Warhammer 40,000, or Warhammer 40K, or just 40K. The long-running tabletop/miniatures wargaming franchise from Games Workshop has evolved over time, bringing in new fans and becoming bigger than ever. It looks like things are about to heat up because a new TV show is in the works. That show will be all about the famous (and notorious) Inquisitor, Gregor Eisenhorn. It’s about damn time!
To celebrate, here’s the trailer for the novel-based Eisenhorn: Xenos video game, which released in 1996:
Warhammer 40K’s track record
I’m kidding. That game came out in 2016! You can still find it on Steam. Outdated graphics and bland gameplay did not do it any favors.
Actually, you could say same for a number of titles related to Warhammer 40K, or other Games Workshop properties such as Warhammer Fantasy Battles. For every glorious work that makes the Emperor proud, such as Dawn of War 2, there’s probably something like Space Hulk or the dreaded Dawn of War 3 that’d make you want to chuck yourself in the Eye of Terror.
It is completely acceptable and even expected, then, that Warhammer fans are wary or concerned whenever a new project is announced. After all, for a franchise known as 40K, a more common number for adaptations would be “6”… the review score.
But, hope remains, much like the Astronomican’s guiding light. Over time, we have seen a number of spectacular games based on Games Workshop’s Warhammer properties. Fatshark’s Vermintide 2 released to immense success last year. Meanwhile, Creative Assembly’s Total War: Warhammer titles have gained a strong following among strategy fans. Both games, as I noted previously, provided worthwhile experiences depicting the Warhammer Fantasy Battles universe that has become officially defunct — a.k.a. Mannfred-ed.
As for Warhammer 40K, games such as Mechanicus captured the (machine) spirit of what a faction-specific AdMech game could be. Likewise, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 put you right in the middle of the current setting, Gathering Storm.
Hope on the horizon
There is hope on the horizon, thanks to the quality of more recent Warhammer licensed games. There are even new projects in store, such as the collaboration between Sabre Interactive and Focus Home Interactive, which is something considered as “the most ambitious project in the publisher’s history.”
So, yes, there’s a sense of hope and longing that Warhammer games improve in quality, scope, and scale, becoming even more mainstream or accepted by gaming fans.
As far as this relates to the planned Eisenhorn show, Big Light Productions will develop the project. It will be helmed by none other than Frank Spotnitz, three-time Golden Globe winner for The X-Files, which he had written and produced in the past, as well as Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle. The latter, based on Philip K. Dick’s critically-acclaimed novel of the same name, has also been lauded with praise.
Hope shouldn’t fade so easily with talent like that. Perhaps Spotnitz will be the Saint Celestine or the Belisarius Cawl for the franchise’s foray into the small screen.
Warhammer 40K on your screens
A reason why I keep droning on about hoping for the Eisenhorn show’s eventual success is that I know how rabid and passionate Warhammer fans can be. I also know how stingy Games Workshop is when handing out its licenses. Oh, sure, they may hand these out for random developers to make random games, but how about movie or TV adaptations?
Guess what? Since being introduced in 1987, there have only been a handful of movies or shows based on Warhammer 40K. The Horus Heresy novel series has around a hundred stories, and yet it’s without a single movie or show adaptation. Various Space Marine chapters, Imperial Guard regiments, traitor legions, Eldar lore, you name it and they’d all have to wait in line.
Even the website 1D4chan makes fun of past creations. The Ultramarines movie? That was straight-to-DVD, and it wasn’t good. Roboute Guilliman would much rather get poisoned again than watch that. In fact, many flicks are fan-made, and these are of immensely better quality.
The video you see above is Helsreach, a fan-made project by Richard Boylan. Boylan was a cinematic designer for Mass Effect 3, Andromeda, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. He took his talents not to South Beach, but to Helsreach — a novel depicting an all-out war in the planet of Armageddon. Boylan and his team created the animations while using the narration from the audiobook. Even though Games Workshop can be stingy when it comes to fan-made content, the novel’s author, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, ended up praising his work. Boylan also ended up making a live-action short flick called Guardsman, which you’ll see below.
With Dembski-Bowden’s blessing and Boylan’s skills, the designer became part of an upcoming, officially-licensed (yes, this part should be in bold because I cannot stress this enough) Warhammer 40K animated series called Angels of Death. After working on Battlefront 2, I guess we can say that Boylan’s Warhammer 40K creations truly evoked a sense of pride and accomplishment.
It doesn’t stop there. There are so many Warhammer-related videos made by fans and lore nuts, enough that it would make a Lord of Change scratch its head. One great example is “Astartes” (seen below), a series of very short animated videos on YouTube. Another would be the long-running series known as “If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device” (TTS) by Bruva Alfabusa.
A franchise that has hundreds of novels and short stories, with a community starved for adaptations for other mediums, and for higher quality content, predominantly relying on the works of fellow fans — that’s Warhammer for you.
As for the TV show based on the Eisenhorn novels, we don’t know yet how things will turn out. However, the Eisenhorn TV show comes at a perfect time. Warhammer‘s popularity is gaining momentum for other mediums. I doubt it’d be particularly big-budget since the Eisenhorn novels were never known for bombastic or grandiose battles and wars. It’s a more personal and introspective take about the journey of an Inquisitor who sets out to purge heretics, Xenos scum, and Chaos cultists. Still, along the way, Gregor Eisenhorn and his cohorts might be presented with choices that seem pragmatic, yet borderline forbidden.
The development is still at the preliminary stages — we don’t know who will be cast, or what the episodes will be like. It’s a very long process, and even the Warhammer community site makes note of that. But, it’s safe to say that Eisenhorn is something we can all eagerly look forward to, with a lot of hope and a slight dash of trepidation. Our expectations for the future of this show shouldn’t be so grimdark this time.
Khorne did want skulls for his skull throne. Well, maybe it’s time Games Workshop throws us a bone instead.
You can learn more about Gregor Eisenhorn via the Black Library novels written by Dan Abnett. You can also check out the Lexicanum website for more in-depth information. Fingers crossed that the Eisenhorn show will be great. Otherwise, another failure would be… most perturbatory.