Platform: Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Mordheim: City of the Damned – Console Edition Review
I seem to be in the Warhammer-themed mood, so of course I got my hands on Mordheim: City of the Damned. Mordheim is a tactical-rpg based on the tabletop game of the same name, where you control one of five factions (now with the DLC you can play as Witch Hunters) each of whom have their own abilities, classes and play-styles. The factions include the Sisters of Sigmar, Mercenaries from the Empire, Skaven, Cult of the Possessed and he Witch Hunters with the recently released DLC.
Since the game is a tactical-rpg you’re in control of a small warband with a set amount of units who move about in a turn-based fashion.You’re given the opportunity to improve their warband’s strength by recruiting, leveling, improving and customizing a roster of combatants as well as their equipment. It plays very similar to games like the XCOM series with each of your units taking part in combat and if they fall in battle there’s chances it can lead to a permanent death and that unit can never come back, which emphasizes the player is careful with each of their engagements with the enemy.
That being said the combat in Mordheim doesn’t feel that fluid and straight-forward and at times feels boring and I felt myself waiting to progress to the next mission. However, when you do get the hang of the combat the game does get a little more fun, and taking down enemy units feels super satisfying. I can see the combat turning some people off as there does seem to be some kind of steep learning curve here, but if you can stick it out for the first couple of missions you’ll be good to go. Another downside of the combat in the game is that for most of the time the enemies are incredibly stupid in the fact that they’ll just stand there and let you beat the crap out of them with your units which sort of enforces the boredom factor as you never feel like you’re being challenged during these encounters and the whole “units can stay dead forever” doesn’t really have much of an impact if the enemies you encounter aren’t much of a threat.
The load-times in between missions is also incredibly slow and at times made me want to shut the game off and go to something else, and I even found myself listening to music and watching YouTube videos to pass the time. It’s kind of disheartening having to wait through these load-times only to be greeted by the boring combat and terrible AI.
Enemies and your units alone seem to be able to take a lot of damage and your weapons and attacks never really feel like there’s weight to them. You could probably do more damage throwing spaghetti at your foes than with the weapons you’re given in the game. That being said there’s a lot of really cool things going in with the campaign and ways that your units can be affected throughout their journey in Mordheim.
For example, I play as the Skaven and seeing my units get affected by their injuries permanently is a neat little addition that most of these kind of games don’t do. One of my units fell during battle was only knocked out and survived the events of the battle, but ended up with a permanent hearing problem that would affect him in certain ways with ambushes and what-not, that’s pretty friggin sweet.
The saving grace here in terms of combat is diving into the multiplayer if you’re sick of unintelligent foes who offer no sense of dread. I hadn’t gotten the chance to spend much time on the online component due to not finding many matches but the matches I did find were the stand-outs of my experience with Mordheim and made me have more fun with the combat than I had in the solo part of the game.
If you’re looking for something to go toe-to-toe with XCOM you probably won’t find that in Mordheim but that’s not to say it isn’t worth dipping your toes into. The game does have its positives with the whole unit customization and the lingering effects that can take hold of your units after each battle if you don’t play too smart, but sadly this isn’t much of a worry due to the incredibly stupid AI. It’s still a neat addition and thankfully there are modes for the online portion where these types of things can carry over to your units during offline play in the singleplayer campaigns. Customizing your units and giving them their own stories is one of my favorite parts of the game and is probably what’s going to keep me coming back as well as the new warbands they have the possibilities of introducing.
In the end Mordheim isn’t an awful game, but it’s not great either. It falls somewhere in between and that’s okay. The combat feels meh most of the time (unless you’re playing online), the load times are atrocious, but the customization and vastness of the campaign makes the game worth checking out. Each unit develops into their own character and that’s really cool, and I’d like to see more games take that approach. If you’re into the tabletop version of Mordheim you’ll probably be somewhat into the video game and if you’re a diehard tactical-RPG fan than you may feel right at home here with the game, just don’t go in expecting something like XCOM and you should be fine.
This game definitely has a particular group of people it’s going for and definitely won’t appeal to every gamer. Warhammer Tabletop and Tactical-RPG fans should feel right at home.