Warhammer 40000 Rogue Trader (PlayStation 5)

Rogue Trader has been a while coming following the Beta earlier in the year, and offers us an RPG set within the Rogue Trader spin-off from the long running Warhammer 40,000 series. For someone like myself that enjoys the world & lore of the 40K universe, an RPG from a veteran like Owlcat Studios should make for the perfect fit. Worthy of the golden throne, or purge with fire like all heresy? Lets find out.

You arrive on the ship of the rogue trader Theodora Von Valancius, a distant relative of yours whose blood is still close enough to see you invited as a potential heir. Not that the Lord Captain is looking to retire just yet, but before anything is decided, all hell breaks loose on the ship as mutiny headed by heretics sweeps the lower decks. In this moment you will show the other heirs and Theodora Von Valancius who will be most suited on taking on the mantle of a rogue trade.

To be fair, if you’re a W40K fan, then something like Rogue Trader is probably what you’ve been waiting a while for. Instead of being the usual strategy etc we have in our midst a full-on RPG. Using the Rogue Trader faction, one of the few to have the autonomy to allow for the choices afforded here, as the narrative is yours to guide through various choices and actions. Folk you meet on your travels and members of your crew will offer up more attempts to further your legacy with side quests, you’ll even have time for some romance, so there’s plenty to do in the name of the emperor – or partake in some heresy if you so desire. Over a hundred hours or so awaits you.

Graphically the game manages to back up the lore well. Characters have a somewhat stylised look which is typical of the genre, but that doesn’t mean things are lacking in detail. Far from it, your ship and most of the areas you’ll visit are packed with little details. There are times when atmosphere is at the forefront, low lighting and smoke/fog make visibility low, but those moments disappear when the fighting starts. The various abilities and weapon fire create a lively palette, with the gore giving the game that visceral edge you would expect of a 40K game.

Audio is also good. There’s a surprising amount of voiced dialogue during the game, tho its mainly the more important characters and situations that get it, with the rest of the soundscape propping up the 40K visuals. Oddly enough Dolby Atmos would flash up when booting the game but it didn’t really sound like that was the case. I guess we should finish here on performance. It doesn’t look to be 4K and can get a little stuttery, even with VRR, when running native, which is where the FSR option would usually come in. Here you can trade a little image stability for better performance, generally looks ok so long as you avoid the lower options (Balanced or below), you can also add in lighting & shadows to be cast from spell effects etc for a minor drop in performance. Thankfully loading is fast, faster than my PC at times, so any cuts between missions and locations is brief.

Most time spent with the game will be exploring the various locations while seeking treasure, crew, and heretics to slay. Your character, as well as your party, is built from one of 4 base archetypes in the game (Officer, Warrior, Operative and Combat) and as always a good balance in your party will be key. The skirmishes are typical of the genre, turn based affairs that rely on imaginary dice rolls to see if you’ve actually done what you needed to like a tabletop game. In practice it plays like Mechanicus or Xcom. Depending on how your character is built will have you prioritising different aspects of the combat. As I went Officer, mainly boosts & supports the party, using cover & building momentum was key. Given the ranged weaponry is more plentiful in 40K, cover plays a key role as it protects from ranged fire (abilities or it being partial/full can effect it too) and can allow for more strategic movement. Momentum was the other key one for Officer, building it up opens up your parties special abilities which can turn the tide of a battle when used properly. These can also be upgraded etc through your character levelling up. This seems relatively simple at first glance with an ability & some stats each rank, but there’s multiple choices to further customise each persons roles.

When not out & about, you’ll be managing your house while poking your nose into others business around the Koronos Expanse. The ship itself can be flown to various worlds or planetary bodies to scan for resources if nothing else, or you can take a look at all manner of interesting curiosities in space vis the map station on the bridge. You can also head to various areas of the ship to speak with the officers and party members under your command, getting to know them a little more or even unlocking some side quests. The few bridge officers all have a part to play, from the High Factorum that deals in your trade business to sell all that loot you procure as well as hiring new comrades, to your Seneschal (First Officer) who will keep you updated and on the correct path. One thing to note, as you would expect of a complex game with branching path, there are some bug. To be honest I can’t say I’ve noticed any that affected the playthrough much during my time, but the game is regularly patched with notes, so its something to be mindful of.

Owlcat Studios takes what they’ve done on their previous games and give it a heavy dose of Warhammer 40000 with a facelift to boot. With an awesome story to guide yourself, a whole system to explore in your own ship, allies to seek, plenty or environments to conquer, and over a hundred hours of heretic purging should you wish, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into with Rogue Trader. The only real blemishes for me is all the patch work post launch to fix bugs (personally never noticed many myself) and the inability to lock up performance on PS5, even when not 4K. Still, its a release that should entice RPG & 40K fans alike and makes for one of the more interesting games for the Warhammer series in some time.



Play loose like a pirate or a vessel of the emperors will less shackled by bureaucracy, or even forgo all that and be a heretic. They’re all your choices to make in this grand adventure.

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.

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