Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war. There is no peace among the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting Gods…and the WAAAGH!!!
In this day and age that we call the 21st Century, humanity is but a bump on the grand scale of existence as we know it. We have fairly powerful sciences under our control, with more being discovered at an ever increasing rate. We rule our planets skies and seas thanks to our amazing technological marvels. Were we to cast our sight to the future it would undoubtedly be one filled with scientific and technological innovation pushing us forward and perhaps even towards the stars.
In the fictional Warhammer 40K timeline that was created by Games Workshop in 1987, we did expand into the stars and what we met there was far beyond our wildest dreams and our darkest fears.
The Ork. Not small, dirty little creatures that thrive in the dark as Tolkein would have you believe, but lumbering bestial humanoids of thick green flesh and corded muscles. The Ork is a squat green warrior straight out of your nightmares. Offensive to the eyes, ears and nose; The Ork is an assault on all of your senses. Orks have been a mainstay in the Warhammer 40k universe since its inception, and since then they have seen many iterations ranging across many, many games. They traverse the galaxy in ramshackle ships, held together (literally) by their belief in their ability to build operational vehicles. Luckily for them, any living creature (even other Orks) is considered an enemy, so they’re never bored, of that you can be assured. Travelling under the command and banner colors of an Ork Warboss, they traverse the great void in great swarms called a “WAAAGH!”, raiding planets and starships alike with reckless abandon and a feral grin on their wide faces.
The first time Orks appeared in a video game was in Warhammer 40k: Final Liberation in 1997. An Ork Waaagh! reached the planet of Volistad and with it came millions of raging Ork Boyz, anxious to rob the planet of anything considered “lootable”, while slaying the imperial populace. Despite being beaten back by the forces of the human empire, the Orks took the battle to the forces of the emperor at every given opportunity; often throwing themselves at the enemies’ guns when victory was impossible. These grim charges are typical of the Orks as they long for all aspects of war, the smell of a cordite discharge or the spray of arterial blood, as long as they can die with those scents and sights, they will die a happy death.
Warhammer 40k: Final Liberation was one of the very first times that players of the 40K table-top game got to see an Ork in a video game. In the game they were depicted by actors in large Ork prosthetics that accurately captured their look and feel. Large and imposing, low guttural voices and a broken vocabulary, referring to humans as “umies”. Their armour was comprised of mismatched pieces of metal that in no way, shape, or form can be considered armor. Topping the armor is the usual fetishes, be it skulls, teeth, finger bones or claws, but most often they adorn their armor with spikes. Under this “armor” they wore brown leathers of an unknown origin, some may have been human skin, others may have been Ork hide or the tanned skins of squigs, it’s hard to tell with these beasts.
After Final Liberation made its rounds on Microsoft Windows, the Ork vanished from video games for some time; forcing gamers to get their green skin fix on the table. It goes without saying that this is how most people encounter the Orks and their strange existence. Games Workshop have performed admirably in how they’ve handled the Warhammer 40K IP and the video games that have been spawned from the beloved and grim space fiction. It wasn’t until 2004 however that the biggest game in Warhammer 40K’s history was released.
The Sega Subsidiary, Relic Entertainment developed a Warhammer 40K video game that was published by the now sadly defunct THQ. This game was destined to change the future of Warhammer 40K video games forever, setting a new standard for both tactical warfare and real time strategy. In September of 2004, Warhammer 40K Dawn of War arrived, and with it came the WAAAGH! in all of its green, violent, and uncouth glory. True to their nature, the Orks came roaring into the battlefield to take their place amongst the Emperor’s Space Marines, the psychic Eldar, and heretical Chaos Marines. The Orks were close combat specialist without equal, closing the distance with their foe and shredding them to pieces; all the while capturing strategic assets on a large game map and expanding their territory through the use of ramshackle vehicles and specialist Orks like the “TankBustaz”.
Seeing the Orks rendered in 3D and put at the command of an armchair general saw Dawn of War showered with praise, receiving high review scores from video game industry critics and selling in excess of 7 million copies. With the formula proving to be a winning one, the game received 3 expansions, Winter Assault, Dark Crusade, and Soulstorm. Soulstorm even allowed the Orks to take to the skies in their infamous “Fighta Bombas” to drop crude but destructive bombs on their foes from above. With the growth of the horde bordering on ridiculous, Relic Entertainment and THQ stepped up to the plate again to brings gamers Warhammer 40K Dawn of War II in 2009.
This game ran a dangerous gambit by changing the fundamental elements of Dawn of War and replacing them with a much faster and less large scale approach to combat. The Orks could no longer embark on their own campaign like they could in Dark Crusade and SoulStorm, they were now assigned to the role of the player’s enemy unless being chosen in a competitive skirmish. Mirroring the first Dawn of War titles, the game was met with great critical reception and strong sales, but despite all of this it is often frowned upon by the Warhammer 40K fan base due to its drastically different gameplay elements. The reduction in force numbers meant that Orks could no longer be deployed in huge rolling waves of green muscles and dirty weapons, instead the player got small groups of seemingly elite Orks, somewhat defeating the purpose of their existence as a horde enemy. Regardless of the odd complaint here and there, it was generally considered a success resulting in Dawn of War II getting two expansions; Chaos Rising and Retribution.
However, being the ever tenacious foe, the Orks hit back in 2011 when they returned to battle in Warhammer 40k Space Marine. Another titled developed by Relic Entertainment and Published by THQ, this game saw the Orks return as the foe, but in their truest incarnation to date. Large and hulking, layered with armor and twitching muscles, clutching large weapons of war and screaming their war cries into the player’s face. The Ork Warboss Grimskull managed to lead his WAAAGH! to the planet of Graia, hoping to storm the manufactorms and steal the complex imperial titan battle platforms. They were halted in their advances by the ever vigilant Ultramarines and the forces of Chaos. But nevertheless, the Orks reaped a fearsome tally against the entrenched Imperial Guard before being chased off world.
It’s clear to see that the Warhammer 40K universe is one of turmoil and unsure conflicts where even the slightest tactical error will lead to the ultimate demise of your faction, but doesn’t that sound familiar?
The game of Chess is an ancient game of warfare and tactics where the superior mind will, more often than not, defeat a lesser opponent; pitching two sides against each other in a fierce combat of body and mind. Imagine if you will, a Warhammer 40k chess board, with one side representing the Emperor’s mighty world treading Astartes, and the other representing the unending WAAAGH! of the Orks. This is exactly what Hammerfall Studios are aiming to create with their upcoming title, Warhammer 40K: Chess – Regicide. (Fun Fact – Regicide means to kill a monarch but more commonly means to kill the king. In the Warhammer 40K universe, Imperial characters can often be seen to be playing a game of Regicide. A game that sounds strikingly similar to modern day chess).
Regicide takes the deep tactical combat of chess and mixes it with the brutal world of 40K, replacing the movement and removal of pieces on a board with “merciless kill and death animations”. While we don’t have all the details at the moment, we do know that there will be several playable factions in Warhammer 40K: Chess – Regicide, so expect a massacre upon the board when these forces collide.
One of the first Ork units to be revealed by Hammerfall Studios is the Ork Warboss (who bares more than a passing resemblance to the Ork Warboss Zanzag). The level of detail in the character is phenomenal, leading fans of the series to predict a high level of quality across all aspects of the game. His Warpole painted red (because “da red wunz go fasta!” according to Ork lore) in front of his dual sheathed shotguns, the large “choppa” in his hand and his detailed armor all lead us to the conclusion that Warhammer 40K is likely to be one of the most authentic and 40K-esque games to come out in some time.
Warhammer 40K: Chess – Regicide is looking to be a faithful and interesting step forward in the ever growing 40K video game series and you can look forward to doing battle with the Orks once more.
With all this being said about the Orks, you can come back to AiG in the future to read more about the Warhammer 40K universe in my upcoming articles. In my next article we will be looking into the dark and gothic world of the Imperial Citizens of The Human Empire. Until then, WAAAGH!!!