Eternal Spamming of the Melee Button
HIGH Fleeting moments of taking part in a grand Warhammer battle.
LOW A horde of mechanical and technical issues keep it from greatness.
WTF Seriously, the melee button in a shooter should not be this good.
Even with several shooters releasing every year, one particular demographic has been consistently disappointed by offerings on the market — Warhammer 40,000 fans. A massively multiplayer shooter set in this universe is a no-brainer, and has been promised continually since 2010 in the form of various failed projects.
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade, an online third-person shooter from Canadian upstart Behaviour Interactive, aspires to be that game. It very well could be the shooter that fans have been waiting for but, as of now, it’s yet another early access game that was released unfinished.
After creating a character, a quick tutorial introduced me to the boilerplate third-person shooting mechanics and I hopped in to a match, eager to recreate the grandiosity of the tabletop battles I played in Jr. High School. Sadly, technical and mechanical issues at almost every turn kept good feelings limited to a few small instances in my playtime.
Eternal Crusade’s biggest sin is the mountain of shoddy mechanics and bugs that led to a complete inability to maintain situational awareness during battle. Flat lighting on the drab maps makes the proceedings incredibly dark, especially at the vital control points that are always in a cramped indoor space. Once battles reach a certain size, sounds of footsteps and gunfire will stop playing. Yes, I’m serious — seeing or hearing enemies is not a guarantee.
Lag is constant, and watching allies and enemies teleport around the battlefield became commonplace after a few matches. Victory or defeat, any outcome felt not like something I had earned but rather, something that just happened.
Putting technical issues aside, there are plenty of balance issues that are also concerning for the longevity of Eternal Crusade’s community. Namely, any form of melee attack is so stupidly overpowered that any loadout that excludes a sword or knife is a death wish. In a large-scale shooter filled with a bevy of weapons and vehicles, I never saw a more consistently successful strategy than running into a crowded room with a sword and mashing the melee button.
After falling victim to this several times, I tried it out for myself and couldn’t believe how quickly I could rack up kills with a few teammates doing the same thing. It’s a little humorous, but also depressing knowing the wide array of weapons and vehicles in the Warhammer 40,000 lore that are completely passed over due to a completely unbalanced game. The imbalance extends to the different playable races where, despite playing roughly the same, some equivalent abilities between races are much more powerful than others.
After having said all that, if I had the authority to revoke Eternal Crusade’s “finished” status and kick it back into Early Access, there would be a lot to be excited about — the persistent world map players fight over is largely window dressing at this point, but could be developed so that each individual feels like part of a larger whole. The horde mode equivalent could become a more interesting diversion from the main modes.
The frequent updates from the developer offer at least a glimmer of hope that the game could live up to the immense promise of a Warhammer 40,000 shooter, but it’s not there yet.
Currently, even a group of friends who are Warhammer 40,000 enthusiasts won’t find much to enjoy with Eternal Crusade. The game is a technical and mechanical mess, with unbalanced combat that’s neither intense nor rewarding. At this point fans should continue watching Behaviour Interactive’s blog posts with bated breath, hoping that the long-promised Warhammer 40k shooter will finally come to fruition. Someday.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Behaviour Interactive and published by Bandai Namco. It is currently available on PC, Mac, and Linux. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. 8 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes. There are no single player modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains violence and blood. Battles can get graphic as players can execute another player that is lying on the ground with a gruesome animation.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Some incidental dialogue is subtitled, but nothing else.
Remappable Controls: Controls are fully remappable.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.