In the grim darkness of the far future, the galaxy is your oyster. Or at least it will be, once you’ve played 100 hours of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, an RPG from Pathfinder developer Owlcat in which you can buy planets, configure your genocidal Dark Eldar friend to strike ten times a turn, and gaze on ruefully as a demon explodes out of your Psyker’s head.
An immediate and shameful disclaimer: I can’t match Nic Reuben’s deep knowledge of the 40K tabletop universe, which saw him ruminating upon the mysteries of the Koronus Expanse back in 2022, while holding Owlcat’s feet to the fire over the absence of space dwarves. The nearest I got to playing 40K as a lad was its Battlefleet Gothic spin-off (which none of my friends were interested in, so when I say “playing”, I mean that I sat in a room staring glumly at some unpainted Lunar-class Cruisers while other kids went out and climbed trees). The framing I’m working with instead, based on an hour of hands-off Rogue Trader gameplay, is that it’s sort of Warhammer Mass Effect, but with XCOM-style turn- and grid-based combat, and while there are opportunities to be a compassionate hero, you fundamentally only have the option of playing Renegade. Let’s dig in!