Steel Wood Studios’ The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth is one of many licensed Warhammer games. From the Age of Sigmar to 40k, there are first person shooters, all sorts of strategy games, and even adventure games to help you get your Warhammer fill. That’s great. It’s almost like a Warhammer gaming renaissance. It’s a bit hard wading through these deep waters, though, especially for the uninitiated.
The new hotness in Warhammer seems to be around the “30k” era—when the Supreme Commander Horus’ forces clashed with those still loyal to the Emperor. The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth is one of the newly emerging games taking place in the pre-40k era of Ultramarine-on-Ultramarine violence. Based on the 2015 miniatures game of the same name, The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth is a digitization of the hex-based corridor shooter, just without the hefty price tag.
Betrayal at Calth starts of in a bombastic fashion. From the point of view of a Tech-priest, you watch as a ship plunges into a city on the surface of Calth, an Ultramarine planet. You soon learn that it’s a rebellious betrayal of the Space Marine Legion the Word Bearers.
The gameplay is turn based with your units moving around on levels divided into hexagons. Being a digital board game, it does play somewhat like a hex-based strategy tabletop game, but of course, all of the dice rolls and other rule determinations are made behind-the-scenes by the computer. Right now there are only a few unit types to play as or fight against, with Ultramarines being the majority. No Terminators or Dreadnoughts yet.
Betrayal at Calth is in Early Access, and it shows, heavily. There is a warning that most or everything that you will interact with at this stage in the game is temporary or a placeholder. What is there right now is an okay small unit strategy game somewhat in the vein of Space Hulk. Being Early Access also means there are missing animations and polish, and unless you’re a fan of the tabletop game, you may find little to like in Betrayal at Calth in its current form.
If you have a Steam VR compatible headset you can also play the game entirely in VR (HTC Vive and Oculus Touch are officially supported.). Though a VR headset is not required, it is one of the few strategy titles available to VR enthusiasts.
I can’t recommend The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth in its current state, but it’s not a bad game. In the month I’ve spent with it, it’s already seen massive improvements in character models, the addition of music and some voice acting, and other indication that the developers are actively working on this title. Their plans, as laid out on the Steam store page, include a full 5 act single player campaign. Right now, there are a few missions available, a basic Skirmish mode, and a multiplayer mode that seems to be devoid of any players at the moment.
If you like the board game, want to support the developer, or just want to check it out for yourself The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth is currently available through Steam’s Early Access program.