Games Workshop's Warhammer universe reaches far and wide. On the one end, you have the fantasy universe with Age of Sigmar and Fantasy Battle, while the other end consists of the hyper-futuristic dystopian Warhammer 40,000 full of Space Marines. Specialist Games, a sub-branch of Games Workshop, has various differently styled games with special rules, such as Blood Bowl, the American football style sport game and Battlefleet Gothic, which focuses largely on spaceship combat. Rogue Factor's previous game, Mordheim: City of the Damned, is based on the skirmish game Mordheim that's set in the fantasy universe, while the upcoming Necromunda game takes the skirmish elements to 40K.
"Necromunda is basically the counterpart in the 40K universe of Mordheim: City of the Damned," says creative director Yves Bordeleau. "In a nutshell Necromunda is a little bit like if you would mix Judge Dredd with Mad Max with Sons of Anarchy."
The background of 1995's table top game Necromunda is very different from the rest of the 40K universe. Where the rest of the universe is based around the conflicts of the Imperium, Forces of Chaos and the Xenos threat, Necromunda focuses on a much smaller scale. The game's setting is the polluted and waste-filled planet Necromunda, and to be more specific, the Underhive: an industrial-themed underground wasteland below the Hive City that is filled with anarchy and gangs of humans fighting against each other. Hive City is one of the main producers of Imperial Guard and Space Marine equipment, and in return they are rewarded massive amounts of food and raw ore, which is what the gangs in the Underhive fight for, as well as scrapping over territory.
Necromunda: Underhive Wars converts the tabletop experience to a much more modern environment. The core game still resembles a Xcom-like turn-based tactical RPG with squad and character building, however turn actions are done far more conventionally with direct control of the characters with the limited action points per turn, with the action resembling that of a third-person shooter. This multiplayer-focused game has been deeply inspired by Starcraft II, with the various playable gangs playing out differently both lore-wise and in terms of strategical gameplay.
One of the board game's major elements, the verticality of the environments, will have a big role in the video game adaptation of it. Necromunda has always been more about firearms and ranged combat rather than close-quarter combat, so verticality is very important. The developers moved to Unreal Engine to fully focus on this aspect, as well as improving upon character actions, such as aiming and sniping.
Personally, we found the setting of Necromunda endearing. Even if you have very little knowledge or exposure to Warhammer universes, it is a setting that quickly grabs your attention. The industrial setting of a tiny, inconsequential hub of a manufacturing planet is something that the developers love to emphasise. It will be interesting to see how these various gangs will play out: reading about them gives a lot of different vibes as to the different play-styles for each gang, and the skill trees will most likely keep them very diversified. All in all, this is a great opportunity for the developer to iterate on the mechanics of Mordheim while still bringing something new to the table, and this could be the next sleeper hit video game based on Warhammer.
Rogue Factor's experiences with Mordheim: City of the Damned will surely prove useful in both development and when it comes to finding an audience. With Mordheim, they had a long early access phase that allowed them to listen to the community feedback and adjust the game for the better, it is quite possible that development on Necromunda will follow a similar path. As Mordheim is currently making its way onto consoles, Necromunda: Underhive Wars is expected to hit both PC and consoles as well, sometime in the future.