The first thing that came to my mind when I heard about Horrors of the Warp was “oh, here comes Chaos”, but nope – Sanctus Reach latest DLC doesn’t put you in charge of Chaos spawn; it pits you against them.
The latest addition to Slitherine’s 40,000K experiment sees Alaric Prime besieged by creatures of the Warp (no Chaos marines!) These Warp spawns are the clear focus of the campaign, possessing several unit types that look and act like gruesome murderous abominations and unlike the Ork and especially the Imperial Guard DLC, those Chaos creatures are mainly melee fighters, closing the gap to the enemy and slaughtering everything in their way.
One on one, they are more than a match for most units on the roster, and it’s only through proper strategy and premium units that players can expect to win without a ton of casualties. Their presence in missions is pretty generous, as is the norm in Sanctus Reach, and their strength can come as a surprise or unfairness to anyone who doesn’t know what to expect from these creatures.
The campaign itself is mainly composed of a series of very large and very slow missions, with smaller and slightly more exciting assaults or hold-outs in-between. After a single Ork mission that acts as a prologue, the campaign begins in earnest by putting players in the shoes of the base game’s Space Wolves.
Unlike Legacy of the Weirdboy, there is little novelty to be found in mission design. Horrors of the Warp recycle tropes, creating extremely uninspired maps with cookie-cutter objectives and little in the way of tactical opportunities. It tries to make up for the lack of quality by dropping a lot of Chaos spawns your way, which makes some of the missions outstay their welcome by being unbearably long.
On the plus side, the interesting and varied roster can not only be fought in the campaign, but also controlled in skirmish and multiplayer. That can be a very meaningful negative for anyone looking forward to roleplay Chaos or get a bit of plot meat around the bones, but most of us know Chaos goals usually devolve to “kill a lot of people so we can kill even more people”, so it’s not that much of a missed chance.
All of Sanctus Reach worst design decisions are left untouched, from the janky camera and unexciting combat to inherent lack of flow in gameplay. Controlling multiple units remains a pain in the ass, and that issue is further exacerbated by its recurrence. The Ork prologue alone puts players in charge of literally dozens of units, and it becomes such a disorderly mess that it quickly sours any receptive mood.
Technically, the game is virtually unchanged. While I liked most of Sanctus Reach faction designs, I found Horrors of the Warp palette understandably unpleasant. This is in no-way a reflection on its quality, as the models are quite good and interesting to look at – but the terrain and aggressive colouring of the Chaos units created a visual experience that was really not enjoyable. True to its nature, beings borne in Chaos shy away from comforting notions like calming tones and earthly colours, and go straight for “Hell/blood/fire/kill/I hate you”-shades of red.
In the end, Horrors of the Warp is a good addition to a good niche title. Like most DLC in this type of games, the main factor governing your purchase should be how much you like the faction in the spotlight; if you like Chaos stuff and have a very good time with Sanctus Reach, then Horrors of the Warp just might be for you.
WARHAMMER 40,000: SANCTUS REACH VERDICT
A good addition to a capable game.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Dropping a goddamn Soul Grinder before it touches the line.
Good unit design
Great unit variety
Proper representation of the tabletop Chaos faction
Zero improvement to gameplay