No Force Can Prevent There Being A Warhammer 40K MMO

By John Walker on June 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

One of the biggest victims of the collapse of THQ was the Warhammer 40K MMO. Dark Millennium Online was declared offline around a year ago, with THQ attempting to save money by downsizing the game – and the development team – to make it a single player game. Developers Vigil Games, owned by THQ, no longer exists, and the project – while never officially cancelled – seems to have disappeared into the ether.

But now Games Workshop have announced a new 40K MMO – Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade – this time developed by, huh, Behaviour.

Eternal Crusade has been announced for PC and next-gen consoles, and is a loooooooooong way off – currently set for late 2015. Of it they say,

“In the game, players choose a Warhammer 40,000 race and fight directly as one of their warriors in massive conflicts for territory. It will be up to each faction’s community to determine their own destiny as they vie for control of an entire planet.”

It’s to be a third-person shooter, obviously featuring lots of 40K favourites like Space Marine Rhinos and Ork Battlewagons, and claims it will feature “procedural content”.

The developer is the immediately odd aspect. Behaviour aren’t exactly renowned for their quality games, and have absolutely no history with MMOs. Formerly known as Artifical Mind & Movement, they were responsible for Bethesda’s 2009 console flop, WET, and 2010′s dismal Naughty Bear. Otherwise the 21 year old studio is mostly responsible for ports and cheapo movie tie-ins. So what it was about them that attracted Games Workshop has yet to be revealed.

However, according to the studio’s online boss, Miguel Caron, the game’s team are “all MMO development veterans”. It’ll be interesting to learn who they all are, and whether any might have been on THQ’s doomed project – we’re going to ask.

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91 Comments »

  1. Firkragg says:

    Few articles can have me punching the air in pure excitement and then end with a slightly worried gut-feeling. Does anyone have more details on Behaviour?

    • Lemming says:

      Your gut-feeling is right. There is no reason to expect this to be anything but shitty. In THQ’s hands it at least had the chance to be good, but how these clowns ended up with this license I’ll never know. It’s not as if they’ve even had experience with this type of game, let alone made any good games at all.

      • Shuck says:

        If they’re like most game companies, they experience a lot of developer churn. Which means they could have a completely different set of employees than the ones who made their previous games. If they truly have “MMO development veterans” (and there’s no reason to believe that’s not true), then at least a portion of the employees are new to that company.

        • Epicedion says:

          True. They’re probably comprised solely of ex-The War Z developers.

          • Max Planck says:

            Not solely. I’m sure those shitbastards who made ‘Warhammer: Mark of Chaos’, and made me cry, will also have a hand in this project. That hand will likely have three thumbs.

  2. lowprices says:

    I was briefly excited about this, untul I saw the developer. Which is a shame, as I’d love to play a 40K MMO that lets me run around as an Ork bellowing “CAM AN’ GIT ME SPAICE MORAINE” into open chat.

  3. Penguin_Factory says:

    This sounds cool, but the long release date and choice of developer doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Frankly I’m surprised we haven’t seen a successful Warham 40K MMO before, the property seems like a no brainer.

    • Taidan says:

      I wouldn’t say that “Late 2015″ is a long release date for an MMO. I might even go as far as saying that seems a bit rushed.

      • Shuck says:

        Yes. Unless it’s secretly been in development for three years already (and given the license issues, I don’t see how that could be true), that is quite rushed. Which makes me think it’ll not exactly have a ton of pre-made, polished content when the game ships. (The “procedural content” could be a big part of that, but much procedural content isn’t that compelling, so…)

    • MobileAssaultDuck says:

      It would be hard to do right.

      You can’t have factions, because every race hates each other.

      Fluff power levels are all over the place. a Space Marine can single-handedly take on hundreds of members of most other races and some of those races have no equivalent power unit. I guess a Mega Armored Nob might be on par with a Space Marine, but I am unsure. Now, of course, the fluff and table top crunch have separated themselves and Space Marines aren’t nearly as powerful, but if you’re doing an RPG I almost feel like you have to go fluff more than trying to emulate the table top.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love 40k, but I don’t see how every developer on earth wouldn’t fuck it up.

      Add publishers into the equation and there’s no way it makes it out of the gate without butchering the IP.

      Look at WAR, it absolutely shit on WHFB lore.

      • wyrmsine says:

        It’s a problem neatly articulated in this Penny Arcade strip. That said, I’m hoping that a dev with no MMO experience would feel free of the standard conventions enough to make a game where mutual loathing is a central mechanic. A proper 40k MMO would be predicated on xenophobia, inevitable betrayal, and operatic melodrama. In an ideal world, it’d make Eve Online look like Candyland.

      • Asurmen says:

        The power of Space Marines is always massively exaggerated. They’re as powerful or not as the story needs them to be.

      • SAM-site says:

        Sir, you are blinded by the nonsense that is parity and balance, but it is not your fault. Pretty much every MMO designer out there makes the same mistake of underestimating their potential players.

        A quick aside, if you will.

        When Star Wars Galaxies was in development all I wanted to be was a Jawa. Not a Jawa with a gun, a Jawa with a toolkit and an eye for fixing up droids. The design-folk at Sony however said that Jawas didn’t tend to get off Tatooine, and therefore it would be unfair to people to restrict them in that way. In a similar fashion there were those who wanted to be stormtroopers – not Battle of Hoth stormtroopers, but the “show me your identification… move along” kind , the rationale for not allowing this was that players wouldn’t want to just patrol.

        I beg to differ. If people know the limitations up front the decision is theirs to make, and thus we turn our eye to the notion of balance.

        A Space Marine™ is, in most cases, going to beat 7 bells out of most other race’s “standard” infantry. So be it. I’m not bothered about being on the weaker faction in a game providing I’m having fun doing it. Yes, I’m unusual in that regard and yes all those teenage hormone factories out there will want to play as marines which means that not only will they be individually stronger but also more numerous.

        In which case let’s bring some fiction into play – there are a finite number of Marines due to reasons. So let’s make it harder to be a Marine, two choices for you :
        - 1 : To play a Marine you must be a paid subscriber, all other races are F2P
        - 2 : Marines have perma-death. You join a queue to create a Marine when you first play, only when one Marine dies can you make yours. Until then you’re welcome to play as any other race. If you opt out of joining the Marine queue you can have an XP bonus or some such.

        Bonanza! Two things players will yell and scream about that ensure the game works. How this is not underestimating the players is straightforward – it makes being a Marine even cooler than you thought it was going to be in the first place due to the exclusivity, and permadeath is the single biggest adrenaline rush of a feature any game can have. Finally, imagine the prestige to be had in taking down a platoon of Marines with a platoon of Hormagaunts, Gretchin, Squats, whatever.

        Balance is the biggest silliness in MMOs because life isn’t balanced. Not everyone can be the king of the world, that takes talent more than patience. Victory without risk isn’t victory at all. Why not add a cliche of your own?

        My point, more succinctly is simple – not everyone is bothered by being underpowered. If that spoils your game mechanic balance the relative strengths of race, don’t worry about individual strengths so much.

        • Mule says:

          SAM – you are definitely barking up the right tree with those ideas. I think a developer who isn’t afraid to think a little differently can really change the MMO landscape.

          A long time ago I found myself thinking about how to make a 40K MMO and one thought was to have player characters in a weaker faction like the imperial guard not play as standard run of the mill troopers but default into squad leaders where the real meta-game for IG players, ork Nobz, etc would be managing and outfitting your 5-20 man squads/mobs whathaveyou and then managing them on the battlefield ala Brothers In Arms games. This would translate some part of the tabletop experience to the TPS genre by giving you wargear management and squad movement to deal with.

          Could you imagine being an IG squad leader, giving your best squaddie the shiny new melta gun that high command bestowed upon you for your actions in the last campaign, then organizing a few fire teams and basically playing the fire/maneuver game on a grimdark battlefield to get mr melta close enough to that orc battlewagon to take it out?

          Multiclass into a tank hunter team, mortar crew, or armored fist squad with a chimera…or upgrade yourself and earn a tank command complete with a crew and tank wargear….

          The Space Marine player by comparison has only himself and his personal wargear to worry about at least until the very highest ranks, at which point his squaddies would all be other players anyway. SAM-site’s permadeath idea would still work brilliantly in that system. The difference in playstyle between the Space Marine action game and the IG/Ork BIA style tactical squad shooter would make it attractive to some folks (myself included with that) to stay with the ‘weaker’ factions consistently.

      • Sian says:

        Well, you can have ONE faction: the Imperium of Man. Space Marines and the Imperial Guard are the only two armies that can team up – let’s hope they’re not mashed into one race for the MMO.

        @SAM-site: I’d like the devs to say: “Okay, let’s say a Space Marine is ten times as powerful as an orc – let’s give the orc players a squad each that moves as one unit.”

      • Geen says:

        You’re underestimating all the other factions. Orks have absurd amounts of dakka and can shrug off lethal wounds, the imperial guard has the best tanks and artillery, chaos is slightly weaker than space marines but has better psykers as well as assorted demonic stuff. The Eldar are speedy, and their armies focus on powerful specialists. The tau make excellent marksmen, and have battlesuits and whatnot as well as decent stealth. The Tyrannids will rip ANYTHING short of Kharn The Betrayer in half in melee, and have absurd numbers. The Necrons are almost impossible to kill, coming back after death and being quite tanky. Every faction is overpowered as hell, and that’s what makes Warhammer 40k great. Hell, even a Space Marine can be put down in one hit by a lasgun beam or a bolter shell, and those are the LIGHT weapons.

  4. Random Gorilla says:

    Oh good, another Games Workshop MMO that will never see the light of day. Eternal Crusade sounds like an apt name.

  5. MeestaNob says:

    IN THE FUTURE, THERE IS ONLY THE PROMISE OF MORE 40K MMO’S.

  6. Soulstrider says:

    Well I don’t have any hopes for this, coming from this studio.

    A pity since if I had to choose one mmo to play, it would be a 40k one.

  7. mouton says:

    Part of why I like W40K is the setting, the atmosphere. I like to immerse myself in it and other humans are an obstacle.

  8. MasterDex says:

    I’m still waiting for that shiny digital translation of the tabletop game proper. I still like the game but as I’m older now, I find I don’t really have the time to sit down and paint 10k point armies, and finding people to play with can be a lesson in futility around these parts.

    I really don’t see why they wouldn’t do this type of game, profits have got to be dropping off on the physical side of things these days and translating it to the medium would certainly bring in plenty of cash.

    • Random Gorilla says:

      Vassal is your friend.

      • MasterDex says:

        I just looked that up, never heard of it before now. Thanks. Do you have any experience with it yourself? How is it?

        I’d still love an official version with all the bells and whistles that it would bring to the…errr…table.

        Much appreciated all the same though, and I see they have a Battlefleet Gothic and Mordheim modules. I like that!

  9. Sp4rkR4t says:

    I heard Behaviour did some of the development back end on a Nickelodeon MMO that has about 4 million players, can’t be arsed to verify if true or not.

  10. Lars Westergren says:

    Time for another cargo-cult money bonfire in the vain hope of attracting the gods of profit. The amount of resources poured into failed MMOs has to be enormous.

  11. MadJax says:

    I actually like Naughty Bear, it was far from perfect but was twisted and good fun :/

  12. bard says:

    Well that headline made me hopeful for a short moment and then the article expertly crushed my hopes.

    Why can’t I just have Planetside 2 with wh40k skins? Is that too much to ask?

    • HighlordKiwi says:

      That’s what I was imagining when I read the article, although in third person. Wishful thinking probably though.

    • Schiraman says:

      Yeah, a Planetside-style game set in the 40K universe has long been on my list of dream-games-that-will-probably-never-happen.

      As a rough sketch: replace the basic classes of PS2 with various Imperial Guard/cultists/weak Orks, and replace MAX units with Space Marines/Chaos Marines/Nobs?

  13. lowprices says:

    Hmm, the comments system seems to have eaten my post, so I’ll try again.

    Y’know, I wish developers would try something different with the license. For example, I’d like to see a sims style game that covers what space marines do in their downtime. So you’d get stories like several marines getting into a fight over a book of the Emperors quotations, or two marines falling in love, only for their relationship to run into trouble because one only ever wants to wage eternal war against the enemies of the Imperium of Man, whereas his partner would like to go see the occasional play.

    Are you listening, Games Workshop?

  14. Rollin says:

    Kill ten Orkz, collect twenty blaster packs

  15. cocoleche says:

    Uh god, stop it with the MMOs already. It’s 2013.

    • MasterDex says:

      What difference does the year make? Sure, there are some awful MMOs on the market but the MMO itself, when it finally lets go of its stale gameplay, is more a game of the future than it is of the past…if that makes sense.

      What I’m trying to say is that I envision a future where MMO is no longer used as an acronym for tired gameplay with a gloss of large-scale social interaction and instead becomes synonymous with living worlds that offer unparallelled freedom – the FPS where you go back to your ‘house’ in the evening and watch the ‘news reports’ detailing how the good fight is going, the racer where a crash means you lose that expensive car that you tricked out with those limited edition intake systems, forever.

      I do feel your anguish though. So much wasted potential

  16. ChiefOfBeef says:

    Naughty Bear was a great concept but horrid execution. Had about an hour of fun with it and could overlook the unsatisfying controls until it became pretty obvious how shallow it was. Until that point though, this was the most violent game I had ever seen and it doesn’t even have any blood.

    Hoping the dev might finally get their shit together, with enough time and funds.

  17. Runty McTall says:

    Marines don’t fall in love.

    Seriously, I must’ve read like 30 Warhammer 40K books and never once do they give the marines even the slightest hint of a sexual side. It must be like a rule for their authors or something. It always struck me as a bit weird tbh (super manly men, living hundreds of years and they never seem to even get the urge to get it on).

    • Runty McTall says:

      That was meant as a reply to lowprices above, btw.

      • colw00t says:

        In the fluff, it’s because by the time they get done doing the huge amount of really incredibly awful things necessary to make a Space Marine, they aren’t recognizably human any more except for the general shape.

        You know how if you take a lot of anabolic steroids, your man-grapes shrink? Space Marines’ have shrunk to the point of non-existence.

        In reality, it’s both a holdover from the “crusader knight” concept for a SM, and a recognition that a lot of SM fans are boys who are still at an age where they think sex is gross.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I seem to remember an unrequited gay love triangle in the novel Space Marine. Sort of an ancient Greek soldiers type deal?

      I also remember the line “hoy the axe at Lord Saggy!” Which can only be a euphemism.

      Come to think of it there was a fair bit of anal penetration, too. Of Tyranid ships, but still. I think the author had something on his mind.

    • lowprices says:

      I’ll be honest, I may not have pitched the idea with the greatest of respect for established 40K canon. But it would be great:

      “What shall we do this evening, dear?”

      “Well I thought we could pray to the Emperor for a few hours, then orbital drop onto the planet below and purge it of heretics.”

      “…”

      “What?”

      “You never take me anywhere nice. Why can’t we attack an Eldar Craftworld? I bet they’re full of beautiful things we could kill.”

  18. PointyShinyBurning says:

    I quite liked WET, was I completely on my own?

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      No – I thought WET was a great game with a few flaws. I also liked the trailers for Naughty Bear but then heard the gameplay was rubbish, which sounded disappointing. At least they don’t churn out poor quality WWII/Modern FPSs and try something different.

      Of course, none of that means that a Warhammer MMO will be any good. I don’t get the impression the world is crying out for yet another MMO.

  19. Screwie says:

    That logo font seems a bit… basic. :/

  20. barichnikov says:

    Funcom has let a lot of developers go in the Montreal office (all of them?) They might have been swooped up by Behaviour as far as we know…

  21. cpt_freakout says:

    GW has a history of giving its IPs to the least apt developers, but that’s been changing lately, at least since Dawn of War.

    However, what studio would be a good fit for a 40k MMO? All we have in that kind of style is Defiance and Planetside 2… and now Firefall maybe? Defiance is not very good and while PS 2 is great, I doubt SOE would be willing to divert its efforts. I guess pretty much any studio is a risky bet, so Behaviour might not be so bad in the end…

  22. gryffinp says:

    Punched “Behavior games” into Google. First thing I see?

    “Behaviour’s latest project is Doritos Crash Course 2″

    Ooooh boy.

  23. Screamer says:

    Games Workshop: “We nee a Warhammer MMO!!!”
    Guy at back of the room: “Behavior can make games!!”
    Games Workshop: “Do it!”

  24. Maxheadroom says:

    Does anyone still play the other Warhammer MMO?
    Only played it for about a month when it first came out before eventually following all my mates back to WoW (back when I played wow). Quite liked what I saw, is it even still running?

    • naetharu says:

      Alas, I tried looking into that one only the other day and it is quite dead. It also looks ancient – worse that EQ2 – which is a real shame. It was a great opportunity with some nice ideas but they totally messed it up.

  25. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    External Croutons, you say?

  26. gulag says:

    Clearly we can never give studios who have only ever handled ports and tie in’s a shot at AAA development or else we might end up with another Borderlands. Oh wait…

  27. bills6693 says:

    I’m wondering what races they will actually feature?

    I imagine the staple Space Marine, Ork, Eldar, Chaos.

    It’d be super cool to see Tau, Necrons, Guardsmen etc.

    Really, I think something focusing on common footsoldier guardsmen would be cooler in a way. I think Space marines and crew are flogged to death, the key focus in every game. Being a ‘common soldier’, part of the massive invasion, would be interesting.

  28. naetharu says:

    Has anyone played the pen and paper RPGs for 40 done by Fantasy Flight? I wonder if something along those lines will be the answer to balancing the game. They are pretty good so it is possible that they could work in an MMO with a little care.

  29. DarkMalice says:

    Completely lost interest when I read it was to be an MMO. Turn-based strategy or an RPG; that would be more exciting. Watching 4000 cookie-cutter Inquisitor Lords run about grinding XP by killing a dozen grots from some magical spawn location, nah. The chances of it being an interesting and varied setting pitting armies of Guardsmen against hordes of Tyranids in a battle for the planet/solar system/galaxy? Unlikely.
    Now if you could persuade CCP to do it, ala Eve & Dust, that could be something special.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      I was totally looking forward to a 40k mmo since back when it was first announced but you know what? you’re completely right in everything you just said

    • ZyloMarkIII says:

      In order for a 40K MMO to convey that sense of scale of warfare that setting brings is as mentioned, armies in the hundreds of thousands battling it out over unique combat settings like boarding actions against enemy spacecraft where periodic solar flares disrupt all the machine spirits briefly forcing emergency hand-to-hand combat or paratroops dropping onto a mobile manufactorum in the upper atmosphere of a highly toxic world that collects resources via mining ships that drill into the planet’s crust. A MMO where people can grind their way up to the status of Space Marine or Inquisitor Lord loses its appeal when everybody can become one. I can deal with a mediocre looking game (in terms of graphical polish) if the netcode is solid and can sustain a large server population concentrated in several key areas.

  30. Sarkhan Lol says:

    This has got to be like the eighteenth step on the road to disappointment by now.

  31. Sarkhan Lol says:

    “The free race available to everyone will be the Orks. But free players will only be able to progress through the game’s content Ork Boyz: five of which are needed to take down one Space Marine. Behaviour expects that F2P members will always outnumber paid players and the Ork Boyz are their way of balancing F2P with paid members. Once someone becomes invested in the game, they can purchase the other races and open up the full progression paths for each (including the Orks).”

    http://www.mmorpg.com/mobile/features.cfm?read=7493&game=954&ismb=1

    Aha ha ha ha.. Aha HA HA HA ha HA HA HA HA! It’s over. It’s buried. Wrap it up kids. Thanks for coming, file toward the warp gates in an orderly fashion.

  32. pseudoart says:

    I feel it’s pretty weird that Games Workshop are handing out licenses left and right to small/unknown studios with less than stellar back catalogues. Are they choosing quantity over quality? Rooting for the underdog? What? I don’t get it.

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