It’s a query that’s captivated essentially the most superior minds of a era: might portray fake miniatures in a game ever be as satisfying as the true factor? It’s a proposition introduced in Moonbreaker, a turn-based, tabletop techniques game from Subnautica developer Unknown Worlds. And to assist to reply it precisely, PC Gamer teamed up with miniature painter extraordinaire and all-round good egg Emil Nyström from the Age of Squidmar YouTube channel. And he’d know: Emil’s channel has amassed tens of millions of views with movies about issues like brush care, newbie portray methods, and color idea. He’s even commissioned artists on Fiverr to finish Warhammer fashions, primarily making him the Mr. Beast of paying strangers to color Imperial Fists.

You possibly can see Squidmar’s detailed tackle Moonbreaker’s portray mode within the video above—full with demonstrations of some traditional miniature methods corresponding to mixing and chipping—nevertheless it’s value mentioning that this isn’t only a gimmick. Moonbreaker is designed to really feel like a game performed with bodily miniatures. There’s a satisfying tactility to the designs that remembers the wallet-bothering fervour which accompanies most new Warhammer releases.

The key distinction right here, nonetheless, is that as a substitute of displacing the prevailing, half-painted miniatures languishing in your shelf (keep sturdy, Dankhold Troggoth), you may construct your digital assortment with neither guilt nor judgement. That itch to get your arms on the most recent mannequin is scratched by the power to unlock new characters, all of which come painted. And, when the time is true, you may dive in and create new color schemes with out having to clean off current paint jobs with meths and your companion’s toothbrush.

Roster UI

(Picture credit score: Unknown Worlds)

The attention-grabbing factor right here is that the strategy to customisation is intentionally restricted. Sure, you may stipple, wash, and drybrush, however the vary of instruments echoes what you may have portray the true factor, relatively than providing an idealistic diploma of precision. The result’s one thing that captures the zen, time-devouring expertise of portray Warhammer, with out the peril of unintentionally knocking over your Nuln Oil, and also you solely want to take a look at Emil’s completed paint job to get a vivid sense of what’s attainable.

A part of the enjoyment of portray plastic legions, in fact, comes from dense narrative fluff that surrounds each faction. They’re not simply goblins anymore, mum; they’re Gloomspite Gitz. On this respect, Moonbreaker equals and even perhaps outstrips the extent of world-building seen in most tabletop video games. The lore and overarching story are supplied by award-winning creator Brandon Sanderson, creator of the Mistborn sequence, in addition to the broader Cosmere universe wherein it’s set. He’s additionally the person answerable for ending Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time sequence. 

Sanderson labored with Unknown Worlds for years to develop a wealthy, actual setting for Moonbreaker. It’s a spot of myriad planets, clashing cultures, and particular methods for expertise and magic—one thing Sanderson is aware of lots about, because the creator of a sequence of go-to legal guidelines of magic for utility in fictional settings.

The landing pad map

(Picture credit score: Unknown Worlds)

The way in which this data is imparted additionally sparks the creativeness. Every character’s historical past is contained inside their biographies, nevertheless it exhibits as a substitute of tells: they’re introduced as tune lyrics, e book excerpts, or private creeds. This context, mixed with the bubbling voice performing, give a extra full image of who you’re taking part in with. The broader story of the game additionally works along with the portray mode. The broader factors of the plot are detailed in audio dramas which can be found in-game or as podcasts. The cool factor right here is which you can pay attention to those whereas portray your fashions, which is the nicest approach of imparting background plot factors since somebody realised the Mom Base struts in Steel Gear Strong 5 had been precisely the proper size to take heed to one of many game’s voluminous assortment of audio tapes. And there’s lots to take heed to: three audio dramas will probably be launched throughout Moonbreaker’s first season, with extra deliberate for later updates.

As anybody who’s ever felt a shiver of pleasure seeing a contemporary sprue of unpainted minis is aware of, nonetheless, the opposite thrill of the passion comes from accumulating. Moonbreaker contains a component of this, too. You begin off with a restricted number of captains and crew from which to decide on, however a number of video games towards both the AI or different gamers will bag you sufficient factors to start out increasing your assortment, and booster packs work as a shortcut to an expanded assortment. In addition to bolstering your rosters and offering new methods to play the game, you may unlock paint jobs, paint palettes, decals, and unique skins totally free as you progress via the primary season, including but extra selection to your burgeoning assortment. Moonbreaker is out in early entry now, and registering for an in-game ID earlier than October 31 may also bag you an unique paint job for one of many characters.