Before we get started, I have to be honest, I’ve never really understood Warhammer. I’ve always wanted to and ever since I accidentally stepped foot in a Games Workshop and got stuck in to painting one of the little figures an unrealistic bright orange colour, I’ve always fancied getting involved and learning about the backstory, and what brought the various factions to the stages they are at now. But the whole in-depth story always felt like a step too far for me to contemplate gaining a true understanding.
That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate an enjoyable game though and with Warhammer Vermintide 2 already providing one exceptional Warhammer gaming experience this year, I was more than ready to step foot into the universe again, in the hope of finding a similarly enjoyable experience.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, the full name of the latest Warhammer adventure, is essentially what you would expect to see if you mashed Warhammer into the equally gigantic world of Diablo, and whilst it’s suprising to see it’s taken so long to happen, it was inevitable that we were eventually going to get a game of this type in the Warhammer universe. With such in-depth factions, established rivalries and heavily developed stories, Warhammer is – on paper – the perfect series to introduce to a Diablo-esque action-RPG experience. But simply copying an already established franchise isn’t enough when it comes to creating something special, so what does Warhammer – Martyr (the shortened name we’ll stick with for this review if you don’t mind) do that makes it stand out from the crowd.
In typical action-RPG fashion, Warhammer – Martyr has all the usual things you’d expect to see in any functional title in the genre. It has looting, it has dungeon crawling, it has multiple character classes for specific builds and it has a top down isometric gameplay that the action-RPG genre is so well enamoured with.
Before getting into any of that fun stuff though, you’ll need to do something else first – create a Neocore account. It’s not ideal requiring extra accounts and faff on top of your already established Xbox account, but it’s hardly going to stop you if you’ve just splashed out on this new adventure.
Once you’ve got all that out the way, you’ll need to decide what sort of character you want to base your playthrough on. These include the likes of a wizard type choice in Psker, Crusader who is a brutal warrior, and Assassin – the silent but deadly class for fans of stealth. Before jumping in though you need to decide whether you are going to go with either Story mode, which is tailored towards players who aren’t very experienced in the ARPG genre, or the Challenge mode, the go-to option for veterans or those simply wanting a challenge. Neither option is final thankfully and you can switch between them at any time should you decide you’ve made the wrong choice later on.
One thing is for sure though, unless you’re a Warhammer know-it-all, chances are a lot of what’s going on is going to go straight over your head. The story, from what I understood with my lack of knowledge, seems to pit players into the role of the previously mentioned and chosen Inquisitor, a member of the 40k army’s secret investigative battalion responsible for tracking down heretics within the universe. His next venture is to board the enormous spaceship monastery, the Martyr, which has been overrun by cultists and daemons. That’s the basics of it, and whilst there is a bit more to it than that, anything more isn’t really necessary to anyone but keen fans of Warhammer.
It’s also worth noting that throughout Warhammer – Martyr there are numerous cutscenes that pop up from time to time, and it must be said that the quality of these are certainly nothing short of phenomenal; action packed sequences see the characters come to life in movie quality scenes that really ramp up the tension and bring a sense of urgency to proceedings.
In terms of gameplay, Warhammer – Martyr has more than enough to keep players going for quite some time. There are countless different missions and mission types that can be played in local or online co-op – both of which function rather nicely – and there’s a PVP mode that although low in population is great for those with strong character builds. There are also weekly challenges that can give some exquisite items depending on how well you do.
Each mission sends players to a new dungeon each and every time thanks to the powers of procedural generation and in this game, missions are aplenty. Unfortunately, the majority centre around players being sent to kill hordes of bloodthirsty enemies, free the individuals captured by said bloodthirsty enemies or gather data. After several hours you’ll probably find it all a bit tedious. There are different types of missions mind, with Priority Assignments throwing players into multi-stage affairs, whilst Tarot missions allow players to create their own mission of sorts to get a very specific drop on completion.
On top of all this there is also the grind of levelling your Inquisitor that frequent players of ARPG games will already know too well, along with new bits of kit available through the random and plentiful loot drops that litter the game. For me this wasn’t all too important as I’m never really any good at picking a decent loadout and with the developers kind enough to give me a little head start in the form of a few level 20 characters, the only time I really utilised anything new was when I could see the stats were better in almost every category. For those who truly want to customise the perfect Inquisitor however, Warhammer – Martyr has everything in place to allow you to do just that. Just bear in mind that getting to the decent stuff is going to take a fair bit of your time so you’ll definitely need to be up for the grind.
The biggest part of your time with Warhammer – Martyr though is going to be spent in combat and whilst it’s certainly a capable mechanic, it could have been a whole lot better had the fixed camera option that usually ties in with most ARPG games had been implemented. Instead it’s gone and the developers have opted to utilise the right stick to control both the camera and aiming direction for your weapons. This is just as awkward as it sounds, especially when finding yourself in a firefight deep in a dungeon.
Another irritating feature revolves around the cover-based mechanic. For a game of this type, it’s a surprise to see it included at all, but it would work exceptionally well were it not for the fact that often bullets can whizz right through the cover, leaving you damaged and questioning the entire concept altogether.
As for the visual and audio side of things, Warhammer – Martyr does what it’s supposed to do. Visually, it looks dark, it looks dreary and it looks like your enemies have had a massacre. Pretty much things that you’d expect. If you want bright colours, it’s not for you, but if you want a sense of dread each time you step into a new dungeon, then this game can certainly cater. But what about the audio? Well that’s rather fantastic and every sound encapsulates the environment and the characters into one true Warhammer adventure.
Should you be a fan of Warhammer, then Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr has exactly what you’ll want from an ARPG experience. If you’re just looking for a new ARPG adventure, then chances are you’ll enjoy what’s on offer, but it won’t ever be one of the best experiences available. There are plenty of enjoyable elements to be had but with repetition proving heavy throughout, you have to be prepared for the grind to really get the most out of this Warhammer-RPG.