Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is based on the grimdark world of the 41st millennium, as created by Games Workshop back in the '80s. The world of WH40k can be impenetrable for newcomers – to a degree that it’s off-putting – but after some time with Martyr on PS4, we’ve identified nine reasons players of any background should be excited for its release. Hardcore or no, Neocore are aiming this at everyone.
1. The welcoming class system
This is the first time a Warhammer 40k title has fallen into the realms of the ARPG genre, and it’s a natural fit for Martyr. A three-quarter top-down view, players make their way around maps generated randomly from predefined tile sets – so not procedurally generated, more assembled from existing, hand-crafted micro-regions – battling the forces of those who stand up against the God-Emperor.
You do this by creating a character from three classes – with three further areas of expertise available for each class. If this sounds daunting, it isn’t. You begin the game by choosing your character’s class, arming them, and then simply running around obliterating almost everything that stands in your way. This sounds like a lot of fun, and it really is. Of course, the game gets more tactical than that, but players will absolutely be eased in gently.
2. Enjoy the grimdark
The universe of Warhammer 40k, as fans will be all too pleased to inform those who don’t know, isn’t a particularly nice one. It’s grim, it’s dark, it’s grimdark. Fortunately, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr takes this aesthetic and runs with it, meaning the entire time you’re playing the game you’ll be in some truly dark, dank and sometimes repugnant environments.
OK, that might not sound too appealing – but clear blue skies are rarely on the menu when it comes to 40k. Whether inside ancient, (apparently) abandoned cathedral cruisers, on the surface of one of many planets, or installations infected by the forces of Chaos: wherever you are in Martyr, it both looks the part and presents an odd kind of run-down beauty.
3. A story fit for newcomers and fans alike
This will be the meat for many existing fans of 40k, and they’re unlikely to be disappointed with the sheer amount of hard work that’s gone into producing Martyr’s back story. With three decades of lore to pick and choose from, Neocore has had a tough job of cramming in as much as it can without either overstuffing the game or failing to do important storytelling angles justice.
On the flip side of the coin you have the newcomers, who have every right to be a mite taken aback by the sheer amount of content plopped in front of them. Fortunately, Neocore has been writing Martyr with that in mind: a single-player campaign gives those who don’t know 40k a good grounding in the fiction, with plenty elsewhere to fill in any gaps and pick up more about the universe.
4. Action with method to its madness
It might sound initially like Martyr’s in-game mechanics are limited to standing and blasting everything, like a glorified Smash TV. OK, so there is an element of that at times, even if it isn’t a twin-stick shooter, but there’s definitely more going on under the hood to keep things fresh and interesting as you get deeper into the experience.
Every character class (and expertise) has its own specific special powers – both defensive and aggressive – and a wide selection of weaponry from the 40k armoury has to be taken advantage of to successfully tackle the countless agents of Chaos, heretics, and other traitors who cross your path. There’s tactical cover to take advantage of in firefights – a core component of any firefight, no less – and destructible elements (bringing down a stone column on the Emperor’s enemies is an exercise in pure, holy, joy) mean there’s always a different way to be looking at combat.
5. Teamwork makes the dream work
While Martyr does feature a single-player campaign with a full story backing it up, the real core of the experience is in multiplayer, with a squad of up to four Inquisitors able to band together and tackle the scum of whatever galactic sector you’re currently in. Played alone, it’s fun, but throwing a few other people into the mix lifts the chaos (but not the Chaos) to a whole other level.
The different powers for different situations – and the tactics that come with their use – can be taken advantage of in a much smarter way when other players are involved. A couple of players taking on long-range weaponry and staying back laying down covering fire while a melee assassin gets up close and slashy with a power sword, and a Psyker lays down a mix of attack and defense-focused powers is an exercise in beautifully controlled frenzy. Just remember not to use too many Psyker powers in quick succession, or you’ll suffer the effects of the Warp leaking through to your reality.
6. Make the character your own
Making your character is a straightforward process – pick their class, expertise, name them and go. But it doesn’t end there – while there are limits on what weapons can be used by specific characters, there’s a huge variety in the loadouts each can carry into battle. As such you’ll rarely be short of variety – and you’ll always be able to mix things up to suit your personal play-style.
This extends to other items, of course, like armour and special implants that offer different boosts to different attributes. You’ll be able to choose your character’s role then further customise them in a more specific, specialised way as you see fit. Admittedly we don’t yet know if you’ll be able to paint your armour, à la all those lovely 40k miniatures, but we do hope that’s the case.
7. Great depth
Customisability adds to the depth in Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, but it’s not the only thing that will keep players both old and new to the 40k world involved. Away from the linear single-player campaign is a selection of generated missions, constantly shifting and updating to give you fresh reasons to continue the fight.
This endless stream of missions is backed up by a persistent world shared online, with the actions of many individuals in different sectors, say, directly impacting the sorts of missions available, as well as the enemies present, and how difficult it is to triumph. Neocore also have ambitions to operate on a ‘seasons’ model, with each season operating as its own meta-story and including a specific end game based on how players have been playing and performing in previous weeks and months. It’s not quite an unlimited game, but there’s no defined end point we can see to Martyr.
8. Built for consoles
While Martyr isn’t Neocore’s first game to make its way to console – the Van Helsing titles appeared previously – it’s the first time one of the studio's games has been made for Xbox One and PS4 from day one, alongside the PC version. What this means is that the game is ‘built from the ground up’ with the under-the-TV gaming machines in mind.
It’s not had a huge impact on what players actually do in Martyr, but it does mean the team have had time to make sure the game both runs and controls well for console-owning players. PC fans are obviously well catered for already, as is often the case with the ARPG genre, but this nod in the direction of console gamers is sure to be appreciated – and it opens up Martyr to a much wider audience than it might have otherwise.
9. Built by fans, for everyone
Now here’s where Martyr could go either way – there’s a lot of talent at Neocore and the team is made up of a good deal of genuine WH40k fans, but the relative size of the team could work against Martyr. It’s an ambitious title, and there just might not be enough time and manpower to get everything they want to get in there. At the same time, this independent spirit means Martyr is a real labour of love, free of corporate wrangling and able to be presented in a pure, warts-and-all form from a team of dedicated developers, artists, writers and more.
From what we’ve played – a few hours on PS4 – it’s clear there are some issues. This can be put down to the early version of the code we had our hands on, and most bugs that did appear we were informed had already been squashed in the course of further development.
The proof, though, will be in the finished version – which will hit on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2018.