It’s a busy period for fans of Games Workshop-inspired videogames as well as for the people at Focus Home, who are launching two of them in quick succession. First up is Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground, which is out now for PCs as well as all major consoles, including a version for the Switch. We playtested on a PlayStation 5, using forwards compatibility with the PS4 version
Developed by relative newcomer Gasket Games, Storm Ground is the first videogame take on the Age of Sigmar franchise by Games Workshop. And although some licensed games take creative liberties with the source material, Storm Ground’s turn-based formula should definitely strike a chord with fans of the tabletop game as well.
Past experience with the tabletop game isn’t needed though, because the rules and lore have been simplified somewhat for the game. While this is certainly a good way to welcome newcomers (much of the lore is self-contained and written specifically for the game), it does have its effect on the game’s story-driven campaign mode. While the source material is incredibly deep, almost to the point of being too hard to keep track of due to all of the books that have already been released under the Age of Sigmar banner, the videogame approach feels a bit like a happy medium. It’s one that diehard fans might feel is too shallow while complete newcomers can still get overwhelmed. For casual fans who haven’t read any of the books, it’s a perfectly fine place to be in – and I’m guessing that the videogame crowd has a lot of those people.
Storm Ground reduced the roster of available Age of Sigmar factions to three factions that represent the three different archetypes of Order, Chaos and Death. As a result, the three armies are quite distinct, with the Stormcast Eternals focusing in melee and ranged warfare in the more traditional ‘space marines’ sense (for those playing 40K), the Maggotkin use plague and disease as their weapons while the Nighthaunt are masters of the supernatural. Despite their differences, the three armies feel well-balanced, which is of course crucial in a turn-based strategy title.
Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground encourages replayability through rogue-lite aspects and procedurally generated levels. This works well as an analogy to the traditional tabletop experience, but makes the narrative feel more fragmented and less tightly directed as a result. Much of it revolves around your main characters though, as Age of Sigmar is strong on the theme of heroes – losing one of them means your run ends, though much of your progress is saved and carries over because of the rogue-lite mechanics.
What Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground nails is the atmosphere of the tabletop experience – without the need to invest hours upon hours assembling and painting miniatures and/or crafting scenery. The in-game characters look the part, and there is a good amount of diversity to the different backdrops you’ll visit throughout a campaign playthrough – Gasket Games has successfully brought Age of Sigmar to life, with some heroic music to back things up as well.
The game itself is tactical in nature, uses elevation and line of sight, yet is paced well enough to also work for the less patient crowd out there. You can switch to the game’s competitive online multiplayer as well, which should also add more lasting appeal to the game. Storm Ground feels like it’s a foundation for subsequent DLC add-ons that bring more armies into the game, so perhaps its long term future lies with online multiplayer. As a single player game, it’s a solid representation of Age of Sigmar, but it could have used a more gripping narrative to deliver it.