A historically based game centered around naval battles and the grimdark science-fiction universe of Warhammer 40,000 might not seem to be a natural collaboration, but Wargaming has announced that the Imperium of Man will be coming to World of Warships in collaboration with Games Workshop.
This collaboration will have themed ship skins, commanders, camouflages, and more—all based on the Imperium of Man and Chaos factions from Warhammer 40,000.
With this coming up, we talked with World of Warships executive producer Philip Molodkovets about the collaboration, how it came to be, and what players can expect from it.
TR: What were the key elements to capturing the Warhammer 40,000 IP in the various elements coming to World of Warships? What was the most important aspect to capture?
Molodkovets: Well, you always know Warhammer 40,000 when you see it. Their epic, brutal and pronounced style is very recognizable, and while people sometimes joke that Warhammer is a lot of skulls everywhere, there is so much more to it. The gothic splendor and sense of power are probably the most important elements we wanted to relay from war machines and space ships of the distant future to our beloved warships.
TR: What concerns were there with bringing the sci-fi technology into a historical/modern military simulation and impacting player's experiences in a way that is much more fictitious?
Molodkovets: To be fair, there were nearly none. First of all, the World of Warships franchise has a long and successful history of various collaborations. We know how to bring fictional content to the game without hurting the historical aspect or distracting the players who want to keep it standard—in fact, we have a flexible system of filters that our players can use to customize their visual experience. If, for some reason, you don’t like a particular collaboration, you can just turn it off, and all the respective content will be visually replaced by the standard for you. Second, a significant part of our audience loves wargames, not necessarily historical, and obviously Warhammer 40,000 appeals to a lot of our players. And finally, our collaboration brings the unique visual style to the game, but it does not alter the gameplay. So it’s a win-win—those who are interested in this universe, will have an amazing opportunity to experience a part of it in our game, and those who don’t want it will hardly notice anything.
TR: While World of Warships attempts largely to be more grounded, were there concerns that the tone and over-the-top designs of Warhammer 40k may not fit?
Molodkovets: In a way, that’s the purpose—to bring something that normally, from the first sight, would not fit. It gives our players fresh impressions, and we’re happy to spice up the game visual experience once in a while. As our previous collaborations taught us, if it’s optional content done professionally and with love, it will always find the way to people’s hearts, even if it has too little to do with the naval battles of 20th century.
TR: How did the whole collaboration begin? Did Wargaming approach Games Workshop or vice versa?
Molodkovets: Wargaming and Games Workshop have been friends for a while, which is no surprise with the amount of Warhammer 40K fans in our team. A collaboration between the IP and World of Warships franchise is a very natural next step for both sides, especially after the success of previous collaborations with other Wargaming titles, and we’re excited to bring this to life.
TR: What was the team's general feeling on finding out they were working with Games Workshop with the Warhammer 40k IP? How involved were Games Workshop?
Molodkovets: Games Workshop team has been very supportive and helpful, and their input was especially important to get all the small details and nuances right. While working with them, we’ve learned a lot not just about Warhammer 40,000 universe, but also about how much attention is given to the detail of different characters, factions, and machines. As for our team, we have quite a few Warhammer 40,000 fans here. To say they were excited would be an understatement. Oh and I’m nearly done painting my Prosecutors from Age of Sigmar; next up I will start painting Deathwatch Killteam from Warhammer 40,000—a box my colleague gave me as a gift. It’s a good hobby to have in work-from-home situation.
TR: Did the team attempt to bring the various alien races such as the Tao and Orks to commander spots, or just keep to the Imperium of Man and Chaos? What about ships? Do we have an Ork Camouflage that only works because the crew believes it?
Molodkovets: While we’re still full of different crazy ideas, and definitely dig your Ork suggestion, with our collaborations we prefer a step-by-step approach. We’ve chosen something most recognizable—the idea of Imperium of Man versus Chaos makes sense as the first attempt and it gives a whole nice visual experience. We will see how it goes and consider exploring more options with our partners—and there are many of them given how huge Warhammer 40,000 is.
TR: On designing the ship skins, what vehicles from Warhammer 40k did you look at converting? Were there any particular areas or types of designs that you avoided?
Molodkovets: There is one obvious main reference we happily used—the space ships of Warhammer 40,000. Their layout and design fits naval warships very well, both stylistically and logically. We carefully studied the topic, and drew inspiration from other parts of the universe. There was no one particular vehicle our concept artist used, but what really helped us is the tight cooperation with Games Workshop who helped us with ideas and helped us to shape the pronounced Warhammer 40,000 style, while maintaining the spirit of naval warfare.
TR: Were there any particular stories or eras of Warhammer 40k that you looked to for inspiration?
Molodkovets: It’s hard to tell because of how we approached the collaboration in the first place. Thing is, this universe is an inspiration to many talented people, and we have a lot of hardcore Warhammer 40,000 fans in the studio. Some of them paint the minis and play, some of them read the books, there are even people who continuously do Warhammer-themed roleplay sessions and quite a few of us used to spend dozens of hours playing Dawn of War. So, we organized several most engaged team members into a special work group, and with their lore knowledge, experience, and immersion, they were able to create the narrative for the collaboration. Working on it was very rewarding for the team, as it really spiced up their work and allowed some people to do very unusual kind of tasks. So, it’s a labor of true love, personal input, and passion—both for video games and tabletop gaming, for naval history and Warhammer.
TR: How was work on this collaboration impacted by COVID-19 and the various work at home orders?
Molodkovets: Pretty much the same as it impacted our whole operations. We’ve managed to transfer to work from home early in order to ensure the best safety for our team, while keeping the game fully supported for our players. Of course for several hundred people working on a live product in several countries, it was a huge challenge. Everyone has to deal with it nowadays, so we can’t complain—we actually achieved good results, and despite some technical and logistical difficulties, we’re very happy to launch this collaboration now and other game content in the future. We believe it is very important to provide quality entertainment to our players, and especially now, when they have to deal with isolation and distancing.
I'd like to thank Molodkovets for taking the time to chat with us about this collaboration, and if you're interested in historical war games, multiplayer action, or the grimdark universe of Warhammer 40,000, you can check out World of Warships.