There is only war in the universe of Warhammer 40,000. That’s been the mantra of the series since its inception and it’s a philosophy that’s embedded in Behaviour Interactive’s upcoming MMO. Although it takes design notes from Planetside 2, with a set of factions ceaselessly warring over the same planet, the first footage of the game in action shows it’s going to be a much bloodier affair.
I mean, I can’t remember seeing anyone sawed in half with a chainsword in Planetside 2.
The footage is found in a new Meet the Team video put out by Behaviour, you can see the action kick off at around the three minute mark:
This isn’t the first time Warhammer 40,000’s been developed as an MMO, though we’ve never seen the previous attempts. THQ was funding Vigil’s effort to turn the series into an MMO. But as THQ’s coffers ran dry, Dark Millenium was eventually turned into a singleplayer game with a separate multiplayer. Then when the publisher went under and Vigil went without a buyer the game entered a state of limbo. It’s most likely dead as a dodo at this point.
Eternal Crusade’s a different matter, under the charge of a completely separate developer, it has no singleplayer component to speak of. It will be a free-to-play game and, like Planetside 2, focusses on competing factions warring over a shared planet. Unlike SOE’s MMO it can be won.
“One of the things I hate in massive warfare games is that there is no winner; they never finish,” Behaviour Interactive’s studio head, Miguel Caron, told Ten Ton Hammer. “So what we’re aiming for is campaigns that run from two weeks to three months. The reason why I’m saying from two weeks to three months is because I don’t know who’s going to win, and how fast they’re going to win.”
The team have picked four of the more popular factions to lead the fight. “The first will be the Dark Angels from the Space Marines, the Iron Warriors for Chaos, and then the Eldar and the Orks.” I’m a little disappointed they didn’t reach further into 40K’s roster. Those four are the same choices Relic made when making the original Dawn of War. I’d like to play as Tau or Necrons myself.
Players select a faction and are provided with a cabin on that army’s cruiser orbiting the conflict zone. You can join up with other players and form permanent squads, squads can form chapters, and chapters leaders can sit on the war council.
“When you start as a new player, the objectives that you’ll have will be coming from that war council, chapter leaders, and squad,” Caron explains. “If you decide to follow these objectives, you’ll gain an XP bonus. So you don’t have to do those objectives, only if you want to get the bonus XP. But the purpose of the game is to make sure your race wins; you’re there playing to win the war. But what this system does is it allows players to invent gameplay for their race.”
Behaviour have built in an NPC control group to put pressure on any faction that’s dominating the fight. As police forces go Behaviour have chosen the most vicious, the Tryanids. “If I see a huge population of Space Marines playing in the US for a new campaign and they outnumber everyone else to the point they’re about to wipe out the entire planet within days, suddenly the Tyranid would be a lot more interested in them. We’re not going to try and counter that kind of imbalance too much, but enough to help campaigns last for those two weeks.”
The campaigns will take place over a single large game world made up of many different instances. Chapters can drop into battles taking place in different instances and help capture territory for their faction. Those instances sound like they’ll be pretty hefty, Caron says that “in terms of technology, we’re currently aiming to double the amount of players on the same battlefield over the biggest game right now. I want to give the visceral feeling of what it is to be part of the war. And it’s not an easy war, but a very dirty war.” If he’s making a nod to Battlefield then we’re looking at more than 100 players slaughtering each other in each instance.
Eternal Crusade is aiming for a late 2015 release.