A Review of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader

Edmund_McGowan
edited December 2023 in Gaming

This week, we return to the dystopian future of the Warhammer 40k universe for a look at the latest offering in the renowned game franchise: Rogue Trader. Believe it, or not, Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader is the first classic CRPG (Computer Role Playing Game) set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. This exciting upcoming game, closely linked to the legendary tabletop game it originates from, is set in the Koronus Expanse, a treacherous, largely uncharted expanse of space at the edge of the Imperium.

Take control as Lord-Captain of the Rogue Traders, pirate-like adventurers, who operate on the fringes of the Warhammer 40k universe, discovering new worlds for the Imperium. Take command of your very own crew of Rogue Traders and pilot your giant void ship to the depths of the Koronus Expanse. Voyage between the many systems in the Koronus Expanse in search of profit and exploration, in a dark world where countless dangers lurk. Sounds like a nice place to spend a weekend? Read on to discover all you need to know about Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader.

Release date and developers

First things first, the Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader was released on 7 December 2023, for PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Windows, as well as Mac operating systems. Veteran RPG genre developer Owlcat Games is the mastermind behind Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. Owlcat is known for critically acclaimed and fan-loved games including Pathfinder Kingmaker and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous.

"In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war."

Aficionados of Warhammer 40k, feel free to skip this section, but for newcomers to the Warhammer universe, here we’ll cover the basics of the story. Originally a tabletop game, Warhammer 40k is set in the 41st millennium, a time of total, constant war. Led by the God-Emperor on the planet Terra (earth), The Imperium of Man stretches into the far reaches of the galaxy. The grimdark universe is filled with alien species, demonic foes, and chaotic entities, all intent on destroying humanity. The Imperium battles on in a relentless struggle to survive.

The Space Marines are the most well known warriors of the Imperium. Superhuman, gene-enhanced and fanatically loyal to the Emperor, the power armor-clad Space Marines feature in many of the numerous games in the Warhammer 40k franchise, from Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, and the upcoming Space Marine 2, to last year’s Warhammer 40K: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters. While the visually impressive Space Marines are the classic Warhammer 40k warriors, Rogue Trader takes a different approach…

Background story to Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader

As the title suggests, Rogue Traders are the protagonists in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. As we mentioned above, they are merchants and explorers, adventuring in the far-flung, uncharted reaches of the galaxy. Think Han Solo, but (mostly) without the rebel streak. Rogue Traders are permitted by the Imperium to explore new frontiers of space, and to trade with aliens. On top of this, Rogue Traders are also able to command space fleets and even run their own planets, without facing the authoritarian consequences of the Inquisition.

Gameplay: service, glory, or heresy?

In Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, your mission is to restore the trading empire of your predecessor Teodora, to its former glory. First you must create your own custom Rogue Trader, a lengthy task, with neat details including choosing your backstory: your choice of Triumph and Darkest Hour, impact how other characters interact with you as the game progresses. For those of you who just want to get stuck into the action, pre-generated characters are also available.

In the Warhammer 40k tabletop game, the combat pits one group against another, for example Elder vs Orks. Deviating from this setup, the members of your crew in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader are drawn from all walks of life in the Imperium. Choose your squad of six companions from ten available characters, each originating from different races, groups and backgrounds. The companions are:  

  • Abelard Wererian, fiercely loyal to your trade empire, and a close combat expert. 
  • Idira Tlass, an unsanctioned psyker and diviner able to discern the future from the whispers of the void. 
  • Pasqual Haneumann, a tech-priest with all the skills to repair any device that may fail. 
  • Casilla Orsellio, a gifted navigator blessed with a third eye, is able to look into the enemy’s soul to fill them with terror. 
  • Yriliet Lanaevyss, a proud Aeldari blazing her own trail beyond her home, is a crack shot. 
  • Sister Argenta, a member of the Sisters of Battle, and is a master of the bolter and flamer. 
  • Jae Heydari, a jewel of the Footfall, is a lady of innumerable talents and mysteries. 
  • Heinrix Van Calox is a sanctioned psyker and interrogator for the Inquisition, and an agile warrior. 
  • Ulfar is a Space Wolf who lives for the battle without fear of death, excelling in close combat. 
  • Marazhai is driven by an insatiable lust for violence and power over others, and is a pinnacle of Drukharis’ martial prowess.

Righteous heroes, twisted psykers, and perfidious xenos will accompany you on your quest, fight alongside you and use their powerful, unique abilities to help you achieve victory in battle and amass even more power! The characters follow three main belief systems, clashes of which may lead to desertion. Imperialis hate xenos(aliens) and are devoted to the Imperium, while Hereticus are Chaos worshiping lovers of xenos, and Benevolent have faith in the power of goodwill.

Isometric, turn based tactical combat requires you to carefully consider every action, from positioning your crew members in the best spots to using the surrounding environment to take cover from your enemies. Hone your tactical and strategic skills to leverage the deep combat mechanics of this game, and annihilate the enemies of the Imperium.

Destroy your enemies in many ways, with weapons ranging from chain swords to bolt guns and lightning strikes. Each member of your squad has different combat strengths. Take Yrliet, an Aeldari Ranger, for example. She can take out multiple enemies with a single shot, while her insight into the xenos assists in identifying their weaknesses.

Powerful abilities, (Heroic Acts) can be unlocked by skilfully taking out your enemies and demonstrating your leadership skills. If the battle has not gone your way, call for Desperate Measures, and your squad will give everything they have in a final push for Rogue Trader victory. On top of the character based action, there is also a spaceship combat aspect of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, pitting your craft against others brave enough to venture to the edge of the galaxy.

The takeaway

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is a huge game, visually stunning and full of detailed, environmental storytelling. Wander the darkest depths of the void, and chart your own course, in the far-flung reaches of the galaxy in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. Make decisions that will impact other planets and have dramatic consequences for humanity. With its dense story, turn-based combat, and attention to the minutest of details, this game caters to tabletop gaming fans and CRPG enthusiasts alike. Varied dialogue options and social interaction promise to offer hundreds of hours of gaming for those willing to travel into the darkest depths of the galaxy in search of adventure and fortune, in service of the Imperium.

Edmund is an English copywriter based in New Taipei City, Taiwan. He is a widely published writer and translator with two decades of experience in the field of bridging linguistic and cultural gaps between Chinese and English.

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