“Did the bolts get it right?” This is the first question we ask about any Warhammer 40,000 game. They are one of the emblematic weapons of the stage, which is described in detail with love in all the novels of 40,000 copies. Battle Sister is the first 40,000 game developed from the ground up for virtual reality (Betrayal at Calth has VR support, but this was an additional feature and is a turn-based hexgrid strategy game), so this is the our first chance to keep a bolter in our gloved virtual hands.
In Battle Sister, the bolts look good. They’re fat guys, even the gun versions, designed first to be easily readable when molded onto a lead figurine from the 1980s. They also sound good, coughing up a sore throat. But having to get multiple body shots to drop a little cultist with just one It’s heard mal. Of course, you can clean the gas masked face of this cultist with a single shot to the head, but the same goes for the Battle Sister lasrifle. The bolter doesn’t feel like a big upgrade over a standard infantry weapon, and it should. The bolts fire mass reactive rounds designed to detonate within their targets. They have to blow people up. A bolt is not a bullet, it is what is obtained nine months after a bullet kicks a grenade.
Battle Sister gets other things right. I’m playing it on an Oculus Quest 2 (the headphones for which it was released in 2020, with a Rift version later this year), which means I don’t have to worry about cables and I can walk around rubbing myself the face of the 41st millennium. There are a lot of ornate things to approach. It turns you into one of the sororitas adepts, the Sisters of the Battle that protect the Empire of the Chaos, and in a first level it makes you walk by a strength of the temple passing armored warriors who pray and gigantic lit candles. The manual security scanner has a skull and needles, which are extremely 40K.
Battle Sister gets other things right. I’m playing with an Oculus Quest 2 (the headphones for which it was released in 2020, with a Rift version later this year), which means I don’t have to worry about cables and I can walk around rubbing my face on it. 41 millennium. There are a lot of ornate things to approach. It is a game in which you are one of the Adepta Sororitas, the Sisters of Battle who protect the Empire from Chaos, and on an initial level it makes you walk through a temple fortress passing armored warriors praying and giant lighted candles. The manual security scanner has a skull and needles, which are extremely 40K.
So are the times I make a neck to look at an imposing spaceship or see a ship of thunder enter the land. Feeling present at times like this, scenes outside of books, is undeniably powerful. That’s why it’s sad that other parts of Battle Sister are a disappointment.
While it borrows a lot from Half-Life: Alyx interactions (weapons and ammo even fly into your hands as if you were wearing gravity gloves), the physical nature of virtual reality controls is still an issue. Pulling the pin out of a grenade and throwing it should be great, but the physics are annoying and sometimes a wrist blow sends one to the sky. And why can I only carry a grenade? I need Alyx’s milk carton to drag them.
There are holsters on the hips and shoulders for four guns, but as you feel like pulling a sword out of your back, there are too many times my hand comes back empty or I try to holster a gun and it falls to the ground. I once dropped a sword from a moving platform in a place that was out of reach. I guess he will stay there forever.
Powers of faith are the hardest thing to control. Hold down a button and then make a different move depending on whether you want to slow down time, raise a shield, or push enemies back. It’s like casting spells on Arx Fatalis, but I activate the wrong ability with the frequency of making me want you to press a simple button.
The problem isn’t just that the controls don’t work consistently, but when I do and I die from a lost weapon or a wrong skill, it’s outrageous to go back to a checkpoint that may be on the wrong side of an elevator. . walk or a tutorial to get a new skill. Especially in the later levels, they stretch very far apart, because I guess in the dark twilight of a distant future the savepoint budget is limited.
When the controls work the way they are supposed to, Battle Sister is much easier. The Marines of the heretical chapter of Word Bearers slowly escape their sight, moving in a pattern predictable enough that they eventually begin to take them casually, saving bolter ammunition by means of a lasrifle held in one hand. . From time to time, a word carrier with terminator armor teleports and then continuously fires at a column between us as I pull it out. Some of the enemies they charge — assaulting navies with jetpacks or demons with blades — are more intimidating. Especially because you never know if drawing a chain sword to deal with it will work.
The chain sword is another iconic 40K weapon and when I grab the first one, squeezing the trigger to revolutionize it, I feel pretty rad. But what should be a “hell, yes” moment is diminished because I already have a sword of power right now and it blocks the bullets as if it were a lightsaber. Like the bolter, the chain sword ends up being disappointing. If a game offers me an assault rifle and I decide I like the shotgun better, that’s one thing, but they are weapons that define the setting and shouldn’t inspire shrinkage.