Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion is a turn based strategy game where you control a squad of five Space Marines as they attempt to stop swarms of insect-like creatures called Tyranids from gobbling up human worlds.
Your starting squad of Space Marines is predetermined, but as you play you can unlock new and more powerful options. All unlocks in the game come in the form of a card, and they can vary in rarity from I (the worst) to IV (the best). Higher rarity space marines come with better base stats and have more unlockable abilities as you level them up.
There are 3 main roles your Space Marines can take. The first is the tactical marine, a well rounded option that handles large swarms of weak enemies with ease. The next is the devastator, a heavy weapons expert best designed for taking out large Tyranid monsters. The final is the assault marine, a close quarter’s master who excels at dishing out big damage up close and can attack outside of your player turn.
Class mainly determines which weapons you marines wield. Tactical marines start with a boltgun, while a devastator uses a heavy bolter and an assault marine uses a chainsword and bolt pistol. As you play missions, you can unlock a wide array of weapons from hand flamers to meltaguns to missile launchers. Each weapon has a different niche and it can be essential to kit out your marines correctly in order to overcome a mission. For instance, I have had no luck trying to take out a carnifex without a grav gun. Additionally, each marine can carry up to 3 pieces of wargear. These are things like grenades, defense shields, or purity seals which can provide temporary benefits. Higher rarity weapons do deal more damage, but they have a lower accuracy bonus. This means you need to level up to marines to maximize the benefit of the more powerful gun.
In addition to classes, Space Marines can come from 3 different chapters; Ultramarines, Blood Angels, and Space Wolves.
The combination of class, chapter, and rarity level determine which abilities your Space Marine has. A low rarity Ultramarine tactical marine just has Free Fire, which lets him attack all enemies in range, as his only active ability. The higher rarity version would have Free Fire, Hunker Down (which gives 90% damage reduction until your next turn), and Glory of Guiliman (gives all Ultramarines +40% damage and -10% accuracy). There are also a whole host of passive abilities, which do things from increasing damage with a specific weapon or can give you more action points in the first 2 turns of the game.
The game itself is played using a grid based map. Tyranids spawn from predetermined entryways to attack your marines. The enemy AI is not very elaborate; the enemies typically just rush in to attack. The only one that works differently is the Tyranid Warrior, who will shoot and then run back into cover. Players perform actions via an action point mechanic. Each marine has 4 points a turn, which can be used to move squares on a 1 to 1 basis or attack which is typically 1 but can be up to 3 with heavy weapons. Conveniently, actions and abilities cost no points.
The game has 36 missions in total, with multiple map types and mission objectives. Missions themselves typically take between 10 and 20 minutes, making them just a touch too long for me to finish on anything less than a lunch break. I found the defense missions the best for farming xp to level up my marines, and as such they became the main missions I would play. I found missions featuring a carnifex particularly vexing, and often would win with only one marine left standing (Here’s to you, Azkallean). Your marines will also randomly have voice over banter during the mission. It can be quite amusing listen to them argue over who should get the most kills.
In order to unlock more options for the game, you can buy card packs from the in game store. Each card pack contains 3 cards, one of which is a marine and the other 2 can be either weapons or wargear. Each card pack costs 100 Inquisition points to buy. Inquisition points aren’t too hard to get, you get 6 points for completing a mission or selling a marine, and 4 for selling a weapon or piece of wargear. Every mission you complete also gets you a random non marine item. The junk pile builds up quick and you’ll find yourself pawning a lot of useless stuff. If you want you can also buy card packs with real money, with each pack costing about $1.50. Between selling items and the occasional card pack you get for passing campaign milestones, you don’t really ever feel the need to spend money on card packs so they’re pretty unobtrusive. You never have to worry about hitting a paywall.
The game is incredibly well rendered for a mobile game. My favorite part of the game is unlocking a new marine and seeing how they customized his armor. The Space Marines look awesome, and the Tyranids hold very true to the tabletop look. I like the depth of squad customization allowed, between the combination of abilities, weapons, and wargear. There is definitely some emphasis on using marines from the same chapter, as many of the higher level marines provide chapter exclusive buffs. This game definitely sucked me in and I would sit and play for hours at a time. Overall, if you like games like XCOM or Space Hulk, you’ll like Deathwatch.