Necromunda: Underhive Wars Preview – Twisted Turn-Based Action (PS4)

France-based publisher Focus Home Interactive held an event dubbed Le What’s Next de Focus in Paris, France just last week, during an unusually heavy snow storm. One of the games featured during this event was Necromunda: Underhive Wars, brought to us by developer Rogue Factor. A turn-based tactics game at heart, it also mashes in some real-time elements for good measure. We were able to take a quick look while at Focus Home Interactive’s event, and have our impressions ready for your reading pleasure.

A Dark Setting

Necromunda: Underhive Wars is based off a tabletop game of the same name, which is itself a spin-off within the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The planet of Necromunda is covered in poisonous ash wastes, thus forcing most inhabitants underground to live in Hive Cities, which are enormous man-made structures built up over thousands of years in order to support the rich and noble, who still live above the clouds in the Spire. The rest of the population live underground, in the hellish place known as the Underhive. Two main gangs have emerged from this nightmarish place: the House Goliath and the House Escher. The Goliaths are hulking, lumbering superhuman-like brutes, who value raw strength above agility. Naturally, then, the Escher members are a cast of all-female fighters, who are smaller but also faster, and are adept with pharmaceuticals and chemical manipulation.

Squads can be customized in many different ways. Different loadouts can be equipped, and of course new equipment will be unlocked as progression is made. Almost anything that can be worn can be customized with different colors, and there are skills in physical, mental, and martial categories to allow the player to have each of their characters play a specific role in their squads. These squads can be taken online, as well. For the single-player campaign, injuries and deaths are permanent, so the results of a bad match can have lasting and far-reaching consequences.

Turn-Based AND Real-Time

Warhammer games are traditionally turn-based affairs, and developer Rogue Factor has gone this route in Necromunda: Underhive Wars, with a real-time twist. While a single-player campaign will be included, during our demo a two-player competitive match was shown. Development is currently only at the pre-alpha stage, so perhaps that portion wasn’t fleshed out enough to be shown off just yet. No worries, since the core mechanics of the game did appear pretty solid by this point.

Each match consists of multiple turns, which have different phases. First, each player can only control one member of their squad at any given time. Each member of the squad has a certain amount of action points, which are used up as the player commits actions in real-time. So a decision has to be made whether to use up most of those points running to a key strategic point on the map, set traps, or trigger a battle with an opponent.

Necromunda: Underhive Wars’ combat system is where the turn-based nature of the game shows up. Here, action points are still used to perform any action, including but not limited to attacking, moving, interacting with the environment, shooting, and even reloading and fixing weapon jams. Approaching an enemy that is not currently being controlled by an opponent affords certain advantages to the aggressor, and breaking the line of sight with the enemy ends the turn-based battle immediately. So if a player is losing a battle or knows they don’t have enough action points to mount a proper defense, they can use their last few points to grapple away to safety.

Vertical Thinking

The level shown during the demo featured a massive dome city as its backdrop. Think large, twisted sewage pipes and deep, endless abysses, and you have an idea of the kind of grungy environment displayed in Necromunda: Underhive Wars. This game ran on the Unreal Engine, which tends to do quite well when things are set to such large scales as entire cities built underground. While this build was running on beefy PC hardware, since the actual levels were small enough to contain the battle to a reasonable scope, it should run just fine on consoles as well. Levels are built not only out, but also with verticality in mind, which feels fitting given a setting that takes place in massive underground domes. Maps are represented in 3D to show the location of squad members, and to help plan tactics.

Necromunda: Underhive Wars looks like a solid adaptation of a Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game, mixing the turn-based nature of the traditional game with the real-time action that the video game medium can enhance it with. While this certainly adds to the complexity of combat, fans of this style of game are used to having to remember all kinds of rules to begin with. While it’s too early in the dev process to have a release date nailed down just yet, those looking for a fresh tactical game set in a science fiction high-fantasy setting will definitely want to keep their eyes on Necromunda: Underhive Wars.

PlayStation LifeStyle would like to thank Rogue Factor and Focus Home Interactive for taking the time out to show us a preview of Necromunda: Underhive Wars. Watch this space for more information on this and other games from the Le What’s Next de Focus event, coming soon!