In the relentless future depicted by Warhammer 40,000, where war is the only constant, a unique opportunity arises for those who manage to climb to the top of the hierarchy. Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader immerses players into the perilous and rewarding life of a Rogue Trader, a freelance explorer in the vast and unforgiving frontiers of the Imperium of Man.
A Luxurious and Risky Career Path
Rogue Traders enjoy the extravagant rewards of agency, freedom, power, and the command of a colossal flagship. As players, you navigate through the Imperium’s system with a loyal crew, making impactful choices that shape the destiny of those around you.
The game, akin to classics like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Pillars of Eternity, unfolds as a computer role-playing game where you craft a custom protagonist, defining stats and bonuses based on your character’s backstory and origins.
From Potential Heir to Rogue Trader
The narrative kicks off with a high-stakes job interview to become the heir to a Rogue Trader aboard her flagship. Little do you know that a coup is brewing, with traitors onboard. After a fierce struggle against heretics and demons, you ascend to the esteemed position of Rogue Trader. Now, the captain, you wield the power to decide how your ship and crew are managed.
CRPG Elements and Intriguing Choices
Rogue Trader boasts features expected from a classic CRPG – companions with their own narratives and conversation trees, top-down strategic combat, and branching choices that reverberate throughout the game world. The choices you make, reflecting the diverse paths of dogmatic loyalty, heretical pursuit of power, or a more morally grounded Ionoclast path, contribute to the richness of the gameplay.
Managing the Voidship
Your journey begins with a setback – your beautiful void ship is rundown, and your staff is struggling. As the newly anointed Rogue Trader, you embark on a quest across the planets of the Koronus Expanse to secure a new Navigator, repair your ship, and navigate diplomatic challenges with the locals. Your void ship, the size of a modern city, requires careful management as you play the dual role of captain and governor.
Unveiling Cults and Conspiracies
In the process of rebuilding, you unearth a nefarious cult and a deep conspiracy, adding layers of complexity to your already challenging role. Blessed with companions from the Imperium, you can call on them for assistance in unlocking doors, performing environmental checks, and, most crucially, aiding in combat situations.
Satisfying Turn-Based Battles
Combat in Rogue Trader is deeply satisfying, employing a turn-based system on a grid reminiscent of Baldur’s Gate 3 or XCOM 2. Each battle unfolds strategically, with cover, open positions, and the real threat of friendly fire. Controlling your troops, including your own Rogue Trader, brings a sense of power and accomplishment, even if occasional mishaps occur.
Dive into Rich Characters and Lore
Between battles, engaging with companions reveals their deep and dark secrets, adding layers to their personalities. From morally questionable Senechals to zealous Sisters of Battle, each character has a unique story waiting to be uncovered. Notably, Marazhai Aezyrraesh, a dark space elf with a penchant for cruelty, adds a touch of dark humor to the party dynamics.
A Detailed Exploration of the 40K Universe
Rogue Trader stands as one of the most comprehensive explorations of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Paying homage to the Warhammer 40K RPGs from Fantasy Flight Games, the game meticulously captures the essence of the 40K lore. From ancient tech-priest facilities to the hostile Xenos city of Commorragh, every detail of the Koronus Expanse is crafted with love and attention.
Pacing Issues and Frustrations
While Rogue Trader excels in many aspects, concerns about pacing arise. By the end of the first chapter, leveling up 16 times diminishes the significance of each level, offering marginal rewards. A slow drip-feed system hampers the sense of long-term satisfaction, and encountering a formidable boss at the end of Act 1 becomes a frustrating roadblock.
Clunky Voidship Combat
Voidship combat, also turn-based, introduces another layer of frustration with clunky mechanics. Despite the potential for tense space naval battles, the need for continuous ship rotation and setting up attack zones feels more like an annoyance than an engaging challenge. Delegating these duties to a Senechal would be a welcomed improvement.
Conclusion: A Compelling Journey into Grim Darkness
Despite minor annoyances and clunky features, Rogue Trader stands out as a dense and vast game crafted with love for the 40K lore. The political intrigue, diverse cast of characters, and morally charged choices create a compelling narrative that resonates with Warhammer 40,000 enthusiasts. For fans of the universe, Rogue Trader is a rare treat, offering a nuanced exploration beyond the surface of bolters and battles into the grimdark dystopia that defines Warhammer 40,000.