Warham­mer 40,000: Me­chan­i­cus

Warham­mer 40,000: Me­chan­i­cus suc­ceeds by em­brac­ing the weird.

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - Me­chan­i­cus By Tom Hat­field

Afew years ago, Games Work­shop loos­ened its grip on the Warham­mer 40,000 set­ting, and the re­sult has been a glut of small-bud­get games set in the grim dark­ness of the far fu­ture. The qual­ity has been mixed, but ev­ery so of­ten a game like comes along that uses the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore a pre­vi­ously ne­glected cor­ner of the Warham­mer uni­verse, and makes it all worth­while.

The Adep­tus Me­chan­i­cus are, in many ways, the per­fect en­cap­su­la­tion of what Warham­mer 40,000 is about, a bizarre Gothic fu­sion of tech and re­li­gion. They are the chief sci­en­tists of the Em­pire, but treat science like a re­li­gious cult. Me­chan­i­cus trans­lates this un­usual fac­tion into a tac­tics game, and does so won­der­fully, ooz­ing char­ac­ter from ev­ery pore.

The story is framed by a group of high­rank­ing tech priests who are con­stantly de­bat­ing each mis­sion. They’re all won­der­fully quirky char­ac­ters: Scaevola has re­moved so much of their hu­man­ity they now speak in equa­tions, the de­vout Videx be­lieves ig­no­rance is strength, mean­while their leader, Faus­tinius, has quar­an­tined their emo­tions. They’re Me­chan­i­cus’ great strength, and I came to truly trea­sure their bick­er­ing.

The Adep­tus Me­chan­i­cus are pit­ted against an­other of 40K’s weirder fac­tions, the Ne­crons:

slum­ber­ing Egyp­tian-themed ter­mi­na­tors from the be­gin­ning of time. The tech priests’ mis­sion is to in­ves­ti­gate this tomb be­fore the Ne­crons awaken. The mis­sions them­selves con­sist of a se­ries of raids on tombs. You ex­plore the dun­geon’s rooms, with lit­tle choose-yourown-ad­ven­ture vi­gnettes pop­ping up in each. The choices pre­sented in these rooms are rarely in­ter­est­ing, and their out­comes seem largely ar­bi­trary, and in the end they just be­come filler be­tween each fight.

Things be­come more in­ter­est­ing in bat­tle. There’s no such thing as cover, which makes com­bat fast and lethal, ini­tially for the tech priests and then later, af­ter a few up­grades, for the Ne­crons. Com­bat re­volves around a cur­rency called cog­ni­tion, which can be earned by scan­ning obelisks and corpses, as well as lots of other meth­ods, and can be spent on things like ex­tra move­ment or more pow­er­ful ac­tions. One of my tech priests was equipped with a bunch of melee boost­ing equip­ment. He mostly spent his cog­ni­tion on ex­tra move­ment, some­times rac­ing the length of the map to thwack a robot in the face. An­other wielded pow­er­ful en­ergy weapons that re­quired cog­ni­tion to fire, mean­ing he camped near obelisks to re­plen­ish the group’s sup­ply.

Call­ing re­in­force­ments

An­other thing cog­ni­tion can be used for is to sum­mon troops. These units can’t be lev­elled up and cus­tomised, they get dropped on the bat­tle­field mid-com­bat, and can only per­form sim­ple ac­tions like mov­ing and at­tack­ing. At first the only troops avail­able are weak servi­tors that ex­ist mostly to take hits for the tech priests, but later on more pow­er­ful vari­ants are un­locked. You can in­vest as heav­ily or as lightly into troops as you like, I grav­i­tated to­wards ranged units like the Sk­i­tarii, which com­bined neatly with a sup­port priest I’d built with the abil­ity to let them fire a se­cond time on his turn.

The tech priests them­selves are in­cred­i­bly cus­tomis­able. Each one can at­tach var­i­ous strange giz­mos, and has six skill trees to mix and match. I went heav­ily into Ex­plorator (melee), Domi­nus (ranged) and En­gin­seer (heal­ing), but there were plenty of other op­tions avail­able.

If any­thing, this cus­tomi­sa­tion can get to be a bit too much. By the time the Ne­cron awak­en­ing timer had hit as lit­tle as 30% my tech priests had lev­elled up so much they were killing Ne­crons in one hit. I was still hav­ing fun while win­ning, I’d just sub­sti­tuted chal­lenge for ef­fi­ciency, as any true tech priest would. That, plus a love of bick­er­ing cy­borgs, is what keeps me com­ing back.

There’s no such thing as cover, which makes com­bat fast and lethal

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