Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War & Close Combat – The Bloody First Hands-On Preview

Francesco De Meo

The Strategy games genre has never been healthier on PC, with many titles offering different takes on the genre. Many of these games have been released by Slitherine and even more will be coming in the near future. During last week's War Room event, two of these titles have been shown to the press - Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War and Close Combat - The Blood First.

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is definitely the title with the broadest appeal of the two, and not only due to being set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, but also for being the first 4X strategy title set in the world created by Games Workshop. The similarities with other 4X titles, such as the latest entries in the Civilization series, are evident from the get-go, as players will have to manage and improve a civilization as well as contend with other factions. Unlike other 4X titles, however, Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is mostly focused on war, as there is no diplomacy whatsoever: the first civilization among the available four to obliterate the others wins. Factions are quite interesting in Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War, as they all come with unique traits, gameplay mechanic, and tech trees.

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Space Marines, for example, can only deploy a single city. All factions also feature unique Elite Units that only become available once they have been researched. One of the best features of the game, in its current state at least, is that it never leaves players alone. During the first few turns, as the player develops his or her civilization, the game shows some handy tips which make it incredibly accessible even to those with little to no experience. Don't expect this hand-holding to last too much though, as things can become difficult without solid strategic planning.

With RPG mechanics, randomized maps and different ways to play the game, Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is setting out to be the title to keep an eye on for all fans of the universe created by Games Workshop as well as 4X fans who have had enough of diplomacy. The game can already be wishlisted on Steam and should be released in the coming months.

The second title shown by Slitherine, Close Combat - The Bloody First, was in a much rougher state than Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War. Its appeal is also likely to be way more limited, but fans of wargames will definitely love it for its realistic World War II setting. This game follows the US 1st Infantry Division, allowing players to take part in three different campaigns - Normandy, Sicily and Tunisia. Being focused on a realistic representation of historically accurate scenarios, Close Combat - The Bloody First allows players to employ real battle strategies, following platoons and individual soldiers as they fight their way to victory, making sure they don't panic if things go sour.

The build available at the event was in a really rough state, with many features still to be tweaked and implemented. One thing is for certain: without a tutorial, only the most die-hard wargames fans will be able to understand what is going on on the battlefield. New features for the series, such as the battlefield now being in 3D, allowing implementation of altitude, and line of sight mechanics, are interesting enough, so those who enjoy this type of game have something good to anticipate.

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