We recently had the opportunity to meet with Canadian studio Rogue Factor (which previously developed turn-based fantasy title Mordheim: City of the Damned) to present Necromunda: Underhive Wars, a turn-based strategy game inspired by the eponymous board game that itself is set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The game is currently at the beginning of its development process, so it'll have to undergo a lot of iteration and polish before it's ready for release, and although a story mode is planned, as you'd expect, we were only shown the PvP mode.
The latter had two teams of four characters fighting on a rather large map, and in keeping with the tabletop game it's based on, there's a lot of verticality at play here. Only two factions are included in the roster for the moment, and these are the Escher, a gang of agile and savage space amazons, and the Goliath, bloodthirsty bulked out mercenaries. Other factions will be integrated as development goes on, but Astrid Rosemarin, who introduced us to the game alongside Elliot Jones (respectively the studio's communication chief and assistant manager), didn't want to tell us more about future factions. If you know the game, you'll at least have an idea as to their options.
Each faction has the same type of characters, each with their own styles and abilities. The Saboteur can, as the name suggests, interfere with elements of the scenery and set traps, but the Dead Eye will allow you to wander more freely with its grappler (once again taking advantage of the vertical map). The Heavy Fighter, however, will be a powerful DPS with powerful and devastating weapons. What's more is you'll be able to personalise each character, whether that's the equipment they use, their physical shape, and even their stats. It's up to you to make the most of your team by balancing it as you please, which should come as second nature to those already playing squad-based tactics games such as this.
To start with you must place your characters on several points of the map, and once your positioning is complete you'll have to move your characters in turn. Each move, as well as each ability, will cost you points, so keep an eye on the energy bar. What makes this strategy game stand out though is how it alternates between real-time and turn-based. Indeed, both players can look around the level at the same time and move as they see fit, but turn-by-turn is triggered when one of the players decides to attack another or when two opponents are nearby, at which point each can move and/or attack.
That's about all that's been revealed to us for now, but since the game was announced just over a year ago, development is still in its relative infancy. The developers have chosen not to say too much because many things are likely to change, however, the true ambition of the studio is to offer a tactical game that alternates between real-time action and turn-based strategy. If the mix is successful, then what Rogue Factor is potentially offering is promising. That said, if they don't find the right mix then this Necromunda adaptation could also suffer from a real pacing issue. Let's give the studio a while longer to find the right balance, but we can certainly get behind their collective desire to refresh some of the ideas the characterise this aging genre.