Space Hulk: Tactics - Story & Lore
Community Manager

Welcome to the latest Space Hulk: Tactics devblog, which this time will be focusing on story.

Unlike past adaptions of Space Hulk, in Tactics we've implemented two, full narrative campaigns - including one that tells the story of the Genestealer infestation of the Forsaken Doom hulk.

Rather than give you our interpretation of creating that, we contacted lead writer James Swallow. A Black Library author and long-time writer of videogames, he gave us his thoughts on writing the game as well as a preview of what to expect within his plot.

JAMES SWALLOW – WRITER

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Now it can be told! Over the last few months, I’ve been working secretly with Maxime, Antoine and the talented folks at Cyanide Studio on the narrative elements of Space Hulk: Tactics, and today they pitched me a few questions to answer as a way to announce my involvement to the world...

So who am I and what is my connection to the Grim Dark Future of Warhammer 40,000? I’m James Swallow and I’m a writer of stuff; I’m the author of over forty-five novels, including several New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers – many of them set in the worlds of the 41st Millennium and the galaxy-spanning conflicts of the Horus Heresy.

I’ve been writing fiction for Black Library for nearly fifteen years, including several books about the Blood Angels Space Marines, the Sisters of Battle, Horus Heresy novels such as The Flight of the Eisenstein, Nemesis, Fear to Tread and Garro: Weapon of Fate, as well as numerous short stories and audio dramas!

I’m also an experienced creator of narratives for videogames, having worked on titles including Killzone 2, the Deus Ex series, Fable: The Journey, Disney Infinity: Star Wars and Ghost Recon Wildlands.

Writing for videogames is a very different process from writing novels, but I love the challenge. People ask me what a “games writer” actually does, and that’s a big question. Some games have a lot of narrative in them, and a games writer’s job can be creating the world of the game, creating characters and factions, writing in-game dialogue, scripting cut-scenes, writing text for in-game items, localizing the translation of a game script, designing quests and missions...and much more.

Games writers have to work as part of a team, which adds an interesting dynamic to the process – and when you’re collaborating with talented designers, artists and programmers, it is very rewarding! It’s an interesting job, and because it is so multi-faceted, it’s never boring.

With Space Hulk: Tactics, our vision for the two narrative campaigns was very much built around recreating the atmosphere and tension of the original Space Hulk – my strongest memories of playing those games was the sense of time running against you and the ready threat of the enemy units at your back! So we looked to that tone and built the storyline into the dense, gothic lore of the Warhammer 40,000 world, to create something we hope players will find compelling.

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One thing that makes Space Hulk: Tactics distinctive is that there are two narrative-driven campaigns from totally different perspectives for players to experience – one from the point of view of a Blood Angels Space Marine squad, and the other from the vantage of the lethal Genestealers.

Each campaign connects to the other; the Genestealer storyline is set a century earlier, building up an episodic account of these xenos creatures growing and spreading through the Space Hulk known as The Forsaken Doom, and it sets up events and plot elements that reappear in the Space Marines storyline, when the Adeptus Astartes of the IX Legion board the leviathan intent on eradicating the alien threat.

This is the first time we have seen a solo campaign from the perspective of the Genestealers in a Space Hulk videogame, and I’m hoping that players will respond strongly to the challenge of playing these rapacious and deadly creatures. For anyone familiar with the traditional Space Hulk mode of fighting as an Astartes Terminator, changing places with the xenos scum will be a fresh experience that requires new strategy and new tactics to make the most of your alien units. Controlling a swarm of deadly predators is very different from being inside the armour of a Space Marine!

Of course, my personal allegiance will always be to the faction that first brought me into the world of Warhammer 40,000, the chapter I’ve always been proud to write for – the Blood Angels! For Sanguinius and the Emperor! Death! Death to the Xenos!

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