Game Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe has already proved it can slot into the RTS genre nicely indeed, thank you very much, and shortly we'll discover whether GW's other Warhammer universe - the fantasy one - can follow in its futuristic brother's successful footsteps. Warhammer fantasy, you see, is parping its war horn and advancing onto the PC real-time strategy battlefield in Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, a game trooping our way this autumn courtesy of Namco Bandai and developer Black Hole Entertainment.
A handful of us here at CVG Towers have fond memories of the Warhammer fantasy table-top game, and so the ability to unleash Empire, Chaos, Skaven and High Elf armies and Orcs, Dwarfs, Vampires and Goblins in what are promised to be epic RTS battles in Warhammer: Mark of Chaos certainly causes the game to prod our appeal receptors. And that means we were more than pleased to sit down with the game's lead producer, Chris Wren, recently and poke him for more information on the title. Part one of a two-part interview begins below...
Could you begin by giving us an overview of Warhammer: Mark of Chaos's storyline, explaining how it ties in with the Warhammer universe?
Chris Wren: The storyline for Mark of Chaos begins at the end of the Great War between the Empire and Chaos. In Warhammer lore, Magnous the Pious of the Empire has struck down the Chaos leader Aasavar Kul using his Hammer imbued with the spirit of Sigmar, an Empire god. With their leader slain, the Chaos army has broken into small tribes and war bands and is left scattered throughout the northern Empire. The leaders within the Empire are left squabbling for power all the while a corruption of Chaos from within the Empire begins to take hold and the Chaos forces scattered about begin to search for a new leader.
You will take up the role of either an Aspiring Champion of Chaos or the Empire to begin this struggle. On the Empire side, you begin as a lowly commander forever hindered by your family's dark past, your father and entire family has been once accused of being in league with Chaos and your entire family bears this mark. You must prove your worth to the Empire by leading its forces to victory over the Chaos Hordes to regain your family's honour. Should you begin the game by choosing Chaos, you will start as an aspiring Champion but without an army and you must challenge the other tribes of Chaos to earn their respect and loyalty by defeating their leaders, with this you will build your army and restore the taint of Chaos that once plagued the Empire.
In what areas would you say Mark of Chaos is pushing RTS boundaries?
Chris Wren: We started out by deciding to not make this a traditional RTS at all, we wanted to make a great war game set in the Warhammer universe. While you do battle in real-time and there is a lot of strategy, we have diverged from the more traditional base building model to focus more on the battlefield and the decisions you make there. Aside from a focus on battle, we have integrated many RPG elements into the experience to make your army and your Champions more customisable and more your own. Our Champions have skill trees that you evolve over time and you will create specialized Champions to lead your armies.
We have also put in the concept of loot and inventories for our Champion units, they can pick up items dropped by enemy units or found whilst destroying a local village, some of these items can be equipped like weapons, armour and magic relics, others can be used in real-time to boost your Champion's health or other attributes. The idea of statistics and levelling is not unique to Champions - all of the units in your army will gain experience, and you can spend resources to upgrade their weaponry and armour as well as their leadership ranks.