Games Workshop’s Warhammer franchise might not be for everyone, yet it has legions of fans around the world who love it for the tabletop gameplay, the rich lore and the sheer lunacy of the characters. Most iconic are the Space Marines from Warhammer 40k, hulking great supersoldiers who tend to appear in most of the videogames. However, lesser-known are the Sisters of Battle, fierce fighters who use technology and magic to win battles. And it’s their story Pixel Toys has decided to share in this action-packed shooter, Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister.
While this isn’t the first time the Warhammer universe has come to virtual reality (VR) – there was Warhammer: Vermintide VR and The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth – for fans this is going to be the biggest VR adventure yet. Set across worlds and Battle Barges, the story-driven campaign lets you arm-up and tackle opponents however you wish, picking enemies off at range with bullets from your chunky Bolt Pistol or diving into the mix with a Chainsword.
You play as Sister Ophelia, who learns that her long-lost sister whom she presumed was dead is in fact alive, and so begins her journey to reunite. At the same time, there is an endless war to wage, standing in between them are the forces of Chaos, from low-level heretics to Chaos Space Marines, Chaos demons and other, more dangerous foes. You don’t need to really know about Warhammer 40k to get into the storyline but there’s no getting away from the fact that it does cater to fans, who’ll definitely get the most out of the experience.
Along the way, you’ll also encounter and team up with a Sister of Battle with her heavy bolter and a towering 10ft Black Templar Space Marine, both of which aid and occasionally hinder you in battle. Only in VR can you have those awe-inspiring moments of scale, looking up to see this huge armoured supersoldier fighting beside you, it does feel special. Although there were moments when in cover where he’d stomp on through shooting away, pushing anything in his way into the open. That should also give you an idea of how the mindless enemies attack.
Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister is a fairly simple run-and-gun shooter so if an enemy has a gun they’ll just stand and shoot, whilst the ones with swords and other melee weapons will just run in, with little consideration for cover. Those well versed in Warhammer 40k lore will notice Chaos Space Marine variants such as those with jump-packs flying in from above which nicely mixes up the warfare.
Even so, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister with a decent selection of weaponry like those mentioned before, alongside grenade launchers, Lazcannons, Flamers (which have a surprisingly decent reach), Power Swords and grenades. They’re all suitably over-sized and don’t look particularly practical yet they have a weighty feel which makes them entertaining to use. Adding to that arcade feel, there’s no manual reloading, pop the clip out and bring the gun near your belt. This all works in sync with the gory gameplay, easily severing heads with a clean shot. Even removing a cultist’s arm doesn’t stop them from charging in, a credit to their devotion.
Next to the gunplay are three ‘Acts of Faith’, magical powers which can be recharged by killing opponents. The first you’re introduced to is Faith Push and as it sounds can knock back an enemy or move obstacles out the way. Well, it would if there was any consistency to it. Death almost happened on several occasions trying to activate this ability which is gesture-based. The other two, a momentary shield and slow-time were somewhat more consistent. However, in the heat of battle dual-wielding a pair of Bolters the decision to start flailing arms to activate one was barely a consideration.
There were other inconsistencies during the campaign such as horrendous graphical glitching where Chaos Space Marines would be half in a wall, bullet holes would just float in mid-air and held guns would be swapped out for others during loading screens. There also seemed to be loads and loads of empty guns in crates yet no ammo at certain points which always seemed odd.
On the plus side there very plenty of comfort settings. So you could have smooth locomotion or teleportation, snap turning, remove the HUD display for a cleaner view and switch to lefty. Certainly best standing, you could play seated as well.
Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister has some great set piece moments, and the general gameplay is enjoyable throughout. Its action all the way, so there’s not much depth to the experience and no secrets to uncover. Just grab a gun and start blasting, which is no bad thing. Fans of the franchise will certainly get the biggest kick out of playing Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister, for everyone else this is a standard mid-range FPS.