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40k board game adaptation The Horus Heresy: Betrayal At Calth stomps into early access FOR THE EMPEROR

Silly goggles at 100% tech-priest aesthetic

It's been yonks since Rab Florence shared his thoughts on the original board game version of The Horus Heresy: Betrayal At Calth, although judging by his enthusiastic after-action report it can be a quite thrilling experience. As Games Workshop is wont to do these days, they've licensed out the rights to the PC adaptation to a lesser-known studio. Enter small VR outfit Steel Wool Studios.

Rather than attempt to replicate the tabletop experience directly, Betrayal At Calth hopes to make the experience a little more memorable by putting the player's viewpoint on the ground with the troops in traditional FPS format, or in VR, if the tech-priests have blessed you with vision beyond the Ocular Rift, and the silly future-goggles to go with it.

Cover image for YouTube video

Delayed a little from its initial planned release date, The Horus Heresy: Betrayal At Calth has finally rolled out onto Steam. Supporting regular play and VR mode equally, it puts players in the neo-gothic boots of a tech-priest trying to mobilize defenses against the big Space Marine rebellion that kicked off the 40k setting. Rather than try to run around on the front lines, you remotely view the burning city as you boss various Space Marine groups around to help face down the traitor forces working their way through the streets.

It's still a turn-based board game, driven by dice, but the radical shift in perspective does give the game a distinct look. The current early access build includes multiplayer and the first of five story-mode acts, with the rest of the story content and a full skirmish vs AI mode planned to roll out in later updates. The developers estimate that they'll need about six months in early access to get everything in line for the v1.0 launch.

While I've received an early access key, I sadly haven't been able to play it, due to some incompatibility with my machine leading the game to crash without fail every time I attempt to begin the second scene of Act 1, although I'll be sure to check back in on it once a few patches have rolled out. My main concern with the game is that the low-to-the-ground perspective will become a bit of a hassle to wrangle through larger combat encounters, although I would like to give this a spin once I have a proper VR headset.

The Horus Heresy is out now on Steam for a discounted £17.84/$22.49 for its first week, and has full native support for both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.

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Dominic Tarason