Best Warhammer 40k Videogames The original iteration of the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000 immediately captured the mood of the world. In a sombre assessment of humanity’s future, the 1987 novel stated that “To be a man in such times is to be one among untold billions” to describe what it is like to live under the Imperium. It is to endure the most brutal and terrible government imaginable.
The blurb on the back cover was just as negative. It proclaimed, “Peace has no time.” “There is no relief or pardon. The only thing is WAR.
The various Warhammer 40,000 adaptations that came after relished in its grimness, even though it was frequently offset with a tongue-in-cheek sense of the ludicrous. In the board game Space Hulk, doomed space troops in oversized power armor are beamed onto the abandoned craft and pursued by aliens through narrow passageways. In the Eisenhorn novels, an Imperial Inquisitor who has undergone so much torture that he is unable to grin makes compromise after compromise to the point that he is no longer recognizable from the people he formerly hunted. The underclass at the base of the hive city in the miniatures game Necromunda subsists on nourishment created from recycled corpses. It almost sounds like the creators are competing with one another.
At their best, videogames have portrayed this baroque world, its cursed residents, and their terrible fates with the same joy. Sometimes they resemble the COOL ROBOT meme with power armour, but not always. They are numerous; it is impossible for them all to succeed.
Best Warhammer 40k Videogames
1 Kill Team (2014)
This twin-stick shooter, which has nothing to do with the tabletop game Kill Team that allows you to play 40K on a budget, was created using repackaged elements from Relic’s considerably more excellent games Dawn of War 2 and Space Marine. Checkpoints before boss introductions rather than after them are always bothersome, and the co-op is local only, which is unfortunate. However, the camera continuously swings into the worst angles, which is what really wrecks the game. While 15 orks slaughter you somewhere in the pitch-blackness that has taken over the rest of your screen, you will be gazing at some pipes and a gantry while they scream the same repetitive “Waaagh!”
2 Carnage Champions (2016)
A sidescrolling autorunner with a thunder hammer and a heavy metal soundtrack, Carnage Champions was comparable to Canabalt. This game—which is exclusively singleplayer, I might note—no longer functions whether you downloaded the free-to-play mobile version or spent real money for the version that is no longer available on Steam. At some time, the server was taken offline. This is plainly terrible.
3 Talisman: The Horus Heresy (2016)
Talisman: The Magical Quest Game was initially published by Games Workshop in 1983. It was a race-to-the-center board game where you had to spend half of your time finding a talisman that would provide you access to the center of the board and the other half making sure no one else got it before you. The luck of the cards and dice would bring you down even if the other players didn’t. It was a fantasy PvP version of Snakes & Ladders.
The Horus Heresy, a prequel that takes place 10,000 years in the history of 40K and served as the inspiration for several novels, some of which are actually quite good, is used as the basis for this videogame. It’s a version of Warhammer 40,000 that is much more desperate and serious, which is entirely at odds with the wild beer and pretzels game of rolling dice and laughing at your recent disaster. Players frequently turned into toads in the original board game. Someone might discover a card in Talisman: The Horus Heresy that provides them +1 to the Resource stat and view it as an exciting turn.
4 Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels (1996)
The second and worst attempt to adapt the board game Space Hulk was this one. Although the first six objectives of the campaign don’t actually allow you to direct a squad in a first-person shooter, you can still play as one. Once you do assume leadership, you guide them by pausing to drop commands on the map, which is less creative than its 1993 predecessor, which had a realtime/turn-based combo, and less satisfying than having complete control over them.
The main issue with Vengeance of the Blood Angels is that it was released at a time when CD audio and 3D graphics were still novel, experimental, and rarely good. When foes are close enough for a melee animation, they awkwardly pop into rendered CG and everything is jerky. The marines talk a lot, but their conversations are made up of samples. You will wish for their demise due to the way they bark commands like “SAPHON, search this area for an archived record” and “I haven’t found an archived record,” especially when BETH-OR! shouts his name with the same rhythm each time he is chosen. It has no charm at all, and putting up the virtual machine you’ll need to use it today is not worthwhile.
5 Space Wolf (2017)
40K plus XCOM is such a no-brainer. There are many XCOM 2 mods that mix the two available on the Steam Workshop. Games that make the same attempt have a mixed history. Even while Space Wolf zooms in on dramatic attacks like XCOM does, it doesn’t quite act the part.
The levels are small, which results in strange weapon ranges—a boltgun can only shoot four squares, yet I’ve done vomits with longer reach than that—and fresh adversaries always appear right next to you. Additionally, each character has a deck of cards, and the only option to attack is to use a weapon card that was picked at random. Each marine can only use a plasma pistol when he has drawn the appropriate card; some of them can be equipped for a small period of time. Once that happens, he won’t remember it until you draw another plasma cannon card.
He might suddenly have three different heavy weapons, drawing them out of thin air like the Imperium has started issuing bags of holding as standard, depending on the luck of the draw in the interim.
6 Storm of Vengeance (2014)
Similar to Plants vs. Zombies, Storm of Vengeance is a lane defense game where you use redemption points to force Dark Angels to emerge from their drop pods rather than sunlight to grow plants. Actually, it resembles the earlier Eutechnyx game Ninja Cats vs. Samurai Dogs more. That’s what Storm of Vengeance is, but instead of ninja cats and samurai dogs, there’s a progression tree so you can unlock frag grenades, a multiplayer mode, and 3D models of orks and space marines.
7 Battle Sister (2020–2022)
The first 40K game designed just for VR is a letdown. Battle Sister is a basic corridor shooter, despite how impressive it is to have that sense of presence when exploring a starship or gazing up at a space warrior. Additionally, the physical controls for everything from holstering guns to throwing grenades are erratic, and what happens when that results in your death in a level with a savepoint on the incorrect side of a tutorial or an elevator ride? That is unacceptable.
8 Dawn of War 3 (2017)
The original Dawn of War is for you if you enjoy real-time strategy games where you produce a large number of troops before gathering them into a magnificent blob. Dawn of War 2’s entire premise is if you prefer a small number of heroes and soldiers to carefully manage, each with their own unique special skills. Dawn of War 3 makes an odd compromise in an attempt to bridge the gap. There are extended stretches where it feels like you should be employing those skills but there is nothing for you to do. Elites all have distinct things they can do, and some of your units have an ability or two.
You play one mission at a time as Eldar, orks, or marines in the tale campaign; you never play any one faction for long enough to get used to them. It almost feels like the lesson never ends because almost every level feels like a reintroduction of skills and technology that it assumes you have forgotten. Unlike the earlier two games, which are polarizing and have many ardent supporters, Dawn of War 3 failed to win over any new fans.
9 Fire Warrior (2003)
Surprisingly few 40K video games let you play as the t’au, the setting’s mech-loving weebs. However, mechs are not a focus of Fire Warrior. It is a corridor shooter that was transferred from the PlayStation 2, a great console that was devoid of any good first-person shooters. Fans of Red Faction, stop fooling yourself.
Fire Warrior’s broken mouse controls must be fixed by turning on auto-aim, but nothing will make the dull guns or unresponsive adversaries go away. But two things make it better. One is that a space marine first seems almost invincible in a way that feels correct, and the other is that Tom Baker sang some beautiful narration for the opening credits.
10 Eisenhorn: Xenos (2016)
Some of the best books in the 40K series are the Eisenhorn novels, which are hard-boiled Raymond Chandler detective tales about an inquisitor who progressively realizes the Inquisition’s own corruption while pursuing heretics. By choosing Mark Strong for the role of Eisenhorn, this film adaptation of the first book got one thing right. He is flawless, but the voice acting is often poor, and each cutscene features a wide range of people with varying degrees of passion.
Third-person combat, collectable hunts, hacking minigames, and that thing where you spin clues around to study them are all thrown together carelessly to fill in the gaps between the story segments. It has the same vibe as the cheap movie tie-in games that were once widespread, except this time it’s a book tie-in.
11 Warhammer Combat Cards (2021)
Games Workshop created collectable cards including images and stats of Warhammer miniatures in 1998 so you could use them to play a crude version of Top Trumps. It underwent multiple revisions before becoming a free-to-play video game in 2017 with painted 40K figures on the cards.
Never anticipate Magic: The Gathering. You create a deck consisting of a single warlord and a number of bodyguards, keeping three of them in play at all times and replacing the fallen ones. Your choice of a ranged, melee or psychic attack determines how much damage is dealt out each turn, and the corresponding numbers are totalled up. By choosing which assaults you don’t use that turn and by picking when to play your warlord (a potent card whose death causes you to lose), you can make tactical decisions.
Strangely, you only engage in PvP with other members of your clan, and the AI you face most often employs decks owned by other people. Not very much else, if anything, is mentioned in Warhammer Combat Cards. Due to a mobile-friendly UI, good luck trying to join a clan even after you have levelled up appropriately.
12 Inquisitor – Martyr (2018)
Martyr the Inquisitor feels a pull from three places at once. Being an Inquisitor and looking into the Caligari Sector’s secrets, including a ghost ship by the name of Martyr, is the focus of the game. It’s also an action role-playing game, so if there aren’t any battles for more than five minutes, something is amiss. Your heretic-hunting space detective genius’s boost to crit damage and the calibre of their treasure are two of their most crucial abilities. Finally, it’s a live-service game with seasonal content that changes, global events that take place all over the world, vendors that are only available for a short time, daily quests, heroic acts, no offline mode, and the assumption that you’ll relive the same missions for hundreds of hours every time there is a content update.
Despite being Diablo with guns, the action RPG portion doesn’t fit in with the rest of the game. Why would an Inquisitor invest so much time in developing new equipment? Why do I have to gather shards of a different colour for each new “Void Crusade”? I’m just so exhausted, and every game wants me to collect shards of something.
13 Sanctus Reach (2017)
A variety of 40K games, including Sanctus Reach, which pits Space Wolves against orks, are inspired by the vintage hex-and-counter wargame Panzer General. Although not horrible, it is simplistic. In contrast to 40K, which should be all about maximalism, the objectives are frequently simply capturing or defending victory points, and only after three levels of those do you get something different, like an escort mission. The story is also a paragraph of text between maps with no strategy layer. This same thing is done better in other games.
14 Gladius – Relics of War
Take Civilization 5 (or even Warlock: The Exiled, or Age of Wonders), and make it entirely a war game by taking out the diplomacy. Add some RTS base-building influence, with distinct barracks for infantry and vehicles dotted around your city, and then layer on heroes that level up and get somewhat Warcraft 3-like powers. The strategy game Gladius is a fascinating Frankenstein creation.
While it had some issues in the beginning, such as a Sammy to each campaign because the early rounds were spent removing countless insect monsters and dogs from the region around your city (even with the “wildlife” setting decreased), patches and DLC have improved matters. Gladius now offers far more diversity, although there are still certain drawbacks, such as the fact that in hotseat games, only the final player can watch the AI’s moves.
15 Dakka Squadron (2021)
However, Dakka Squadron really embraces the idea of letting you play as an ork. Not many 40K games put much emphasis on playing the aliens. It is firmly rooted in the bit. If Star Fox had a violent Cockney accent, this would be arcade aerial combat. “Dakka dakka dakka!” cries would be the soundtrack throughout.
Maybe it’s a little too weird. Though ultimately you get to fire down some Adeptus Mechanicus vessels that resemble flying boxes full of lasers, a handful of the neurons tin death croissants, and so on, most of singleplayer and multiplayer is orks versus Orks. The majority of the time, however, it’s just endless orks krumping one other while laughing in nose-mounted spiked World War II fighter jets.
A three-lives feature was mercifully patched in so you don’t have to redo a whole game because you got krumped at the end. Missions drag on with wave after wave of foes with the same combat barks as you shot them down. However, I had to turn the guitars down.