Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Storm Ground PS4 review. It’s fair to say that we’ve perhaps never had quite so many Warhammer licensed titles as we do now. From the considered, tactical turn-based beats of Mordheim through to the immediate, Diablo style ultraviolence of the tiringly named Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor – Martyr, PlayStation gamers have been given a broad spectrum of experiences to enjoy from Games Workshop’s hugely popular universe (and yes, we’re still waiting for that Warhammer 40K Space Marine sequel that we’ll never get).
Next in line though is Warhammer 40,000 Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground, a turn-based strategy effort set in the Warhammer fantasy setting which itself has been relatively recently refreshed by the new Age of Sigmar campaign. Though turn based Warhammer adaptations are hardly rare, Storm Ground changes things up with the addition of a card based system and a focus on more intimate, smaller battles rather than the massive clashes that the Games Workshop property is arguably known for.
Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Storm Ground PS4 Review
A Streamlined Turn Based Battler That’s A Great Introduction To The Genre
Though Storm Ground allows players to face off in a series of 1 vs 1 battles, ostensibly the core of the game exists within its single-player offering. Split into a trio of story driven single-player campaigns in which wannabe armchair generals can play as the human Stormcast Eternals, the undead Nighthaunts and the chaotic Maggotkin of Nurgle, Storm Ground offers a decent amount of variety between each campaign.
Once you’ve settled on the faction that you wish to play as (the first few quests of the Stormcast Eternals campaign essentially serve as a tutorial of sorts), you’re greeted by a map onto which different quests are overlaid, providing you with a path forward through Storm Ground’s narrative. It’s worth mentioning too that each time you start a new campaign, the quests that you receive are also different; injecting Storm Ground with an unexpected level of replayability as a result.
Once into the battles themselves, Storm Guard presents you with a supremely powerful hero character with the ability to summon in additional units, such as extra melee warriors, ranged attackers and so to shift the balance, though a limit exists on how many units you can summon for obvious reasons. There’s also an in-built progression system that proves rewarding too. The more enemies you kill and objectives you complete, the stronger your warband becomes – if they die however, they are lost forever. So, taking care of your units is of (somewhat obvious) paramount importance.
As mentioned previously, Storm Ground is a turn based strategy effort and built into that are some aspects that you might expect if you’re familiar with the genre. Traversing hilly terrain for example, reduces the number of tiles you can move across, but once ranged units ascend a peak, they gain a bonus to range; allowing them to rain damage and grief upon their foes at distance. Other environmental factors come into play as well such as fragile ground (in the form of rickety boards and so forth), which allow you to effectively bait enemies onto a tile of unsure footing before the ground falls away on the next turn, killing them instantly.
Expanding your tactical options further is the card system. Essentially a series of boons and equipment that you can expand by collecting loot during battle, each card can potentially provide you with a new weapon and a range of special skills that can be used during battle to turn the tide. Essentially then, there’s always something to strive for and work towards, which is good, certainly.
Further afield, one time uses such as Divine Acts that allow you to revive or debuff your enemies also prove another essential feather in your tactical cap, and while long time strategy veterans might well scoff at the relative lack of depth here, the fact remains that Storm Ground is still a commendable worthwhile proposition for genre newbies.
Because each battle is so relatively focused and much smaller than the hours-long conflicts that the franchise is typically known for, Storm Ground represents something of a rarity in which you can spend ten minutes on a quick battle before hopping out again. In short, it’s easy to make progress in Storm Ground even if you don’t have much time to spare – so that’s certainly a plus.
Where things dip somewhat is in the objectives that you have to complete. Though the narrative framing for some of the quests is impressive (more on that later), the objectives that you must complete err on the repetitive and usually require you to murder a bunch of enemy dudes, capture a control point or destroy a particular type of foe. Speaking of quests, each quest has a handy difficulty rating attached to it but the ratings aren’t always accurate.
In one such battle for example, I assumed that the one skull (the easiest level of difficulty) would be a walk in the park. Oh woe me, because there happened to be a boss in that mission that had a mountain’s worth of HP and wiped out my hero in two hits. So yeah, some more accurate difficulty tracking would be nice thanks.
The twist in Storm Ground’s tail though, is that it employs elements of roguelike design to keep things interesting. You see, when you die you get to choose a special card which you then carry onto the next run with you. Likewise the units that you have previously accrued keep their levelled progress (except for the main hero) and also transition from one playthrough to the next. So even though you might die fairly often, there’s still that much needed feeling of progression that is arguably central to any roguelike worth its salt.
Then there’s the lore. While each of Storm Ground’s single-player campaigns is steeped in a story which explains the machinations behind each faction, much of the story is imparted through the slightly clumsy means of scrolls and texts which are discovered by completing battles. So if you’re looking for some epic Warhammer CG cutscenes, you’re going to be somewhat disappointed.
When it comes to the audiovisual side of things, Storm Ground is a modestly attractive affair. With very small environments, but detailed character models that look like they were plucked directly from the tabletop game itself, fans of Warhammer will certainly find much to love in the digital recreation of their favorite units and heroes. To that end, a special army painter option allows players color and style their units as they see fit. Sure, it’s little more than just a colourisation utility, but for fans of the tabletop game, it’ll likely prove to be a suitably satisfying extra all the same.
Though it lacks the grandeur of the larger conflicts that have typically defined the franchise, as an introduction to the admittedly intimidating spectacle that is Warhammer fantasy battles, Storm Guard’s bite-sized conflicts do a good job of interning new players and teaching them the ropes. Bolstered by some neat roguelike mechanics that underscore a real and compelling sense of progression, Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground is a great little strategy title that acts as a great entry point to both turn based strategy games and the Warhammer fantasy brand in general.
Warhammer Age Of Sigmar: Storm Ground is out now on PlayStation 4.
Review code kindly provided by PR.