The Warhammer universe has so much potential. Set over tens of thousands of in-game years with over 30 real-life years of written material, you could grab pretty much any point in the timeline and get a fleshed-out world and interesting story in return. The world in which Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister takes place is one filled with hardship, mystery, and more than just a little conflict. Unfortunately, a little too much of the conflict you're likely to deal with in this will be with the design of Battle Sister itself. While it has many decent points to it that could work well elsewhere, it fails to really deliver the punch it thinks it's making. Where it is a Warhammer, it could have been a war sledgehammer.
Choosing to set a story through the eyes of a sister of battle is a good idea. Playing the role of Ophelia, you are a badass militant believer stamping out heresy wherever you see it. Most of that stamping out involves killing the same handful of enemy types but they're still reasonably fun to mow down by the end of your playtime. It attempts to engage with a story that tugs on the heartstrings at points but rarely gives enough to make you feel anything. After your first mission, you are informed the sister you believed to be dead is, in fact, alive and well. This means very little after the first 20 minutes mostly due to the structure of gameplay.
By the Emperor!
Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister feels much more like an on-rail shooter than most shooters on the quest. Environments often cannot be interacted with and enemies have a very strict pattern to them. You can essentially finish entire battles by simply pointing your gun at the right doorway and waiting for enemies to line up in your sights. Luckily, gunplay (and swordplay) are fun enough to justify the time even if there are some bigger issues. You have an ammo pack on your chest, two holsters on either side of your hip, one behind your back, and a spot for a grenade on the front. You can put any combination of weapons here and use any two at one time. This means lots of flipping around weapons, cool attempts at reloads, and some great dual weapon action. This isn't a new thing to VR shooters but it's still quite satisfying.
Unfortunately, maps are fairly dull, and — despite the fact it generally has you move through single paths at a time — the monotonous backgrounds make it easy to get lost. It becomes hard to immerse yourself when the environments look like a map from a murky PS2 shooter. When you aren't being pulled out figuratively, you might get pulled out literally due to the handful of crashes that playing Battle Sister caused.
These jarring ways of pulling the proverbial rug from under you are a good way of expressing my main grievances with Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister. It doesn't quite fit into any one genre well enough to stand out. Its gunplay is fun and engaging but not different enough to find a space between all the great shooters we already have. Its story takes from some good material but fails to actually materialize into anything greater than a backdrop for the gameplay. The movement systems are far too slow for how quickly enemies pop up. It just generally feels misbalanced.
This lack of balance invades its way into every living moment. For instance, it occasionally attempts some puzzle solving but never really warns you of that beforehand. One panel in the third mission must be shot and then you must take the power from within it. You are not given a single indication to do so and most environments up to this point are almost entirely static. I happened to slice it by chance with a melee weapon but I don't know how long I might have been searching around otherwise. These little inconsistencies permeate the experience.
At its best, this experience is an enjoyable, if a rather forgettable romp. Holding a sword in one hand deflecting bullets whilst shooting with the other stayed enjoyable the entire time, even if the sword swings aren't nearly as satisfying as I had hoped. Some guns (or flamethrowers) deliver a satisfying punch whilst others felt stale and unoriginal. This isn't helped by the wave-based AI systems. You will often defeat all the enemies on the map only for the same amount to appear again, ready to be gunned down. There are only so many waves you can finish before it stops being quite as satisfying.
Okay, maybe calling it borehammer is a little hyperbolic but fundamentally, the design of Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister does very little. It plays it far too safe to be that interesting and has a few too many small issues to justify that lack of risk. It sits in a place too slow for a run and gun game but too quick to give much of a tactical feel. Ultimately, while it does a decent job at providing a shooting experience on the quest, It does almost nothing to stand out among much better alternatives
TechRaptor reviewed Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister on Oculus Quest with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Fun Gun Play
- Dual Wielding System is Satisfying
- Dull Environments
- Nothing New
- Glitches and Crashes
- Gets Rather Tedious