Warhammer 40,000 fans rejoice: there has been another port to consoles with Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus. As with many turn-based strategy games, it took a little while for this one to be ported, but 2018’s release has reached the PlayStation 4. Has the almost two-year wait been worth it? Find out in our Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus review.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus Review – Long Turns Aplenty
Mechanicus is a turn-based tactical strategy game, where combat takes place on a grid from an isometric vantage point. A lot of turn-based games allow players to move a character once, and then attack if possible, also once. Not so with Mechanicus. Characters generally have a large range of movement, and a shared resource called Cognition Points can be used to move a character even further. Furthermore, a well-equipped character may have multiple attacks or commands which do not use Cognition Points, merely cooldown timers (or no cooldown at all). This means a typical turn might consist of moving two squares to get in range of a pistol, attacking, then acquiring Cognition Points from a nearby tower, and moving back out of range of the enemy’s weapons. There are a lot of options at the player’s disposal, though naturally these same tactics are available to the computer, which higher difficulties exploit.
The early stages of any campaign playthrough can be rough, as the player’s team is short-staffed and under-equipped. The computer tends to fight aggressively in the early rounds of a match, but at normal difficulty or lower things tend to slow down in the player’s favor the longer the match goes on. Losing is part of the learning process, as even the game’s tutorial admits that it intends on you figuring most things out on your own. Even deploying a team isn’t straightforward, as I accidentally launched into a mission with only my two Tech-Priests and no support cannon fodder. Options such as permadeath can make simple mistakes like this devastating, but by the time most players start dialing up the difficulty, they will know the pitfalls to watch out for.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus Review – Play It Again, Magos
The main campaign has a limited scope, by design. An ever-present gauge fills up to 100% based on the level of awakened Necrons the player encounters in each mission. This is determined by the number of rooms explored on the mission map, along with the number of turns a battle took the player to win. There are a few items in most battlegrounds which can be destroyed to slow the awakening of the Necrons, but every mission is guaranteed to move the overall gauge towards completion. At that point, an ending is revealed, which depends on many variables such as choices the player made, mission successes, and other data points. The campaign is thus fairly short, and can be completed in approximately 15 hours depending on battle performance. Of course, such a game begs to be played through multiple times, and with tweakable difficulty settings those who are looking for a challenge will definitely find one here. Full completion may take multiple playthroughs of this estimated time.
Naturally, Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus has a design that positively drips in bio-mechanical imagery. With the exception of key characters, voices are garbled, creepy noises, so expect to do plenty of reading to get a handle on the story. Each mission sees the player moving from room to room on a level, and most of these rooms present the player with a situation where decisions must be made, in a choose-your-own-adventure style bit of storytelling. These decisions can damage characters, repel or awaken more enemies, or have other unexpected consequences which ensure no two playthroughs are the same.
Warhammer 40,000 Mechanicus Review - Destroy All Necrons (PS4)
A Case of the Jitters
The Unity game engine has been used for this port, and it runs okay. There is some stuttering in between rounds, but as this is a turn-based game there isn’t much of a detriment to the action even in the worst case of stuttering. The selection menu for Canticles, the special prayers that players can equip before each battle, appeared to be broken in that it wouldn’t update properly, and the prayers that were selected did not reflect that which were actually equipped. This kind of bug would definitely hinder players taking on the higher difficulty settings, and is something to be aware of.
Bugs aside, there are numerous ways to complete missions, as weapons, prayers, and abilities are unlocked from missions. Each Tech-Priest can equip any unlocked weapon or ability, which means you could create an army of identically equipped characters if you really wanted to, but it wouldn’t be the best strategy. Clothing can be colored, which is as far as customization goes when it comes to aesthetics.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus fits right in with the Warhammer 40K universe, and fans of the series would do well to give the game a shot. This is a franchise that is steeped in lore, though knowledge of the story is not a requirement to enjoy the tactical turn-based action on offer here. A few technical hitches keep things from running as well as they should, but there’s nothing game breaking. Alternate endings along with a campaign designed with more missions than time allotted ensure that many gamers will play multiple times, since the game is designed to be played as such. Omnissiah be praised, console Warhammer 40K fans have some weak flesh to upgrade with blessed mechanical augments this summer!
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus review code provided by publisher. Version 1.03 reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.