Oh god, where do I start with this game? Well, I can start by saying that I haven't played, read or saw anything from the Warhammer 40K universe, have no idea of who the guys you play as in Mechanicus are and I also kinda don't like turn-based strategy games. All of that makes me the perfect guy to review Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus Console Edition, right? Right...
Lucky for you and especially me, Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus has been out on PC for a long time and way better people who know what they are talking about have already reviewed the game. My review will focus on the console experience, how the game feels with a controller, and my unfiltered opinion of what I got from the 10 hours of playtime.
So, in this turn-based strategy game you control a group of space-cyborg-spiderlike-priests fighting against an army of undying-intelligent-space-robot-skeletons who wants to eradicate mankind, you know, the usual stuff. Who your group is, what are these undying skeletons and how does everyone fits into the whole grand scheme of the Warhammer 40K universe, I have no clue whatsoever. What I can tell you is that I really dig the overall presentation of the game from the techno-gothic style of your priests and the egyptian-inspired tombs, dungeons and arenas you fight in to the amazing music, atmosphere and the play with voice acting or better say the contrast between the robotic mumbling of your priests, the "protectors of mankind" and actual robotic voice of the skeletons, the "destroyers of mankind".
That contrast kinda makes you think, doesn't it? Here you are protecting mankind against machines by transforming and augmenting yourself in such ways where you are more machine than human. An interesting premise in itself which also plays out in the customization of your priests. The first few times you see the customization screen you'll get scared as there are many things to see, read and do and it can be too much for some players, it was for me. But the more you intentionally explore this system, the more you understand it and you get familiar with and it's not as scary as before. There's still a lot to go through, don't get me wrong, as you get to equip melee weapons, ranged weapons, support tools and a full set of armor with extra HP and supplemental bonuses for each, all of which are used separately. The next screen is where you unlock skills for each of your priests and again, scary at first more friendly the more you explore it. There are a lot of gear and skills and a lot of synergies you can achieve with many different combinations and I really appreciate this level of customization.
Now as a lazy console game, would I have appreciated an option that automatically did all the work for me and selected the best gear and skills for a specific build? Absolutely, give me that in a future patch. However, and this is the main thing I wanted to talk about in this review, customising your priest's gear and skills works really well with a controller. The same can be said during the turn-based combat, but more on that later.
Navigating the menus, different tabs and selecting the different options feels good with a controller. The devs have clearly spent some time adapting the game to controller input. The same work has gone into the UI of the game where the text, all throughout the game, is big enough to be legible from a distance since you are playing on a TV.
As I said in the intro, I am not a fan of turn-based games, like at all. But I enjoyed my time with Mechanicus as it does some things differently from what other turn-based games do. For example, there's no "you take a shot with a weapon that is right against the enemy head, but you somehow miss" type of bullshit. Here, if you have line of sight you will hit your target 100% of the times and I like that. There's also no cover, for you or your enemies to hide behind and you can move as much as you want during your turn if you can afford it. On each turn, you are granted a set number of Cognition Points, but you can get more during the turn either by walking near statues and downed enemies or you can send out a drone to do that from a distance. You can then use these points to either fire heavy weapons, use supporting tools, run away from danger and even call cannon-fodder allies.
The rest is basically like every other turn-based game. You go in an arena, you fight a variety of enemies and if you take it slow, a counter goes up, more enemies spawn making not just the mission you are in more difficult, but the entire playthrough. Packed into this console edition is also the Heretek DLC, basically the full experience. You can read way more about this from other reviews, especially those for PC as they delve into way more details into the story and gameplay. This review is for the console edition, so how does the turn-based combat feel with a controller?
It feels good. Yes, there's still the first hour or two trying to figure out what button or combination of buttons do what, but once you crack that, you'll feel right at home. Holding the triggers allow you to select which weapon to use, you can quickly snap between targets with the shoulder buttons, move the characters with the analog and execute different actions by pressing or holding down the face buttons. Is the whole experience as easy as using a mouse? Of course not, but what is? It just works.
As for the performance, I played the game on a PS4 Pro and I experienced some light frame drops and pacing, but that can be fixed with a patch. While the UI looked great on a 4K TV, the 3D assets kinda looked blurry as you can see in one of the screenshots above. I don't know if that is caused by heavy use of motion blur or depth of field, but it didn't look as crisp as I was expecting it to be so keep that in mind if you're playing on a 4K screen.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus on consoles is a really enjoyable experience that works great with a controller and if you are a fan of the game's universe or turn-based games in general, then this will definitely please you. But for casual gamers, it's kinda tough for me to recommend it to you. Thanks for reading!
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. This review is based on my experience playing the game on a PS4 Pro using a code provided by the publisher.