Warhammer 40000 Mechanicus has received a great many updates and a content expansion, the Heretek DLC. Mechanicus is a story-driven XCOM-inspired turn-based tactics game. The goal of the game is to discover the secrets of a Necron Tomb World, Silva Tenebris, and defeat its slumbering inhabitants before the entire planet awakens.
The player embodies Dominus Faustinius as the leader of an Ark Mechanicus battleship tasked with dealing with the immortal and threatening Terminator-esque Necrons awakening on the planet Silva Tenebris. In the base game all the action occurs on the surface of the planet. The Heretek DLC adds a new series of story missions given by the bloodthirsty Xerxetes that are set on the Mechanicus’ battleship with the goal of containing a rebellion of heretical Xenarite Tech-Priests and their followers.
Major Augments Since Launch
Though a solid story-driven experience at launch the game had unbalanced mechanics, which led to an unchallenging finish of the story with a pitiful fight against the final boss, Lord Szaregon. Since its November 15th release last year, Bulwark Studios has been hard at work implementing a series of major patches that have improved the game substantially. The two major changes to the game were the introduction of replayability options and skills rebalancing.
The main replayability options include several difficulty presets, granular campaign difficulty customization, ironman mode, and a permadeath options for the player’s Tech-Priests. These changes are welcome, since the story in Mechanicus is linear with some variety in the ending, depending on the player’s choice of missions. The new options should add a much needed sense of challenge to the game.
For equipment rebalancing, Bulwark Studios has nerfed or reduced the damage potential of most weapons, with the most powerful late-games getting hit hardest by the rebalance. This is an important change considering that a core mechanic in the game is for the player to use Servo-Skulls and various intelligence gathering abilities to learn about their opponents in the tactical battles and adapt to the situation. At launch, some weapons were so powerful that they could one-shot defeat any opponent without the player knowing their stats.
A single key skill upgrade unbalanced the tactical dimension of the game. The Enhanced Analytics upgrade of the Lexmechanic discipline level up path used to automatically give one Cognition Point per Tech-Priest who had the upgrade at the start of a combat round. Cognition Points are, in essence, shared action points between the Tech-Priests and their troops to move, activate abilities, and fire weapons. Thanks to Enhanced Analytics combined with several other abilities that would empower heavy weapons, I found myself able to defeat late game enemies, such as the tanky Necron Lychguard and powerful Destroyers with ease in a single round.
Enhanced Analytics has been changed to only give a single Cognition Point if the Cognition Point gauge is empty, implying that the player must be scarce on or constantly using the Cog Points during battle. This change also reemphasizes the need for the player to search for Cog Point producing locations to enable their abilities. This also means that players will diversify their Tech-Priest upgrades and experiment with new builds. In addition, the increased difficulty to obtain Cog Points means troops are more valuable, since troops only have an initial Cog Point cost to deploy them, but their weapons and abilities are free of cost to activate.
A final change to Mechanicus since launch was the addition of a series of hidden missions given by the Xenobilogis Tiresus. This awards exploration and experimentation with the game to earn an extra set of story missions to enhance the player’s understanding of the lore and characters.
What Heretek is This?
With the Heretek DLC comes several new options and items for the player to use to fight the Necrons and the Dark Mechanicum.
The first major addition is the inclusion of the Xenarite Discipline upgrade path for the player’s Tech-Priests. The theme of the Xenarite path is self-healing, revival after death, and self-harm abilities that increase damage. In other words, the Xenarite is a kind of flagellant glass cannon. The body augments of the Xenarite focus on hit points and increased critical chance, but low armor.
Along with the Xenarite discipline, Bulwark Studios has added several new Xenarite themed weapons. The highlights are the Xenarite Volkite Blaster, which is stronger than the normal Volkite Blaster, with additional area of effect damage and slowing effect, and the Xenarite Axe, which adds acid damage-over-time effect in parallel with its normal physical attack. Xenarite-themed weaponry focuses on increased damage with some kind of additional damage or damage-avoiding effect.
To aid the player’s Tech-Priests, the Omnissiah has gifted the player two new troop types: the Sicarian Ruststalker and the Sicarian Infiltrator. The Ruststalker is a dual-wielding sword specialist troop with skills that increase its damage the more it attacks. The Infiltrator is a ranged troop type with a skill that makes it untargetable and for weaponry it has a heavy pistol.
In regard to new enemies, there is a new Heretek-themed boss, three versions of Xenarite Tech-Priests, and Xenarite-themed Servitors. To avoid spoilers, I will not discuss the boss. The only difference between the Xenarite servitors and the player’s servitor’s is that the enemy servitors are used aggressively by the AI and have several abilities that help them close the distance.
For the three Heretek Tech-Priests, I observed a melee-centric Tech-Priest with a Xenarite Axe and Mechandrite, as well as a target immunity aura until the character attacks; a Ranged Support Tech-Priest with a deadly Xenarite Volkite Blaster, a pistol, and skills that buff the Servitors; and finally, the third type of Xenarite Tech-Priest has a Flamer, a pistol, and other support equipment. These Tech-Priests, with the new balancing changes to the player’s Tech-Priests, are lethal — especially the Volkite Blaster-armed Priests — if not dealt with immediately.
I would recommend the Heretek DLC for players who would want to engage enemies besides Necrons. The story content does not seem to impact the overall story. I would recommend taking another look at Mechanicus solely for the new updates as they have added much needed balancing and replayability options to make every new playthrough different and challenging.