Year:  2023

Director:  Alexander Mishulin

Rated:  MA

Release:  Out Now

Distributor: Owlcat Games

Running time: 100-150 hours

Worth: $16.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

… a massive, dense, unwieldy CRPG with isometric graphics, limited voice acting and a whole lot of reading.

“In the grim darkness of the far future”, we’re told, “there is only war”. Consequently, jobs in the Warhammer 40K universe tend to be a bit shit. You could die defending your planet from xenos threats in one of the various military outfits, get horribly injured in the planet-spanning factories that toil endlessly to supply the forever wars and even have your body used as a servitor once you cark it, being manipulated like some kind of fleshy automaton to perform menial tasks and wipe the festy posteriors of nobility. The term “grimdark” is very apt for this setting. However, there’s one gig that might be pretty sweet compared to the others, that of Rogue Trader.

Rogue Traders are basically officially sanctioned travelling salesmen cum adventurers cum privateers who are allowed to prance about the universe trading various goods and services as long as the Emperor gets a piece of the action. Unlike modern Bible floggers or vacuum spruikers, Rogue Traders are a revered class, treated like celebrities and envied by all. In Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, the latest CRPG from Owlcat Games, you are given the opportunity to become one of these elites, form a team of unlikely associates and traipse across the 40K universe to seek fortune and avoid Chaos, violence and death.

There are approximately eleventy billion Warhammer 40K video games in existence and most of them are a bit dodgy (shout out to Space Marine, Mechanicus, Inquisitor and Dark Tide for bucking the trend). They also tend to be either action games or tactical affairs, ignoring much of the extensive, exhaustive lore which makes up the foundation of the tabletop franchise. The fact that Rogue Trader is the first CRPG set in the universe is extraordinary. The fact that it’s pretty bloody good is delightful.

Rogue Trader thrusts you head first into a world of murky politics, dark conspiracy, violent battle and impending doom. Like Owlcat’s previous games, the systems are numerous and often not very well explained, with ground combat, colony building, ship maintenance, space combat, exploration and resource management all playing an important part in this mammoth, epic story. It would be fair to say that this is not a game that’s particularly kind to those new to CRPGs and the Warhammer 40K universe. That said, those who love this style of game (and have finished Baldur’s Gate 3 for the umpteenth time) will likely delight in this expansive albeit fiddly game.

The combat, while a tad too frequent, is engaging and meaty, the story is vast and fascinating, if occasionally beset by absurdly long exposition dumps, and the various ways you can upgrade your six-person team is an absolute joy, once you get the hang of things. On the downside, the technical state of the game is a little iffy at present. Bugs and glitches, while not ubiquitous, occur semi-frequently, so if that sort of thing grinds your gears, you might want to hold off on purchasing until a few patches have been implemented.

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is not a game for everyone. It’s a massive, dense, unwieldy CRPG with isometric graphics, limited voice acting and a whole lot of reading. It’s set in a dizzying universe and has so much going on under the hood that it’s hard to even know where to start. However, those of you who are either Warhammer 40K fans or CRPG fans (or ideally both) will find a rich, textured galaxy to explore, characters to know and enemies to splatter into glistening meaty chunks. It captures that unique, satirical and utterly hopeless 40K vibe better than any other game in existence, and if that sounds like your niche, then Rogue Trader will fill it as snugly as an Adeptus Mechnicus bionic augmentation.

And if you understood that reference? Then, yeah this game is probably for you.