Warhammer sits on its own throne as a well-respected, award-winning tactical game that’s lived beyond my lifetime. After the mobile release on iOS in 2014, and on Android in 2015, with mixed reviews, it was fair to expect skepticism with the PC version. Diving into the look, feel, and playability, it’s clear this is a gift to the world of tactical games and card-scraping fun. This interlude has proven to be more than just a ‘put your card down and see explosions’ set-up; it’s filled with beautiful details both in concept and in visual art. Warhammer 40k: Space Wolf has (re)established a name for itself and will surely be welcome to newcomers to the genre or the Warhammer series in general.
From the start of the game, Space Wolf doesn’t back down, and campaign mode is no easy ride:
You're thrown into battle against enemies who, although they have lower health, come flooding in large numbers, and some even cradle plasma rifles that tear through your health bar without buying you dinner first. You’re given an assortment of cards which hold moves and attacks, and some weapons you can equip which can be reloaded at the cost of a move, but pack a punch. Your first squad consists of three different members constituting armor types such as the scout, the terminator, and the power armor – each wielding different abilities, weapons, and card selections.
The story line seems watered down early in the campaign, which I reckon is a good thing, considering there’s so much to learn about the gameplay early on, especially if it’s your first time stepping into the Warhammer series. There’s a turn-by-turn system which isn’t radical but works incredibly efficiently, making each decision on card selection significant – the number of points required to play a card dictates when your squad member takes their next turn. Through his mechanic, you get to choose to take out your enemy with quick and consecutive attacks that deal regular damage individually, or to pack one massive attack which may make you vulnerable for a while, if you don’t successfully eliminate the enemy.
There’s an "enrage" feature which provides incredible kill shots reminiscent of Sniper Elite skull-cracking slow motion, and this feature is one of the most striking, especially for this genre. With over 900 collectible cards, including combinations, ranging from common to legendary, the process of selecting the perfect deck – which is vital for survival, even early in the campaign – is entertaining. The design team deserves a round of applause for the character creation: the smooth movements of characters are fluid, yet mimic the chunkiness of the armor for each squad member.
The overall environment looks lush, from the details of the fire to the foliage which gracefully swings as you bury your foes.
One thing to note for you commanders out there: stay frugal with upgrading cards early on before you amass a large deck – if you drop below the designated minimum of cards, you’re not able to continue with the campaign, or even join the multiplayer mode. The squad upgrade features and the card upgrades may come off as a little confusing for new players, but the fun factor totally grabs you with an anaconda grip, and doesn’t let go.
Overall, this game suits up and provides ample hours of entertainment while bringing out new concepts for tactical games. With respectable environment detail, incredible character design, and an almost limitless array of card selection, I would more than recommend this game to people who enjoy the genre, and even to the those that have never picked up a tactical game before, because it touches on multiple aspects of the gaming experience.
Warhammer 40k: Space Wolf comes as something of an underdog after some unappealing reviews on the mobile environment, but the PC release clearly was out to claim some hearts. It brings a few features I haven’t seen in a tactical game while not creating a massive learning curve for new players of the genre.