Thursday, 27 March 2014

Mordheim: The Video Game - Early Details And Potential Concerns

Wow, two of these in as many weeks. Games Workshop really is starting to farm out the licence.

Announced earlier today by Focus Interactive on their Twitter page, it seems that the classic tabletop title might be getting some much needed revitalisation. Having been released in 1999, then promptly left bereft of all support before actively being killed off last year, Mordheim was one of the titles from the Specialist Games' arm of the wargaming company. Taking place in the Empire's past, just prior to Magnus the Pious' re-unification of the fractured human civilisation, the game was set in a corrupt city of criminals, mutants and treasure hunters.

While only just announced plenty of details have been given to grab your attention, both for good and not so good reasons.

The good here is that the initial screenshots look fantastic. While not fully capturing the sketchy, gothic look of the original drawings from the rulebook they are none the less fantastic graphically. Each captures the feel of the damned city and resemble the gangs of marauding warpstone hunters, right down to minor details from older models. Seriously, check out the pistol wielding skaven's necklace and see if it seems a little familiar to you.

Along with a few bearing close resemblance to a few of the models, a few early screenshots have backed up the statement that the major death mechanic will be carried over from the tabletop. When a unit is killed in a skirmish they do not die outright on the tabletop but have a chance of coming back, often with a missing limb or weakened attribute. Sometimes with a strong one as well such as better toughness or horrific scarring which can inspire fear in a foe. The newsletter given out has also explicitly promised that a dead until will stay dead, resulting in that beloved XCOM ironman feel.

The screenshots also seemingly show the same rat skull wearing shaman working with seperate groups, meaning mercenaries are likely to be included with bands able to hire certain goons. Rather than just sell swords these included halfling cooks (who improved morale and served as scouts), sorcerers, foreign warriors and even figures of renown within the city.

Only a few factions have been announced thus far, namely skaven ratmen, human mercenaries from the Empire, Chaos afflicted possessed, and Sisters of Sigmar. That last one is especially notable as they were an exclusive faction to Mordheim, so it at least shows the developers are paying attention to the game rather than just translating things from Warhammer Fantasy. The game has also promised more factions but has yet to name them so we don't know who will be held in reserve for DLC or excluded entirely. Personally, my money is on Lizardman.

The final point of note from the newsletter is that games will place heavy emphasis strategy above all and require units to hunt through maps to find items and wyrdstone tokens. Again, it's just the same as the tabletop but that's what made the experience there so fun. Furthermore, it's also appealing to something of an XCOM approach, rewarding players who take their time to hunt down goodies and not rush in blindly.

The only problems here come in the form of who is behind it, well, potential problems anyway. The first is publisher Focus Interactive, who were also behind Cyanide Studio's Blood Bowl series. Those were games which were beloved and praised as a decent adaptation of the tabletop game, but also plagued with a vast number of problems. So while they were a hit they were also one which received some understandable criticisms. Now while Focus Interactive were not the people who made the game, they were the ones who approved its release in a somewhat buggy state. Still, that's only a minor concern and so long as it's playable and patches follow very soon after release things ought to be fine.

What's a bigger concern is the presence of Rogue Factor who, going from research, seem not to have created anything in the past. There is seemingly no record of them having previously existed nor having even handled secondary work on other games. On the one hand this means that there is nothing to really hold against them. On the other though, they're an untested and seemingly green studio who have just been given a beloved strategy heavy licence. Whatever way you cut it, this is still a reason for some trepidation.

Is it enough reason to throw this to the dogs and write it off as a failure? Definitely not. A lot of good things have been promised and there are is apparent proof in their newsletter that they are taking Mordheim's core mechanics to heart. However, it also means anyone interested should keep a close eye on news letters and get a better opinion before they start to celebrate.

Keep an eye on this one for future news. With luck we'll have a fantastic adaptation and it may even pave the way for a Necromunda title if it's a proven success.

1 comment:

  1. This one I'm definitely going to keep my eye on, unlike Eisenhorn this looks like it has the potential to be great, I wonder if they're going to try and add a story, or if it's going to be almost entirely skirmishes with just the bare minimum amount of plot to add in a reason for why you're fighting the other group.