REVIEW – The latest DLC from NeocoreGames, the home of the ill-fated Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, has taken a big swing at the second most iconic human faction in the Wh40K universe after the Space Marines. Let’s see how our Adepta Sororitas-turned-Battlesister-turned-Inquisitor can stir the galaxy’s waters – or fry the cauldron of our God Emperor’s enemies!
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is one of the most divisive video games in the franchise, no small feat when you’re playing titles like Eternal Crusade and Dawn of War III. At the time of its release in 2018, this tactical action RPG was the subject of some severe criticism – much of it, unfortunately, justified – and we weren’t too impressed. Although it had a lot of potential in terms of content, lore and continuous character development, the monotony, cumbersomeness, and (especially) the plethora of bugs that resulted from its lack of polish made it a game that many found utterly unenjoyable. Over the last four years, however, Neocore has done its best to rectify this and finally turn Martyr into a delightful game – last time with the Sororitas DLC.
Perhaps the most significant step in this direction was the release of patch 2.0 in the summer of 2019, and the first character DLC, which was released in conjunction with it, subtitled Prophecy, and which, in addition to adding a Tech-Adept inquisitor, took the game’s campaign further. In retrospect, it’s not even an exaggeration to say that Martyr was more of an Early Access test version than a finished game for the first year after its release; it clearly reached its current form after Patch 2.0. Since then, the developers have been polishing and refining this version. New Seasons are regularly added to the game, with different challenges and tasks, new items, enchantments and other trivia. However, not since Prophecy have we had DLC of the size and complexity of Sororitas: it’s no wonder that fans have been waiting on pins and needles since it was announced last November (perhaps a little too early…). Has it lived up to the hype?
“Burn the Heretic!”
It’s worth stating right from the start: Sororitas is not a standalone expansion. It falls short of Prophecy in terms of scope, so anyone expecting another full-fledged expansion will be disappointed. The classification “Class DLC” is a good description of what we get: a new character class with all the associated skills, perks, items and some unique game mechanics significantly different from the previous ones. Our protagonist is an inquisitor who is a member of the Adepta Sororitas and, more specifically, its armed wing, the Sisters of Battle.
The Adepta Sororitas is one of the most exciting organisations of the human Empire, which covers a large part of the Milky Way in the 41st millennium. The Ecclesiarchy (also known as Adeptus Ministorum), the church of the state religion that worships the Emperor as a god, cannot maintain an armed force of men due to a past, ahem, misstep (Age of Apostasy – check the Lexicanum or Wh40k Wiki). However, the ban does not extend to women: the result is the Adepta Sororitas, whose Orders include teachers/counsellors (Orders Famulous), healers (Orders Hospitaller) and even interpreters (Orders Dialogus), but it is the military Orders (Orders Militant), the battle sisters, for whom the organisation is most famous.
These warrior nuns use fire, sword and bolter to destroy the enemies of the Emperor of God as one of the best-equipped armed corps in the Empire. (Apart from the Space Marines, they alone make extensive use of Power Armour, albeit a less sophisticated version.) But their most important weapon is Faith, which is not only responsible for their unshakeable morale but also endows them with almost magical powers: as an outgrowth of the Emperor’s psychic power, they are literally capable of ‘miracles’.
Translated into the language of the game, Sororitas are a hybrid class that can function as a tank as well as a support or caster, depending on the direction in which they are developed. The three starting subclasses (Sister Dominion, Sister Celestian, Sister Seraphim) roughly correspond to these specialisations. Still, as usual, there is nothing to stop you from customising any of them to your own liking. And some handy new tools and gameplay mechanics will help you do this.
“Kill the Mutant!”
Agents from the Orders of the Adepta Sororitas are primarily members of the Ordo Hereticus, the Inquisition’s wing specialising in hunting down rebels, heretics and mutants – which themselves often “borrow” the battle sisters for dangerous missions. Our character’s weaponry is dominated by killing tools based on the ‘incendiary’ damage type (Flamer, Melta, Plasma Gun, etc.), as well as the iconic Bolter, which the Sisters of Battle also have, with a subtype explicitly designed for them. They also don’t disdain melee weapons: in addition to the mighty (energy) maces and halberds, let’s not forget the refreshingly brutal two-handed chainsword, the Eviscerator, which can turn masses of infidels into a bloody pile in an instant.
A new weapon category is the so-called “combo”, a combination of two one-handed weapons. Of course, we have always been able to wield, say, an energy sword and a plasma pistol together. But since effective character development tended to steer the player towards a particular weapon type, it wasn’t really possible to create a robust melee-range combat hybrid build. In Sororitas, however, thanks to the co-evolvable weapon combos, the synergy was finally there to adopt a distinctly “Warhammer” playstyle. The combinations often involve a shooting weapon and a melee weapon. Still, there are also several that help you make more extensive use of your unique abilities, known as Acts of Faith.
“Purge the Unclean!”
As a character-specific resource, we find the aforementioned Faith, which, while similar to resources available to other classes, can be used in unique ways; and can be replenished in multiple ways. Our “Acts of Faith” abilities are essentially spells that can be used like Psyker uses his psy abilities, only they have a single cooldown. Some items, such as the Holy Censer that can be used as a belt item or certain combo weapons, provide extra slots for them so that you can have up to 3-4 in your arsenal at a time. You can also deploy defensive/boosting and Act of Faith items to weaken and damage enemies as your character progresses.
Faith points can be reloaded in so-called “Sacred Rites”. You’ll find our new altar on the command bridge, where you can choose which rite you want to use to get your Faith Points back when you’re on a mission. During a mission, after reaching the maximum value, you will be allowed to take the Sororitas weapon of choice: the Embodied Saint Form. This is also an element carried over from Wh40K Sisters of Battle lore, but thankfully in the game, you don’t have to die to resurrect your character in “Living Saint” form. Activate it by pressing X, and voila, you’re transformed into a flapping-winged, almost invincible angel figure! For the Embodied Saint figure, we can build a separate arsenal of weapons (also on our altar) with all sorts of devastating abilities. Although the transformation is only temporary (perks and Skills can extend the duration), this ability makes boss fights extremely easy.
The other class-specific belt item set next to the Holy Censer, the Banner, is also worth mentioning. When activated, they create a sort of aura around you that either supports the player(s) or weakens the enemy. In the add-on, we also get three unique Skill Trees for new passive abilities, a bunch of perks, item enchantments and achievements.
“The Emperor Protects!”
Fortunately, there’s not much to mention as a negative. The quality of the new voice acting seems to be a bit weaker than the previous ones – not so much in acting, but rather in recording and mixing. (Or it could be that the character is intentionally speaking more softly than the others…) You could read about minor bugs right after the release, but the developers almost immediately released a quick fix. I’m sure some people will find the new class OP. For my part, I didn’t feel that the game was any less challenging. Martyr just falls into the group of ARPGs where any character type can be overwhelmingly destructive almost immediately if developed smartly enough. The only criticism is that many people would have liked to see at least a separate (mini)campaign for the Sororitas class, as in Prophecy, because it deserved at least that much, if only because of its unique background. Maybe in the next DLC… in return, the price of the expansion was kept lower.
All in all, if you didn’t like Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr before, the Sororitas Class DLC won’t make you like it either. However, despite its minor shortcomings, it has enough new features in terms of gameplay, design and concept to make it well worth the investment. The new class is also worth a try for those who were not previously fans of the Adepta Sororitas warriors: it offers a unique gameplay experience while combining the characteristics of several other classes. I have to say, NeocoreGames has remained worthy of the Emperor’s grace with their latest offering at the altar of Warhammer gaming.
+ Fascinating new character class
+ A plethora of new equipment
+ Amazing design
– The lack of a dedicated campaign
– Mediocre sound design
– Small balance issues
Release date: 28 November 2022