Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister Review - A Mixed Bag from a Good Franchise

Updated: Jun 24

A buggy launch leaves Battle Sister in need of some updates, but some lackluster design makes for a game that won't ever be anything more than just adequate.



Warhammer has garnered a reputation for delivering games that are very hit or miss. Despite having an incredible dark sci-fi/fantasy aesthetic that lends itself very well to video games, Warhammer games either tend to be amazing, like Vermintide II, or significantly unpolished, like Necromunda: Hired Gun, or Space Hulk: Deathwing. Unfortunately, Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister belongs in the latter category. It’s not a terrible game, by any means, but a significant number of bugs and other gameplay-related issues hold it back from being a good game. In its current state, Battle Sister is a mixed bag, but updates could elevate it to at least a decent title.


Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister originally launched on the Oculus store in December of 2020, later receiving a Steam port on March 8, 2022. For this review, we played Battle Sister on the Steam version, which is, as of right now, a bit of a buggy mess.



Story


The story of Battle Sister follows Ophelia, a member of the Adepta Sororitas, an all-female wing of a theocratic empire. After the death of a mentor in the first chapter of the game, Ophelia receives news that her sister may still be alive, and the rest of the game is spent looking for her. It’s not the best story ever written, but it’s decent, and the unique cast of characters is enough to keep the story going. The characters are also backed up by some pretty solid voice acting, which is more impressive than I was expecting. Nothing about the story is particularly revolutionary, but it’s decent enough to keep you going for the roughly 4 hours it will take to beat the game.


I will say, likely to the disdain of the “no politics in gaming” crowd that, from what I understand, Warhammer is a fairly political franchise, that reflects a lot on the disastrous ramifications of a powerful empire driven by theocracy. There really are not, for better or worse, any sort of reflections on the interesting political and philosophical themes that the Warhammer franchise has to offer. There’s a small dialogue in the midpoint of the game where the three main characters talk about how war is sad but necessary, but it doesn’t really do anything overall. I won’t go as far as saying that exploring those themes is necessary in a game about war, but it would go a long way into making the story more interesting.



Gameplay


There’s not a lot to be said about the gameplay that you can’t also say about dozens of other VR games. It is really not groundbreaking in any way, but it’s not so terribly bad that it will put off people looking for a new VR first-person shooter. It doesn’t make any huge missteps, but nothing about it really shines above the rest of its competitors.


The guns are probably the most important aspect of any shooter, and they’re sort of a mixed bag as well. The bolter and bolt pistol, arguably the most iconic Warhammer 40K weapons, are thankfully very satisfying and fun to use. The flamer and meltagun are both okay, and have their uses. The power sword and chainsword are also okay, but the game does not do anything to make melee combat feel weighty or satisfying, so they fall victim to the sort of melee combat that just involves you rapidly wiggling your controller around instead of making deliberate strikes or slashes. The other two weapons, a plasma gun and a lasgun, are really both just worth using after running out of ammo for every other weapon. It’s really great that Battle Sister nailed the feeling of the bolt weapons, because those are really the driving force behind the feel of the gunplay.


The AI is not great, both for friendly and enemy characters. The friendly characters sort of just stand there and fire at the closest enemy, which is fine aside from the times when an enemy is out of their line of sight, and they just stand there and occasionally fire at a wall. The enemy AI is extremely simple, and it all boils down to “shoot exactly at where the player currently is”. As such, most enemies with guns can be foiled simply by strafing to the right or left while returning fire. Unfortunately, this makes most combat engagements feel the same, even with different enemy types.