HomeReviews4/5 ReviewWarhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader Review

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader Review


If you are expecting Nick Knowles to pop up in a Warhammer universe, I have some bad news for you – it’s not about that kind of Rogue Trader. 

No, what we have here in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is a game based on the 2009 tabletop experience from Games Workshop, where we are charged with taking control of a ship and its crew, operating outside of the usual rules of the Imperium. If you want an explanation of what the Imperium is, I suggest you Google it, as if I tried, there would leave no room for the actual game!

Suffice it to say that this video game interpretation, coming from Owlcat Games, is more than stuffed with enough lore to keep the most rabid fan happy, while not alienating newer players who don’t have minute knowledge of the Warhammer universe. 

warhammer 40000 rogue trader review 1
Know Warhammer? You’ll love Rogue Trader

What is on offer from a presentation point of view is a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest. Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader plays out as a Classical RPG, apparently the first in the Warhammer universe to be released on the Xbox, and this means that the action is viewed from the traditional isometric top-down perspective. Pleasingly, the camera can be zoomed and panned almost infinitely, so finding out where you are and where you should be is usually not a problem. I say ‘usually’ as there are some oddities to the way the game works, which I shall discuss later. 

The design of your party and the various NPCs and enemies you meet is very good indeed, drawing on the rich heritage of the Warhammer brand to let us see not only human type foes, but Xenos and chaos monsters as well. However, there are some issues with moving the group you command as a whole  – when running around, all (up to six) members of your fireteam are on the screen at once, and they can sometimes get themselves stuck as you attempt to get to where you’re going; ladders can be a particular issue. I’ve had the character that I was controlling refuse point blank to go down a ladder, needing to switch control to another character in order to proceed. Given that swapping characters is a little clunky, this is an annoyance. 

Thankfully, the audio found in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is much better, with all the battle sounds you’d expect. And yes, the lasguns do go pew-pew! The voiced cutscenes are all very well done as well, so Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is very much a game of two halves as far as the presentation goes. 

That game of two halves theme carries over into the actual gameplay, but before I address that it feels about right that we spend a little time with the story. Usually a strong point in the Warhammer games, this one is no exception. 

We are a heir of the Von Valancius dynasty, and while our backstory can vary, depending on the options we choose at the start of the game, we are introduced to Theodora, the head of the family and the current Rogue Trader. Through a series of events that I won’t spoil, we end as the new Rogue Trader, with a depleted crew, a battered Voidship, and a mission to try and not only get to the bottom of events, but also to expand and make the Von Valancius house thrive and prosper. 

warhammer 40000 rogue trader review 2
Friend or foe?

This can be achieved in a number of ways, either through negotiation or through force, through alliances or through conflict; there is an almost endless number of ways to get stuff done. With side missions to find and explore, hidden areas to happen upon, and all the main narrative pieces to follow, the game is pretty much a rollercoaster with no end of things to be doing. The story keeps dragging you along, and with the amount of content here, longevity is not an issue. Just as an example, in my current playthrough, the prologue and chapter one took over 20 hours to get through, and there’s a lot more to see beyond that. Prepare for the long haul!

But now let’s pick up on the game of two halves thread from earlier on – in particular, the actual gameplay. It’s here where we have some exploration, and some combat – be that ground based or in space. 

The exploration side of things includes not only wandering about on the giant Voidship we call home, but also navigating to nearby points of interest, and then the subsequent exploration on the ground. Voidship manoeuvring is largely automatic, and you can choose routes based on the danger – the closer to red the route is, the more likely you are to be attacked, so be careful out there. It is really once you land on a planet (or space station, or prison asteroid, and so on) that the exploration really kicks off. You can run around freely when not in combat, and look for goods to pick up. 

Now, it appears that “goods” is a bit of a catchall term, as these can be weapons from fallen foes, through to cargo that you can use to bump up your reputation with various factions, through to a letter or document that may contain a clue to a side mission. The camera in this section is largely up to the job, but can get a bit confused in areas with multiple levels, showing you only the top of the staircase and not the bottom; that leads to much faffing about trying to find the right spot to walk up. Still, running about and picking stuff up, talking to people and generally wandering about the place is pretty good fun. Until you turn the wrong alley and end up in combat…

warhammer 40000 rogue trader review 3
Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is huge

Thankfully that combat is a lot of fun. It comes in a classic grid-based form, where, as long as you aren’t ambushed, your characters can be placed into position before the commencement of hostilities. Suffice it to say, having squishy characters in cover when the bullets start flying is a good move. Once combat begins, it is a very familiar feeling – you can move, then attack, or attack and then move (sometimes) and the idea is to make your foes not alive any more. Whether this be by the use of ranged weapons (preferable for the aforementioned squishy people, like Idira and Cassia) or up close and personal with axes and chain swords (Abelard), there is no end of ways to end your foes. 

Idira – in my game – has a handy line in lighting bolts, so when the foes bunch it warms the cockles of my gaming heart, knowing they are all about to die! One thing to be aware of though is the threat of friendly fire – certain attacks will hit all the characters in a radius, good and bad, and this can cause issues. The lightning is a particular issue, as it doesn’t care who it hits – be careful where you wave that staff!

Every now and then a boss encounter will appear, and these can be major stumbling blocks to your progress. It’s fair to say that the difficulty spikes in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader are enormous, especially at the end of the prologue, and making sure your team has the best armour and weapons is absolutely vital. 

Luckily, we collect weapons and armour at a rate of knots, with many a dead body ripe for a little light plundering, in-turn allowing us to buy better gear from the various faction vendors that we meet. As we battle through, we of course accrue EXP, and this has to be spent somewhere, right? Well, luckily each character has their own skill tree to fill in, and when one is full, others are available with the addition of extra job titles that can be chosen,. These are locked behind levelling requirements (the second job choice requires you to hit level 16, for instance) and with the amount of fighting we do, this won’t take too long. 

Each level also brings perks with it, from increased damage with a particular class of weapon through to extra range in the movement phase – it is all very gradual, but you soon can build your team up to a formidable fighting force. In a nice touch, non active members of the team level up at the same rate, so they aren’t left behind. 

warhammer 40000 rogue trader review 4
We’re not sure what’s going on, but it probably ain’t good.

Combat also takes place in space, and this is a bit different. Our voidship has four main weapons, allowing us to shoot in front, and then off to the sides, basically. There is no option to remain stationary in space combat  – the ship has to move, there is no choice. What follows is more like a game of cat and mouse, as you attempt to manoeuvre the ship in such a way that your guns can hit the enemies and theirs can’t hit you. Which is a lot harder than it sounds. You have to monitor the shields as well, as when they are depleted, enemy shots will damage the actual ship; choosing an opportune moment to restart the shields can be key to the survival of your vessel. 

Warhammer 40,000 : Rogue Trader is a great game to play through. The story, the background lore of the universe and the combat are all highlights. On the flip, the exploration can feel like a bit of a chore at times, and there have been a few bugs during my playthrough; the most annoying being the failure to load into the next level, forcing a restart. There have also been a couple of fights where enemies have sat up in areas in which they couldn’t be hit, meaning another reload and a restart of the encounter. 

In conclusion, with a little more polish Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader could have been a strong contender as a genre leader, but as it is, we have to pull back on that a bit. Yet still, if you like Warhammer or CRPGs, this is an easy sell. 


  • Great story and lore
  • So much content to go at it boggles the mind
  • Combat is fun
  • Camera issues abound
  • Weird glitches force reloads
  • General lack of polish
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Owlcat Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 7 December 2023 | £42.99
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Follow Us On Socials


Our current writing team


Join the chat

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you

<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Great story and lore</li> <li>So much content to go at it boggles the mind</li> <li>Combat is fun</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Camera issues abound</li> <li>Weird glitches force reloads</li> <li>General lack of polish</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Owlcat Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 7 December 2023 | £42.99</li> </ul>Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader Review
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x