Necromunda: Underhive Wars is a skirmish board game published by Focus Home Interactive, with a setting that will take us to a world covered with waste and polluted water, the result of thousands of years of unbridled industrialization without any kind of environmental protection. Scattered across these seas of effluents, containing unstable slag and compacted ashes, exist between six and nine hive cities. This is the intriguing setting that characterizes one of the most evocative titles among all those made by Games Workshop, and now it's time to find out if the production materialized thanks to the work of Rogue factor lives up to this heartbreaking story.
All lovers of Warhammer 40,000 they know perfectly the setting of Necromunda, the skirmish title always created by Games Workshop in which bands of brutal mercenaries are facing each other to conquer the lost riches lost in the underhives of the beehive cities. Necromunda it is none other than one of the worlds conquered by the Space Marines who, without any environmental qualms, have exploited this world to the core, both to hire new recruits for their massive armies, and to build ever more powerful weapons.
In these hive cities only the strongest can survive and if they do it is only thanks to the Gang or Crew. Each Crew aims for the supremacy and the climb of the floors, looking in every single crevice of the slums for gold and forgotten riches of the golden age of 'Empire. From this very rich background the guys from Rogue factor they were able to draw heavily trying to bring to light a videogame transposition that was as faithful as possible to the reference work. We can safely say that the setting appears well done, wandering around the various levels of the underhive is a joy for the eyes, just a pity that the developers did not want to replicate the gameplay of the skirmish (among other things, one of the best in circulation at the level regulation), preferring to focus on the creation of a turn-based tactical title that does not shine as well as it should.
Rogue factor, in fact, he only took a cue from the setting and the original regulation, trying to transform it according to his own vision into a playful experience that, however, struggles to take off along all the various phases of the game. Unfortunately, the developers weren't able to introduce a truly new and creative style of play. On an artistic level, however, the title fortunately manages to have its say, between characters rich in details and - as mentioned above - settings full of charm capable of totally immersing the player in this wide playful universe.
In Necromunda: Underhive Wars players will be able to follow a narrative campaign, which will allow them to follow the journey of three rival Gangs, fighting to obtain theArcheotech, one of the oldest and most powerful artifacts that went missing throughout the golden age of humanity. The three bands - i Banecats led by Tessera, i Rowdy Bois led by Blutvor ei Black Ash led by Flynt - they will battle (tactically) to appropriate the artifact, carefully scouring the "underground" of the planet and the deep and dark recesses of the city itself, now invaded by other Gangs. As it was presented, it could all seem very interesting, just a pity that the world of Hive is not freely explorable, all in favor in a campaign that is really too linear.
If the narrative part of the production leaves something to be desired, the gameplay perhaps manages to do even worse. The idea of trying to introduce something new in a fairly well-established system is never a bad idea, as long as the new dynamics do not actually make the genre worse. Wanting to eliminate hexes for movement and wanting to leave more autonomy for the movement of the characters, limited to a certain number of movement points (MP), initially made us smile. Too bad that at a certain point you find yourself carrying out involuntary actions in an uncoordinated manner or looking for rather trivial tricks to increase your movement limit. In addition, each character will be able to carry out a series of actions that will consume the bar of action points (AP) which, once finished, will lead us to lose characters on the street without even having moved them an inch, forced to remain dazed in some remote corner. of the map.
Basically the intuition could also be spot on, too bad that the realization does not appear so successful. At the beginning of the turn, each player will have to choose the character to use and, based on the classes, he will be able to spend his AP to activate elevators, entrench himself, warn himself, activate traps, sabotage machines and so on. During the enemy turn, the players will not be able to do anything but watch the AI move a character according to their strategy, another very disappointing chapter indeed. The artificial intelligence of the opponents of Necromunda: Underhive Wars it is really ridiculous, bordering on fun, because sometimes the computer will set up useless strategies or even manage to fall into its own "traps". The sadder thing is that in the meantime the AI will continue on its incomprehensible path, there will be no way to speed up the gameplay, which in the long run will prove to be really heavy to digest. Imagine yourself immersed in an operation involving multiple AI-led teams that will eventually move and fire a dozen soldiers back and forth. The strategy is ok, but the pace is incredibly slow.
In addition to the main campaign, Necromunda: Underhive Wars offers players a sandobx mode (accessible right away, but the game recommends finishing the campaign first). This mode allows players to create their own gang by customizing their colors, cosmetics and abilities. The bands can be composed of different members and each will also have to level up, a factor that will often lead us to use only the best five, since each battle will allow us to deploy only five units. Anyway, after creating our gang and their respective characters, we will participate in different operations in the underhive with the aim of accumulating as many resources as possible. There is also a "round of looting" that will allow us to collect useful equipment from killed enemies, but everything must be done by managing the times well since our AP and MP will always remain limited. Back to the menu HQ, we will then be able to purchase additional skills and equipment to strengthen our skills. The positive note is that you can also fight against your friends or simply find people online to challenge.
The operating mode of Necromunda: Underhive Wars should be considered the main scope of the experience as it presents a more traditional approach to turn-based RPG systems. To tell the truth, its structure manages to be quite engaging, in some cases even leading us to become attached to the characters that we will have grown up with so much love. Precisely in relation to this, what we really fail to understand is the motivation that led Rogue Factor not to implement all the various mechanics of customization of the Gang even during the main campaign, an absence that in the end appears as a great wasted opportunity.
In Necromunda: Underhive Wars, the player is simply pushed to progress through the adventure chapter after chapter, sometimes switching from one gang to another to see their side of the story. For example, Tessera and his Banecats they may have reached a certain part of the womb of the city in one chapter and, consequently, the next mission could be about how Blutvor e Rowdy Bois they try to reach them by sabotaging a train. Undoubtedly, continuing in the events both the playful and the narrative sector are partly improving, but once you reach the end credits it will be difficult not to experience a strong bitter aftertaste in the mouth. Too bad because from a tactical game we would have expected much more options to make our troops unique, while in this case everything appears particularly neglected.