Relic And Warhammer 40K Deploy A Tougher Space Marine

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Posted by Brad (3334 posts) -

The caretakers of the Warhammer 40K franchise over at Relic Entertainment are in sort of a tight spot. They've been in charge of producing games based on Games Workshop's vaunted 20-year-old science fantasy series for a while now, but before they got that chance, other developers had already come along and implemented some of 40K's most notable aspects in their own games. How many other popular game franchises can you think of that include some combination of ethereal psionic aliens, swarms of vicious, monstrous aliens, and burly soldiers in thick robotic armor all fighting their way across the galaxy? I bet it's a lot.

But Warhammer 40K can at least make the claim of having originated most of that stuff. Until now, Relic has been representing 40K entirely with the Dawn of War real-time strategy franchise, but now it's bringing the camera angle down to battlefield-level with Warhammer 40K: Space Marine. Publisher THQ announced Space Marine with a short teaser trailer at E3 in 2009, but it's pretty much been radio silence on the project since then--until Drew and I got to head up to Vancouver-based Relic last week and see the game in action for the first time (not to mention some of their crazy tabletop setups).

  
  

Not surprisingly, Relic is designing Space Marine as a cover-based third-person shooter--but the surprising part is, there's no cover system. You can certainly move behind objects in the environment to avoid getting shot up, but don't expect the sort of stop-and-pop, shooting-over-barricades action that you get in your Gears of Wars. Relic says that kind of fearful, methodical approach isn't characteristic of the nine-foot-tall, genetically engineered space marine, who's unflinchingly loyal to the emperor and will stop at nothing to carry out his will. So you don't take cover. You stride into the middle of the fight and start laying waste with your heavy weapons and fancy chainsword.

The game puts you in the role of a member of the Ultramarines, the Imperium's best of the best space marines, as you investigate the occupation of one of the empire's forge planets by 40K's slightly comical green-skinned antagonists, the orks. These forge worlds are where the Imperium's furnaces churn out the machinery and technology of war, so they obviously aren't too keen on their enemies getting access to this kind of stuff.

In the demo I got to see, the orks were already pretty deeply entrenched on the planet's surface, having dug in with towers and other armored positions that the game's bald main character Captain Titus had to fight his way through. The demo also included a rail-shooting sequence where orks with jetpacks were attacking the Ultramarines' dropship, and a fight on a speeding train where the player had to jump on a turret to bring down a ramshackle-looking ork ship. Between those sequences, there was a whole lot of shooting and slashing orks in the face and other sensitive parts. The forge world has the sort of noble, futuristic Roman-looking architecture that I think helps set 40K's version of spacefaring humanity apart from most of the others you see in video games these days.

On the other hand, the shooting in Space Marine looks pretty darn familiar: pull into a tight, over-the-shoulder view when you want to aim and shoot at things. But you'll be able to develop your abilities with the bolters, plasma guns, and other 40K weaponry you find along the way. Relic didn't go into specifics about how this will work, but they did say that the more you use a given weapon, the more you'll be able to do with it. For instance, that plasma gun that initially only fires small blobs of energy can be upgraded so you can charge it up and let loose a devastating blast that will destroy everything in a small area.

That upgradeability goes for melee attacks, too, since you'll start out equipped with the space marines' traditional chainsword and then gain access to a powersword later as well. The melee combat in Space Marine looks deeper than the one-hit-kill attacks you typically spam in Gears of War, since there are actual multi-hit combos at your disposal here (and you'll be able to flesh those combos out, as well). Don't think space marines are above throwing an ork to the ground and giving it the ol' curb stomp, though. Because they aren't.

I have to assume the orks aren't the only thing you'll be fighting in Space Marine, but Relic clammed up as soon as I asked. But how do you make a Warhammer 40K action game and not include some of the other iconic factions from that universe, like the tyranids and the eldar? I assert that you cannot. You also can't make this sort of game without multiplayer, which is confirmed to be in the game, but again, no details on that just yet. Space Marine isn't out until next year, and publishers love to stretch their PR out languidly over a period of month, so we'll certainly be seeing more of the game soon.     
 
 

#1 Posted by Brad (3334 posts) -

The caretakers of the Warhammer 40K franchise over at Relic Entertainment are in sort of a tight spot. They've been in charge of producing games based on Games Workshop's vaunted 20-year-old science fantasy series for a while now, but before they got that chance, other developers had already come along and implemented some of 40K's most notable aspects in their own games. How many other popular game franchises can you think of that include some combination of ethereal psionic aliens, swarms of vicious, monstrous aliens, and burly soldiers in thick robotic armor all fighting their way across the galaxy? I bet it's a lot.

But Warhammer 40K can at least make the claim of having originated most of that stuff. Until now, Relic has been representing 40K entirely with the Dawn of War real-time strategy franchise, but now it's bringing the camera angle down to battlefield-level with Warhammer 40K: Space Marine. Publisher THQ announced Space Marine with a short teaser trailer at E3 in 2009, but it's pretty much been radio silence on the project since then--until Drew and I got to head up to Vancouver-based Relic last week and see the game in action for the first time (not to mention some of their crazy tabletop setups).

  
  

Not surprisingly, Relic is designing Space Marine as a cover-based third-person shooter--but the surprising part is, there's no cover system. You can certainly move behind objects in the environment to avoid getting shot up, but don't expect the sort of stop-and-pop, shooting-over-barricades action that you get in your Gears of Wars. Relic says that kind of fearful, methodical approach isn't characteristic of the nine-foot-tall, genetically engineered space marine, who's unflinchingly loyal to the emperor and will stop at nothing to carry out his will. So you don't take cover. You stride into the middle of the fight and start laying waste with your heavy weapons and fancy chainsword.

The game puts you in the role of a member of the Ultramarines, the Imperium's best of the best space marines, as you investigate the occupation of one of the empire's forge planets by 40K's slightly comical green-skinned antagonists, the orks. These forge worlds are where the Imperium's furnaces churn out the machinery and technology of war, so they obviously aren't too keen on their enemies getting access to this kind of stuff.

In the demo I got to see, the orks were already pretty deeply entrenched on the planet's surface, having dug in with towers and other armored positions that the game's bald main character Captain Titus had to fight his way through. The demo also included a rail-shooting sequence where orks with jetpacks were attacking the Ultramarines' dropship, and a fight on a speeding train where the player had to jump on a turret to bring down a ramshackle-looking ork ship. Between those sequences, there was a whole lot of shooting and slashing orks in the face and other sensitive parts. The forge world has the sort of noble, futuristic Roman-looking architecture that I think helps set 40K's version of spacefaring humanity apart from most of the others you see in video games these days.

On the other hand, the shooting in Space Marine looks pretty darn familiar: pull into a tight, over-the-shoulder view when you want to aim and shoot at things. But you'll be able to develop your abilities with the bolters, plasma guns, and other 40K weaponry you find along the way. Relic didn't go into specifics about how this will work, but they did say that the more you use a given weapon, the more you'll be able to do with it. For instance, that plasma gun that initially only fires small blobs of energy can be upgraded so you can charge it up and let loose a devastating blast that will destroy everything in a small area.

That upgradeability goes for melee attacks, too, since you'll start out equipped with the space marines' traditional chainsword and then gain access to a powersword later as well. The melee combat in Space Marine looks deeper than the one-hit-kill attacks you typically spam in Gears of War, since there are actual multi-hit combos at your disposal here (and you'll be able to flesh those combos out, as well). Don't think space marines are above throwing an ork to the ground and giving it the ol' curb stomp, though. Because they aren't.

I have to assume the orks aren't the only thing you'll be fighting in Space Marine, but Relic clammed up as soon as I asked. But how do you make a Warhammer 40K action game and not include some of the other iconic factions from that universe, like the tyranids and the eldar? I assert that you cannot. You also can't make this sort of game without multiplayer, which is confirmed to be in the game, but again, no details on that just yet. Space Marine isn't out until next year, and publishers love to stretch their PR out languidly over a period of month, so we'll certainly be seeing more of the game soon.     
 
 

#2 Posted by Vinchenzo (6192 posts) -

OK!

#3 Edited by crusader8463 (14429 posts) -

Looks cool, but I wonder what they will do to make it not be repetitive. I could see this game becoming Too Human 40k really easily.

#4 Posted by Bluethunder35 (336 posts) -

Yeah.

#5 Posted by warxsnake (2650 posts) -

ok fine, after this though, get to work on homeworld 3

#6 Posted by Seppli (10250 posts) -

Does NASA already recruit Space Marines?
 
I really want one of them suits!

#7 Posted by sins_of_mosin (1539 posts) -

Looks greats, I'd love some more Warhammer games.

#8 Posted by jakob187 (21763 posts) -

Look at that fancy video editing!

#9 Posted by agge (4 posts) -

He should wear a helmet.

#10 Posted by ThatFrood (3396 posts) -
@agge said:
" He should wear a helmet. "
's exactly what I was thinking.
#11 Posted by Meowshi (2911 posts) -
@agge said:
" He should wear a helmet. "
Because if there's one thing Orcs are known for, it's pinpoint accuracy and headshots.
#12 Posted by Matthew (1914 posts) -
@Brad: That engine didn't look like Unreal 3...custom engine?  Also, last sentence typo.  Over a period of month(s).
#13 Posted by akamu (28 posts) -

It'd be nice to finally see a WH40K shooter that doesn't suck balls. The fact Relic is making it gives me some hope.
Be kinda cool if the multiplayer was a BF1943 type of thing with the Imperial Guard.

#14 Posted by Clembo (341 posts) -
@crusader8463: If it's anything like Dawn of War 2 (and it will be), the unlock system will be very compellingand actually make a difference to the strategy you use to approach combat.
 
They aren't showing a lot because the game is in pre-alpha (at least).  Any which way there should be pleanty of variety in types of weapon you can use.  The Space Marines have by far the best weapons in the universe.
#15 Posted by FunExplosions (5407 posts) -
@akamu said:
" It'd be nice to finally see a WH40K shooter that doesn't suck balls. The fact Relic is making it gives me some hope. Be kinda cool if the multiplayer was a BF1943 type of thing with the Imperial Guard. "
Whoa. That would be cool. Very cool. Although I was seeing some framerate drop in the video when things were getting pretty crazy (minigun shooting at house scene). Hopefully that doesn't limit the multiplayer to just 4 on 4 or something lame like that.
#16 Posted by JJWeatherman (14571 posts) -

Get your ass to Mars....

#17 Edited by Vorbis (2750 posts) -

Video flashes at a monitor which shows a co-operative mode, I wonder if that was meant to be announced that way? not heard of its mention anywhere else.
 
Already said alot on the video page, but it's all looking good.
 

#18 Posted by crusader8463 (14429 posts) -
@Clembo said:

" @crusader8463: If it's anything like Dawn of War 2 (and it will be), the unlock system will be very compellingand actually make a difference to the strategy you use to approach combat.  They aren't showing a lot because the game is in pre-alpha (at least).  Any which way there should be pleanty of variety in types of weapon you can use.  The Space Marines have by far the best weapons in the universe. "

Ya, but I'm still worried about the variety in game play. From the looks of thing's it will be a lot of holding down the fire button then when they get in close do the same handful of insta kills over and over and over. Sure they may have a variety of weapons to make different animations, but it will be the same gameplay with just a different look. After hour four to five of doing that it may start to wear a little thin. 
 
By no means is that me condemning the game, I think it has ton's of potential, but from what they have shown of it so far that's been my big worrying point. Will be keeping my eye on the games development for sure.
#19 Posted by jim_dandy (891 posts) -

@Drew using the camera on the plane: YOU COULD HAVE KILLED EVERYONE.

#20 Posted by g11d (7 posts) -

This looks fantastic, I've always loved the hard hitting world of 40k.

#21 Posted by Hamz (6846 posts) -

All together now....
 

FOR THE EMPEROR!

#22 Posted by TheTallestGnome (11 posts) -

wow you would think canada is always cold,

#23 Posted by buzz_killington (3532 posts) -

Brad, I hate to tell you, but if there is no cover system, the game can't be a cover-based shooter.

#24 Posted by jkz (4062 posts) -
@crusader8463 said:
" @Clembo said:

" @crusader8463: If it's anything like Dawn of War 2 (and it will be), the unlock system will be very compellingand actually make a difference to the strategy you use to approach combat.  They aren't showing a lot because the game is in pre-alpha (at least).  Any which way there should be pleanty of variety in types of weapon you can use.  The Space Marines have by far the best weapons in the universe. "

Ya, but I'm still worried about the variety in game play. From the looks of thing's it will be a lot of holding down the fire button then when they get in close do the same handful of insta kills over and over and over. Sure they may have a variety of weapons to make different animations, but it will be the same gameplay with just a different look. After hour four to five of doing that it may start to wear a little thin.   By no means is that me condemning the game, I think it has ton's of potential, but from what they have shown of it so far that's been my big worrying point. Will be keeping my eye on the games development for sure. "
I agree completely Crusader. It looked fun and, *sigh*, visceral, but there looked to be very little variety in either the Combos or the situations, and the gun-play looked like it lacked the finesse it takes to make things compelling over the long haul. I think there's a lot of potential here, and they certainly have time to expand on the compelling ideas at the game's core, given that they haven't announced a release date, but what I've seen has me a bit worried.
#25 Posted by HadesTimes (827 posts) -

Wow, I'm impressed and slightly disturbed.  Does this mean we will have to wait for the 40K MMO until like 2013?  Cause I wasn't aware that Relic had another team working on that.  Also, why no stuff for their RTS.  I would take another expansion over this any day.  Although I will take this and any of 40K stuff Relic puts out.  I love it!

#26 Posted by BawlZINmotion (714 posts) -

You guys should come back to Vancouver and party it up.

#27 Posted by mazik765 (2316 posts) -

*nerd boner*
 
If done properly this could be the first shooter where I am incredibly interested in the competitive multiplayer. Imagine how awesome it would be if you could level up and buy pieces of armour to customize your unique space marine (like what has been revealed for Halo:Reach). Now imagine several factions from the 40k universe are respresented, such as Ork, Chaos, Eldar (maybe even Tau?) each with their own persistent leveling track?
 
*drools*

#28 Edited by Vao (329 posts) -

Now thats a beard. 
Looking good for a alpha/beta build.  I have high hopes that relic will put out a good game. I loved Company of heros and Dawn of war 2 :P.  
 
On a different note. I like how they have their game boxart and discs are mounted on that wall behind them, reminds me of the music records you always see at recording studios. 

#29 Edited by bybeach (5006 posts) -

I'm interested in this, a SP campaign that delves into the dawn of war mythos. It has a crazy look to it. I only have one objection so far, did all those orks go on starvation diets? Last time I was looking at orks from this 40k/relic universe, they seem more powerful  even bare handed than the heavily armored marines, just my impression, but all these guys look like ork scouts or runts, they are easily missing 300 or so pounds of meat and muscle. Just my mabe naive impression, because all I have done is look at the games in the past, never played tthe games. actually it was a trailer on GS that caught my eye to this.

#30 Posted by steelknight2000 (461 posts) -

Do YOU wanna piece of me, boy?

#31 Posted by Xiemos2 (226 posts) -
@Meowshi said:
" @agge said:
" He should wear a helmet. "
Because if there's one thing Orcs are known for, it's pinpoint accuracy and headshots. "
Orks. *
#32 Posted by CenturionCajun (1461 posts) -
@bybeach:  There are many different ranks of Ork in the Warhammer/Warhammer 40k universes. A lot of the enemies running at the Marine in the video were Gretchin and not full Orks. Those Orks that survive the constant combat and violence of Ork society grow larger and stronger as time passes. The truly massive ones are Nobs and Big 'Uns. They often lead groups of smaller Orks and wear cobbled together Mega Armour.
 
Also, keep in mind that Space Marines are about ten feet tall, massive, and wearing power armor. So, by comparison standard Orks are going to look about the same size or smaller. 
 
Ok, I'm done being a tabletop nerd now.
 
I'm excited to see that this game looks like it's getting the same love and polish that Relic has shown the Dawn of War games. You can also tell that this isn't a 40K fansite because no one has started to complain about the main character being a "Smurf" Ultramarine.
#33 Edited by Coldwired (18 posts) -

I am so looking forward to this! I've been a fan of the 40K franchise since I was a small boy (and now 20 years later, still a boy, only larger, if you ask my girlfriend). I just hope they make it better that the dreaded "Firewarrior" ps2 game from years ago.
"Edit"
Just watching the video, I see they're making quite a big mistake with the Orks (Or I'm nitpicking), but I'm pretty sure they're supposed to be greenblooded... God.. Im such a geek:0)

#34 Posted by Marz (5672 posts) -

damn this looks real good.

#35 Posted by monster9999 (393 posts) -

Wow one province over

#36 Posted by Fjordson (2433 posts) -

My god, this looks amazing. Can't put my finger on what it is exactly, but something about the gunplay and melee combat seems so wonderfully brutal. Can't wait.

#37 Posted by CenturionCajun (1461 posts) -
@Coldwired:  Yes, technically Orks are actually a form of plant life, have green blood, and reproduce with spores. However, just like bolt shells are supposed to be caseless many things in Warhammer lore are ignored or tweaked as necessary for the story at hand.
#38 Posted by Delta_Ass (3282 posts) -

It's a little strange that there won't be any dedicated cover system, considering how Relic's Dawn of War games have placed a lot of emphasis on using terrain for cover. But then again, Transformers: War for Cybertron showed that you could make a great third person shooter without it, so I guess it's no biggie.

Hope there's a dedicated Tyranids section in the campaign, killing Orkz sounds like it'd get boring after a while.

#39 Posted by rocketboot (138 posts) -

That Canadian developer probably thought you a fool, Brad. If you come to Canada in the summer, it's not going to be cold. Vancouver is one of the warmest Canadian cities for that matter.

#40 Posted by Seedofpower (3949 posts) -
@Hamz said:
" All together now....
 

FOR THE EMPEROR!

"

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!

#41 Posted by Matthew (1914 posts) -
@Seedofpower said:
" @Hamz said:
" All together now....
 

FOR THE EMPEROR!

"

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!

"

WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

#42 Posted by Russcat (140 posts) -

I'm be keeping an eye on this game. I like the 40k franchise, but couldn't get into the DoW games. This looks pretty sweet so far, though. 
 
Is this Giant Bomb's first visit to Van? It is one of the largest game development locales in the world, you know :)

#43 Posted by BionicMonster (1032 posts) -

Whoa I totally named my Captain in DoW2 Titus aswell. I guess theres only so many badass Roman names out there.

#44 Posted by SSully (4336 posts) -

I think it looks excellent. It looks like darksiders but with alot more enemies and much more shooting. I cant wait to see more. 

#45 Posted by Domeuhlome (101 posts) -
@Vorbis said:
" Video flashes at a monitor which shows a co-operative mode, I wonder if that was meant to be announced that way? not heard of its mention anywhere else.
 
Already said alot on the video page, but it's all looking good.
 

"
Nice!
#46 Posted by hi_im_rob (209 posts) -

Wow that looks awesome.  Hope you guys had fun in Vancouver.
 
Also, did seeing the Homeworld Discs in the background make anyone else tear up?

#47 Posted by Thumbrunner (133 posts) -

looks promising but every publisher seems to flubb up warhammer...

#48 Posted by Irvandus (2899 posts) -

Yes, Yes, Yes I love the 40k universe and I love 3rd person shooters. On another note it's kind of funny that their rts game has a cover mechanic but their 3rd person shooter does not.

#49 Posted by Nentisys (893 posts) -
@Hamz said:
" All together now....
 

FOR THE EMPEROR!

"
DEATH TO THE FALSE EMPEROR! 

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!

But seriously I love 40k, it is my favorite fictional universe by far. Relic makes amazing games so im confident this is going to be solid. Too bad Ultramarines take the center stage as I think they aren't that interesting, but still jittery to see more.

#50 Posted by insane_shadowblade85 (1536 posts) -

Hey, there's finally more news on this; awesome. I hope it turns out good.

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