Alright I wanted to share my thoughts on Warhammer 40,000 Mechanicus. Why am I a month late? I wanted to take the time to play it and give it some real thought. So here is what I came up with. I did plan to have this done for last weekend, but I over estimated the amount of time I had to get assignments done and all that. What else is new? Before we get into it I want to set the mood, so watch this video of the opening.
This was what they also used as their teaser trailer, it is the same thing you see when you open the game, but still sets the mood perfectly. It gets me hyped right up and ready to be part of the Adeptus Mechanicus!
Story? There really isn’t much of one, but that is okay since you are given lots of atmosphere and interesting missions from your various advisors. The story boils down to this image right here:
Essentially it is as Faustinus puts it and you end up finding out it is a Necron Tomb World leaving you to deal with them before they all awaken. The intro mission shows you everything you need to know and has you encounter one of the big baddies of the opposing force.
The game gives you all the reason you need to start delving and fighting Necrons, that is all I need.
Every mission plays out in a similar manner, you are greeted by this holographic map of the area you are investigating for the mission. Every mission has its offerings of rewards as well as showing you what difficulty it will be and what enemies you can expect. Now it is very important to note that there is no starting difficulty and it is measured by mission. So you want a harder experience? Go for harder missions, but I will touch on the overall difficulty near the end.
You will have to deploy your units, choose your canticles, and jump right into it. I will touch on the specifics of units and canticles later.
This is the map you are met with on starting a mission.
From this map you have objectives you need to accomplish and little events along the way. The green symbols are glyphs that have you picking one of multiple options to get either a beneficial or detrimental effect. These can vary from healing a unit, to giving you resources, to increasing the awakening level. Glyphs always have a set effect and it allows you to start figuring out which ones you want to be avoiding which is nice. The exclamation points on the map give you a little event that also has you picking an option, but in a more narrative way.
These events like the glyphs can result in positive or negative effects pending on your choice, but are far harder to guess what they will do. It will constantly keep you guessing as you will never know what is always the right choice.
Finally these yellow diamonds represent your objective which will always play out in a battle that can have different objectives like activate a terminal, survive, or just straight up slay all the enemies. Good variation in these missions and they aren’t too terribly overwhelming. Caution is always advised as sometimes when you run to an objective you will activate others and put yourself in a bad situation. So take it slow, and no need to rush, well except for the fact that the Necrons awaken more the longer you take.
These levels of awakening will give the Necrons various buffs and contribute to the overall percentage that they are awakened in your play through. So you want to get through at a brisk pace, but not too fast as to cause yourself issues.
Once you get that Awakening to 100% there that is when things come to an end more or less, but you can also defeat their head honcho earlier if you like. Anyway at the end of a mission you are rewarded for enemies slain, deducted for tech priests damaged or troops lost. So the better you do the better you are rewarded, that is the way things should be right?
Now everyone likes to compare it to XCOM, and I feel that is a decently accurate comparison. They are both of the tactical turn based RPG genre and both have a similar feel. Mechanicus takes all the good things of XCOM and leaves behind many of the annoying things. Like in Mechanicus all your characters actually know how to use their weapons effectively and don’t have a percent chance to hit. I get that this is part of the allure of XCOM and the difficulty of it all, but it is gets damn right frustrating. Moving on, the combat in Mechanicus is pretty much what you would expect form something compared to XCOM except for the lack of cover and everyone being generally stronger. Never will you feel like you are just weaker than your opponents because you are very strong in your own right. There are two damage types, energy and physical, so balancing the two damage types out in your group is important because if you say brought all energy weapons and were fighting enemies with high energy armor you are going to have a bad time.
You are also unable to use ranged weapons while you are engaged in melee, making it pretty true to the core material. It allows you to deal with pesky ranged units by disabling their ability to use their deadly ranged weapons when you run at them in melee. This is especially handy if you build one or more of your priests to be proficient in melee combat.
You are also able to charge up the machine spirit of weapons through using them allowing additional effects for the next time you use them. Like the Skitarii Vanguard whose weapon will do extra damage while the machine spirit is charged.
There are several mechanics that are noteworthy, but this is one of the most important; cognition points. Now these points are generated through various actions, scanning things on the field, collecting them from downed enemies, and from Tech priest abilities. Now this cognition allows you to use abilities, weapons, and move your tech priests more. They are represented by the little gears on the bottom of the screen. As you do more missions you can have more at a time, and they allow you to use your best tools.
Your management of cognition is incredibly important to your success and good management will have you win battles lopsidedly. Cognition is also used for the deployment of your basic troops, and the varying troops have different costs. Canticles are also something vital to success in battle and are something you can only use once per mission. The effects of canticles vary from healing to ignoring armor and overall are incredibly important.
You can only take three Canticles at a time so you better choose wisely. They are also unlocked from achievement style progress.
So you are able to utilize Canticles in many different ways to augment your preferred play style. The battles have varying objectives from killing all enemies, using a terminal, or surviving, so you will get some decent variety.
The next big thing to talk about is the amount of unit variety and customization you get. Your troops have their own load outs and abilities based on their level that can be raised after completing certain missions. So you can take various kinds of troops that fulfill different roles and tackle the battles in the way that best suits you.
Now the tech priests are where the real customization comes in, as they can be upgraded down various trees, equipped differently, and given different abilities. You have your choice of six different disciplines that have their own combat specializations. Often you will end up dipping into multiple trees to optimize your priests and make them as strong as possible.
You will also get specific gear from a skill line that makes them better at what that specific discipline does, for example being better at ranged combat with gear from the Dominus tree.
As you can see there are very many choices for equipment you can get, and I didn’t even get them all. Overall you have so many options for your priests to make them into your preferred kinds of killing machine and is something I very much appreciate. I loved dropping a Kastellan Robot on my enemies who loved ranged combat and forcing them to face down my big robot… good times.
My only gripe is that you can’t change their portraits that are randomly assigned to them, and they seemed to randomly change whenever I loaded the game (they might have fixed this since I tried it last though.)
Now the music and graphical design are top notch, everything bleeds tech priest and Adeptus Mechanicus. The music makes you feel like a tech worshiping zealot from the 41st millennium. With its mix of vocals and techno, man I really like the soundtrack, it fits so well. The weapons also all look and feel like they should, which is very important in a Warhammer 40K game, especially if you have ever heard what some people have done to Bolters in some games.
All in all the game looks and sounds fantastic, big points for nailing that.
In conclusion Mechanicus is a fantastic game, and is more than worth its lower price point. The game play is fun and the atmosphere feels right at home with anyone 40K fan or not. The difficulty got to be on the easy side once I got my priests kitted out in the right way, but there is nothing wrong with being rewarded for building your characters the right way. I definitely recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of tactical RPGS or of 40K in general. This along with Gladius are a big turning point for 40K video games as these two are of great quality and make me hopeful for the future.
EDIT, December 17: They released a balance patch that fixes a lot of bugs, and changes weapon characteristics. Most importantly they make the final boss have more health which should definitely help with him being more of a threat. Definitely worth checking out the changes.