Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader – To Infinity and Beyond!

REVIEW – Being a space merchant in the dark anti-utopia of the 41st millennium is not easy. Not even when you have warrior nuns, grim soldiers, psychics, and even inquisitors armed to the chin at your side. In Owlcat’s excellent cRPG, we are given almost complete freedom to discover the secrets of the Koronis Zone.



Most science fiction fans want to live in their favorite fantasy world. Well, fans of the forefather of the grimdark approach are just the opposite. Of course, my favorite universe is not only different from that of other futurists. The dystopia that was “kitbashed”, i.e. assembled from the components of several worlds, has now taken on a life of its own and has grown into a billion-dollar business. This is despite the fact that a former American retailer has filed a lawsuit, claiming that the designers of the former D&D world, which started out as a Monty Python gang, spent 12 pages listing where they were “inspired”. In addition to the classics, Tolkien fantasy, Star Wars and Dune, countless real historical events from the world of Warhammer 40,000 make a comeback. But what accounts for the enduring appeal of a world that began as an anti-Thatcher rant by the “Nottingham lads”?

Anyone starting Owlcat’s latest computer role-playing game will get an answer almost immediately during the prologue. Since I am not a classic cRPG fan myself, and my last serious experience with one was Plancescape: Torment – well, that’s not yesterday either – I was impressed by the character creation process itself and the level of detail. In keeping with the universe, the character classes are called archetypes, and at the beginning of the game we have the option to build a character from scratch, in addition to the pre-generated characters. Since I knew next to nothing about the game at launch, I decided to go with the offered pot-bellied naval officer in a wig, which I made realistic with some cyber implants and Imperial tattoos. After the obligatory optical adjustments (hair color, facial hair, clothing, etc.), the former space marine named Balaint was ready for his adventures.



A dark medieval world of free trade


Looking at the statistics, there are echoes of the simplified system of the tabletop game, and even of the game from the first edition of Warhammer 40,000, which is “coincidentally” also called Rogue Trader. I’ll just note in parentheses that there is also a traditional role-playing game called Rogue Trader, in which we adventure in the same place as in the present game: the Koronus Zone.

So who are Rogue Traders? The hunters of the occupation, which might be translated as free traders in Hungarian, clearly have earthly predecessors: the conquistadors. Greedy and cruel businessmen, grafted into explorers and crossed with proselytes, played a rather dubious role in the golden age of geographical discovery, the 16th century. Their counterparts in the 41st millennium are a little (though not much) more sophisticated, roaming the fringes of the Human Empire with unlimited authority from the God Emperor, exploring worlds and subduing them to the Empire. Merchants of noble birth, without exception, are their own masters in the new territories and can engage in activities that are forbidden to most of the Empire’s subjects under penalty of death. For example, collecting relics of alien species or even cooperating with them, possibly using heretical technology (testicles). In most cases, due to the dangers involved, they continue their activities with a strong military escort, which may consist of smaller fleets, even elite contingents of the Space Guard or regiments of the Star Army (Astra Militarum).



Jump into deep water: control and task


The game starts with the question of the succession of the von Valancius house, accompanied by traditional text windows and multiple answer options. During the prologue, we have to survive on a ship traveling in hyperspace, which is not so easy in some cases, as the demons of the Chaos Gods beyond the shields are looking for the opportunity to drive all the travelers crazy. With the help of the excellently edited texts and the background information available with the help of hyperlinks to the encyclopedia, even those who do not know the world can quickly place themselves in the story unfolding during the events.

Already during the introduction, we get to know the combat system that works in a similar way to the one in the somewhat long-named Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters. Our characters have action and movement points and we have to use them to defeat those who attack them. Full and half covers help a lot, but they are destructible, so a chest or a piece of wall does not provide cover indefinitely. Between the fights, as usual in computer role-playing games, we advance with the help of text descriptions and the answers we think are good. It quickly becomes clear that there are three paths we can take, three approaches we can use during the game. Considering its length, this offers enough entertainment for many months!

The first is the dogmatic one, in which we can apply the slightly (very) heavy-handed solutions of the super-conservative and cruel empire in a slightly (very) Nazi/communist way, such as the execution of a soldier who flees in fear during an unexpected raid(!), or the severe punishment of an astronaut officer who asks an honest question. Kim Jong Un would surely choose this path.

For some reason, the middle way characterized as iconoclastic, i.e. image-destroying, is best suited to our world today, it is a humane approach, but in many cases it still leads to unusually harsh solutions. However, in the 41st millennium, there is little room for a humanitarian approach, so let’s prepare ourselves for the fact that our openness to the powers of the Inquisition and the empire means a suspicious, almost heretical personality.

The third way is that of heretics. It belongs to a person who has long been corrupted by the forbidden fruit, power, wealth, or even pleasure. The one who does not shy away from any means, even the meanest methods and dark deals, to further increase his influence. No, we are not talking about today’s politicians or businessmen, but about traitors allied with the evil forces of the Warhammer 40,000 world, the Archenemy, i.e. Chaos and his vile creatures.

Everyone can decide on the most sympathetic way of solving the situations, problems, and tasks that arise. For example, meeting a rebel group apparently made up of family members and a company of their related prisoners, the iconoclast tries to dissuade the rebels from executing the prisoners, the dogmatist attacks the rebels, while the traitor executes the prisoners with the rebels espousing a suspiciously chaotic ideology. As a result of our actions, our orientation will soon become visible, and there are, for example, equipment that can only be used by those belonging to one of the three directions.

An excellent idea is the solution from the tabletop game, in which our characters endure a certain amount of damage and then collapse unconscious. The innovation of the game is that after the fight is over, they collect various permanent injuries that cannot be cured with the help of medikits, which can only be cured on the spaceship. You can imagine how much a person with a head injury or a fighter with a broken hand can use in a fight. Very little.

Occasionally, the player has to face real-world decisions. Do I have enough time to go up and heal my melee companions, or should I go to the governor first, who will be very offended if I don’t pay my respects to him right away. What is more dangerous: the unknown and apparently damaged ship that approaches but does not respond, or the strange behavior of certain members of the crew that clearly indicates chaos infection?

The Gregorian male choir, supported by modern sound effects, perfectly supports the atmosphere, and the fading and variation of the music is not annoying or disturbing even after long hours of playing.



View from the ship’s bridge: Where to next trader?


After a good week of playing, I’ve covered most of one of the planets in the Koronis system. I defeated a major opponent, got to know a hitherto unknown branch of the Techpriests (Adeptus Mechanicus), repaired my spaceship that had suffered numerous injuries during the adventurous journey, and supplemented my crew that suffered heavy losses. But during my adventures, I mainly had to shine and use my fighting skills. While standing on the bridge of the ship, it happened that the voidship named Fényes Remény, i.e. deep space ship, is indeed the smallest of the vehicles belonging to this category, i.e. a Sword-class frigate, so there must be several ship classes.

During my leveling up, my character belonging to the officer archetype acquired countless abilities with which we successfully fought against a tenfold outnumbered force. Although even professional shooters similar to the warrior nuns (Adepta Sororitas) miss the target infuriatingly many times and even hit their comrades, the game at the beginning clearly consists of “ground” battles. However, the “loot” that can be collected during the missions and its categories, the relationships with the various trading houses, the icons in the upper part of the display showing the ship all indicate that we are not only dealing with the planet Minoris of the Rykard system.

As is typical for cRPGs, affections can develop between the more or less permanent members of our team, and with the addition of a new member, i.e. a navigator that enables travel between solar systems, we can also reach the farthest reaches of the universe.



+ Almost a sandbox 40k game!
+ Board/role-playing atmosphere at its peak
+ Cooperative game mode!


– “Average” 40k story
– A team of fixed characters
– Could have been Jagged Alliance 2 in space with a little effort

Publisher: Owlcat Games

Developer:Owlcat Games

Style: RPG

Release: December 7, 2023.

Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader

Gameplay - 7.4
Graphics - 7.3
Story - 6.2
Music/Audio - 7.2
Ambience - 8.5



After the series of crap released for Android, it was especially refreshing to play with an original and exciting program - moreover, one that I don't often play. Although the story is a bit flat for those familiar with the topic, and the characters are not really unique, the completely 3D rotating tracks and their effects (oh those damned lightning bolts!), the unprecedented freedom all contribute to the excellent gaming experience. Not to mention the replayability from the three approaches. Space adventurers up for conquest!

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