Slitherine announced it’s publishing another 40K strategy game, and this one is being developed by Black Lab, creators of Battlestar Galactica Deadlock. It’s a tactics/strategy game called Warhammer: 40,000 Battlesector, and we saw a reveal trailer with Blood Angels dramatically fighting Tyranids in diorama with the bold claim it will be both turn-based and have “fierce, fast-paced combat”.
As is the nature of reveal trailers it didn’t show much of ye olde gameplay footage. If that’s what you want to see, Slitherine uploaded a livestream in which executive producer David Sharrock breaks down a solid amount of footage.
It shows Battlesector as a game about mid-sized skirmishes. “In general it’s 40K tabletop scope,” Sharrock says, “so somewhere between 500 and 2,000 points of tabletop worth of units on a battlefield at any one time.” If that doesn’t mean anything to you, expect encounters larger than you’d get in XCOM, but smaller than Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon. It’s the kind of scale where individual heroes make a difference (having more action points than regular troops), but mostly you’ll control squads of three-to-five marines and some vehicles.
Movement is based on square tiles rather than hexes, and it looks like cover reduces accuracy based on line of sight, represented by a shield icon that fills up the more cover there is between units, rather than being something you hunker down behind. There’s familiar stuff like overwatch, which you set the direction of as well as how far it extends, and engagement penalties for units trying to shoot past each other while in base-to-base contact.
As you’ll notice in the video, every attack gives the marines momentum points, which rewards you for playing to your faction’s ethos. The points can be spent on surges (bonus action points) or upgrades. “You get more momentum for getting up close and personal,” Sharrock says, explaining why the Blood Angels, who suffer from a thing called the Black Rage in case you forgot for a second this was the heavy metal 40K universe, get more points for kills in hand-to-hand than with, say, a grenade.
Though the final version will apparently let us zoom in closer than this demo can handle, the models do look like the recent tabletop miniatures, and when they open fire there’s “lots and lots of blood,” as Sharrock says. “They’ve not skimped on the grimdark-y bit.”
As for how it’s going to be turn-based but have “fierce, fast-paced combat”, Sharrock has an explanation for that. “It’s a strategy game but it should flow,” he says. “You shouldn’t be held up on ‘one move, next move, next move’. If you’ve ordered a unit to go and run over somewhere else, you can order another unit to run somewhere else, you can order another unit to shoot someone else. As long as they’re not clashing, you just do it as quick as you want to. And the enemy, you’ll notice, move in groups towards you.”
There you have it. Battlesector looks more like a straight-up tactical wargame than Slitherine’s las 40K game, Gladius—Relics of War, which involved drawn-out fights against random animals for the opening turns of every game. Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is due in May, 2021 and it’s already got a Steam page.