In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only VR.
This week marked the launch of Warhammer 40,000’s first original VR game, Warhammer 40K: Battle Sister on the Oculus Quest/Quest 2. What began as a tabletop wargame has over the past several decades expanded into a massive fictional universe composed of numerous graphic novels, comic books, and video games. Now, players have the chance to immerse themselves even deeper into this incredibly violent universe using the power of VR.
Warhammer 40K: Battle Sister places you in the tall boots of Sister Ophelia, a battle-hardened member of the Sisters of Battle (Adeptus Sosroitas), an all-female faction fighting on behalf of the Imperium of Man, aka humanity itself. While battling the forces of Chaos across a war-torn planet, Ophelia receives word that her own sister, whom she presumed dead, is alive. What follows is a fast-paced, planet-hopping adventure that has you teaming up with multiple allies to uncover the secrets surrounding your sisters disappearance, all-the-while mowing down waves of Chaotic forces using an arsenal of savage weaponry.
As a piece of Warhammer 40K fiction, Battle Sister succeeds in delivering an engaging narrative experience chock full of fan service. Following the story of Ophelia offers fans a fresh perspective on the 33-year-old universe, as does your galaxy-spanning mission to uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding your sisters “death.” Along the way you’ll fight alongside a variety of allies from various human factions, including your fellow Battle Sisters as well as a towering Black Templar Space Marine. Standing alongside a Space Marine in VR feels absolutely surreal, as does going toe-to-toe with massive alien creatures. Battle Sister features big set pieces and plenty of climactic encounters.
Each mission in your gruesome journey offers new environments to traverse, enemies to eviscerate, and objectives to complete as you shoot and slice your way deeper into the heart of darkness. While the mission to find Ophelia’s sister presents new-comers to the 40K universe with an easy-to-grasp plot, the true magic comes in the form of in-game references to the existing Warhammer universe. Those familiar with the 40K will be on the edge of their seats (play spaces?) as they’re introduced to new events, characters, and locations throughout the roughly four hour campaign.
As a veteran Sister of Battle, your character has access to a variety of powerful weaponry as well as special “Acts of Faith.” This includes everything from classic lazguns and Bolters to powerful Flamers, grenades, axes, and—of course—chainswords. While the gunplay and melee combat felt a bit clunky at times, raining fire down upon 10-foot Chaos Marines and slicing through hordes of xenos threats felt immensely satisfying in VR. Enemies don’t just die upon contact with bullets; they explode. Skilled swordsmen can even slice off specific limbs and decapitate their enemies. Dual-wielding weapons allows you to remain on the offensive and defensive simultaneously, blocking incoming fire with your power sword while at the same time laying down fire with your Astartes Grenade Launcher.
In addition to your arsenal of xenos-killing weaponry, you’ll also unlock special “Acts of Faith” powered by your overwhelming belief in the Emperor of Mankind. Performing different gestures with your motion controllers allows you to push enemies and objects, slow time, and generate a protective shield. You’ll need these powers to overcome not only enemies, but various environmental obstructions as well, from blocked doorways to deadly floor hazards. Unfortunately, the addition of these Acts of Faith feel like more of an afterthought than a core genuine game mechanic, almost as if the creators felt obligated to include some form of “super power” gameplay based on Warhammer lore. Still, you’ll have an absolute blast slowing down time and carefully decapitating enemies one by one with your Bolter.
It’s clear after playing the game that Warhammer 40K Battle Sister was somewhat of a passion project for developer Pixel Toys. Everything from look and size of the Adeptus Astartis to the sound and feel of a Bolter feels spot on. For fans of the 40K universe, Battle Sister marks yet another noteworthy addition to Warhammer universe. Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with 40K lore may encounter a more lackluster experience. While Battle Sister’s compressed plot features plenty to love, the campaign is far more engaging when you’re able to recognize the many references to Warhammer lore scattered throughout. Gunplay is a bit of a mixed bag, though the high level of gore and decapitation was a welcomed surprise. At the end of the day, I can’t help but wonder how this game would have progressed had it been released on PC VR headsets.
Long story short, Warhammer 40K Battle Sister offers an over-the-top joyride through a war-torn hellscape unlike anything you’ve seen on Oculus Quest. Despite its rough visuals and average gunplay, Warhammer’s first original VR game offers a genuinely-entertaining VR shooter experience guaranteed to put a smile on the most critical Warhammer fan; well, maybe not the most. Whether you’re a die-hard Warhammer fanatic, or just a lover of old-school narrative-based shooters, Battle Sister is a must-try.
Warhammer 40K Battle Sister is available now on the Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 for $29.99.
Image Credit: Pixel Toys