Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader PC Review

Take a walk on the more obscure side of the humans in the Warhammer universe, but it will be a bumpy ride.

By R3GR3T, Posted 17 Dec 2023

Imagine taking a chance at the geekier side of life with a fun Saturday night playing Dungeons & Dragons with a group of friends, planning out complex campaigns, harrowing encounters, hellishly detailed conversations, and nearly endless paths in an ever-expanding world. One of the most notorious DND universes is the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Now, we all know just how complex it can become as a tabletop game, but what if it became a game you could play on PC or console? This is where Owlcat Games comes into the picture, as well as the massive team that drove their development forward.


Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, Review, Screenshots, Role-Playing, Turn-Based, Fantasy, NoobFeed
 

Owlcat Games was founded in 2016 in Cyprus, and this studio hit the ground running with swords ready to take the world by force. Their first release, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, was a massive hit when it released in 2018 because of the DND aspects it relied on along with some city management. However, the story had to continue, and they released Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous in 2021, which was yet another massive hit among fans. Fast-forward to now, and this brings us to their latest creation, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, released on 7 December.

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader isn’t just another attempt at bringing DND to the digital age; it’s probably as close as Baldur’s Gate 3 came to it. Now, while it’s not perfect, and it does rely on several mechanics that are seen in the Pathfinder series, it’s still a hell of a ride that’ll keep you hooked. The world of Rogue Trader is a bit odd, a little crazy, and a whole new level of chaos as you take on the role of Rogue Trader. However, before you can do that, there are a few things to do, or your journey won’t go anywhere. The most important thing to keep in mind is that Rogue Trader focuses solely on the human side of the Warhammer universe.

Your adventure starts with the all too well-known character creation, though this is Warhammer, and it’s far from quick or simple. Starting off with everybody’s favourite part, you’ll need to choose your character’s appearance, and this part already has a surprising amount of detail for a top-down RPG. The most crucial part here is your portrait, as this will also be shown during most dialogues and in the party line-up, and it’ll be the main representation of your character.


Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, Review, Screenshots, Role-Playing, Turn-Based, Fantasy, NoobFeed
 

The next parts might take a bit of time to get through, and it’s highly recommended you take some time to tweak your character, or you’ll end up with something unbalanced, which can take away from the overall experience. The next part after appearance is your Homeworld, and this gives you a little bit of backstory, a feature, character stat modifiers, and some starting talents. With options like Voidborn, Hive World, Forge World, and several others to choose from, you might end up doing a lot more reading than expected to build the perfect beast. However, your Homeworld selection will also come into play at other points in the story and when it comes to gear along with certain dialogue options, but we’ll touch on this soon.

Next up is your Origin, and once again, there are bonuses that can be gained from this option too. However, your Origin is also in a matter of speaking, your class… It’s definitely as confusing as it sounds, but it will make sense soon enough. Your Origin is essentially your character’s background and what makes them unique to you. You’ll have plenty of options to choose from, from Crime Lord to Sanctioned Psyker (Psykers are the human version of a wizard for those who don’t know, lots of fun but dangerously difficult to build for), and each option comes with a unique set of abilities and actions to use in combat. However, certain Origins like the Psyker will give you the option to choose a sub-class.

You’re almost at the end. Just a few more steps to go, and then you can jump into the chaos of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. Now you have to choose between your Triumph and Darkest Hour; these give you an interesting buff and debuff to stats, which is a nice touch to balance things out. Now, we get to the real meat of your character, the Archetypes. Your Archetype is basically your class as well, but more in the sense of how your character can be used in a fight. The different starting Archetypes can branch out to secondary Archetypes but eventually come together into Exemplar at Level 36. You’ll need to choose wisely when it comes to your Archetype because it’s also your development path and can affect your combat specialization along with abilities.


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Finally, the end of character creation; now it’s just your stats and Voidship. Your stats in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader also have some complexity but all to your benefit, and they give you nearly endless options for your playstyle, with stats like Weapon Skill which affects melee weapon damage, Ballistic Skill for guns, and even Intelligence which affects sub-stats like Lore, Logic and Tech-Use, each stat can open and close certain doors or options during your adventure. Then it’s just a matter of naming your future Voidship and jumping into the chaos.

Like with anything Warhammer-related, you’re in for a hell of a story that will likely be driven by your choices, and Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is no exception. Your story starts on the Upper Decks of the Von Valencius Voidship with a conversation between you and Kunrad Voigtvir (The names get much weirder, but that’s par for the course in Warhammer). After some quick introductions, you’ll eventually meet the Voidship’s captain – Lord Captain Theodora von Valencius. Initially, you semi-join everybody else on the Voidship because Lady Theodora is looking for an heir to take over for her as Rogue Trader once she steps down.

Everything goes well, and you get to meet the other heirs, engage in some witty banter with the Lord Captain, and explore the ship… Until everything goes hugely wrong. To give a little context for the situation, the Warhammer universe is obscenely huge, so much so that each race needs to travel through space and cross massive distances in a short time in one way or another. This is where the Warp comes in, an immaterial plane made of violent energies, souls, and pure chaos, and you don’t want to know what else. The Warp is also used as a space highway of sorts where the races can cross those distances, provided they have some protection from it and a way to navigate it. Sadly, the Warp is infamous for what it can cause without some protection.


Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, Review, Screenshots, Role-Playing, Turn-Based, Fantasy, NoobFeed
 

Back to the matter at hand, due to a mix of a coup from one of the heirs and the protection from the Warp going down, the Voidship gets caught in the middle of a mutiny combined with a massive attack and a ritual that was supposed to bring it down. This is where you come in as the hero, but disaster has already taken its toll. Lady Theodora is killed defending her vessel, and you end up as the only remaining heir to take over her duties. The struggle isn’t over yet, though. You and your newly inherited ship manage to make it out of the void, but a large portion of your crew is killed during the attack. More importantly – Your Navigator, Tech Priest, and half of your lesser crew were killed.

This is where your choices become extremely important and can affect how the story plays out since you’ll need to find a new Navigator to guarantee safe passage through the Warp and a Tech Priest to soothe the ship engine spirit. For example, the system you start in has several Navigators that you’ll meet, and you’ll be given a choice between taking the first one you find by force or delving further into that part of the story to get one that will willingly join your crew. Either way, you’ll get what you need, but how you get there is where the intrigue of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader makes you look at the bigger picture.

Rogue Trader needs to come up with a warning for this, but the game is enormous. With its ungodly estimated playtime of 130 hours, you’d think it’s a joke, but it’s not. Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is dripping with lore, so much so that it even has a massive codex to explore and learn more about everything on the human side of the Warhammer universe. This might scare some people off, but it’s also incredible to see how much detail went into just the lore alone. This alone can give anybody a good introduction to Warhammer in general if you’re considering taking the plunge.


Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, Review, Screenshots, Role-Playing, Turn-Based, Fantasy, NoobFeed
 

Moving on, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader would be terribly boring if there wasn’t some action or at least a little blood, and you can bet a whole ship cargo of the most valuable fineries that there is enough action to last you several lifetimes. However, you’ll need to keep in mind that while the story is intensely rich, it also has a great tactical combat side. Going into combat, one of two things will happen – You’ll have the initiative and be able to place each party member where you want them within their range for an advantage, or your party will be ambushed and your attackers gain the early advantage. In this case, you’ll want to maintain the advantage because of how vital the cover is.

The cover is your best friend in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader; well, the full cover is your best friend. It stops all incoming damage from the front and diagonals, which is better than nothing. Half cover will still provide some protection but only decrease the hit chance, and this is where balancing your party comes in handy because you’ll still have the usual party makeup consisting of the following roles – Tank, DPS, and Support. Your tank won’t always require cover, but DPS and Support are situational because of how easily certain characters can delve into hybrid builds, which gives them some toughness while maintaining good damage or supportive capabilities.

Another thing about any combat situation in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is that movement is bound by isometric blocks or squares. Each party member also has a set range based on their bonuses and stats. Once again, a little strategy can take you very far, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have to plan every step. Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader does allow some reckless planning and doesn’t punish you for it, unlike other games. Now, the other part of a battle to remember is that it’s also turn-based, and just like DND, each character rolls for initiative, placing them on the order list. From there, it’s just a matter of wiping out your opponents to carry on.


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Now for the part, we all love, the slaughter. Naturally, you’ll have choices between melee weapons and guns unless you’re a Psyker who can draw from the Warp to cause devastation. Melee attacks are straightforward as to how to go about it; ranged weapons like guns and warp-based attacks are played by different rules, though. Starting with guns – You’re not only limited by enemy cover but also by hit chance, which is affected by Ballistic Skill and weapon range. Lucky for you, not all guns are made the same, and you’ll have options between different weapon types that range from short-range pistols to long-range sniper rifles.

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader expands even further on the combat system with skills and abilities that come from your Origin and Archetype. Each Archetype brings its own unique flare and position in a fight that can cripple your opponents or make your party an unstoppable force. However, there is a slight drawback that balances everything out as well. Between movement and actions, you’ll be limited by Movement Points (MP) and Action Points (AP). Moving around can be done whenever you want to; abilities and skills all have their own AP cost, but attacking with a weapon will essentially end your turn.

On the other side of life, things take a very complicated turn for the inexperienced, levelling up. Now, levelling up is usually a quick and easy thing to deal with, but the same can’t be said about Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader. Each Archetype brings unique abilities and the like, but they all also have different features, passives, bonuses, and abilities to choose from and the lists are nothing to scoff at. They are long, and there is a literal mountain of choices to pick from. The best you can do is to not rush through it, as this will bite you later on.


Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, Review, Screenshots, Role-Playing, Turn-Based, Fantasy, NoobFeed
 

Outside of combat and levelling up, having feet on the ground will allow you to explore the area you’re in for that sweet sweet loot. Corpses and chests are a great source of weapons, gear, and valuables you can use to outfit your party while selling off the rest to merchants. However, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader has a completely different take on how merchants do business with you. You won’t have to deal with the constant hassle of money. You’ll instead have a Profit Rating, and buying from merchants just became a lot easier. Your Profit Rating is like a character level; it allows you to simply buy whatever you want without having to worry, as long as your rating is high enough.

With so much already going on, there is a whole other side to Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, which only gets revealed later on, and good old ship battles. Sadly, this part needs a lot more polish or at least a bit more simplicity because of how overcomplicated it is. First off, your Voidship is in space, and therefore, ships are constantly moving in a fight, but this makes targeting and moving using turn-based actions rigid. Then there’s also having to keep shields for you and your enemies in mind, though this takes an odd turn because you’ll need to destroy one side of a 4-sided shield to do damage to your opponent’s ship. On the plus side, getting new ship components and swapping them out might make this side of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader easier, but it’s still somewhat complicated.

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader brings us all the chaotic goodness of the original DND campaigns with a lot more visual life, though you won’t get these wild cutscenes. With a heavy reliance on text for most of the dialogues and text-based descriptions of what each person is doing while they talk, it’s similar to reading a novel that’s somewhat alive too. There isn’t really a nice way to even explain this part, but it’s well worth a look either way; with the immense detail put into the lands you’ll be exploring alongside the various people you’ll be dealing with, there’s so much to take in, and you might miss something just by blinking.



 

On the sound engineering side of life as the Rogue Trader, the first thing you’ll notice is the constant background music or background noise, which builds a nice atmosphere as you go. However, what really makes Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader stand out is the voice acting, and while the game isn’t fully voiced, there’s still more than enough to really keep you wanting more. This goes without saying, but the voice acting also sets the tone for each conversation and marks it as one of those defining moments that can affect the story at hand.

Overall, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is a little rough around the edges, but it’s also the best rendition of the Warhammer universe brought to gamers. It’s perfect for those who are new to Warhammer and DND veterans who want a rich story to experience. Sadly, the ship battles are a drag, but everything else, from the brilliant voice acting to the overall gameplay, more than makes up for that little blemish on the experience of a game.


Jay Claassen (@R3GR3T_3NVY)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Owlcat Games
Developer(s): Owlcat Games
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Strategy, Role-Playing
Release Date: 2023-12-07

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