Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader – Yes, Lord Captain

Welcome to the 41st Millenium, Trader! Do you like war? No? Well that’s too bad because there’s a LOT of it.

Okay, first things first, I am utterly and unapologetically enthusiastic about the universe of Warhammer 40,000. I think it’s an absolutely bonkers setting full of dynamic characters, locations and stories that cater to practically anything you could think of. I’d long since held the opinion that for all of their amazing positives, a lot of the games set in Warhammer 40,000 don’t take advantage of the opportunities that a roleplaying game might.

No longer! Owlcat Games have delivered something of a masterpiece with Rogue Trader, and I couldn’t be happier to say that the wait paid off. There finally exists a game that grabs the setting and takes full advantage of its uniqueness, with all that entails. Don’t worry, I know what you might be thinking. Warhammer 40,000? I’ve never heard of it! Which, dear reader, allow me to summarise for you as best I can.

Warhammer 40,000: An Intimidating Setting

Warhammer 40,000 is a sci-fi setting that has been going strong since the late 1980s, one that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down by any means. In it, humankind has mastered space travel and populated our galaxy as the tyrannical Imperium of Man. We’re not too fond of anyone or anything that isn’t from the Imperium though, so the galaxy’s not quite all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a reason why the tagline for the setting is “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.” But why is it called Rogue Trader?


Well, to give you the absolute shortest version possible, in this universe, the name comes from a title given to a high-ranking noble that’s been given an incredibly powerful piece of paper known as a Warrant of Trade, which pretty much grants you the right to go off and explore the unknown regions of space for mankind.

Oh, it also means you can do what you want as you have the acting authority of nearly the Emperor of Mankind himself (In most cases). So what sets Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader apart from most CRPGs? Well, if I hadn’t already mentioned it quite enough already, the setting in large part is a colossal draw. You begin the game as the heir of a notable Rogue Trader, being able to create your own character that is brought on board the Von Valancius flagship to meet the ruler of said dynasty. The character customisation is something that I could prattle on for ages about, but for now, know that anything that you choose does not impact the story in any way, the introduction is catered to every character type.

I’ll say that Owlcat Games have done an admirable job at making a game that manages to streamline every single piece of important lore and information that a new player to the setting might need to know in order to get going in the game, with a streamlined introduction that serves as your jump into the 41st millennium. Despite the fact I know a lot already, I found the opening hour of gameplay extremely well designed and explained, something I was worried about before jumping in.

A Serviceable Story

So how does the story play out? Well, seeing as I’m only on Act 3, I can’t give you the whole scoop. I can, however, tell you that what I’ve experienced so far has been pretty engaging, with a main story that sees you rising in fame and fortune as you secure your place in your noble house. There are a multitude of side quests, companion quests and other hidden bits and pieces that you can engage with over the course of the game, as each location offers rewards for exploration and wandering.


The first hour or so of gameplay sets you up as the larger protagonist of the story and while I’ll do my best to skirt around spoilers here and there, I can’t guarantee that I won’t let a few ones slip through the cracks. You’ll be introduced to your new flagship, your crew and a select number of the eccentric companions that you’ll have joining you on your journey as a Rogue Trader in the 40K universe. The game does its best to introduce the combat to you and how your chosen archetype works in the flow of combat.

Fighting like a Rogue Trader

Speaking of combat, Rogue Trader is a CRPG, which means you’ll be doing a lot of strategising, reading and understanding debuffs and buffs as well as tutting as you realise certain enemy characters get to go before your turn and wipe out a party member before you can so much as raise a finger against them. Those who are familiar with the turn-based party combat will feel at home here – there’s nothing major added here. The introduction of class abilities and archetype options offer a range of differing strategies for players to mix and match for each engagement though!


You’ll find that during your time as the Lord Captain, you’ll end up picking party members based on their unique abilities and classes, making sure that you choose members that compliment one another and are able to tackle (most) situations that you end up strolling yourself into without so much of a care. I often found myself going for builds that meant I could buff the everloving Emperor out of my tank and run him into a room, whilst being able to chip away at unaware stragglers with DPS characters.

Social Trader

Did I say party members? I sure did! During your tenure as the commander of your vessel you’ll end up in the care of an absolutely diverse range of characters from across the 40K universe. Each of whom has their own unique personalities, beliefs and abilities that you’ll be able to learn more from as you progress, either by having one-on-one conversations with them or by learning more through reading wiki pages and character biographies.


I won’t tell you who the best one is as I think this opinion is pretty construed (It’s Abelard), though I will say that you’ll enjoy your time with your crew of misfits. The best part for me is that each of them have their own unique role on the battlefield, so you might end up picking a character for their lore or personality and then end up being pleasantly surprised when they end up being a useful aid during a particularly tense engagement.

One thing to note is that while the companions can be voiced during pivotal moments and important one-on-one conversations, players should be prepared for a lot of dialogue being delivered through the good old written word. Now personally, I didn’t have a problem with this as it’s not a big deal for me. However, I do know that there are those out there that might prefer a voice-acted experience, which is fine! I would be aware of this going in however as it may be a dealbreaker for you.

Hard to Starboard!https://cdn.cloudflare.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/2186680/ss_f45a57797a8dd90ab374150a313c012077e7abe3.jpg

Now, this wouldn’t be an Owlcat game without a minigame inside of a larger game. Unbeknownst to myself, this title features voidship combat which I was delighted to find out. In essence, think Master and Commander meets Star Wars. Your flagship can be upgraded and decked out to fight enemy vessels in the cold hard reaches of space, being buffed and supported by character abilities in close calls. I thoroughly enjoyed these segments as I was able to live out my fantasy of sitting on a starship bridge and yell at peons to make a hard to starboard, personally.

A Lord Captain’s Annoyances

There were a few points of frustration for me during my growing time with Rogue Trader which I feel like I should point out, though nothing that I mention is something that in my opinion should hinder your enjoyment of the game overall. First off, you’re going to have to get used to saving. Like, a lot of saving. You may think I’m kidding, but would a man that knows the pain of losing nearly an hour and a half of progress because he overestimated his ability in a fight tell the truth? I don’t know, I’ll let you figure that one out.


Another slight issue I had was not being able to view the kind of engagements I was roping myself into whenever I got into a space battle. Whether there’s an upgrade that lets you do this later into the game I do not know, though I found it kind of annoying getting myself into an unwinnable space bout and not being able to retreat, instead being forced to go back to a previous save (building off of what I told you earlier).

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, Warhammer 40,000 is BIG. It’s a very, very intimidating setting to get into, and while I will tell you that Owlcat have done a massively commendable job at getting new players up to speed with the lore as best they can, new players might feel a little bit lost at times in the game. Now this isn’t necessarily the fault of the game by any means, I just felt it would be important to let someone that has no experience with the setting know what they’re getting themself into beforehand.


There’s still so much more for me to discover in the vast unknown of Owlcat Games’ Warhammer 40:000 Rogue Trader, and I personally am incredibly excited to continue my adventures as the Lord Captain. Is the game perfect? No, but I don’t know any that are if I’m completely honest with you. Will fans of the franchise like it? If they’re like me, they absolutely will, yes. Will newcomers like it? They’ll probably be a bit confused, but I encourage you to stick with it wholeheartedly. It’s a game that is absolutely worth your time and a fantastic CRPG experience.

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is available for purchase on Steam!


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