Warhammer 40,000 – Rogue Trader Preview – The Fall of the Vanished Sun, Greetings from XCOM

Warhammer 40,000 - Rogue Trader Preview - The Fall of the Vanished Sun, Greetings from XCOM


At Gamescom 22 we experienced an extensive deep dive into the combat system of the new role-playing game from the Pathfinder makers.

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Owlcat Games, the makers of Pathfinder-Kingmaker and Pathfinder-Wrath of the Righteous (in the test, grade 7.0) take you to the threshold of the 42nd millennium in their latest old-school role-playing game. Like executive producers Anatoly Shestov describes, should Warhammer 40,000 – Rogue Traders still offer a classic power fantasy within the dark universe, in which your party starts normally, but becomes more and more powerful as the game progresses. So it seems only fitting that your character belongs to the eponymous caste of Rogue Traders. For the purpose of expanding the domain of the human empire, Rogue Traders have been granted such far-reaching privileges by the Emperor that they can essentially do whatever they want as commanders of their gigantic ships with thousands of inhabitants, according to Shestov.

The Fall of the Vanished Sun

In the pre-alpha version he introduces to me, the rogue trader investigates a deadly mystery: a star system’s sun has disappeared. Mind you, it has not died out, imploded or fallen victim to other natural phenomena. From one moment to the next she was simply no longer there. This quest is supposed to be somewhere in the middle of the RPG. The game session begins with the Rogue Trader’s party of six exiting the DropShip. The five companions: a tech-priest, a smuggler, a former Inquisition interrogator, a psyker, and a seasoned warrior (whose exact military affiliation I elude). The group has headed for a previously inhabited planet in the system. Buildings in the Empire’s gothic style so typical loom out of the snow. Some smaller snow mountains can be examined, the group passes the necessary skill checks. Loot is found in a heap, and beneath the other blanket of snow lies a mountain of frozen corpses, examining which sheds some light on the fate of the hapless residents.

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The Rogue Trader’s entourage roams through a handful of streets to a stairway, the rest of the map beyond is shrouded in fog of war. Shestov emphasizes that this is only a very small part of the game world and that the assets do not use computer-aided processes, but that each texture is hand-painted by the graphic artists at Owlcat. As he climbs the stairs, spotlights come to life, beaming down on the group. An ambush by Drukhari! Two Khymera beasts, their beast master, various snipers, and a warrior leap out of the shadows. The group stands on a forecourt at the end of the long staircase as if on a platter. In front of them there are two staircases further up, the archers stand uncovered up the left stairs, the beasts block the end of the right stairs. The following battle isn’t scripted, but runs a little differently in each presentation depending on the AI ​​moves, Shestov assures.

The interface quickly reveals that Owlcat Games is weaving in XCOM elements.

Greetings from XCOM

The fight begins, thanks to lucky initiative rolls, three members of the party are allowed to move before the enemy makes their first move. The terrain is divided into green boxes. For half and full cover, line of sight, and hit chance indicators, the team took inspiration from XCOM. There is a whole plethora of possibilities for each unit’s movement and action points. There are consumables, character skills and the available attacks of the created guns, swords, hammers and Co. You can carry two weapons on your body and switch them in battle, the options for attacks include single shots or the overloading of energy weapons.

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First, Shestov lets the psyker take cover, which increases her dodge chance with the skill Prediction and also relieves one of the enemy marksmen by a third of his life bar with her sniper rifle. The warrior follows, who races to the end of the right staircase via a spurt command and attacks a Khymera with his sword. This is followed by a vertical strike that covers three squares, hitting both creatures, leaving them both surrounded by a purple haze. When in danger, Khymera beasts switch between the physical and psychic planes, so they now have different damage resistance values. The first opponents fire in between, but the Khymerae are so late on the move that Shestov can still pull his Inquisitor up the stairs as a second tank, so that his troops now block the way down the stairs and keep the beasts at bay.

Now the special role of the rogue trader in combat becomes apparent. According to lore, these powerful characters rarely act themselves, but command others. The team didn’t want to make the main character just the usual buffing support character, so Rogue Traders act more as field strategists with unique skills that refill points on companions or even give them a whole extra turn on the spot. So the smuggler, who has already approached the stairs on the left, can now go again. With one skill, she’s already shooting at an uncovered Drukhari sniper while running up the stairs. She then attacks with a burst from her rapid-fire rifle. The special feature: When selecting the target, a cone of vision is displayed. In the orange center is the targeted enemy, but there are still yellow areas to the left and right of it. The attack doesn’t have the best chance of hitting, but it fires a lot of bullets. The projectiles that miss don’t disappear. They fly into the area marked yellow and hit figures in it – whether enemies or allies. The Smuggler lands many hits and a sniper goes down, the barrage ripping off an arm. Appropriate gore effects are triggered depending on the type of attack, Shestov explains.

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You first move a ghost outline of your party member to a spot on the battlefield and then see how sightlines and co. are doing at that spot.