The Emperor Protects
In the grim darkness of the far future, there is no peace among the stars, only an eternity of login bonuses and Warhammer 40,000: Lost Crusade. Joking aside, Lost Crusade offers an enjoyable, though far from unique, mobile strategy experience. And it’s only somewhat hampered by the freemium shenanigans endemic to mobile strategy games.
Developed by Orca Games, Lost Crusade takes place after the destruction of the Imperial Fortress World of Cadia. In response, the Primarch of the Ultramarines leads a Crusade to retake worlds conquered by the forces of Chaos. And if you don’t know what any of that means, Warhammer 40,000: Lost Crusade isn’t going to tell you. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the game without knowing what an Astartes is or who the Adeptus Mechanicus are. However, I felt like I benefited from having some familiarity with the setting before jumping into Lost Crusade.
Chaos and Order
Players take the role of the Commander of an Imperial Battle Barge, one of the colossal warships that transport Space Marines from system to system. After becoming separated from the rest of the Crusade, it falls to the player to restore their ship to working order. Soon, they find themselves drawn into the machinations of the mysterious Prophet of Chaos. The game divides its story between base-building and Expeditions. Players get a list of objectives required to complete each chapter. Most consist of building or upgrading units in your base. And in true 40K fashion, the player’s stronghold looks as much like a floating gothic cathedral as a military space station.
Expeditions are away missions where you send your Space Marines to do battle on the surface of planets, and I’d argue they’re the main attraction. Players can “Rescue” Space Marine Heroes through Lost Crusade’s gacha mechanic. They can send up to four on Expeditions consisting of a single long path lined with enemies. Characters automatically attack the nearest target. Players can direct them, but can also spend energy to use abilities or deploy generic units as reinforcements. Reinforcements consist of tanks, mechs, artillery, melee and ranged infantry that players can train at their base. Heroes, meanwhile, fall broadly into the traditional RPG roles of Tank, DPS, and Healer/Buffer. Some Units and Heroes synergize with each other better than others, encouraging players to experiment with different team compositions.
An Empire in Decline
It’s a reasonably well-done system, but not perfect. I’d have liked the ability to control my units directly, rather than having them fight whomever they please. I would have been able to keep more of them alive if nothing else. Also, there’s no way to choose which units you can summon as reinforcements. The game picks three out of the five available types. and the player only finds out which ones when the battle starts. I think it goes by the newest units first, but that’s no substitute for picking your preferred teams.
I don’t have any significant complaints about the story. It’s sparse and uncomplex, but no more so than many strategy games. The Heroes have distinct personalities, though only as much as 40K’s Ultramarines tend to have. I wish we got to see more adaptations focusing on other parts of the incredibly vast Warhammer 40K universe. There are other factions than Chaos, Orcs and Ultramarines after all. But that’s not really a criticism of Lost Crusade specifically.
Overall, I liked Warhammer 40K: Lost Crusade. Despite my jabs, the in-game timers aren’t that bad compared to other freemium strategy games. I still feel that the payment model drags the game down, just not as far as the worst offenders. Lost Crusade is not the best game I’ve ever played or the most original in its execution. But what it does, it does well and it’s definitely worth trying out for yourself.
Is It Hardcore?
Warhammer 40K: Lost Crusade is not the best game I’ve ever played or the most original. Still, it’s a solid mobile strategy title that’s worth trying out for yourself.