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Battlesector preview – a surprisingly deep (and gory) turn-based wargame

todayMay 28, 2021 2

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Black Lab Games and Slitherine are gearing up for the June 15 launch of Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector. I got my hands on a preview copy so I could give you fair warning: you’re going to want to take the day off. Maybe the week.

Battlesector is a much-anticipated strategy game that puts you in control of an evolving army of Space Marines as they embark on a crusade against invading… aliens or something.

I’m going to be honest: I don’t know a lot about the Warhammer universe. It’s among gaming’s most popular franchises (both tabletop and video screen), but I’m what you’d call a dabbler in the world.

But that really doesn’t matter. As a wargame, Battlesector does a fantastic job of introducing the world, making you care about what’s going on, and letting you know what you need to do.

And, at the end of the day, all you need to do is kick ass. Luckily this game excels at making you feel like a galaxy-class ass kicker.

If you’ve played games such as X-Com or Disgaea – that is, unit-level, turn-based, tactical, strategy wargames that feature RPG-like progression and a persistent command state, you’ll find Battlesector lies in familiar territory.

Typical gameplay involves moving units around a 3D game space in order to engage monsters in both long-distance shootouts and melee-ranged attacks. Depending on your army’s make-up, you’ll blast enemies with machine guns, grenades, axes, swords, and even chainsaws.

Essentially you’re playing chess, but the pieces have special powers and the board is modeled to look like various types of terrain and structures.

If looks could kill

The first thing you notice about Battlesector is that it’s an absolutely gorgeous game. It’s not that it has fancy graphics – the graphics are fine, but they’re not mind-blowing or anything like that. It’s the style, animations, and overall art direction of the title that really makes it stand out on the screen.

After decades of playing strategy titles, Battlesector feels clean and tidy (ironically, because it’s such a bloody, gory game). It’s as if this is among the first PC strategy titles developed for big ass 4K TVs. It looks spectacular spread out on my screen and, more importantly, everything I need to see is available at a glance.

Battlesector doesn’t clutter the screen with information. The armchair general in me sometimes protested the lack of data – I spent the first three hours of gameplay befuddled by the lack of portraits at the top of the screen when battle broke out, but eventually I got used to hunting for enemies on the map screen.

I’m pretty sure the devs opted for a less cluttered screen simply so there’d be more space to show off the game’s animations and effects.

Credit: Slitherine