When Eternal Crusade was shown to us at E3 one of the words that stood out was Eldar. See, anytime the words 40K and MMO are used in the same sentence people’s expectations immediately go to what they had heard about Dark Millenium. In the few weeks we have been covering the game I have had to tell people about fifty times that it is not the same game as THQ’s ill-fated attempt. It is not just Chaos, Orks, and Imperium fighting it out on two factions. Every faction is out for itself, and this week I wanted to focus on the Eldar.
The Eldar bring a much-needed fourth faction to the game and one that is steeped in 40K lore. Space Elves, Pansies, or whatever you refer to them as, the Eldar bring some of the most diverse and deadly units to the table top game in 40K. With their new codex hot off the presses, they have been given a solid boost and are now one of the armies to beat. So what does all of this have to do with an MMO? They’re a Xenos race which has no alliances to anyone, sure they might fight alongside Space Marines, but nothing stops them from killing marines after the threat of Orks are defeated. That is what has always made 40K great, all of the armies against each other. This is something that the team at Behaviour Interactive has talked about as well. The Eldar play right into their system. Factions can team up against a great threat, but when that threat is over, it now becomes game for the survivors. Orks and Chaos make sense in some ways, as do Eldar and Imperium, but the core fact remains, they are all against each other.
The Eldar are also an amazing race in terms of their visual appearance. Their sleek weapons and combat styles will be great to see on-screen. If the upgrade pacts include units like Striking Scorpions or Howling Banshees, you will have a huge variety in how your squad is set up. Keep in mind the ten-man squad system and imagine a mix of Eldar coming at you. The mistake that Behavior could make with Eldar is to make them a weaker infantry army than Marines, with some tricks thrown in to make them look good, but have them fall short in combat. Let’s hope they get the Eldar dynamic right: having extreme tech like Warp Spiders, mixed with Rangers for deadly sniper fire, and possibly some melee Scorpions added to the squad. I know this may sound extreme, but think about it for a second. If Marine squads are balanced with long range fire, midrange special weapons, and melee load outs to fight in close, then how do you achieve that with Eldar? A solid mix of the elite troops would make the faction colorful and damn fun to play.
Here is my one request for Eldar: Jetbikes had better be in the game! You have mentioned you are putting in vehicles, so motorcycle riding Marines and Chaos Marines make perfect sense. Not to mention the possibility of an Ork Nob upgrade pack to buy a Bike and making them a Nob Biker (take my money please!). With those options for players, it is impossible to ignore the pure awesome spectacle of the Eldar Jetbikes. I don’t even care if you balance them perfectly, just put them in the damn game and make them great. It is a core element to every Eldar Army out there.
The other thing having Eldar does for Eternal Crusade is open the doors for the other Xenos factions, namely Tau and Necrons. Both of these armies are very popular at the moment and would boost the faction list to six. That is a critical leap Eternal Crusade can make hopefully soon after launch (wishful thinking). If you go based on the past, Space Marine and the defunct Dark Millenium only focused on Orks and Chaos. This way of thinking left out a ton of options in the 40K universe. To me that is the biggest strength in the Eldar faction: options. Having them in the game and watching them do well immediately gives fuel to Behaviour Interactive to begin adding the other factions. Now don’t get me wrong, my first votes for expanded factions would be Space Wolves and the four god-focused Chaos Marines. But those can be wrapped into the Chaos and Imperium factions fairly easily. It is launching armies like the Tau and Necrons which will really tip the scales. Eldar make this a prospect for the future. Let’s hope the devs can follow through on all of it.
So Eldar are important to Eternal Crusade for a number of reasons, I didn’t even mention their other vehicles. From a game standpoint they add a solid fourth faction with no real allegiance. They are extremely diverse and hopefully Behaviour embraces that when they build up the faction. They could be a lot of fun to play if done right.
Garrett Fuller is the Industry Relations Manager at MMORPG.com.
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