I was disappointed when I first discovered that Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector would pit Blood Angels against the NPC race. However, with the developers being the same guys that gave BSG: Deadlock numerous great DLCs, I was hopeful. So let’s see how the Necrons DLC shakes out.
What do Necrons bring to the Battlesector experience? Persistence. To represent an endlessly marching tide of Robot Skeletons, Necrons uniquely gain moment by movement, and then heal proportionately. They also have an annoying habit of standing right back up after being killed, which gives even their humble Warriors a lot of staying power.
Mummies Alive In Space 3000
The Necron roster is a mix of units old and new. You have the classic Lord, the Warriors modeled right after the new plastic kit, a Plasmancer and a Hexmark Destroyer, and so on. The Scarabs are there, but none of the Canoptek constructs are present (and good riddance, I still prefer the old Wraiths).
The vehicle units include Tomb Blades, a Heavy Destroyer, and an Annihilation Barge. From my experience, they’re some of the least exciting units in the roster, even when compared to the Warriors.
All things considered, Necrons are a heavy ranged army that also wants to move all the time, with some weapon options meant to capitalize on getting close. On the other hand, with ranged firepower being so great and both Tyranids and Space Marines having no lack of melee options that feel a lot cooler than whatever you bring, why would you do that?
I’ve only tested it in Skirmish vs. AI, but just taking a 1000 points of Warriors can annihilate another 1000 point force handily with 15% casualties or so. The devs, however, had gotten wise about spam tactics at some point, and armies now have a coherency bonus, which gives you bonus momentum if you stick within unit limits. You can even set matches to not allow armies that aren’t coherent.
RISK from Wish
This, however, doesn’t really matter in the new (and free) Planetary Supremacy campaigns, especially if you’re the one facing off against the AI armies. It is absolutely frustrating to have to hunt down leftover Warrior squads after you’ve squashed the rest of Necron forces – and they’re numerous, powerful, and annoyingly resilient.
But that pales in contrast to my experience when I first started a campaign, giving Necrons a spin. In Planetary Supremacy, you have a hex-shaped hex-grid map. Your goal is to conquer the enemy bases. You have a single army that can do two actions – attack and/or reinforce – per turn. Between you and the enemy is a bunch of neutral hexes, defended by neutral forces and granting various benefits to the occupier.
On my first playthrough, every neutral army was Sisters of Battle. You know, the army that has three units total in Battlesector. The slog and the grind was so bad, I just beelined for the enemy bases to both get more interesting opposition and to finish the campaign faster.
It’s not good, not good at all. All of the Planetary Supremacy battles are the same, just moving up the map till you meet the enemy and annihilating them. There are no other objectives (even if Skirmish mode also has two territory control modes), and the only unspoken secondary goal is to preserve your forces for that 1% increase in accuracy that units get per surviving battle.
That’s the extent of unit persistency in this mode. Sure, your reinforcements are limited to around 10 units per turn and more powerful units can only be purchased once before going on a cooldown. But that’s it, you can rebuild your shattered army effortlessly and painlessly.
Part of it is certainly there to avoid badfeels of being rolled by the AI, but it’s all so lackluster. There’s no story to follow, no characters to be invested in, no RPG mechanics that would keep you excited about unit persistency, nothing. Just grind your way forward through a series of barely linked skirmish battles.
It’s a good thing that Planetary Supremacy is a free update, because it is definitely not worth the money. It has all the bad parts of RISK-style campaigns we had since Dark Crusade with none of their (vanishingly few) redeeming features. Even the base battles are nothing special.
Is it a trap choice?
So at the end of the day, the Necrons DLC is a treat for fans of multiplayer and compstops in the Skirmish. But for people who played Battlesector for the single player campaign, this offers nothing, for they have no way to adequately interact with the new faction. We hoped that Planetary Supremacy would fill that niche, but hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.