Warhammer 40000: Rogue Trader is a CRPG set in the Warhammer 40k universe. Developed and published by Owlcat Games, it places players in the role of titular Rogue Trader, a role within the Imperium that must build up and manage a trade empire. With a variety of companions to support you and a trade network at your fingertips, this is shaping up to be a massive interstellar adventure.
When starting a new game, players are able to create a new character, shaping their appearance picking an archetype and some background traits. Once they’re ready, the story begins in earnest, with the current Rogue Trader choosing you, among a few others, as potential successors to the role. After this brief introductory session, our preview jumped ahead to a combat scenario many hours into the game, where we learned a bit about combat, companions and some of the other systems in Warhammer 40000: Rogue Trader.
This older, much stronger Rogue Trader had a full complement of allies, making up a party of six. Despite having five companions present, the Rogue Trader can meet and recruit a total of 10 specific companions across their campaign. These companions range in faction, beliefs, and more, and a Rogue Trader who strays too far from their allies ideals will find themselves abandoned by some companions. In extreme cases, the companion in question will become hostile, requiring that players fight and kill their former ally.
While they’re pledged to your service, however, each ally provides support through a number of abilities. Some can attract enemy attention to protect their allies, while others can provide damage buffs, and others still help the team by specializing in dealing damage, simply removing enemies from the battlefield. As battles rage on, players build up a pair of gauges. One of these gauges, momentum, allows a character to use a very powerful heroic ability, which changes depending on the character; for instance, a companion that primarily buffs their allies can allow one of their allies to take a turn immediately. Combined with a high damage character, this can turn the tide of battle very quickly, but there are various heroic abilities to use depending on the situation.
The other gauge measures veil degradation. This increases with frequent use of magical attacks and abilities, and filling it causes demons to come through the veil onto the battlefield. These very powerful enemies are hostile to everything on the battlefield, which means they may be used to defeat your enemies, but it’s definitely not a tactic to depend on. There are methods of decreasing veil degradation, but the ongoing risk forces players to find alternatives to simply slinging spells across the battlefield.
In regards to the battlefield, players can rearrange their team before a battle even starts, allowing them to worry less about positioning during exploration. The exception to this is when the team is ambushed, which forces players to make the most of the situation. Barricades and other debris on the field can be used to provide some degree of cover, and keeping your team scattered is vital, because friendly fire is a threat, both for you and your enemies. Due to the sometimes overwhelming number of hostiles, it’s important to take advantage of any buffs your team can apply. Just like in any other Warhammer 40000 game, players will need to make use of every tool to give themselves the edge in a fight.
While most of the action will take place on grid-based battlefields, it’s not the only place players can expect to spend their time. As the Rogue Trader, players will need to manage their colonies and trade routes to ensure they’re fulfilling their duties. As Rogue Trader is part of the Warhammer 40K universe, space battles are another aspect of gameplay. We were unable to view these parts of the game during our preview, but we were also assured that players could automate those elements, if they preferred to focus on ground combat and exploration.
As an RPG, Warhammer 40000: Rogue Trader will task players with making decisions that will affect entire planets’ fates. On a more personal level, your decisions will be reflected in a trio of ideologies. Rogue Traders that follow the creed of the Imperium of Man will gain influence in the Imperialis branch. Those that shirk their duties and sow chaos in the galaxy will see their Hereticus brand grow. Third, players who act in a morally good manner, being generous and putting lives first will contribute to Benevolentia. In addition to affecting your reputation, these are the tenets by which companions will judge the Rogue Trader, potentially causing them to desert or attack their former leader.
With the in-depth battle system Warhammer is known for, and a variety of planets to explore, Warhammer 40000: Rogue Trader promises to be a massive, engaging and tactical treat for the ages.
Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader’s release date is to be announced.