Interview: Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader Devs May Add Cut Content In Future DLCs

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader
Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader

It has been a few months since the release of Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader, and it continues to prove itself as one of the most innovative and enjoyable Warhammer 40K games. Made in collaboration with Games Workshop — the IP owner — Rogue Trader offers a story-rich cRPG experience that adapts one of the more popular settings in the Warhammer 40K universe.

The developer, Owlcat Games, has shown what it is capable of, and fans are most excited to see the DLC updates that will further expand Rogue Trader. In order to get some insights into the studio’s plans and a glimpse into the game’s development process, we interviewed Anatoly Shestov, Executive Producer of Rogue Trader, over email.

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader
Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader – via Owlcat Games.
Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on Rogue Trader.

Shestov: I am Anatoly Shestov, Executive Producer of Rogue Trader. I’m in charge of the project, meeting its budget and timeline and ensuring its quality.

Why did you decide to go with the cRPG route for Rogue Trader? Were there ever considerations to go for something different earlier in development?

Shestov: At Owlcat, we have always loved cRPGs and sandbox-style adventures, and Rogue Trader is perhaps the best thing to imagine in this style. The creative team behind the game played Warhammer in all its forms for many years, finishing large campaigns in Rogue Trader, Black Crusade, and Death Watch. And when the question arose about what game to make next, they easily pitched this option within the studio. Seeing a strong desire inside and the presence of cool ideas for gameplay and plot, we quickly agreed with Games Workshop and began development. So yes, from the very beginning, we wanted to do the Rogue Trader as a cRPG specifically.

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader
Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader – via Owlcat Games.
One of the things the game does splendidly well is the combat itself. I am curious to know how you decided to approach it. Could you tell us a bit about earlier iterations of the combat mechanics, if there were any?

Shestov: The combat in the game has gone through four major iterations. In the first, for example, absolutely any action other than movement burned all movement points. It was highly lethal and low-dynamic. In the second, stepping out of covers and zonal abilities appeared. Thanks to it, we realized what we wanted from different careers and types of opponents and decided that there was too little Warhammer in it. In the third, physical projectiles, queues, dodge with exit from the cover, momentum in a close to final form appeared. Enemies began to shoot themselves, and the player characters began to perform miracles of victory and heroism, but it still lacked variety and synergy of effects. The fourth iteration is what the players saw as a result.

In another recent interview, you mentioned some of the cut content that didn't make it to the game. These included military vehicles, mass battles, craftworld, a full-fledged system of morality, and much more. Do you have any plans to revisit these features and add them in the future?

Shestov: Sure. Feedback (both external and internal) plays a huge role for us. After the game is released, we can re-examine certain aspects of the game that were not included at one stage of development or aspects that need to be improved or changed. If we understand that this can improve the gaming experience, we will consider adding them in the future DLC. This is one of the most important ways of project evolution.

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader
Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader – via Owlcat Games.
Speaking of the cut content, the cosmetic options for the ship were also scrapped. Seeing as how it isn't as big of a feature as the others on the list and how much fans would have loved it, what were the reasons behind abandoning that specific idea?

Shestov: Despite the first impression, there are actually few “simple and cheap” things in the game. In any game, especially one as large and complex as Rogue Trader, it is not enough to create functionality; it must be made meaningful, integrated into the main systems, filled with content, and tested. This specific content would have required months of work that was better spent on other aspects of the game.

Do you believe Owlcat, Larian, and other similar developers will create a rising trend of cRPGs, just like how FromSoftware has with the Soulslike genre?

Shestov: Every classic RPG is a long story, to put it mildly. It is expensive and very demanding of the team’s competencies. However, the repeated success of our studio and Larian clearly demonstrates to the world that this niche has an audience. This means that new projects in this genre will be more likely to appear. Whether this will become a trend is unknown, but as a player, I would be very happy about it.

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader
Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader – via Owlcat Games.
Are there any features from the recent cRPG releases that you think may create unrealistic expectations for any future games?

Shestov: Players come to cRPGs for immersion, history, and feelings, not for the features. Nothing else will matter as long as they get what they came for.

Do you think Rogue Trader still has a lot that you would only be able to explore in a sequel? If so, do you plan to go for a sequel eventually, or will we only see more content in DLCs?

Shestov: Certainly, the grim and dark future, where there is only war, is full of cool things that have yet to be revealed, enough even for dozens of games and hundreds of add-ons. But it’s too early to talk about our plans as a studio in this matter. Please wait for future announcements.

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader
Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader – via Owlcat Games.
Which other genre would you personally like to explore, and in what sort of setting?

Shestov: Personally, I’m a big fan of emergent storytelling and would really like to do something similar to RimWorld. Regarding the setting, urban fantasy and a world of darkness, with magicians or fairies or hunters.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Shestov: To everyone who plays our Rogue Trader – thank you for playing, for sharing your impressions online, and for appreciating the game. Thanks to you, the result of three years of hard work looks even better, fatigue quickly fades into the background, and there is a clear desire to do more, to do cooler things. To everyone else, play the game because it turned out to be really good.

Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader is an isometric turn-based tactical RPG developed and published by Owlcat Games. It was released on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, macOS, and PC on December 7, 2023.

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