PREVIEW: Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor: Martyr – Part I

Meet my assassin, Carla Bronson. She likes long walks down gothic space hulks, carving skulls with her sword, and shooting anything that moves. Sexy!

UPDATE: Along with today’s EA release a massive 2.8GB update followed for those where alpha testers. There are now more mission types, co-op and multiplayer options, and numerous performance enhancements. It does not change the potential and good things we have already seen. On the contrary, we plan on writing another article covering the new online aspects and other new features in our next upcoming article.

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr enters Steam’s Early Access today. After spending time with the alpha build leading up to this release, we cannot wait for the next steps in this game’s development. However, while there is already much to try out it is but a meager appetizer for ARPG and Warhammer 40k fans alike. Inquisitor’s main courses, like the persistent single player campaigns, should satiate even the hungriest of ARPG fans when complete.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing and Deathtrap, are prominent bullet points on NeoCore’s resume. They have a reputation of refining their titles well after release. This led to the much improved Deathtrap edition that was picked as one of our best games of 2015. Don’t assume Inquisitor Martyr will be Van Helsing with a space backdrop and Gothic architecture. Compared to its predecessors, there are improvements behind every UI screen, more options for online play, and worldwide social aspects that will drive the story along – while still retaining proven gameplay concepts fans have come to expect.

Inquisitor captures everything you’ve come to expect from the W40K universe. From its distinct architecture, down to it’s unique character archetypes.

The Warhammer 40,000 universe is both grim military saga, and bleak fantasy. Human kind has spread across the galaxy unified under one God-Emperor, whom they piously follow with unyielding devotion. Unfortunately, the Empire has been locked in a constant war with other galactic factions. Compounding humanity’s issues, there is a cancer spreading through the Empire, the corrupt and mind-controlling powers of the Chaos cult. This is where you come in. You play the role of Inquisitor, an elite special agent, sent out by the Emperor himself to root out Chaos heretics and any other subversive elements.

Players have the option of choosing from three classes of Inquisitor (although only two were available to play in the alpha build). There is the Crusader, a juggernaut, proficient at soaking up and dishing out damage. Assassins are nimble attack specialists, preferring to stay in the shadows and dealing critical strike damage. The last class, the Psyker, was not available to play; but will likely be comparable to typical fantasy game mages, focusing more on wide area damage abilities. These classes can be fine tuned by selecting an expertise. These specializations will change not only your weapons of choice, but starting inventory to match.

Character information screens are replete with numbers that explain how awesome you are going to kick ass… yes I have a serious problem coming up with character names.
Each skill category has a dozen upgrades, but through completing deeds and leveling up other categories can be unlocked and invested in.

The bridge of your starship is the center of operations. There is substantial amount of customization options already in place, impressive for a game still in early alpha. Refining your characters into just the right kind of killing machine is almost its own game. There is a new twist involving combat abilities. Abilities are based on the equipped weapon and main armor suit. Its worth reading up on your abilities with each weapon or armor switch before heading into battle.

You wouldn’t hurt a lady would you? What about one with glasses?
Every once in a while the only anus getting pummeled is yours. Getting suppressed means you are susceptible to knockdown and stun effects. So my advice to you would be to run like hell.

Once you’ve settled with your new character, its time for Inquisitors to do what they do best: gib the snot out of everything. Oh and gib you will. Marching bands of corrupted chaos underlings eviscerate into pools of blood, guts, and broken implants. Giant behemoths explode into noxious plops of green glop. At the center, your Inquisitor dealing lead like a Vegas card dealer. There is a new option to hide behind cover for more protection, which is nice. But most structures, including columns and some walls, are destructible. So if you don’t remain mobile, prepare for a new life as a gooey splotch on the ground.

Even though this is very early alpha, there are impressive effects on display (like this time distortion effect) that really enhance the chaotic combat sequences.

Inquisitor’s challenges ARPG veterans with improved enemy AI. Enemies patrol hallways instead of milling in one spot. When attacked they’ll split into a coordinated counter-offensive. Melee enemies try to flank you behind cover, while snipers group up behind cover and take shots at you. While the stronger commander summons more enemies or tosses AOE abilities to keep you pinned. Your favorite kiting tactics may not work in Inquisitor. Doors that cave in preventing escape, teleportation gates that bring in more enemies, rooms that flood with poisonous gases, and other devices are nasty to deal with. You’ll ask the Emperor for a raise after a few of these missions.

There will be numerous planetary types, space stations, castles, and more to explore, this one is obviously the poop filled Willie Wonka dream sequence world.

As mentioned, while Neocore estimates the game is 60-70% complete, this isn’t even the tip of skull-headed Imperial mace my friends. Inquisitor’s storyline is intended to be an evolving animal all its own, as the game itself is a persistent open world sandbox similar to games like Path of Exile, and that portion isn’t ready for showing. The intended campaign will morph and change with time. Global milestone events will appear on the Starmap from time to time. These key events require players to chose sides, thus the player community will shift galactic events based on the popular choice taken. How exactly will this work? Only time will tell, but early access players will not only help shape how the campaign develops but starting ownership of what will be a collective narrative.

Inquisitor Martyr is already flashing the potential to be Neocore’s best ARPG release to date.  We haven’t even discussed co-operative play, multiplayer, and the game’s version of clans known as “Cabals” (complete with their own skill tree). These features will be discussed in further detail in the next part of our preview. For now, the development of Martyr’s persistent online aspects will be pivotal in determining if this game is “just another ARPG” or “one of the best games of 2018”.  Neocore is no stranger to melding two genre concepts into a unique experience, as Deathtrap has shown. Marrying persistent universe choices with the more intimate story telling of single player game could be genre defining, if done right. It would make Inquisitor players fundamentally united as “we” play “our” game, deciding the fate of factions together could be a bold refreshing way of approaching a timeworn genre.

Steam Early Access