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It's Both Brilliant & a Little Boring

Steven Messner Posted:
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Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor - Martyr is a mouthful for a name, but I'm inclined to forgive it after spending an hour goring enemies on my sword. The Warhammer universe is a brutal place, so a violent action RPG actually feels right at home. Neocore Games aren't new to the genre either, they're the studio behind the King Arthur and Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing RPGs, and Inquisitor feels like it's being made with that combined wisdom.

I'll admit to judging this book by its bloody cover, but Inquisitor is actually a lot more than just a reskinned Diablo. While there's going to be all the loot-driven RPG action we're all familiar with, there's also a pretty nifty persistent sandbox world that glues everything together and gives you far more things to play with than just a linear story.

Our demo started with a glance at just one small sector of Inquisitor's galaxy map, which itself is divided into smaller subsectors, which divide into star systems, which in turn are filled with points of interest. Each one of these is a procedurally generated mission that your inquisitor can undertake in order to either progress through the story or simply earn some loot and level up.

These maps are all randomly generated using puzzle pieces that fit together in different ways to make sure you're never playing the same exact layout twice, and there's around 50 missions that populate each map. While some seem fairly boring, like purges that require killing every enemy, others might be a bit more interesting—like the investigations for example.

Being an inquisitor, your main protocol isn't to just murder everything in sight, but to explore and investigate, and Inquisition will feature missions that can unveil clues that will lead to further missions. It's all pretty interesting sounding, but none of these features were available in the demo that I went hands on with.

It's worth noting that, at this stage, Inquisitor is in a pre-alpha state, so there's a boatload of work that needs to be done before it is anywhere near complete. While I wasn't able to mess around in the persistent sandbox and tackle procedurally generated missions, I was able to get a feel for the basic combat and the inquisitor classes I could play as.

It's here that I'm a little less excited for Inquisitor—if only because I found the combat to be a little too bland and by the books. My crusader had a sword he could use to slice close-ranged enemies, a gun to fire at range, and a grenade he could periodically toss around. For a genre that typically lives on the idea of fulfilling gross power fantasies and unleashing a barrage of killer abilities, what I saw of Inquisitor seemed far too reserved for its own good.

That said, there were some interesting ideas that I hope Neocore Games fleshes out. For one, destructible environments and cover both play an important part in battle. Ranged enemies will frequently try to put something between you and them, like a pillar for example, and while you can try and take shots and hope you get lucky, it's far more sensible to chuck a grenade and turn that pillar into dust. Other aspects of the environment are destructible too, and it gives Inquisitor this great feeling of really tearing up the place in each fight.

The other thing I think is really interesting is being able to do location specific damage to certain enemies in order to remove certain capabilities. For example, shooting the gun or arm of an enemy might cause them to drop it and no longer have access to a ranged attack. You might also shoot an enemy's poison sacs to remove their ability to cover you in venom before you kill them outright.

I'm not too sure how fond I am of the pace at which my Inquisitor moved either. Some Warhammer games, like the upcoming Space Hulk: Deathwing, can turn that lumbering movement of a space marine and make it intense and weighty. But I feel like Inquisitor is just slow and boring. It's exacerbated by the simple abilities too. That said, this probably shouldn't make you write the game off entirely, just be aware that these are issues that will need to be addressed before the game is released.

But where Inquisitor isn't really impressive to play, I love the ideas that are floating around and supposedly going to be included. For one, there's an interesting indirect PVP mode where you can create and customize a fortress and fill it with traps and then other Inquisitors can try and brave it for a chance at stealing a chunk of your loot. Likewise, you can invade other people's fortresses for a chance at stealing theirs. It's all entirely optional (and frankly, ripped wholesale from other games like The Epic Quest for Mighty Loot) but I think in the context of a Warhammer game it has the potential to be brilliant.

Being at such a rough early stage, Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor - Martyr won't be out until next year, so it's probably best to just set yourself a reminder and then forget about it. But there's absolutely some potential there to do things that haven't really been done by a lot of ARPGs. There is a weird tension with the demo I played as it manages to feel both innovative and wholly derivative at the same time, but I'm hoping Neocore is able to channel some of the lessons they learned with Van Helsing to make Inquisitor a bloody success.


Steven Messner

Steven is a Canadian freelance writer and EVE Online evangelist, spreading the good news of internet spaceships far and wide. In his spare time, he enjoys writing overly ambitious science fiction and retweeting pictures of goats. Speaking of retweeting, you should probably drop everything and go follow him on Twitter @StevenMessner