"Unfinished" is a word you will find often associated with Eternal Crusade. Despite a lengthy development, the Warhammer 40,000 shooter has been released in a questionable condition, and there is something to be said for a few key technical failings of the game. More than a few reviews on Steam are also calling it the "No Man's Sky of Warhammer 40,000" thanks to the massive changes it underwent during development, shifting away from Planetside scale combat to a much more limited battlefield.
The core gameplay here is akin to the older Star Wars: Battlefront games, with players picking out medics, assault classes, heavy weapons wielding warriors, standard soldiers, and a specialist or two. Finding a balanced group of these forces is essential, and spamming a single choice will rarely work well for a party. You might be able to force back a faction by having everyone choose Assault Marines for a short while thanks to their jetpacks and advantages in melee, but it won't take long for a gunline to start mowing down your troops. Each class has its own upgrades as expected, and there's an undeniably fun mix of 40,000 weapons on hand, from the venerable bolter to shuriken cannons and power blades, each with their own beefed up relic variants.
The maps have been excellently designed to suit each class as there are plenty of choke points, vantage points and positions to take advantage of. Better yet, for once tanks have a balanced role on the battlefield. They're extremely powerful for sure, but a group working in close co-ordination can bring them down, and a driver requires at least one extra player to make them truly effective in combat.
This said however, there are some definite shortcomings. Even being kind enough to ignore the fact that Behaviour Interactive failed to deliver on much of what was originally promised (thousands of weapon variants, a massive open world, elites choices and the like) there's no denying that Eternal Crusade falls short in many areas. The game is alarmingly poorly optimized in many places, resulting an an extremely uneven frame rate and moments where the physics engine utterly flips out (usually while flipping a tank). Balance between factions is an utter joke as groups bounce back and forth between dominating everyone and being crushed between patches, and matches devolve into capturing points from enemy defenders. This might even be fine were it not for some truly baffling decisions in places, such as limiting how many times a defending player can spawn in, but allowing attackers an infinite number of lives. A problem which is only made worse once you factor in how often the game seems to reward the zerg rush approach to problems.
Let's be clear here: Eternal Crusade is decidedly ropey and most definitely needs a great deal more work done before it's truly finished. If anything it should never have remained in Beta for a few more months, at least until the optimization issues were sorted out. Yet, with all that said, the core combat is fun, the maps are fantastically atmospheric and each of the classes are well rounded. Much like ReCore, this is an unfinished diamond of a game, held back by technical limitations rather than a poor concept or mechanics. Wait for this one to go on sale if you're interested, but don't dismiss it entirely.
WARHAMMER 40,000: ETERNAL CRUSADE / DEVELOPER: BEHAVIOUR INTERACTIVE / PUBLISHER: BANDAI NAMCO, BEHAVIOUR DIGITAL / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW