radar.Related: Event (Real Life), Hands On, PAX, PAX Prime, Warhammer 40k, Warhammer 40k Eternal Crusade