Battle Sister is the first Warhammer 40,000 game designed for virtual reality


“Did they understand the bolters correctly?” This is the first question we ask about any Warhammer 40,000 game. They are one of the iconic set weapons, lovingly described in each of 40K’s many novels. Battle Sister is the first 40K game developed from the ground up for VR (Betrayal at Calth supports VR, but that was an added feature, and it’s a turn-based hexagonal strategy game), it is therefore our first opportunity to hold a bolter in our virtual gloved hands.

In Battle Sister, the bolters look good. They’re big boys, even the pistol versions, originally designed to be easily readable when cast on a 1980s lead figure. They sound great too, coughing a hoarse blow. But having to land multiple body shots to drop a little cultist with just one feels wrong. Of course, you can cleanse this Cultist’s gas-masked face with a single swipe of the head, but the same is true with Battle Sister’s Laser Rifle. The bolter doesn’t really look like an improvement over a standard infantry gun, and it should. Bolters fire reactive mass shells designed to explode inside their targets. They should blow people up. A bolt is not a bullet, it’s what you get nine months after a bullet hits a grenade.

Battle Sister is getting other things right. I play it on an Oculus Quest 2 (the headset it was released for in 2020, with a Rift version after this year), which means I don’t have to worry about cables and can really walk around in it. rubbing my face against the 41st millennium. There are a lot of ornate things to approach. It introduces you as one of the adepta sororitas, the battle sisters who protect the Imperium from chaos, and a first level takes you through a temple-fortress in front of praying armored warriors and gigantic lighted candles. The handheld security scanner has a skull and needles on it, which is extremely 40K.

(Image credit: Pixel Toys)

Battle Sister is getting other things right. I’m playing on an Oculus Quest 2 (the headset it came out for in 2020, with a Rift release after this year), which means I don’t have to worry about cables and can really walk around in it. rubbing the face the 41 millennium. There are a lot of ornate things to approach. It is a game where you are one of the Adepta Sororitas, the Sisters of Battle who protect the Imperium from Chaos, and a first level takes you through a temple-fortress passing in front of praying armored warriors and gigantic candles. on. The handheld security scanner has a skull and needles on it, which is extremely 40K.

The same goes for times when I cran my neck to watch a massive spaceship or watch a Thunderhawk gunship land. To feel present in moments like this, scenes straight out of the books, is undeniably powerful. That’s why it’s overwhelming that other parts of Battle Sister are a bummer.

While it borrows a lot of interactions from Half-Life: Alyx – weapons and ammo even fly into your hands like you’re wearing gravity gloves – the physical nature of VR controls is still an issue. Pulling the pin off a grenade and then throwing it should be cool, but the physics are wonky and sometimes a flick of the wrist will send one straight into the sky. And why can I only carry one grenade? I need Alyx’s milk crate to lug them around.

There are holsters on your hips and shoulders for four weapons, but the rustle you feel when you pull a sword off your back, there are too many times my hand comes back empty or I try to put a gun away and she falls to the ground. I once dropped a sword from a moving platform in an out of reach location. I guess he will stay there forever.

(Image credit: Pixel Toys)

The most difficult thing to control is the powers of faith. You hold down a button and then perform a different movement depending on whether you want to slow down time, raise a shield, or knock back enemies. It’s a bit like casting spells in Arx Doom, but I trigger the wrong ability just enough times to make me want to press a single button instead.

The problem isn’t just that the controls don’t work consistently, but when they work and I die from a lost weapon or improperly cast ability, it’s maddening to return to a point control that may be on the wrong side of an elevator. ride or a tutorial for a new ability. Especially in later levels they are too far apart, as I guess in the grim darkness of the far future the save point budget is limited.

(Image credit: Pixel Toys)

When the controls work the way they’re supposed to, Battle Sister is much easier. The Marines of the Heretical Chapter of the Word Bearers slowly slip out of sight, moving in a sufficiently predictable pattern, I finally begin to face them casually, saving bolt ammo by using a laser rifle held in one hand. Every once in a while, a Word Bearer in Terminator armor will teleport, then continuously shoot a column between us as I take it down. Some of the enemies that charge – assault marines with jetpacks or demons with blades – are more intimidating. Mainly because you never know if drawing a chainsword to deal with it will work.

The Chainsword is another iconic 40K weapon, and when I pick up my first, pulling the trigger to spin it feels pretty rad to me. But what should be a “hell yeah” moment is undermined because I already have an energy sword at this point, and it blocks bullets like it’s a lightsaber. Much like the Bolter, the Chainsword ends up disappointing. If a game offers me an assault rifle and I decide I like the shotgun more, that’s one thing, but they’re weapons that define the frame, and they shouldn’t inspire a shrug. shoulders.