Adeptus Titanicus Dominus- Early Access Steam Release

While on my recent food shop, I came across a copy of White Dwarf Issue 462. I don’t usually get the magazine, however this issue came with a free steam code for a bunch of Warhammer games. Now while I do own many of the headline titles such as Dawn of War, Space Marine and Vermintide 2, I was missing a lot of the smaller, more obscure titles so figured I would buy a copy. I got home, used my code and left my pc to download.

Fast forward to a little earlier this afternoon and I received an e-mail from Steam saying Adeptus Titanicus Dominus was now available to purchase and play for £23.70. Checking my copy of White Dwarf, I noticed that Dominus was part of the 12 game bundle and so I logged into Steam to boot it up.

Before we proceed please note this game is in Early access and it shows. More on this later.

What is Adeptus Titanicus Dominus?

It’s a turn based strategy game where you command a group of titans to complete objectives in order to gain the victory condition. Titans are Massive robotic war machines which range in size from the Warhound class (usually operating in teams to take down bigger prey) to the mid tier Reaver (offering more punch) and finally the apocalyptic Warlord class titan. There are other variants in universe but so far the game offers these 3 patterns.

The steam page states that this game is an “adaption of the titan legion table top rules, streamlined for PC and featuring a direct damage model that highlights the visceral nature of the Warhammer 40,000 universe”. I’ve not had chance to play the table top version and so cannot attest to how well they did in transferring the rule set across. Looking at how the turn based nature of the game seems to operate though, I can imagine it being somewhat similar with a dice based damage system and using tokens to track elements such as shields and damage to various weapon systems.

The game currently has options for the tutorial, single player including campaign and skirmish modes, as well as multiplayer. In this post I’ll touch on the tutorial and first handful of single player missions from the campaign.

After booting up the game and getting to the title screen I jumped straight into the tutorial. This was broken up into 3 “levels” to introduce the different aspects of a game. Firstly there was a tutorial to run through the pre-game loadout for customising and setting up your titan legion. This was fairly intuitive and along with the tooltips, I completed this very quickly. The second tutorial put you into the game space in order to learn the basic game mechanics. Some of the tooltips where a little less clear here, however I was able to get the gist of what I was being asked to do. I completed this tutorial and booted up the final one which seemed to be a mock battle…

Oh dear… where did the floor go? At first I thought this was just a graphical glitch and so tried to play on, but my titan wouldn’t walk forward and when given the order to advance as the game was asking, the movement point was defaulting off to the side, no matter where I clicked. I reloaded the tutorial, hoping it would sort itself out but encountered the same bug.

Though I couldn’t play the final tutorial level, still excited, I decided to jump into the campaign.

level select screen for campaign mode.
Some nice art and voice work here between levels to give us exposition for the coming level.

Once into the actual campaign, it becomes apparent that this game is still very much in development. The UI and general presentation between levels could be described as bare bones and though we have some lovely artwork and voice over in the cutscenes, we can almost “see the strings” holding everything together in between. I’m sure presentation will be vastly improved once the game reaches it’s finished state, but things are a bit rough at the moment.

In game, the controls are intuitive and gameplay does become very tactical, with the A.I. able to out position the player if they do not take care to plan their movement and activation turn order. I found the in-game U.I. very tidy and gelled well with the gameplay. Thought the core gameplay experience does seem solid, I do have a few gripes with it…

A couple of times, my camera would spin out and I’d have to take a few moments to reposition. This was a bit annoying and took my mind out of the game. Furthermore I was unable to zoom in on my titans or the environment. This was literally the first thing I tried to do when I got in game, wanting to get a cinematic look at my war machines. Instead the camera depth was locked and while this is ok for viewing the overall battle, It reduces the feel of the titan legion from massive “god machines” to toys.

A Warhound titan engaging a squad of chaos space marines.

This is further emphasised by lacklustre sounds and visual effects. I can only assume much of this is placeholder, however the end result is a scaled down experience of what it should be.

At it’s heart, Adeptus Titanicus Dominus is a solid game and I will be playing more. However, despite good central gameplay mechanics, it is very much an early access experience and I feel that does this game a great disservice. Titan legion warfare NEEDS to feel epic. Unfortunately all sense of epicness is completely lost at the moment.

If you are thinking of buying this game, I’d recommend either getting it with the White Dwarf bundle or waiting for it to come out of early access. No doubt many of my gripes will be addressed in the coming months and it’s fair to say that this game has the potential to be something really special. One to possibly keep an eye on.

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