The planet Baal, and its two moons, Prime and Secundus are in danger. The Tyranids invaded Secundus and the Blood Angels are there to clean their homeworld. This turn-based tactical game puts us in the role of the Blood Angels troops, who have the mission of cleaning the invaded satellite from the Tyranids threat.
So, what’s new?
Last May, I saw a game that remembers me of Incubation (1997), a turn-based game which I loved where you take your soldiers to confront an alien invasion. This game was Warhammer 40K Battlesector, where the Blood Angels remembered me Incubation’s soldiers, they were red too, and the Tyranids, the alien race to face, but with upgrades according to our current time. My first impressions (here) were good, but the game was limited. Now that I had full access, I could review this game in-depth. Let’s see the news.
Battlesector development is direct: First, you prepare your units, then, you follow the story and finally, you have to win a battle. Illustrations narrate the story, accompanied by introductory texts to each mission and some dialogues between the units. Since the preview, the devs added new illustrations, and they are good.
New modes were added. Now, asides from the campaign, you can replay story missions (these only with the Blood Angels), play the skirmish mode (a customizable match against the IA), and have multiplayer options: local or online. One of the key news is that you can use the Tyranids on these modes. Also, a few units (two types and a heroine) of the Adepta Sororitas faction will help the Blood Angels during their journey.
The preparatives for battle
Before each mission, you have to prepare your units. There are two important things to do here:
First, you have to manage your army. Each unit has a value in points, and each mission has a points limit to use. There is another limit, you can deploy until 20 units for the stage. You can mix the troops as you want if you respect both restrictions. For example, you can go with a team of only aggressors (heavy infantry) if you want it, but it’s not recommendable.
Asides from these units, you will control some Hero units. The first one is Sergeant Carleon, but more heroes will join your crusade against the invaders. Also, they don’t count toward the points limit, but they count in the 20 units limit. They have special commands, aside from the common ones, and they will grant stats bonuses to your team.
After each mission, you will unlock new units, and you’ll get tokens as rewards. In the case of these, you will get some for completing the stage, but you can obtain some extra if you achieve additional objectives. You will finish these secondary objectives when you complete the main one initially, but they become harder in later stages. Each hero unit has a skill tree where you will use these tokens. They can give new abilities to your army, stat bonuses for your troops and new weapons. Also, they have different tokens costs.
Weapons will modify the quantity and the type of damage that you can cause. Using then will consume some points, from the army’s limit, but some are useful, even recommendable.
Fighting for Baal
The battles are turn-based, with the classical grid style, and they have more complexity than seems in a start. Every troop has a predefined number of movement points (MP) and action points (AP), but you can increase them with determined skills. Movement and attack animations are OK, but they feel slow when there are tons of troops deployed in both armies. Fortunately, you can accelerate them to mitigate this sensation. Also, you can focus the camera on the current action, which is helpful in larger scenarios. However, you can order a unit to move and then order a different command in another while the previous one is moving.
Some parts of the terrain work as covers; they will be relevant to increase the odds of survivability of your troops. Also, the enemies will use them.
The other significant battle gauge is the momentum. Troops get momentum when they attack, or they receive damage, depending on the unit. If you accumulate 100 points, you can strengthen a skill (empower) or get an extra AP (surge). However, some commands, like Overwatch, will consume it.
Each unit has an attack option, some will present additional actions, and even different weapons to use. For example, the assault units, among others, have a jetpack to move farther. Hero units have special commands, like healing or buffing the troops. The same applies to the enemies, some Tyranids units have special commands too, and can cause a lot of pain among your ranks.
The difficulty of Battlesector battles is adjusted, they are challenging, but they will not frustrate you. I was playing at the standard level, and I could advance, feeling rewarded for my efforts. I struggled against a couple of stages, but in the end, I overcame them.
Exploring the multiplayer
This time, I could try Battlesector multiplayer (thanks to my friend Isma AKA Infraser for helping me to test this), and it feels like the skirmish mode, but playing against another human. You can play this mode online or with a friend at home, because of its turn-based system. Online mode has two varieties: one on live, where turns follow each other, and another one with the same structure, but you don’t have to play your part immediately. You can start a match, do your turn, then leave, and play again after your rival turn, even on a different day (a PBEM mode, play by e-mail).
The local mode is a classical hot seat. First, you do your turn, then your companion does him, and then you go again until one of both players come victorious.
On multiplayer, you can use the Blood Angels (alone, without the Adepta Sororitas units) and the Tyranids faction. You can customize your matches and your army. You can set up the kind of match, like kill all the enemies, or conquer determined points in the map and then conserve it till the end of the game, among others. Also, you can limit the number of turns or the limit of available points to manage your team. The game comes with two default armies, one on each faction, with 1000 points of value, but you can create the armies as you want.
In general, multiplayer responds well, and it’s like playing solo but against another person. Also, it will be one of your main entertainments after complete the campaign.
I’ve enjoyed Battlesector a lot. The battle system is really solid. You have a nice variety of units among Blood Angel’s ranks, and you can manage your army for each stage with freedom. Also, the Hero units add the possibility to use more strategies in battle, with the skills’ customization. But, sometimes, the animations feel slow, especially in the stages where there are tons of enemies. Fortunately, you can mitigate this sensation with the option to skip them.
But, all that glitters is not gold on this title. You can only use the Blood Angels in the campaign (and three Sisters of Battle types of units) and Blood Angels and Tyranids in the other modes. I miss a variety in factions, they are complete, but they are only two. The publisher announced free and paid updates in the future. This sounds to me like extra factions as paid DLC (typical on Warhammer 40k games on our current time). This fact is a little disappointing because when you finish the campaign (about 25 h, depending on if you had to repeat some scenario) the game feels a little empty of content.
The soundtrack is good, it accompanies you in battles in a good way. The graphics are great too, as the representation of the different units. The camera sometimes annoys you, but they improve it since the preview. The game has English dub and subtitles in several languages. The multiplayer looks interesting, with several options of customization of matches, and the possibility of playing local with a friend is excellent, as the PBEM option, which can facilitate play matches in your normal schedules. I loved Battlesector, but I felt a lack of content too. However, if you like turn-based tactical games and the Warhammer world is a great option to play.