- RPG Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader offers unique player choices with three distinct paths in its Conviction system, encouraging careful decision-making and adding emotional impact.
- The game rewards meaningful choices that come with a cost, making players weigh their options and sacrificing something for the choices they want to make.
- Rogue Trader’s alignment system affects gameplay beyond the narrative, determining companions, gear availability, and different endings, making each playthrough unique and impactful.
RPGs like Owlcat Games’ Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader are all about choices. The Rogue Trader’s origin and skills, party composition, and perhaps most importantly their narrative decisions should each contribute to a playthrough that is unique to the player and how they personally choose to weigh each of these decisions. While many RPGs typically have some sort of good and evil alignment system that reflects the player’s choices, Rogue Trader takes a different approach with three distinct paths in its Conviction system.
Game Rant sat down with executive producer Anatoly Shestov and senior gameplay designer Leonid Talochenko to discuss Owlcat Games’ approach to Rogue Trader‘s roleplay systems regarding player choices. They revealed how the team prefers to use potential negative consequences as well as direct feedback through gameplay systems to make players carefully weigh their options for maximum emotional impact.
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Actions Can Have Unintended Consequences in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader
The Rogue Trader can act as a benevolent Iconoclast, a cruel and self-serving Heretic, or an uncompromisingly faithful zealot with Dogmatic choices that closely follow the Imperium’s ruthless ideals. However, blindly following just one path is not always the best approach, and Rogue Traders may occasionally need to make difficult choices that potentially go against their targeted alignment. In one example, a planet has undergone a massive Chaos invasion leaving behind some helpless survivors. The generous Iconoclast decision would be to evacuate those survivors, but doing so might do far more harm than good in the long run.
For a choice to be meaningful, it should cost something from you. If there is a choice that you want to make, but the numbers are saying that you’re going to lose something, that’s a good choice from our design point of view. That’s why we are not balancing things in a way where it’s like, “It doesn’t matter what you pick, everything will be good, don’t worry, just play.”
In any strong setting, the morality system will be unique. The morality system in
will be different because the whole idea of morality systems is to give you another way to roleplay. Roleplay isn’t about expressing yourself in any way possible, it’s about receiving a response from the game on your actions.
Contrasting with Mass Effect Andomeda‘s tone-based dialogue style which is an effective player self-insert tool in its own right, dialogue choices in Rogue Trader have dire consequences that often have gameplay implications beyond the narrative. Player choices can determine the availability of certain companions later on, certain gear is only available to certain alignments, and even the endings vary drastically depending on the path the Rogue Trader has taken.
Players Can’t Have Their Cake and Eat It in Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader
Each alignment is separated into tiers that yield helpful passive traits, but players can only pass beyond the third tier with a single alignment. In other words, players can dabble in and benefit from each of the alignments but they can’t have everything, and that’s a decision that players need to consider carefully.
The most direct way to receive that response is to introduce a system that will tell you “You are using this? +10 to Evil. You are using this? +10 to Good.” But it’s first and foremost a roleplay option, and roleplay, of course, is our foremost way to achieve immersion.
That’s why we are designing things not to be toothless, not to be affordable. We’re balancing things to achieve the most precisely desired emotion.
The war-torn universe of Warhammer 40k is one of the most brutal settings in all science fiction and even a Rogue Trader will be routinely faced with the harsh realities of the 41st millennium. By pulling no punches in terms of roleplay options, Owlcat Games has captured the essence of both RPGs and Warhammer 40k in one swing of a chainsword.
Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader
Owlcat’s Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is an isometric RPG with a turn-based combat system. Set in the Koronus Expanse, the game emphasizes player choice and party setup.