In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only Warhammer. We're still a few millennia off a Warhammer 40,000 dating game (try not to blush as you polish your crush's crotchskull!) but Games Workship's grimdark universe did today expand into the realms of turn-based 4X strategy with the launch of Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War. Don't expect to score a cultural or diplomatic victory in this one, but it has the usual exploration, expansion, exploitation, and goodness me so very much extermination. Those spacefascists do love their extermination.
Relics Of War is made by Proxy Studios, the folks behind sci-fi 4X Pandora: First Contact, and published by stratheads Slitherine. It throws Space Marines, Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard), Orks, and Necron onto hexy maps to harvest, tech, and megamurder. Yes, diplomacy is off the table in this one. A shame, as I would very much like to receive flirtatious requests for more silk and fags from Gangarr Toothcruncher.
Slitherine have drafted folks to stream hours of play, if you'd rather see that.
RPS servo-skull Fraser Brown performed the preview rites earlier this year, reporting back:
"Instead of filling the gap left by diplomacy, Gladius keeps the focus on action and conquest. Even the only other victory condition, finishing your faction's quest, will send you all over map to get into lots of fights. The broad range of units and their diverse characteristics means that the combat does have a lot of staying power, however, especially if you've already got a deep obsession with these angry soldiers and their massive war machines.
"As someone who tends not to be an aggressive 4X player, I did start to crave different kinds of interactions and for there to be any kind of structure to the wars. I missed the surprise of an ally's betrayal or the moment when a cold war becomes a very, very hot one — things you don't get when it's all war, all the time. I didn’t miss the incessant pestering from chatty AI opponents, though, nor constantly trying to placate them with deals and bribes. Just stomping around a planet smashing everything is, admittedly, a cathartic experience."
That wasn't the full and finished game, of course.
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is out now for Windows and Linux. It costs £31/€34/$40 on Steam and is a quid or so cheaper on GOG, who are also throwing in a free copy of DreamForge's 1999 strat 'em up WH40K: Rites Of War until July 26th.
Disclosure: our Alec did a little copy-editing on Gladius, which leads me to the surprise realisation that it must have a script.