The PlayStation 4 seems like a bizarre final destination for Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch. Developed by Rodeo Games (Warhammer Quest, Hunters) the squad-based title originally launched on iOS back in December 2015 before eventually making its way to Steam.
What’s odd about this is the inherent mobile-focused design of Deathwatch and how Rodeo – partnering with Funbox Media – have attempted to bring it over Sony’s platform. Despite the lack of keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen, games like XCOM, Valkyria Chronicles, and Mordheim have shown just how well the turn based strategy genre can hold up on consoles. By comparison, Deathwatch is much smaller in scope and it’s clear from the onset that the same level of care and consideration hasn’t gone into making this version as good as it could have been.
Before commenting on the game itself, there’s an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. Boot up the iTunes App Store and you’ll see Deathwatch priced at £1.99. Search for it on Steam and that price will jump to a questionable £10.99. Look for it on the PlayStation Store, however, and you’ll see Deathwatch listed for a ridiculous £49.99. Even if you manage to grab a physical copy at retail for £30, it’s still far too much to pay for a port of a year-old mobile game. Although Games Workshop’s licensing fees are rumoured to be quite hight, there’s simply no justification for such a dramatic inflation in price.
Being twenty five times the cost of the original mobile version, surely this PlayStation 4 port comes with a raft of improvements and new features? Perhaps a huge slab of bonus content? In short, it doesn’t and to make matters worse, this latest version of game plays considerably poorer than its PC and mobile counterparts.
Deathwatch is streamlined turn-based strategy game with some light roleplaying elements. There are some loose chunks of 40K lore that help flesh out just who the Deathwatch are and their xenos-purging duties. Handpicked from various Space Marine chapters, they stumble upon a star system overrun by Tyranids.
Each of the forty missions pits your tailor-made Deathwatch company against this alien swarm with various objectives to carry out. There’s a decent variety, with some tasking you with reaching an extraction zone, defending generators, or hunting powerful targets. However, with four or five missions under the belt, repetition starts to set in.
Controlling you marines is fairly snappy and straightforward, but it’s hampered by delayed controller inputs and janky camera angles. Most levels sport a tight network of corridors that occasionally open into wide spaces. When you factor in fog of war and an often obscured view of the killzone, it’s easy to miss the occasional alien threat.
Although it creates a sense of danger, having environments with so little breathing room can stagger the flow of play. Unable to pass through squares occupied by their Astartes brothers, your Space Marines will often waste valuable action points because they are unable to move towards hotspots as they emerge.
With each kill and mission won comes a shower of experience points you can spend on upgrading your Deathwatch and buy powerful abilities. However, a slow trickle of XP means you’ll be joylessly grinding some of the earlier stages repeatedly.
Fans of the genre who own a PlayStation 4 will be dismayed by a lack of new features since the game launched on mobile. Incredibly basic functions such an options menu or in-game saves are nowhere to be seen. We didn’t even know how to control the camera’s zoom until a hint popped up during a loading screen.
Deathwatch is a decent strategy game and one that doesn’t require too much brainwork to get a handle on. For smartphones and tablets it’s a great fit and would probably have worked nicely on Vita or 3DS, but in targeting the PlayStation 4, Rodeo and Funbox needed to do more than simply make Deathwatch vaguely controller-friendly and with slightly better visuals. Beyond some additional characters to recruit, there isn’t any meaningful refinement or expansion, and definitely not enough to justify that insane £50 pricetag.
Version tested: PS4
When it comes to reviewing games here at TheSixthAxis, we follow a fairly straightforward protocol. However, there were questions surrounding the PlayStation 4 version of Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch that needed to be answered before this review could go live. Having previously played and enjoyed Deathwatch on iOS, we simply couldn’t wrap our heads around why the game’s price had leapt to such an eye-watering fee. We were baffled and needed some kind of closure, so we reached out to publisher, Funbox Media Ltd. Here is the response they gave:
Our pricing strategy is based on the game as a whole when measured among all planned platforms. Each platform has its own business model that we hope will cover its costs and provide a fair profit. This, along with each platform having its unique and distinct feature set, will show that we impart each platform with its own share of the business risk.
The following list also shows what enhancements/additions we made to the PS4 version:
- Improved special effects
- Improved lighting effects
- Enhanced framerate
- Improved shaders
- Improved sound
- 2 Exclusive Chapters, namely the Raven Guard and the White Scars
Funbox also provided a short list of upcoming fixes planned for the PS4 release such as improved camera behaviour and environmental texture detail. That said, we can only review the game in its current state and came to the same conclusion in light of this information.