Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade - prepare for Waaagh!

Eternal Crusade Cover 2

The new Warhammer 40K game was shown at E3 but without a prototype version on display here’s what we’ve gleaned from the E3 outing so far.

From the outset, as is more the trend with upcoming MMOs Behaviour Interactive have laid bare the development of Warhammer 40K, seeking to engage the game community in the process openly displaying clearly unfinished pre-alpha builds. There was no gameplay footage to be taken away from E3 however instead a lot of words from the devs and a brief CG trailer (this is E3 after all)

In a similar move to SoE's Everquest Lamdmark early access to the game will be available via Founders Packs. Buying your Founders Pack, which could cost up to $120.00 for the premium package, get’s you access to the final finished game and varying levels of modules as they’re rolled out, you’ll also be rewarded with founders points to spend on items in game.

The first Founders Packs will become available on June 25th and are set to coincide with an official unveil of the game.

Eternal Crusade will be a twitch based third person action shoot and slash MMORPG with familiar Warhammer 40K boltguns and chainsaws, psychic powers and the like. There’ll be four playable factions at launch with Orks, Space Marines, Eldar and Chaos Space Marines all available to paying customers. Within each faction will be different troop-types adhering to the Warhammer 40K universe.

In a move that seems to actively encourage griefing, play on Eternal Crusade can be completely free if you don’t mind being limited to playing Ork Boys. Behaviour conducted a poll in which  40.7% of players said they’d be playing Space Marines. It’s their idea that by giving a free-to-play option to players who they believe are more likely to grief, it helps flesh out the Warhammer lore of Orks, calling the mechanic ‘Free to Waaaagh!” How this is finally going to balance out is a point of interest.

In terms of gameplay Eternal Crusade will be roughly 85% PVP, 15% PVE with a focus on a shifting territorial battles over the world map. Players can join the frontline to take over terroritory for their faction claiming enemy outposts and fortresses on the way. Ever present is the threat from the NPC race of giant Tyranid space bugs who will seek to attack outposts and fortresses themselves, potentially cutting off a faction's line of supply from behind the frontline. This will mean strategic organisation of troops to hold key points.

Tyranids will also double-up in dungeon-raid style PVE content that will allow you gain relics to turn in to improve your performance in battle.

The persistent open world of Arkona promises an expansive planet-sized environment with numerous continents approximately 300-400km in relative size. According to Behaviour it will take you roughly an hour to cross a continent point to point. The Eternal Crusade devs are also proudly announcing that zones will be able to accommodate high server populations with ease claiming up to 1.000 players can be depicted on the screen at once.

Progression through the RPG aspects of Eternal Crusade will be horizontal and tied heavily into the lore and is designed more to limit your loadout than to provide your healer, tank support archetypes. Players advance through their chosen class by gaining more tricks in battle but this will come at the cost of previous starter bonuses.

A particularly interesting feature will be the commander roles in-game. To gain commander status you’ll be judged on your actual reputation as a player rather than how many hours you put in. As players rise through the hierarchy natural commanders will be made who’ll be able to get a unique set of tools to look at the battlefield to coordinate squads of troops and with the help of tech from Razer Comms, player voice commands can be modulated to sound like a Space Marine for example.

Using this commander system expands on the skill over investment concept behind the game and if worked out well could make for some meaningful group play in battles. Commanders can work their way up from squad leaders controlling 10 players right up to War Council members who control the entire faction, bringing in something comparable to table-top Warhammer 40K.

Beyond recreating the factions and their racial trappings Eternal Crusade will be calling on a storyline from veteran Warhammer novelist Graham McNeill to provide a narrative to the open-world battles.

On face value Eternal Crusade is displaying enough to make us think this will be a welcomed success on previous Warhammer 40K MMOs, there’s noticeable parallels with Planetside and with the huge 40K fan base to draw from the new game could well provide stiff competition for Planetside 2, especially so as its reaching outside of the Sony ecosystem with plans for an Xbox One version.

Founder Pack access sold now won’t get you playtime until the Autumn and then only on scheduled weekend sessions. Full access is currently planned in January 2015 with the final game due the end of next year.

With no prior form in delivering big MMOs Behaviour have their work cut out for them although the  Founder program itself came in response to calls from a community keen to get in early and help shape the game. 

This all said from the alpha gameplay we've seen and the latest talk we've heard on Eternal Crusade we're curious to see more, how is the game going to look? Just how lag-free will 1,000 players on screen be?

We now look to June 25th for more of Behaviour's promising Warhammer 40K MMO. In the meantime we’re keen to hear your thoughts about this game, we have a comments section below.

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