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Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader Beta Preview – The Wealthiest of the Universe

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader

Late last year, I had the chance to try out Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, a turn-based role-playing game in development by Owlcat Games, the same developer behind the Pathfinder series, and, despite the early stage of development of the game's alpha version, I was thoroughly impressed with what the team already achieved. While I felt the alpha version of the game was far from being welcoming, once the mechanics clicked, it was smooth sailing.

The Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader beta, which is launching today on Steam, has definitely confirmed my positive impressions from the alpha. Not only does the beta do a much better job at introducing the game's world and story, but it also features so many tweaks and changes over the alpha that ultimately make the experience more enjoyable from every point of view.

Starting from the beginning of the campaign, the Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader beta offers the first look at many of the game's features that were unavailable in the alpha, such as character creation. While all of the options have yet to be finalized, the character creator allows for ample customization of body, skin color, hairstyles, tattoos and scars, implants, and voice. Creating the physical appearance of your character is only the beginning, as you will be able to choose the character's Occupation, which will influence the character's attributes, skills, and features while also changing the basic outfit, pick the Triumph and Darkest Hours, the best and worst moment your character has lived so far to better define its backstory and abilities, and Career, which acts as a class. The beta features the basic Adept, Soldier, Fighter, and Leader and the advanced Hunter, Assassin, and Vanguard Careers, and all of them have seen some major reworking to allow for more varied playstyles in combat. Careers will also matter while exploring the Koronus expanse, as abilities like Awareness, Athletics, Lore, and more will open up more options while interacting with the environment and various NPCs.

Once your Rogue Trader has been created, you will be thrown straight into the game's Prologue, which acts as a sort of tutorial area that teaches the player the basics of exploration and ground combat. The ground combat system is the feature that has changed less over the alpha, as it is still a turn-based tactical combat system where player and AI take turns to move their units and use a variety of weapons and abilities to defeat the enemy. The Momentum system, with a proper explanation and the time to get used to it, feels even better than it did in the alpha. This system is essentially a battle morale system that allows characters to use special abilities called Desperate Measures and Heroic Acts depending on the Momentum Value, and a character's low health in the case of Desperate Measures. This system, in addition to the vast number of different abilities, different battlegrounds with interactable elements, friendly fire, and other features, make for an extremely deep experience that will provide plenty to sink their teeth into for fans of tactical RPGs.

Even those who have never played a similar game will find plenty to like in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. Like the Pathfinder games, the new game from Owlcat will come with tons of modifiers to customize difficulty, so if you're more into role-playing than tactical gameplay, you will be able to tailor your experience to better suit your tastes. Even those who have little to no knowledge of the Warhammer 40,000 universe may find plenty to like in the game, as it does an excellent job of introducing some of the universe's most important elements. All the terms the game throws at players can still feel overwhelming, but those that push on will find an incredibly engaging universe and may even become massive Warhammer 40,000 fans.

Being a Rogue Trader in the Warhammer 40,000 universe means braving countless dangers and reaching all sorts of distant planets, and in this regard, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader also feels like it will deliver in an extremely lore-friendly way. During your time in the Koronus Expanse, players will have to take their ship to far-away planets, scan the surroundings of their ship for planets and travel routes, and establish new colonies that will provide resources to increase the Rogue Trader's Profit Factor, a value that keeps track of the main character's wealth and thus his or her reputation. The higher this value is, the more options may become available to the player, so it definitely feels like proper management of colonies will have a lasting impact on the campaign.

Space combat in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader will be just as prominent as ground combat. By assigning officers, players can use many different abilities while maneuvering the ship around the enemy forces, keeping the shields up, and so on. In the beta, it is also possible to take things up and personal with enemy ships by ramming into them, which is a surprisingly nice addition to the array of available abilities, which include some extremely powerful ones that charge slowly over the course of multiple space battles but can really turn the tide once used.

While I couldn't spend a lot of time with the Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader beta, it is already clear from what I have experienced so far that Owlcat Games is putting every effort into its game to make it one to remember. How the story will hold up until the end remains to be seen, but so far, as someone with only passing knowledge of the universe created by Games Workshop, I can say that I am engrossed in it and can't wait to see what lies ahead.

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader launches on PC on a yet-to-be-confirmed release date. The beta, which offers between 60 and 80 hours of playtime, is now available on Steam.

Beta access provided by the publisher.

Written by Francesco De Meo
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