Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr Review
Warhammer 40,000’s license has been thrown pillar to post over the past couple of years. Even the franchises staple series, Dawn of War, didn’t get the best third game in the series, so the flagship brand from Games Workshop hit troubled times on the gaming scene. Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr may have just turned the corner for the franchise though. Being developed and published by NeocoreGames, well known for their work on The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, have come to the franchise’s rescue. Neocore have followed their routes and have turned Martyr into an ARPG that the franchise can be proud of.
The game is in early access having released on PC on August 31, 2017. There is no planned full release date as of yet, but the developers are constantly updating and adding content to the game still.
Right now there isn’t much in terms of story in place. Before embarking on missions you get a little background information on what is happening, but the larger plot which we can expect to be following has not been added just yet. A lot of the game’s missions have placeholder areas where the story is planned to be added later, so it is not clear as to what lore path the game will be following yet so I will be keen to follow this subject in future patches.
A small portion of the NPCs you encounter in the game is voice acted. These NPCs show themselves when you begin a mission and are done via radio system, and as you progress through the same NPC may come back on the radio but without the voice acting. I hope that more lines of dialog is added in future patches as the quality is certainly there with what they have right now.
Martyr even in its current early access state looks impressive. Neocore have really captured the universe’s feeling and atmosphere with the environments on show. The gothic architecture just looks simply stunning. Even character models look well detailed and fleshed out. The Chaos Space marines and their Nurgle counterparts look as menacing as ever.
Whilst the game does look good, you can really tell it is still a work in progress as the optimization certainly needs improvement. Whilst playing on full graphics on 1400p I was often dropping as low as 25-30 frames. Sometimes you can end up with 50+ enemies on the screen, all shooting off their weapons at once, so you can imagine just how busy it ends up looking. This really tanks the frame rate to those sub-par levels. It remains to be seen whether these issues will be ironed out in future patches, but it can’t imagine they will be left in due to the comments you see on the game’s forums as people with much weaker specced computers are still struggling on lower graphical settings.
The game’s UI is another area which could do with some improvement too. I found the current location of UI modules to feel a bit out of the way. They are tucked away in the corner making it hard to focus on the battle at hand and also pay attention to your health levels. Moving the health bar, and ammo meters to a more central position would certainly allow you to enjoy what is happening in the battle rather than UI watching all the time.
Martyr also has a ton of menus to navigate through. Sadly there isn’t any concrete tutorial system in the game currently. Unless you fancy yourself a good fifteen or twenty minutes reading through paragraphs of text from the in-game manual, then you will be left clicking through menus on your own accord just to figure out even the basics. The new player experience will certainly be a huge hurdle the game needs to overcome if it is to have any staying power with its audience. The inclusion of a proper, laid out tutorial needs to be added pronto or else the sheer amount of information on show will put a lot of people off.
The lack of a tutorial not only hinders the abundance of UI options, but also the progression and gameplay aspects also. Even now I am not quite sure if what I am doing is moving me further into the game due to the huge amount of choice you have when it comes to missions. When starting the game you are located in a hub area which houses a vendor, crafting area, mission table, and a few other NPCs for you to interact with for a few other features. There isn’t any structure or goals set out right from the get-go so you literally have to work it all out for yourself. Even the in-game manual doesn’t do a very good job of explaining it.
Up until now it probably sounds like I don’t like the game all that much, but the meat and potatoes of the game really shine through and let me overlook these glaringly obvious early access-isms. If there is one thing Neocore know how to do, it’s how to make an ARPG, and the twin-stick action is on par, if not better with the Van Helsing series’ combat. Your character can have two weapons, and you can swap between them at will. Each weapon has it’s own set of abilities too. Meaning you can equipped your character to tackle unique situations accordingly. Following on from the simple controls in their previous games, with left click being a regular attack, right click being a more “heavy” attack, and keys 1, and 2 holding a special ability depending on what weapons you have equipped.
Martyr also has my favorite mechanics in a game too. Loot. If you want to hook me in any sort of game, just throw loot and gear into the mix. Ughhhhh just the thought of it makes me excited. During a mission you find equipment either from drops by enemies, or in chests. You can’t equipped the loot during the mission, but at the end of the level you can open up your inventory screen and min-max till your heart’s content. Gear is of course an extremely important factor in the game’s difficulty. The game gives you an armour rating, and the game uses a challenge rating for each mission which you can compare the two to decide whether you are up for the task. You can of course take on a mission which is way above your current armour level, but you will probably get stomped on.
Each mission usually only has one objective for you to complete, but those objectives normally require you to explore the majority of a map. The objectives thus far have ranged from clearing the zone of enemies, destroying teleportation gates, or taking out unique targets. Whilst this small group of objectives may seem like they’ll grow repetitive, I didn’t actually have that problem though due to the hugely addictive nature of the gameplay and the thought of “more loot” was always in the back of my mind anyway.
The start of the game is certainly the hardest. Not only do you have to learn the entire game yourself, but you are also severely undergeared compared to the foes you are encountering, and because you don’t know what you are doing too, it puts you at an extra disadvantage. As you gear up, and learn the game’s mechanics more, you do become a bit of a powerhouse, as long as you remain vigilant with staying in range with your gear’s level.
Martyr is aiming to be a multiplayer at it’s core, but I haven’t actually even touched the multiplayer yet. I’ve been primarily focused on gearing up my character, taking on missions. One issue which was an issue for me though, is the game requires you to have an internet connection even if you aren’t playing with anyone else. This “always online” issue did become an issue for me when I was having connections problems a few nights ago, and normally that wouldn’t be an issue for me when playing a single player game, but because I had to have an internet connection it meant I couldn’t keep playing. If you happen to lose your internet connection during a mission too, then you are a bit out of luck when you reconnect as it sends you straight back to the hub area.
As I progress my character further, I will definitely be looking at delving into the multiplayer. There is already a nice community forming behind the game, as you can see in the global chat window in game too. People are always asking for help, and getting friendly responses which is always nice to see. I just hope it stays that way once you start grouping up with people too.
Even in it’s current state, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is an excellent title. The addictive gameplay and gorgeous visuals will take this game far. The developers really need to work on the new player experience in order to capture any new comers to the genre, and just to better the first few hours even for those who are a bit more advanced. Of course, it is in Early Access so there is always that risk of the game never being finished, or not improving the areas that you believe need improving, so if that is an issue for you then you probably need to wait a few more patches before you purchase, but knowing this developer’s past work, and the work that has already gone into Martyr, then I have extremely high expectations for this game.