Warhammer games are a bit too common a source of frustration. We look at the Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus Switch version in the hope that it will be better now.
To start with the worst aspect right away: Mechanicus has an unprecedented dry and boring presentation. The game does not look very nice graphically, the intro movie even contains a loading screen in the middle (?!) And the dialogues are rock solid. The latter must be said to be realistic. Mechanicus is all about the Adeptus Mechanicus, a cult that exchanges their carnal body for machines and also worships machines. They sometimes talk like machines like that and you can call this realistic, but that does not make it less dry and simply boring.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is all about a pretty solid gameplay loop that keeps inviting you to play more as you keep unlocking more stuff. How does this work? In Mechanicus you go on missions in a mysterious tomb. During a mission, you can enter different rooms to finally arrive at the end and end it with a big fight. In the meantime, you can find stuff for upgrades and whatever. However, there is not much planning or tactics involved, it is more a matter of “the more rooms you go through, the more likely there are more enemies in the last battle”. It also all happens through a schematic top view, so it’s not an exciting experience.
Such a final battle actually happens through a turn XCOMsystem, but in smaller areas and with less options. This is not necessarily a negative thing as it keeps it a bit shorter and puts less emphasis on specific fighting and more unlocking and continuing the gameplay loop of gear. Fortunately, what makes the system quite unique is the addition of Cognition Points. Actions cost Cognition Points and you must earn these by standing next to certain obelisks or performing actions. This makes positioning your troops quite important. It’s a small thing, but makes the style of the battles unique.
The strongest aspect of Mechanicus is how you can customize your heroes with skill points and all kinds of different objects. You can make all your troops fairly standard, with a pistol and a melee weapon and fairly general abilities that always come in handy. You can also come up with quite niche creations that can be monstrous in certain situations. So you can not give someone a gun at all, but a strong ax that costs three Cognition Points to hit (this is a lot). Then you give him or her all the skills to cover great distances in a single turn and become a monster that devours everyone around him. You can also create heroes that are focused on safely supporting the rest from a distance and so on. After each mission you earn new items that may be interesting for some idea and this makes you want to keep playing to make the ultimate army.
We found it by far the most interesting to play the game with Permadeath. That is, if a unit dies, it is really lost forever. This can be a little harsh and can even lead to a permanent game-over, but without it you play very much for bacon and beans and the upgrades you keep adding don’t feel like a big deal either: it doesn’t matter at all whether you win or lose battles. Permadeath gives you extra thought about every upgrade you choose or every move in a battle and this reinforces the gameplay loop, which is the only really cool thing about the game. So keep that in mind when you turn on Mechanicus begins.
Ultimately it is Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus a game with a very boring presentation, but gameplay that invites you to keep playing. Choose your men, unlock upgrades that allow you to further customize them, and use these adjustments to unlock new upgrades. It is nothing special, but quite entertaining.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.