WARHAMMER 40,000: ROGUE TRADER Review: The Definitive Warhammer Experience

Dive into the world of Warhammer 40,000 with Rogue Trader, the latest franchise entry from developers Owlcat Games. For the Emperor!
Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader cover art

Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is the latest game from developer Owlcat Games. You play as a distant relative of Theodora von Valancius, a famed Rogue Trader for the Imperium of Man. Rogue Traders are powerful space pirates that explore unknown parts of the galaxy, expanding the borders of the Imperium. After unexpected events, your character inherits the title of Rogue Trader – and a pretty sweet giant voidship – setting out on an adventure to explore the fringes of Imperial space and fight dangerous enemies, all in the name of the Emperor.

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Those familiar with Warhammer know it doesn’t get much more daunting than the futuristic dystopian universe. With hundreds of novels, video games, and an immensely popular miniature wargame, getting into Warhammer 40K isn’t easy, and I should know I’ve attempted it multiple times in my life. But, just as all hope seemed lost, Rogue Trader stumbled into my life, and I can confidently say it has converted me into a devoted servant of the Imperium.


I’ve played my fair share of Warhammer video games, logging in hundreds of hours across games like Space Marine, Darktide, and Vermintide 2. And while I’ve never gotten into the Total War series, Rogue Trader feels like the best way to experience the Warhammer universe.

Rogue trader gameplay screenshot

The story is practically an epic, and it’ll take you at least a hundred hours to get through it all. It’s daunting, to say the least, but it’s supposed to be. You start as a nobody thrust into an entirely new world through the plot. But unlike Baldur’s Gate 3 and other CRPG greats, Rogue Trader makes you one of the most powerful nobles in the Imperium from the get-go, and how you use that is up to you.

You can spend the campaign exploring your power fantasies, asserting dominance as a Rogue Trader on every citizen you meet, or take an honorable route, treating everyone with kindness. It adapts to your playstyle, tailoring the story to however you choose to continue the von Valancius dynasty.

It’s hard not to compare Rogue Trader with Baldur’s Gate 3. Much like Larian’s Game of the Year winner, Rogue Trader’s writing and inner-party relationships carry it across the finish line. You meet and add many unique characters to your party throughout your journey, getting to know them better as you progress.

Eventually, they come to you with personal quests to build your relationship further, and by the end, they feel like an extension of your family. Whether they’re a Sister of Battle, Space Wolf, or any of Warhammer’s factions, Rogue Trader fully fleshes out each companion, ensuring you never feel alone during your space adventure.

Rogue Trader combat gameplay

The variety in Rogue Trader’s companions also lends itself to the game’s combat system. You can mix and match your party depending on your preferences, including a wide array of damage, tank, and support characters. Do you want to control a space magician? Absolutely. What about an armor-wearing werewolf? You got it. Each companion comes with a unique playstyle, but under the command of your Rogue Trader, they’ll work in unison to rain destruction down upon your enemies.

Rogue Trader’s combat system sets the game apart from similar turn-based systems like Baldur’s Gate 3 or the Mario + Rabbids series by emphasizing the use of cover in your strategy. Before every fight, the game pauses so you can position your squad, taking advantage of full or partial cover to ensure everyone’s safety. It’s an enjoyable spin on the traditional turn-based system, but once you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take long for your party to feel drastically overpowered.

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Overall, it doesn’t matter how much history you have with the franchise, whether you’ve spent decades building miniature armies or just picked the game up during a sale. Rogue Trader has plenty to offer, with a compelling story, engaging combat, and in-depth world-building that some AAA studios struggle to achieve. And in a year where similar games like Baldur’s Gate 3 dominated the industry, it’s nice to see the Warhammer franchise get this kind of installment.

About Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader poster

Release Date: Dec 7, 2023
Genre: Isometric RPG, Strategy, Indie
Players: Single-player or up to 6 players via online co-op
Platforms: PC (Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG), Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5
Developer: Owlcat Games

Overview: You will take on the role of a Rogue Trader, a scion of an ancient dynasty of daring privateers, that reign over their own merchant empire and explore the fringes of Imperial space with the blessing of the Emperor Himself. Thanks to their Warrant of Trade – the Rogue Trader is endowed with privileges and power beyond imagination as well as the task of expanding the borders of the Imperium. At their disposal is a gargantuan voidship of immense power and innumerable servants and personnel ready to do the bidding of their lord. Their adventures begin in the vast Koronus Expanse – a treacherous region of unexplored space at the edge of Humanity’s domain.

Have you played Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader? What was your favorite part? Would you like to see more RPGs set in the universe? Let us know what you think on social media, and keep following The Illuminerdi for more content like this. We’re always watching.

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Danny Bojic

Danny Bojic is a writer located in Nashville, TN, who's had a lifelong obsession with video games, comics, movies, and other nerdy things. He's written thousands of articles on topics ranging from movies, TV, and comics to automotive, tech, and video games. With The Illuminerdi, he's attended countless press events, covered conventions, produced online content, and interviewed talent.