Games Workshop earned £25 million from videogames in 2021, so don’t expect it to stop licensing out its properties anytime soon. Apparently it’s got “12 unreleased games in development and four new licences were signed in the year.” Not all of those will come to PC of course, with a handful of mobile games like Total War Battles: Warhammer (being made by NetEase, co-developer of Diablo Immortal) in the works. Still, even if you’re only looking at the ones on PC, there are enough that keeping track of them can be a hassle.
The advantage of the high number of Warhammer games being green-lit at the moment is that the developers making them span a wide variety of genres. We’re finally getting a Warhammer CRPG, and there’s a 2D platformer and a boomer shooter on the way. We can only hope a city-builder and an immersive sim aren’t far off.
It’s great to have Warhammer games covering so many bases. Whether you’re into real-time shootybangs or turn-based thinkyplans, co-op action or competitive sports sims, there might be a Warhammer game for you. These are the four I’m most excited about.
Vermintide 2 had the best first-person combat since Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, and that’s reason enough to be excited for developer Fatshark’s take on 40K. Like the Vermintide games, Darktide is four-player co-op with seething hordes of enemies, and what we’ve seen so far suggests it’ll be every bit as brutal. Perhaps even more so, if you’re swinging a chainsword.
It’s also clear that Fatshark understands the setting. The character creation in the Gamescom trailer (opens in new tab) shows a press-ganged prisoner whose selected background explains how you ended up imprisoned before being recruited into the Inquisition: “Someone overheard you expressing disgust at the weird taste of corpse starch and reported you to a foreman.”
Darktide promises to be as grim and grimy as a 40K game should be, with its heroes, explicitly called “rejects”, treated as cannon fodder and having to use “skull decoders” to interface with machinery as they struggle across an awful gothic industrial nightmare of a city. Can’t wait.
- Beta in 2023, no release date.
Owlcat knows how to make a CRPG, having released Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. Expect complicated character progression and combat, endless hours of playtime, and an expanding cast of characters so deep they should come with some kind of warning signage for divers.
Rogue Trader will cast us as the captain of a gigantic voidship on the edge of the Imperium, heir to a dynastic tradition of settlers and traders. We’ll be able to explore uncharted worlds, find relics of lost civilizations, and bring new worlds into the Emperor’s light—or more likely fall into heresy.
It’s drawing inspiration from a tabletop RPG published in 2009, though hopefully not too much. Pen-and-paper Rogue Trader was kind of a mess—the spaceship rules in particular. Fortunately, while the Pathfinder videogames used roughly the same rules as the tabletop game they were based on, Owlcat’s community manager has said Rogue Trader “won’t be a direct transfer from tabletop to a videogame” (opens in new tab). It will have purely turn-based combat though, which is probably a good thing, given how chaotic Pathfinder’s real-time-with-pause option made every fight.
One concern remains, and that’s what kind of state Rogue Trader will launch in. Owlcat’s previous games arrived with plenty of bugs and balance issues, and though patches rectified the biggest, it would be nice if the studio’s next game was easier to recommend on arrival.
Space Marine 2
We’d given up hope of ever seeing a follow-up to Relic’s 2011 third-person action game when a sequel was announced out of the blue in December of 2021. Get it, “out of the blue” because it’s about Ultramarines… I’ll get my coat.
The licence has now been picked up by Saber Interactive, developer of World War Z: Aftermath and Evil Dead: The Game, which has a lot to live up to. The original Space Marine was a bombastic hack-and-shooter with a mechanic that gave health back for performing melee takedowns that now seems ahead of its time. It also had an excellent jump pack.
Space Marine 2 will pick up the adventures of Ultramarine Captain Titus after he’s been promoted to lieutenant and ascended to become one of the Primaris. A relatively recent addition to Warhammer 40,000, this new generation of space marines are even beefier than the vanilla variety, retroactively dubbed the Firstborn. He’ll need all that extra strength and speed, since he’ll apparently be facing “thousands of tyranids”. Even after taking on a clan of orks and the forces of Chaos in the first game, the massive amount of enemies the Saber Swarm Engine can throw around should prove a challenge.
Blood Bowl 3
- In closed beta, no release date.
Though kick-off has been delayed multiple times and plans to release Blood Bowl 3 in Early Access last year were scuppered, I’m still holding out hope.
Cyanide Studio’s third stab at this turn-based American football parody will bring the rules into line with Games Workshop’s current version, which is less restrictive about when you use rerolls, adds new skills like projectile vomiting, and brings back the Special Play cards. These inducements make the gleefully random game of Blood Bowl even more madcap. Serious competitive players aren’t in favor of them, but the very existence of serious and competitive fans of a game so deliberately unpredictable is baffling, so who cares what they think. Though Cyanide has said only a selection of the Special Play cards will make it into Blood Bowl 3 at launch, even a few additions like greased shoes, catapult traps, and enchanted buckets would make it even more Looney Tunes. And that’s a plus.
Cyanide’s previous Blood Bowl games have had poor AI and been terrible at teaching its tactics to new players, but even if they drop the ball on both of those again I’ll probably enjoy Blood Bowl 3 just like the previous two. If you’re already familiar with Games Workshop’s silliest game from its physical edition, then a digital version you can play online or against a braindead computer is good enough. It’d be nice if all this development-delay overtime led to a significant improvement, though.
Here’s all the other upcoming Warhammer games on PC
- Shootas, Blood & Teef (opens in new tab) (October 20, 2022). Sidescrolling action-platformer with hand-drawn art where you’re an ork.
- Boltgun (2023). Retro FPS about an Ultramarine fighting Chaos with the power of heavy metal and 1990s graphics.
- Warpforge (2023). Free-to-play collectible card game pitting 40K’s various factions against each other.
- Untitled Age of Sigmar game (???). Not much is known, except it’ll be published by Nexon and feature PvE multiplayer in a “virtual world”.