Games Workshop has a complicated history with the concept of licensed Warhammer games. The company has been quite reserved about it in the past – this despite some very high-profile successes in the early days – but even when it finally started to open the gates more generally it took a while for the quality to match the demand.
Thankfully, things are getting better, and as things get better more Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 games are starting to appear that are worth checking out if you’re fans of Games Workshops’ iconic tabletop settings.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a round-up of ten of our top picks, four from fantasy-land, and six from the grimdark. We were going to keep it 50/50 but to be honest there’s far less fantasy games than 40k, and far more mediocre choices. We’ve also not strictly speaking gone for the ‘best of the best’, although most of these options are considered pretty good; we’ve chosen notable titles that are worth highlighting for more specific reasons as well.
Here is a list of excellent Warhammer games:
- Blood Bowl 2
- Total War: Warhammer II
- Vermintide 2
- Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground
Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground
Despite the fact we had muted feelings for Storm Ground, it is worth highlighting mainly because it’s the first decent Age of Sigmar strategy game to come out since the tabletop game slew its older Warhammer Fantasy Battles sibling six years ago. Before this point, Games Workshop had been slow to license the new setting out, with some casual-focused mobile games being the main focus.
Storm Ground offers some pretty decent turn-based action, with three of the setting’s iconic factions – including the Stormguard Eternals – brought to life with unique playstyles and units. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but it’s an excellent digital introduction to the setting, and a worthy representation for existing fans.
Blood Bowl 2
If you want to get technical, Blood Bowl isn’t actually a Warhammer Fantasy game. It’s a game set in an alternate universe of the Warhammer Fantasy setting where disputes are settled with hyper-aggressive games of the Rugby/American Football analogue ‘Blood Bowl’, instead of a mighty clash of armies.
Still, it’s honest turn-based tactical fun, and you get to kit out and manage a fantasy football team across a number of popular races from the tabletop game of the same name. Honestly, who needs Football Manager when you’ve got this? Keep an eye out in 2022 for the release of a new sequel in Blood Bowl III.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Following up on 2015’s The End Times: Vermintide, Fatshark managed to ramp up everything that was good and create an excellent co-op murder-fest for the sequel. With distinct character classes, everyone has a role to play and a unique way of fighting, and Vermintide 2’s melee combat is the best you’ll find outside of the truly dedicated games like Chivalry.
Fatshark has also done a good job supporting the game after release as well. New DLCs in the form of extra career options for the core characters means you can wade back into the fray with a new set of skills to master. If you’re looking for a Warhammer-themed Left 4 Dead-like experience, then look no further then this.
Total War: Warhammer 2
Really, the entire Warhammer Fantasy line of Total War games can be celebrated, but we single out Warhammer II because one, it’s better than Warhammer I, and two, because Warhammer III isn’t out yet. While Creative Assembly’s historical Total War line has been quite successful, the studio was propelled further into mainstream success when it brought Warhammer Fantasy to life with Total Warhammer.
Freed from the shackles of history, these strategy games were elevated to a new level, with some of Total War’s best features coming out of Warhammer I and II. Personally, I’m less a fan of the tactical battles in the Warhammer games, but there’s no denying that they’ve been good for the series overall, and stand as some of the best Warhammer games on the market, especially if you miss the tabletop game.
Warhammer 40,000 games
Here are our top picks of Warhammer 40K games:
- Space Marine
- Space Hulk Tactics
- Gladius: Relics of War
- Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2
- Dawn of War
- Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector
Space Marine released amidst the growing hype around third-person shooters thanks to Gears of Wars’ glorious ascent. But when the PR buzz phrase is “You are the cover”, you know you’re in for a special time. A random departure from strategy games, this is one of Relic’s hidden gems that offered a surprisingly robust Space Marine power fantasy where you live up to the one-man army mythos surrounding the Adeptus Astartes.
It was also quite clever in how it let the player – assuming the role of Ultramarine Captain Titus – stand out despite being from the most on-brand Astartes chapter in existence. There are no good-guys in the grim darkness of the far future, but the Ultramarines are definitely those kids from school who always followed the rules and did as they were told.
Space Hulk Tactics
The history of Space Hulk digital adaptations has been rocky, to say the least, which is why Space Hulk Tactics was a very welcome surprise in that it was actually quite good. It follows the design of the original table-top game more closely, offering a turn-based tactics game that’s slick, and comes with a few new ideas to brighten things up.
It’s not perfect, and sadly it doesn’t look like it’s gotten the support it needed to become truly great, but there’s no denying that this is the best Space Hulk game on the market right now, and a pretty great strategy board game adaptation.
Another one worth checking out is Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus, another turn-based tactics game that swaps out Genestealers for Necrons, and Space Marine Terminators for the Adeptus Mechanicus – the nerds of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
Gladius – Relics of War
In the long history of things that nobody asked for, I’d say a ‘Civilization-but-it’s-Warhammer-40K game’ is high up the list. Gladius is a 4X strategy game that strips out diplomacy, trade, and other niceties and keeps it focused on the setting’s core purpose – war.
It’s not bad, all things considered. Most of the 40K roster is present now via DLC, and they all have a varied playstyle which means even though all you can do is fight each other, you at least have a different way of going about it. It’s not just about fighting AI or human opponents either – the early game will see you struggle against local alien wildlife as you try to exert your dominance over the planet.
Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2
While there are some elements of the original Battlefleet Gothic Armada game that I prefer, Armada 2 gets to claim the top spot because it got a lot more love and support in the end, with every major 40K faction represented at launch. Inspired (but not a direct translation) of Games Workshops’ fleet battle spin-off game, Armada is a real-time tactics game where you command fleets of grimdark warships and fight it out in space.
There’s three dynamic campaigns, one each for the Tyranids, Necrons, and the Imperium. There are also some neat persistence elements across single-player and multiplayer where you can take the same ships in battle and have them earn experience. Apart from that, it has a very bombastic aura to it, making it one of the finest space naval warfare games on the market, as well as a great 40K game to boot.
Dawn of War
The undisputed king of 40K PC games still remains Relic’s masterpiece in the original Dawn of War. Based on the award winning Company of Heroes format, it allowed you to experience the visceral, bombastic action of the grimdark in real-time tactical action. The original game featured Orks, Space Marines, Chaos Marines, and Eldar, but over time and expansions the Imperial Gaurd, T’au, Necrons, Dark Eldar, and even the Sisters of Battle were added as additional playable races.
While the earlier games followed Company of Heroes’ model of linear missions for its campaign, the later spin-offs would experiment with campaign meta-layers, with Soulstorm seeing you fight over an entire system. These higher-level design concepts haven’t been Relic’s strongpoint before now, and the studio has only fully embraced the concept with how it’s approaching Company of Heroes 3.
Honorary mention: Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector
Despite our guarded Battlesector review, this gets a place on the list for two key reasons. Firstly, between the points-based army setup, to the wargear options, to the turn-based design, it’s an excellent distillation of the tabletop game. Secondly, if you like Space Marines and Space Marine wasn’t enough, this does make you feel very good.
Fighting against the Tyranids on one of Baal’s moons, while not especially taxing, does immerse you in the power fantasy of Games Workshop’s golden boys in a way that only Dawn of War has managed previously. The technical foundations of this game are solid, but it needs better scenarios and – ultimately – more factions for it to really come into its own.
Related: The best Dungeons & Dragons PC games
There you go – hopefully you’ll enjoy checking out the above, and we’ll be sure to add more options to the list as new games come out/the amount of complaints we get rises.