Before you ask, no this hasn’t been released on PS4, I Phil Dean am actually reviewing a PC title. Huzzah!! Thanks to a delightful contribution from lil Saint Nick and an easy to reach credit card, I can now explore this ‘Steam’ thing and see what it’s all about. As you know I bloody love RPGs, so what better way to kick off 2016 than to dive right into one, but not your usual, run of the mill fantasy role player. No no, I want something more tactical, something that requires strategy and team management. On Facebook it’s all about “New Year, New Me”, well my new year’s resolution is to become a more well respected and influential team leader that doesn’t send his soldiers to an early grave; Empire City seems to be the place to hone my skills.
Mordheim: City of the Damned is the latest PC release from the Warhammer Universe, and the first video game adaptation of Game Workshops cult table top classic Mordheim. Set in the infamous Empire City, you must take control of a chosen warband as you lead them through each neighbourhood, decimating your enemies and pillaging fragments of the recently fallen comet, the mysterious Wyrdstone. Combining elements of both a turn based RPG and a top down strategy board game, players must expertly manage their team of renegades to not only defeat the opposition, but to leave each battle with pockets full of loot and Wyrdstone as fundamentally, that’s what each battle comes down to. Through killing enemies and acquiring the precious space rock, you will rise through the ranks of the damned city and become a force to be reckoned with, but can the same be said about the game itself?
What makes Mordheim such an enjoyable and albeit a very difficult game is that amidst the barrage of enemies and scattered treasures, you can’t allow yourself to forget what your primary goal is. Collect the required Wyrdstone. The game’s campaign mode lets you take control of one of 4 warbands, each of which have their own unique journey, companions and needs, however what each of them have in common is the underlying mission, which is to walk away with as much Wyrdstone as possible. When you begin the campaign you will have 10 days to fulfill a shipment of this new valuable element that you must sell to another faction, and in doing so will gain certain perks and support in the future. You can only attempt one mission per day, so failing to return with anything will prove your raid to be unsuccessful, even if you killed everyone in sight. Failing to fulfill a shipment will deem you and your campaign a failure, so don’t forget what you’re there to retrieve. Despite the demand for an aluminous green space rock, coin still takes the centre stage as you need it to pay for your warbands upkeep … wait I’ve gotta pay wages now? You may not have signed up for it but yes I’m afraid you’re a little more than a commander, more of a line manager that must pay for his squadrons wellbeing, that’s wages, medical bills and equipment for those out of the managerial circuit. So just to summarise, collect wyrdstone to satisfy your rival factions and keep your campaign alive, however you must also scavenge for coin to keep your warband happy and healthy. Mordheim: City of the Damned is by no means a walk in the park, it’s not about being the strongest band of warriors, but the wealthiest. This campaign is unlike any other RPG I’ve ever played as never before have I had to actually think about the men and women I’m sending into battle; I like being emotionally invested in a game but not to the extent of fabricating fictitious backstories to justify paying an outrageous amount of gold for medical attention.
It’s an extensive, in depth and genuinely challenging campaign that rewards hard graft and a tactical mind set, however its frequent unfair difficulty spikes can quickly turn it into a stressful and unnecessarily difficult chore. For the first few ‘days’ you play through you are nicely eased into your mission, a realistic and beatable enemy with an average supply of loot and wyrdstone to collect, but it’s not long before only ‘Brutal’ raids are available that make short work of your low level warriors. You can send out scouts to locate additional missions but I kid you not, every one of them featured highly skilled enemies that wiped the floor with me. Some of them I overcame by sheer luck but the unfair disadvantage makes this a far more difficult game that it should be, especially seeing I was only a couple of hours into it. The game is all about tactical battlefield placements, only attacking when Its necessary and using your time and skills wisely, but you can’t ignore the fact that most of the time you are walking into a losing battle, so I cannot recommend this title to absolute beginners as you’ll be frequently game raging and no doubt claiming the entire raid is a fix!
Mordheim’s campaign mode takes up the bulk of the game, however once you’re confident in your army’s ability you can try your luck in an online skirmish to acquire additional loot and glory. Players can join or create their own mission to undertake against an online opponent for the same benefits as the single player campaign, and just like the single player campaign you can also suffer the same defeat and consequences that come with it. Trying your luck on your custom made battlefield will reap you some wonderful treasures and extra experience, but don’t let it get in the way of your primary goal; If you’re worried about your online reputation, you can also fight against more waves of AI. With the additional online skirmishes, Mordheim features an endless supply of content for you to get stuck into, however there isn’t really any variety amongst each battle and even when you select your own side objectives, you’ll still find yourself doing exactly the same thing that you did before.
Mordheim: City of the Damned is a highly enjoyable and challenging game that teaches its players to think more intelligently and tactically before going into battle. Having to earn coin, loot treasure and defeat your enemies, all whilst scavenging for a valuable space element to appease your vicious warband rivals, Mordheim requires genuine strategy and thought, which is great for a genre which typically asks you to simply kill all those in sight. There may be an unlimited amount of gameplay with the game’s online mode, however with no variation between missions each battle is the same as the last, so it’s not a title you will play for hours on end but certainly one you’ll visit every day. With it’s unfair difficulty spikes so early into the campaign, what started off so well will quickly become a bloody nuisance and a frustrating game to play. Mordheim: City of the Damned is a terrific game that perfectly blends together a dark fantasy role player with a strategic table top board game, a game that has evolved me both as a commander and businessman as well as supplying me with a jolly good way to spend my lunch breaks.