First Look: Space Hulk

By Jim Rossignol on March 27th, 2013 at 2:46 am.


I am on the show floor at GDC, standing next to an unflappable and smiling Thomas Lund of Full Control Studios. He is pleased. He is showing me Space Hulk. He is so excited about it that I can’t help get caught up in his enthusiasm and start feeling giddy, even though I have been taking all of my cynicism medication. He’s been gesticulating and enthusing and SPACE HULK.

It looks pretty great.

Let’s get this straight: Those screenshots pretty much do convey what the Full Control team are doing, and as I watch Lund fill a corridor intersection with fire to hold back swarms of genestealer blips, I know that something special could await us. This is a game of relatively small ambition – to convert a familiar and beloved boardgame – but it’s an ambition that is so perfectly formed that no one should be in any doubt about its value. Yes, Full Control could fumble this new videogame version of the game, no I don’t think they’re going to.

Lund is executing his tactics for “Suicide Mission”, the first Space Hulk mission, and telling me about how he’s had to tweak things to make the boardgame flow as a videogame. Perhaps the hardcore will yell at him, he says, but he’s okay with that, because he’s confident that Full Control are making both a solid turn-based strategy as well as a game that is faithful to the Games Workshop board-classic. Visually it’s impeccable. It also allows you to do a few things that you can’t do in the boardgame, like coming back and using up the last bit of action on a unit before you close your turn.


He’s deployed his team, and blocked off one corridor with an overwatched space marine captain. If he can hold off the worst of the blips with the flamer, then getting to the control room via the remaining corridor should be possible. The AI, he explains, has two layers. One will attempt to react to overall strategy, bunching up genestealers in groups so that they can attempt to overwhelm the player’s terminators with a torrent of claws and tongues, and the other manages the individual beasts rushing and engaging the steely Blood Angels.

Lund’s captain opens up on a corridor full of flinching purple gurners, revealing a close-up action shot between turns, much like XCOM’s fancy action camera. This in turn reveals the gorgeous hi-fidelity terminator model and the detailed spaceship interiors. It’s quite the thing to watch, but also seems to chime with some of what’s happening in turn-based strategy right now: the mechanics are skimmed straight from the boardgame, but the Space Hulk we’re going to get to play is also aglow with electronic fancies and burning particle effects.

Just as Lund is mid-way through his assault on this small, early hulk, a voice from behind us cries. “Is THAT what I THINK it is?” A man in a bowler hat thrusts himself toward the screen with eyes open wide. ‘Space Hulk!” he breathes. Clearly this man does not read RPS. The news of Space Hulk reaching our computerised shores has not reached him. “This is INCREDIBLE,” he announces, and then he launches into a torrent of Wouldn’t It Be Cool Ifs which encompass Marine vs Marine combat, Necromunda, Grey Knights, daemons, why Warhammer has so few robots, something about angry men, and everything else 40k besides. During the exchange Lund talks about the versus mode that currently works in a hotseat on the same machine, which everyone nods about. “THIS IS VERY COOL,” says our new friend. “THQ breaking apart is totally for the best.” And by that he means that this new strategy of giving licences to more than one company is already reaping rewards. He’s right.


Lund does not flinch. “We’re pleased with Games Workshop’s new licensing strategy,” he admits. Then hat man is gone, and Lund shows me the level editor, which will be a standalone modular level-building kit. He’s not going to provide tools that allow players to customise the game out of canon, he says, but with things like this the community will be able to upload its creations, and to vote up good builds for others to download and play. It’s a perfect use of the PC platform: giving us the game to play, and the tools to continue the pleasure.

And so players are going to be able to challenge each other once the campaign is done, which might not be all that long, says Lund, but it will be tough. “You will fail three out of four times,” he says. “We want you to [fist pumps] when you get through that level. Space Hulk is not about making things easy. Games like this…” Lund savours the thought for a moment. “Games like this should challenge us. Space Hulk is about failing.”

It looks like Space Hulk should do precisely the opposite of that.

Space Hulk is due in “Maybe Fall” 2013.

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78 Comments »

  1. Desmolas says:

    I can’t begin to describe how excited I am for this game. I am willing it to be good.

    Also, can we play as the ‘nids?

    • Bilateralrope says:

      I remember someone mentioning multiplayer in a previous article. Multiplayer requires one player to be nids.

      • malkav11 says:

        That’s well and good, but it’s also important to be able to play the xenos side in singleplayer.

        • Hypocee says:

          Is it? Both my received wisdom over the years and my impressions from reading the rules suggest that the Genestealer player has about half a player’s worth of choices at the best of times, and is largely just doing bookkeeping.

          • Chris D says:

            That’s not my experience. The marines are fewer in number but are much better equipped. As the genestealers you have to be thinking hard about where to deploy your forces, when to attack or hold back and how best to pick apart the marines defences. If you just rush in and hope for the best you’re not going to get very far unless your opponent has a really bad run of luck.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            What Chris D said. If a player doesn’t know what they are doing while managing the Tyranids in the board game, a Terminator victory is assured.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            The stealer player is playing poker – trying to use an unperceived threat to control the marines. His threat builds slowly, at first he has nothing to stop the marines advance. He is forced to plan his strategy, where is he going to hold the marines? If he fails to build up enough threat at his chosen bottlenecks, before the marines get there, they will shred him, leaving him fighting a hit and run type of game.

            The marines are always time limited because the stealer player will always build a force which can overwhelm the marines through sheer weight of numbers – when the marines are controlling one squad, this can be as little as 15-20 turns, so a big part of the stealers game is developing threat to delay the marines player, force him to change his squad’s order in the narrow corridors or constantly creep forwards on overwatch. It may be worth sacrificing a blip or two if you can waste heavy weapons ammo or delay the whole squad for a couple of turns.

            You are managing what the marines player knows about your forces, trying to control the movement of the marines, forcing him to use up his resources, leaving him guessing whether the 3 blips behind the door he is about to open is a manageable 3 stealers or a game ending 9. It may not be every players cup of tea, but half a game it most certainly is not. The half you are missing is the mind games you need to play!

          • Hypocee says:

            Well, that’s great to hear then!

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      • LionsPhil says:

        If I remember the old Atari ST Hulk correctly, there were three landing pods, with three colours of termies, which could be one per player, with the ‘nids still under computer control.

        This is personally the kind of multiplayer I’m interested in, because co-op is fun times.

    • TheTourist314 says:

      I think I can describe how excited you are for it.

      SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK SPACE HULK

  2. Sp4rkR4t says:

    “It looks pretty great.”

    Never have these words made me so happy, cannot wait for this one to come out.

  3. Fallorn says:

    In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only… ANTICIPATION!

  4. Nick says:

    The man in the bowler hat wasn’t Rab was it?

  5. deke913 says:

    Finally! A worthy successor to Chaos Gate. I freaking loved that game. Cannot wait for this one. Thanks Mr. Rossignol for this news.

    • karry says:

      “A worthy successor to Chaos Gate”

      Not quite sure that is a very high bar to set…

      • Optimaximal says:

        Why not? It may have looked relatively basic and been buggy as hell, but it was the last true attempt at making a computerised adaptation of a Games Workshop table-top.

    • wodin says:

      I loved Chaos gate but I think this will be alot more restrictive in terms of movement etc. I think Slitherines game will be the one to look at for a new Chaos gate type game, unless they are going to do a Panzer Corps WH40K type game.

  6. lordcooper says:

    Not a big WH40k (not because I dislike it, because I know fuck all about it), but this is looking mighty fine to me.

  7. guygodbois00 says:

    Heh, waiting IS the hardest part in this case. At least for us players.

  8. caddyB says:

    What if you could talk to the Tyranids. Wait, nevermind.

  9. StarchildHypocrethes says:

    Chapter selection pls.

  10. caff says:

    I CAN’T FIND. AN ARCHIVED RECORD VIEWER.

    But seriously, this sounds better and better the more I hear about it. Fingers crossed it delivers a more in-depth turn-based experience than XCOM.

    • Themadcow says:

      If I want a decent turn based tactical game I’d always go with Xcom. The turn based tactical version that is, not the simplified turn based cover shooter.

      • Nick says:

        God damn it, its X-com (or X-COM, or UFO) for the old one Xcom (or XCOM) for the new one! It makes it easy to tell which is which.

  11. Nihil says:

    NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA, NECROMUNDA!

    My work here is done.

  12. Jack-Dandy says:

    Yessss
    Level Editor AND hotseat multiplayer? This is fucking awesome.

  13. lowprices says:

    I am very excited about this. A fond memory from my childhood mixed with the mechanics of a game I love (I know, I know; simplified cover shooter, console-itis, not as good as the original etc.)

    The only concern I have is whether the game offers anything between missions, or if it is just turn-based battling. I can’t help but wonder if trying to replicate XCOM without any longer term strategic stuff may feel limited.

  14. Guvornator says:

    Lund savours the thought for a moment. “Games like this should challenge us. Space Hulk is about failing.”

    I totally agree, but with one caveat – it has to feel fair. Very few games get this right (AVP and and XCOM spring to mind).

    • mondomau says:

      True. I have no idea how hard it is program a good AI, but the way Xcom EU basically resorted to cheating and/or lazy shortcuts for the aliens movement to present a challenge really irked me.
      Being beaten by the AI should be the same as being beaten by another player – it should be because it’s tactics were better, not because it cheated.

      That said, very excited for this.

      • mouton says:

        Lol at AI “cheating” in X-Com. I spend some time on X-Com forums and can’t stop rolling my eyes at this claim.

        AI “cheats” in practically all games, because it is inferior. AI has different stats and bonuses in practically all games. Both things happened in the original X-Com as well. Deal with it.

        • Magnusm1 says:

          This is not true nutcase. The AI is always in terms of game-knowledge and reaction-times.

          • mouton says:

            I do not understand your comment. Would you mind rephrasing?

        • LionsPhil says:

          FEEL fair, not BE fair.

          If you notice the AI cheating (without having to actually sit and study it), it was not written well enough.

          • mouton says:

            That is not the case in X-Com. There was a bug that teleported aliens into the midst of your team but that was a bug, nothing else.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Blood Angel armour is quite rouge-like

  15. Bluestormzion says:

    SPICE MORAINES!!!!!! As just about every Ork has shouted, right before being Chainsworded of Bolter’d, or even flamer’d in the NAME OF THE EMPEROR!

  16. wodin says:

    Got my beady eye on this and on what Slitherine is going to do.

    Also remember Alien Assault 2 is being worked on..with a huge meta campaign. Go join the forum and have your say in the development.

  17. RProxyOnly says:

    Tweaked to make it flow better….. Really?

    When are devs going to realise that that is only their OPINION.. people will put up with a HELL of a lot if they can get an exact copy of the game they played in a different form. They know the rules, they have become beloved… any changes are unwanted in general.

    In this article the use of ‘hardcore’ is rather denigrating, it sounds rather dismissive, bearing in mind that it’s the ‘hardcore’ who have actually kept it’s memory alive and gotten it to the stage that there may be interest in the game… As far as I’m concerned in games… if you can’t, or won’t give proper reverence to the established ruleset, then don’t fucking bother.

    Bear in mind I have absolutely no interest in Space Hulk, however these comments are equally relevant to a whole host of other games.

    • Quickpull says:

      I too have no vested interest in Space Hulk. But I can say that in Mechwarrior Online there is a core group of dedicated battletech fans who have carried its torch for literally decades and insist that any adaptation of the game never deviate in any way from the original board game. It is my OPINION that these types of players are blithering idiots who are actively working against improving the game and they don’t know anything about game design and should probably keep their OPINIONS to themselves.

    • captainparty says:

      I am invested in Space Hulk, I love it and have since I was a wee boy but, its a board game and this isn’t, stuff that is taken for granted in a PC game aren’t the same as those in a board game and so it must have tweaks, little differences that will make it work as a PC game rather than just an emulator of the board game, saying that there is a hardcore of fans who will resist those changes isn’t insulting anyone, its stating a fact, there are and they will, but they’re not games designers, I’d trust the games designers over the rabid hardcore when it comes to, well, games design.

    • Totally heterosexual says:

      Well obviously it’s their “opinion”. Most things in game design are purely subjective.

      Who’s opinion are they supposed to base the game on, yours? That comment makes you sound like a fucking idiot so I don’t think that’s a very good idea.

  18. strangeloup says:

    Oh gosh this looks ace. Shame it’s going to be a while before it comes out, but I’ll definitely be picking this up (unless it somehow becomes rubbish between now and release).

    The comment that “Space Hulk is about failing” made me think that it almost has a few things in common with a Roguelike. (Bear with me here.) As I recall, in some versions of the boardgame, you could arrange the rooms and corridors semi-randomly rather than according to a map, and generally you don’t know how many (or what kind, again depending on version) of enemies there are going to be until you can see them.

    More than that, though, the game’s always had that intimidating feeling of going up against unknown and almost certainly overwhelming opposition, with only a slim chance of success — but, to go by the lore at least, success would be justified a hundred times over. I remember on the old multiformat version, Vengeance of the Blood Angels — the first videogame version of it I played — there were all sorts of enemies later in the game and it was almost from the start really, really hard. Part of the difficulty with that version was controlling a squad in (mostly) realtime, though, and I think this being turn-based will make it easier to keep an overview of everything, albeit perhaps with a slight loss of tension.

  19. Hahaha says:

    ALLLLL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN

  20. Oathbreaker says:

    Now just get rid of superfluous UI crap like selection reticules under feet and floating health bars and I’ll be happy.

    • Machinations says:

      I think there is a tabletop mode where the dice rolls are animated, the marines have to dodge the occasional cheeto falling from above and randomly a lolcat jumps on the board, scattering all the marines and genestealers, ending the game.

  21. Gpig says:

    It’s possible that this game looks good, but isn’t it more likely that your cynicism medication isn’t working?

  22. Machinations says:

    Eh, I am a purist and this looks amazing. ehmazing

    With Creative Assembly possiprobably working on ‘total war: warhammer’ *prays* and this we finally are starting to see some good games come from GW IP.

    I WANT IT. LOOKS LOVELY. FOND MEMORIES OF THE ORIGINAL BOX GAME.

    Now, if someone would do Necromunda..with BB style MP campaign mode..

    One can dream.

  23. MadTinkerer says:

    Yay! Another version of the first game I ever professionally tested!

    I’ve lost track of how many Space Hulks there are now…

  24. Hilden2000 says:

    “A man in a bowler hat thrusts himself toward the screen with eyes open wide. ‘Space Hulk!” he breathes. ” By Jove! I must inform Scotland Yard via telegram, but first, a bit of snuff for courage!”

    That’s what I wish had actually happened..

  25. Armitage says:

    That’s a pretty crappy thing to say about THQ. Sure, it may have worked in their favor and might even be the best thing for Warhammer fans. But it was certainly not the best thing to happen to gamers. Watch your tongue, Full Control !

  26. Radiant says:

    NEVER trust a man in a bowler hat and/or a tuxedo.

    1) It’s 2013
    2) Nothing honest is ever done in a tuxedo.

  27. Josh W says:

    The bowler hat man speaks the truth.

  28. Geen says:

    Now I need GorkaMorka.

  29. shadowclasper says:

    As the guy in the bowler hat, I’m almost sure I didn’t say THQ breaking apart is totally for the best… at least not in so many words… I’m really depressed that THQ broke apart, but all the same I’m really pumped that games like this are getting made now.

    I’m also glad that Thomas Ludd is holding off on necromunda for the moment. To get that right, he REALLY needs to get the 3d spatial feel of “3-5 Rat Mazes lain one ontop of the other” to get the proper hivey feel. That said, I really hope he can figure it out.

  30. Shagwell says:

    Warhammer games are plagued by some kind of curse. They all turn out bad. hope this one will break it.

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