Games Workshop’s Warhammer is one of the most popular franchises in pop culture and as such, the highly acclaimed tabletop game has spawned countless titles of varying quality over the last few decades. A large portion of these games have been pretty forgettable, but every once in a while a title comes along that sticks to memory like an Ork Takbusta to an imperial Leman Russ. With some many Warhammer games out there we figured it would be handy to have a little list containing some of the best the franchise has to offer for gamers who want to get into the action but don’t know where to start. In the interest of being fair and avoid being accused of heresy, we’re including games from both the 40K and Fantasy universes. Without further ado… For The Emprah!!
Space Hulk Ascension
While the series started off a bit on the wrong foot back in 2013, the following year developer Full Control Studios managed to deliver a pretty decent sequel. Space Hulk Ascension is a turn-based tactics game that manages to stay faithful to the source material and offers some pretty interesting moments. The game is very much related to the original title but can be purchased as a standalone and features more Space Marines chapters to play as, including the Ultramarines, Dark Angels, Imperial Fist, and Salamanders along with a number of successor chapters, though some of these are only available via DLC. Overall a decent Warhammer 40K game if you’re into Space Marines and don’t mind the rather claustrophobic setting.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada
Yet another faithful adaptation of the classic Warhammer 40K tabletop game, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada stands out from the crowd thanks to the fact that it allows you to control entire fleets of battleships instead of armies of units. Armada is a visually impressive RTS that does a great job at showcasing the true galactic scale of the Warhammer 40K universe and its constant state of conflict. The game just recently received a new DLC which introduces the Tau Empire into the mix alongside the Orks, Chaos, Eldar, Imperial Guard, and the ever present Space Marines.
Mordheim: City of the Damned
Next up is a 3D turn-based tactical game with RPG elements that takes place in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. Mordheim: City of the Damned is a rather punishing title that allows players to lead their own warbands into glorious battle against other players or the AI. The game lets you control one of four different warbands and offers a fairly solid single-player campaign for each, as well as the option of playing them in skirmish mode. Available warbands include the Imperial Mercenaries, Sisters of Sigmar, Skaven, and Cult of the Damned, along with the Witch Hunters via DLC. For the most part, Mordheim: City of the Damned is more enjoyable if you’re playing 1v1 against a friend, however, the single-player campaigns aren’t too shabby either.
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Unfortunately, Age of Reckoning was shut down a few years back but while it was live it was a pretty damn good MMORPG. The game excelled at PvP combat, with its strongest feature being the Realm vs Realm battles that allowed armies of players to beat each other senseless, albeit with some restrictions. Namely, RvR combat could only take place between two pairs of races, specifically Empire vs Chaos, Dwarfs vs Greenskins, and Elves vs Dark Elves. Still, it was a very interesting system that not many MMORPGs before or after were able to successfully pull off, which is why it’s a shame that Age of Reckoning didn’t receive more attention while it was live.
Blood Bowl 2
If you’re still not convinced that Warhammer games can be found across all genres, know that there is a title out there that combines the said universe with American Football and the end result is somehow not a total disaster. In fact, Blood Bowl 2 is a pretty entertaining TBS/sports game by Cyanide Studios that features equal parts violence and humor along with a good amount of tactical gameplay. The game also offers quite a few teams to choose from right off the bat such as Humans, Skaven, Greenskins or Dark Elves and a few more like the Norse or Undead via DLC. The whole thing is definitely a bit silly, but at the end of the day that’s what makes it so fun.
Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide
An often overlooked little gem by indie developer Fatshark Studios, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide is a first-person online game in the vein of Left 4 Dead, only instead of zombies you get to fight wave after wave of Skaven. The game features the same classic squad-based formula where four players of different classes attempt to fight through the rodent hordes across various maps and reach the end goal without dying, which is easier said that done given how challenging the game gets at times. Unlike similar titles, however, Vermintide features very solid melee and magic-based classes alongside ranged combat.
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II
One of the most popular Warhammer 40K games out there, Dawn of War II combines RTS and RPG elements and is a perfect representation of what the universe is all about. The game offers a compelling storyline and features several playable races, each with their own campaign and fully-fleshed hero units. Unlike its predecessor, Dawn of War II focuses much more on the RPG elements and doesn’t feature any more actual base building, however, that could be seen as a plus for some as the characters are definitely interesting and upgrading various squads throughout the game feels extremely satisfying.
Warhammer 40K: Space Marine
It’s actually a bit unbelievable that a traditional third-person shooter set in the Warhammer 40K universe can actually work and yet, Relic Entertainment somehow pulled it off. Even though you fight against the same types of enemies throughout most of the game and there’s not a whole lot of weapon variety, Space Marine still manages to offer a very engaging experience. This is mostly because it does a great job at conveying how being a badass veteran Ultramarine would feal like in real life, as the ground trembles beneath the weight of your Power Armor and Orks fall one by one like flies to your devastating Chainsword. If you ever fantasized about being an awesome Space Marine – and who hasn’t – this is as good as it gets.
Total War: Warhammer
This has to be one of the most amazing mash-ups to date involving Warhammer and it definitely offers all that was promised and more. Sure, the DRM and DLC policies implemented by publisher Sega are likely to get under your skin, but corporate bs aside, Total War: Warhammer is a very good title and arguably one of the best in the long-running series. Much like other entries in the Total War series, the game is part TBS and part RTS, with city management and unit movement playing out like a turn-based strategy game while combat is done via a real-time strategy system. As a result, the game takes a bit of time to learn and can be quite challenging when played at higher difficulties, but it’s definitely worth sinking many hours into this one and playing as each of the available factions.
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War
It’s no secret that this is seen by many as the absolute best Warhammer 40K game ever made and there’s a very good reason for that. The original Dawn of War is a classic sci-fi real-time strategy game that can give even the almighty Starcraft a run for its money in terms of its single-player experience. From its engaging story to its visceral combat between beautifully animated units and iconic heroes, Dawn of War encompasses all that we love about the over the top violence of the 40K universe. In addition to the original game, Dawn of War also features three very good expansion packs that add even more quality content and eventually shift away the focus from the single-player campaign by adding a meta-map campaign where the ultimate victory goal is to destroy all the opposing factions, of which there are no less than nine by the end of the game. Needless to say, in the 41st millenium there is only war.
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