Warhammer 40k’s Eternal Online War!
I was introduced to this game by a Twitch viewer. They described it as Planetside 2 in the Warhammer 40k universe. I love Planetside 2, but I don’t love FPS games. Luckily, Warhammer 40,000 Eternal Crusade is not an FPS. Unluckily, the game is currently not like Planetside 2. Yet. This game is going to require a unique approach to reviewing due to it’s development. Playing this game is a lot like driving a brand new, candy-apple red Ferrari that won’t go over 20 MPH. I’ve watched probably 2-3 hours of people streaming this game before winning a key in a twitch giveaway. Since then I’ve played Eternal Crusade for more than 20 hours, with an additional 2-3 hours watching streams of this game before several hours during the Black Friday sales because of the mixed ratings on Steam. I eventually won a free key watching a stream though.
You can pick up Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade for $49.99 MSRP, however discounts have gotten down to $24.99 on Black Friday. If you want to help me out, you can click here pick it up at $27.69* on Green Man Gaming if you’re convinced after this review. Describing this game is going to be a little weird. Currently, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is a 3rd person lobby shooter. You choose Space Marines, Eldar, Orkks, or Chaos Space Marines. Each faction has sub-chapters to choose from that each have their own visual style. The sub-chapters are completely cosmetic, so you can choose purely on what looks good to you. You select your character from the main menu, and queue up for matched-based battles. There are many different maps, and several familiar game modes like point control, or siege mode where you break through the enemy defenses. Gameplay is very fast, and very brutal. The scoreboard doesn’t even track how many times you die! It’s that chaotic. Each faction has different classes (support, heavy weapons, standard infantry, melee, and recon) with highly customizeable weapon loadouts. There are a few different vehicles to choose from as well, and you can get more or less use out of them based on the map. There is also a character progression system that lets you unlock more weapons, and more powerful weapons and abilities. It is a fully-functioning game as-is.
What Eternal Crusade is SUPPOSED to be though, is a persistent open-world, massive ongoing war. Just like Planetside 2. This plan is still in the cards, but is strangely still under development. I say strangely because this game is out of Early Access, and you would expect a full release to offer the full base experience. While I find the Early Release tag to be highly subjective, I would definitely say that without the persistent world, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade remains in some form of beta/early release stage. That’s not to say it isn’t playable, or even enjoyable. I’ll get more into that in the next couple of sections though. The bottom line is, the queue system is only temporary, and the game is fully functional. Otherwise, I feel like it’s ready enough to be strapped onto an open world in its current state.
There is also a PvE system in Warhammer: Eternal Crusade where you battle a fifth faction, the Tyranids. These are completely AI controlled. It is not as fully fleshed out as the PvP system, it’s more of a mini-game-esque kind of feature. It does need a little difficulty tuning, but is otherwise straightforward and fun. You battle hordes of enemies as you travel from checkpoint to checkpoint. It is very dependent on teamwork, so prepared to fail if you don’t look out for one another.
What Makes It Fun
For starters, the little hotkey that randomly makes your character battle shout a random line of your faction’s propoganda is AWESOME. You can mow down your enemies, talking trash between bombs and barrages. It’s so small, but hearing your character mindlessly tow the company line is pure entertainment! The fact that it’s hotkeyed too takes it above and beyond. I love the array of weapons available. The Grav gun in particular is something new that I’ve never seen before. It only does a little bit of damage, but it slooowwwssss thiiinggsss dooowwwnnn…. It’s hilarious to watch! Works on vehicles too! I also enjoy the combat experience as a whole. It’s not something I feel I can easily describe. I love the sounds of the bolt guns, the huge scale of battles, the map design that never quite lets you get cover from more than one angle.
Eternal Crusade’s combat is just really fun. It’s a lot of little things that make the whole just better. I’m also new to the Warhammer 40k universe, so the whole Space Marine visuals are new and awe-inspiring to me. There’s this brotherhood mantra in the 40k lore for Space Marines that just kinda elevates my gaming experience when I see REAL teamwork playing out in the game. Finally I want to give a shout out to the cover system in Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. The cover system works extremely well, and actually adds to the game. Cover matters, and is well designed. In some games I find myself jumping into cover when I don’t intend to. I’m not sure if that’s due to the size of the cover ‘hook’ or some other reason, but Eternal Crusade gets it right. In addition to cover during combat, your character snaps-to walls near doors and windows without any prompting. It’s very well implemented.
What Makes It…Not
My first point has been mentioned already. I really, really want the open world. It’s been promised, and is still in the advertising. I am confident that it will be delivered Soon(tm) though. Otherwise my biggest complaint is the balance. Guns don’t quite have the impact you’d expect, melee weapons are king. It was one of the major complaints I saw in the Steam reviews; too favorable to melee. Additionally I get one-shot a bunch, and not because of headshots. I think one-shot mechanics that don’t take skill to be bad for games. They don’t offer counter-play, and make for a poor experience. Through the last several patches, I’ve noticed patch notes that indicate balance changes are taking place in Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. I’ve seen several statements from devs too that balance is still being tweaked. So while it’s not perfect, it is a confirmed work in progress. Another noticeable gameplay detraction is the latency. My end-of-match latency from the east coast in the US is generally 200-300 ms, however that doesn’t tell the whole story. A recent forum post explains what the number actually means, and that it’s being worked on. I admit I don’t fully understand the explanation. Meanwhile during actual gameplay, I do notice the latency, but not to a rage-inducing degree. Given that the game was released a little early, I am confidant that it is not at a level that developers are happy with.
My final complaints do not affect gameplay. The first is of a visual nature, and completely subjective to my own personal preference. The customization options for Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade are a little overboard. You can be red, yellow, blue – or even red and yellow, green and blue! While I am generally in favor of more customization, I kind of want that faction uniformity feeling. A wave of blue Ultramarines for example, pouring into the objective to defend it! When one is yellow, and one has a red helmet, it gets awkward. The game’s price is also a bit of a problem. At $49.99, Eternal Crusade seems a bit overpriced. During Black Friday sales, it was $24.99 about anywhere you could buy games. I would definitely say the game is worth $25 in it’s current state, but asking for $50 and faith in a game that is still a work in progress is asking too much. In their last set of patch notes, the developers even acknowledged that a lower entry price would be better for the game. The $31.99 price tag on Green Man Gaming kinda opens it up to your own financial situation.
The Bottom Line
I was part of the audience for on of the December 2016 developer livestreams for Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. Nathan Richardson, the game’s lead developer, gave specific population metrics that outlined a healthy playerbase. He explained how the game still has 25% of all accounts logging in monthly. Steam charts confirm that the overall trend is that player numbers are up, including spikes during official release and big content patches. I’ve come across Nathan Richardson on a player stream and found him to be genuine and honest given the circumstances. He seems very passionate about this game, and about its players, and maybe to a slightly too-extreme degree about the game’s overall image. He mentioned a plan for the game past 2017, which tells that Eternal Crusade still has resources flowing in. I realize the complaint section is a little long in this review, but the current retail price warrants a full explanation for the budget conscious. I recommend this game if you can find it on sale. Otherwise, I do NOT recommend it at full price. It’s a lot of fun, and I was definitely planning on buying it before I won a free key. I feel like the game can only go up from here, and am probably the most excited about this game right now above others, because of it’s potential and recent record of improvements. Also…
FOR THE EMPEROR!
…had to be done for the heretics.
*As of the last time the article was updated