Liz Maas
E3 2014: Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade Impressions
I hope you're caught up on your Warhammer 40K lore.
07.01.14 - 12:52 PM

Games Workshop's Warhammer universe is so vast it's hard to believe that Warhammer 40000: Eternal Crusade is the first MMO based on 40K. Developed by Behaviour Interactive, Eternal Crusade is a long way from release, giving the likes of myself plenty of time to catchup on at least one fragment of Warhammer lore. Nevertheless, Mike and I got a very early (and very brief) look at the title.

Behaviour, which has homes in both Montreal and Chile and is one of Canada’s largest independent studios and has previously developed for big names such as Disney, Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Ubisoft and others, but are now focusing on their own work, including Eternal Crusade. Described as a massive combat RPG in a grim and bloody, everyone-will-die "space fantasy" (not sci-fi, as the developers were quick to point out) setting, the campaign's story was written by best-selling author Graham McNeil, responsible for Warhammer 40000 and some 36 novels. As a player, you won't be fed the story via cutscenes, but instead discover it piece by piece through your actions.

Currently, the game would be hosted in a single server without a need for separate instances, with up to 1000 players in a single battle, although this only applies to PvP. It's also the first title to embed Razer's VOIP software in-game, so players need not resort to text chat or look for external voice chats, such as Teamspeak, to communicate with their teammates. Exactly how large-scale will the game world be? To run across 400 kilometres will take players 45 real-time minutes.

The PvP-centric title will offer up four classes of the Warhammer variety rather than the traditional MMO roles of tank, DPS and healer. Rather, factions consist of savage Orks, Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, and mysterious Eldars, with each having at least four chapters available at launch. The hive mind Tyranids will also make an appearance as NPCs, but you want to watch out for them as you gain more territorial control. Boltguns, chainswords, riot shields, jump packs, psychic powers and more lay at your disposal, whether you're in open-field combat or breaking into a stronghold, and there are also tank fights to be had, though be aware that friendly fire is turned on. As combat is more action and skill-based than level-based, you will have access to unlockable classes, various skills, and loadout options depending on your playstyle, and equipment dependent on the faction you choose.

Each player starts out with their own orbiting Strike Cruiser, a key personal space for teams to regroup in between battles. Players group up into squads of 4-10 players, and leaders as well as commanders issue orders and ask for support, such as calling tanks into battle. Sure, you don't have to follow his or her orders, but you're rewarded for doing so. Hierarchy isn't limited to the battlefield however, as Eternal Crusade will feature a campaign system and territorial control. There will frequently be new goals and objectives to fulfill as well as two PvE modes available at launch, including a horde-mode type as seen in Gears of War.

Currently, the plan is to make Eternal Crusade a buy-to-play title, with a free-to-play option to play as an Ork. Even now, players have the ability via the Founder Program to purchase points to acquire in-game items in the Rogue Trader (with new items being added constantly), as well as options to purchase some unique weapons. There are options to fit all kinds of player budgets, and naturally, the more points you buy, the better deal you receive in return.

So how does the game look so far? While we did get a glance, Eternal Crusade is in its very early stages, so much of the limited footage had mostly placeholders in the environments, but what little we did see involved some pretty intense combat. As Behaviour Interactive plans to show the game little by little by way of teaser videos over the next eighteen months, we cannot expect a full launch before late 2015 for PC, Mac and SteamOS; the team hopes to release it on next-gen consoles as well. Will it satiate any craving Warhammer fans might have for an MMO in their universe? It's far too early to tell, but I would definitely keep an eye on this one by way of its recently-opened official website, though we'll keep you updated as well.