- Format: PC (Patch 1.0.5), Xbox One, PS4
- Unleashed: Out Now on PC, Consoles TBC
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Developer: Behaviour Interactive
- Players: 1-40
- Site: https://www.eternalcrusade.com/
- Game bought by reviewer
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade has been in Early Access for an eternity but now it has officially released; straight from Alpha to Gold. And that is a problem, a very big problem. This decision comes from publisher Bandai Namco and it’s gotten the game a lot of hatred in the forums and in-game due to it really not being ready for a full release. What is there is buggy, unbalanced, and lacking in variety; but it’s still a faithful-ish 40K game and at times it’s bloody brilliant.
40K meets Star Wars Battlefront 2 is an apt description. Third person multiplayer shooter with melee combat thrown in for good measure. All of the maps are fairly large and there’s always someone to fight…somewhere. There’s a lot of running or driving to places but once you start to get into the action, you’ll be swept up in it until a bug or lag gets the better of you. Fights tend to be quite hectic, as shots get fired every which way, as teammates shoot into brawls hoping to either save their teammates or – more likely – nab a few kills. In that way it captures the frantic essence of Warhammer and it’s never long before you’re in a fight.
There is also a co-op level but it’s practically dead all day long and the rewards aren’t worth the time it takes to set up and play. It does feature Tyranids though, and serves as a taste for what the planned PvE and the PvPvPvPvE (that’s all races and the Tyranids fighting simultaneously on huge open maps) is supposed to be. Its current form however is a lobby that takes ages to find a team of five, gives poor rewards for the time spent, and is almost unplayable with random people. It’s like a poor man’s version of Left 4 Dead.
You are in command of four character slots, that’s one per race; Loyalist Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Eldar, and Orks. Each of which feels very different to play as after you put some time into unlocking things; though Loyalists and Chaos do have a lot of similarities. If you’re into 40K like we are, then seeing each of the races, customising them, and playing them all are a little dream come true. It hasn’t captured any of the races as well as Relic Entertainment’s portrayals but it is still a good effort and seeing these plastic and metal models come to life really is a delight.
We’ve played as all the races, customised them with cosmetics (usually bought through microtransactions), and advanced through a hefty portion of most of their advancement trees – and we’re still playing. It’s not as polished or as free-flowing as it needs to be yet but it still manages to make battles feel dynamic, even if it does just involve bouncing between the capture points on the map.
Shooting is the thing that seems to be the most polished. Aside from some balancing issues with some weapons, the shooting generally feels quite good across the board and never feels unfair. Melee on the other hand is hugely unbalanced and buggy, which undoes a lot of the goodwill the game otherwise has. A rock, paper, scissors approach with light, heavy and defensive attacks is quite cumbersome and it all feels rather janky, which is made worse by lag.
Executions are something that the game really tries to push you into performing. When players lose all their health they enter a “downed” state where they either bleed out or wait for someone to execute them. Every execution gives as much experience as a kill does, so it can be well worth it even if it leaves you quite open to attacks. It’s a small thing but a very Warhammer-like thing and satisfying to boot.
Vehicles are rubbish. Like really, really rubbish. The siege machines are fine, but are currently restricted to fortress maps. Normal tanks are passable insofar as they let you deal damage on the move from relative safety. Transports on the other hand are boring. They serve less time as actual transports and 95% of the time as mobile spawn points. It’s really boring to have them as spawns as they just sit there, usually with no one in them, usually only moving once the current target has been taken.
It has the workings of something grand. But it’s just not there yet. It doesn’t all feel cohesive because so many elements don’t work as intended, are place holders or really need reworking to make it both fun and fair for newcomers and veterans alike. Many of these problems are down to the content not having been made yet. It was released before it was ready and now we have to sit patiently for things to come to us. Even though there are three game modes, they are all Attack and Defend variants and the number of unique maps for each is so low that we often ended up playing the same map and game mode several times in a row.
There are many flaws and most of those are down to its early release. However the core of what makes the game interesting is there and that is fun more often than not. There are times that we were worn down by lag, bugs, and balance issues, but the 40K skin and how well it handles the basics let us give it a lot of leeway. It might not be worth picking up yet – even for hardcore 40K buffs – but keep an eye on it; we – and many others – enjoy it despite its flaws. Hopefully it will blossom into something we can really praise but that’s not going to be for some months yet.