Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior

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Skulls For the Greater Good!

"It's quiet."

– Every Imperial Guardsmen

Welcome, new Fire Warrior. Here is a shitty weaboo dagger you will never use, here's a lame 'pulse' weapon that hits like a cap gun and can't be replaced, and here's your first sortie. You'll loot weapons that don't suck from the enemy, until you trade up. You'll face marvelous varieties of the gue'la menace. Worry not, they're pretty easy to outsmart. You'll also have to wreck a bunch of machines and daemons. Worry not, they're all in convenient arenas with cover and supplies. No, you won't get to ride a Battlesuit or Hammerhead Gunship, because you are, after all, still a rookie, despite somehow racking up a body count to shame Farsight. And afterward, if you succeed, you will not be quite the same. Have a shitty day, and FUCK YOU.

THQ released a video game tie-in called Fire Warrior soon after the initial release of the Tau Codex. Taking the role of Kais, a Shas'La about to undertake his first trial-by-fire (ha!) in an attempt to rescue an Ethereal, it was a thoroughly unremarkable introductory FPS, similar to many that followed any successful or hopefully-successful movie of the 00's. It is not a terrible game. Neither is it a good game. It's just... there. If it's any consolation, it's from pre-Fourth Edition, and they were still ironing out some of the Tau's wrinkles at the time.

Highlights include bolters working pretty close to the fluff: semi-automatic mini-rocket launchers (actually, they're pretty close to a goddamn Soundstrike Missile Launcher now that we think about it), some badass dialogue, Tom Baker and Sean Pertwee (son of John Pertwee, the Third Doctor, who is becoming a recurring guest star in 40k), and BRIAN BLESSED, great art-direction, and somewhat interesting level design.

Not-so-good highlights include shitty hit detection, pulse rifles that somehow trade equivalent to lasguns, shooting down a Valkyrie with small arms fire (shoulda sprung for the extra armor upgrade!), and killing a LORD OF CHANGE ON YOUR OWN. Managing to sword a Space Marine is hilarious though. The fact that you're essentially a one-man unstoppable killing machine is rather silly, for better AND worse, especially considering you're just a Shas'La on his first day of duty (If you were around a Shas'Vre or Shas'O in a functioning battlesuit, it would have been slightly more realistic to be the Tau version of Rambo). But, Rambo you are, and if you want to do that and don't mind that you're ripping more holes in canon than an actual cannon, again, it's not terrible. Just... run-of-the-mill. The game was notable at the time for being one of the first console games with online capability, and in this capacity, it saw a lot of chaotic fun, since your character in Multiplayer could be a Tau, Guardsman, Cultist, Space Marine, or Chaos Marine, all with their own unique taunts and animations. It's very much a product of its time; enjoyable, but stupid, and /tg/ had a fun time with it.

The novelization of the game suggests he was being helped by Khorne (which makes even less sense that you're eventually trying to stop a Lord of Change that for some reason has Khorne's favor). If anything Kais could be being influenced by a certain pseudo-existent self-loathing asshole that loves to fuck with his fellow Chaos gods because reasons. Hell, it's also implied that Kais was being guided by the Lord of Change himself in his Tzeentch fetish for Just as Planned. Needless to say, said Lord of Change got his feathered ass handed to him.

tl;dr: Fun if you can get past the raft of issues, but unbelievably stupid. Bizarrely atmospheric, in that it captures the feel of being the Fucking New Guy dumped in the trenches, even if you rack up way, way more kills than an FNG should be able to. Saved by the fact that you can shoot some Ultrasmurfs if you are so inclined. Now on GOG.

Weapons and Wargear[edit]

Fire Warrior has an impressive weapons arsenal - mostly Tau and Imperial, but some Chaos too:

  • Bonding Knife
    • An emergency weapon. Doesn't take up a weapon slot and is accessed with its own special button (Tab on PC). Can be swung almost as fast as you can click. Can theoretically be used to unload The Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic all over the place and induce ultimate fluff rape by killing Space Marines in melee combat; in practice you'll only do it once for the lulz and because crouching in front of them prevents them from hitting you and you can melee them to death.
      • Primary fire: Swings your sword.
      • Secondary fire: Parrying melee attacks.
  • Pulse Rifle
    • The standard weapon you start with, and in single player is comparable to the lasgun, and it's also hilariously inaccurate. Secondary fire is slower, but 100% accurate. It's a decent weapon, but it winds up having pretty bad concentrated damage due to its fire rate, and terrible accuracy; best used at short ranged fights (since the projectile vanishes before reaching long ranges) but generally better off replaced by other weapons ASAP.
      • Primary Fire: Slow-firing but nonetheless full-auto plasma bursts. Per-round damage is good but DPS is terrible.
      • Secondary Fire: Fires even slower but considerably more accurately.
  • Pulse Carbine
    • A solid upgrade; gives you a much faster-firing rifle that has vastly higher damage-per-second but with the same awful accuracy; fires the same projectile as the Pulse Rifle, making this a very good weapon for close-combat, and the underslung grenade launcher is a good medium raged weapon. Secondary fire is useless, it's about as inaccurate as the primary fire and shoots slower.
      • Primary Fire: Rapid-firing full-auto plasma bursts. DPS is way better than the Pulse Rifle, but accuracy is the same.
      • Secondary Fire: Fires much slower. That's it.
  • Burst Cannon
    • Ironically enough, given to you for the first time by a Space Marine during a peace delegation. The Burst Cannon is a blunt instrument; a vulcan cannon of Pulse weaponry that hoses out ammo like crazy. A godsend because you're about to be facing Chaos Marines. High DPS and a massive magazine make up for its spin-up delay; it's the best of any pulse weapon, but accuracy sucks; do not use beyond medimum range.
      • Primary Fire: Extremely quick-firing full-auto plasma bursts; DPS is the highest of any pulse weapon but it sprays a lot.
      • Secondary Fire: Pre-spins barrel for quick firing.
  • Lasgun
    • The humble Lasgun is extremely common early on; it does less damage than the Pulse Rifle but fires much faster, making it much better at closer ranges. Solid early-game close-ranger that tends to lose its use by the time you find an autogun, since the projectile vanishes at the same distance as the Pulse Rifle and the autogun's doesn't. No secondary fire mode. Carried by Guardsmen.
      • Primary Fire: Rapid-fire laser bursts. Modest DPS and accuracy. Good early gun.
      • Secondary Fire: None
  • Laspistol
    • The Laspistol in this game is closer to a hand cannon; it holds a mere six rounds and actually does pretty solid damage per-shot but due to frequent reloading, can't really achieve the rock-solid DPS it would otherwise have. A fun little weapon that tends to get sidelined in favor of more conventional weapons. Carried by sergeants.
      • Primary Fire: Semi-Automatic laser bursts. Higher damage but limited power pack size.
      • Secondary Fire: None
  • Shotgun
    • Carried by shipboard troopers and scouts, these things pack serious punch but have limited range. Not as good as shotguns in other games, the Shotgun in Fire Warrior is still great at close range - just don't try to go after enemies tougher than a Stormtrooper with it outside of Multiplayer - you've been warned.
      • Primary Fire: Single Shot.
      • Secondary Fire: Two-Round Burst.
  • Autogun
    • The Autogun is the main weapon of the game's Stormtroopers (and the primary weapon in Multiplayer you start with), and is also carried by a lot of Guardsmen. It fires incredibly quickly, and its high-speed shots are hard to dodge, but each round does relatively little damage and the ordinary fire is just as inaccurate as most Tau weapons. However, because it fires so quickly, it's quite capable of whittling down a target's health in no time at all. Even a Space Marine isn't taking more than two or three mags from this thing; it's just a matter of surviving to get the ammo in. Solid out to long range.
      • Primary Fire: Fully-automatic ammunition barrage.
      • Secondary Fire: Fires a single round that's 100% accurate, and aside from the sniper/rail rifle is the only weapon capable of getting consistent headshots.
  • Sniper Rifle
    • Holy shit, Exitus Pattern even. The Sniper Rifle does massive damage from obscenely far away, provided you can line up a weak spot. Note that on targets like Marines, you're probably going to need more than one shot in the face. Outstanding for handling most basic situations and makes it easy to dominate long-ranged engagements. In Multiplayer it's similar to (but weaker than) the Rail Rifle, which does more damage but also announces your position with each shot.
      • Primary Fire: Single Shot.
      • Secondary Fire: Engages/Disengages scope.
  • Meltagun
    • A flamethrower. Yes, seriously. Rare and precious, the Meltagun fires a continuous stream of white-hot death while its limited ammo lasts. Absolutely nothing survives this fucking thing; even a rampaging Chaos Dreadnought won't fare well against this damned thing. Unfortunately it's both incredibly rare, eats ammunition in short order, and has terrible range, but - hey - it's a goddamned Meltagun, what were you expecting? It also ruins your accuracy score if you were going for A ranks to unlock the cheat codes.
      • Primary Fire: Continuous stream of incendiary death. Fun!
      • Secondary Fire: None.
  • Rail Rifle
    • The Tau Sniper rifle fires hypersonic metal slugs and is 100% accurate. It has a zoom scope and effectively renders the Sniper Rifle an afterthought in single-player. You are forced to replace the Burst Cannon with it as your primary late game, which is fine since it's significantly better. Make no mistake, it's one of those guns where if you miss, it sucks, so make sure each shot from this thing connects.
      • Primary Fire: Single Shot.
      • Secondary Fire: Engages/Disengages scope.
  • Boltgun
    • The Space Marine primary weapon can be used by Kais, but only in its single shot and 2-round burst modes. Kais can barely control the recoil of the damned thing but the damage it does is hilarious, and it's relatively common on maps where Space Marines are opposition. Do note that the micro-rockets can and will mess you up if fired at close range, and like nearly every other weapon the accuracy is terrible. With a pretty big magazine and decent utility, one of the game's best versatile guns.
      • Primary Fire: Single explosive shot.
      • Secondary Fire: Fires a 2-round burst of explosive shots with even less accuracy.
  • Chaos Boltgun
    • The spikey version of the Boltgun is almost identical to the basic version, except it's covered in spikes, and has 4 more rounds per magazine. Ironically they can't share ammo in this game.
      • Primary Fire: Single explosive shot.
      • Secondary Fire: Fires a 2-round burst of explosive shots with less accuracy.
  • Plasma Pistol
    • Everyone's first encounter with one of these in Fire Warrior is the blinding flash, taking a shitload of damage, and wondering what the fuck just happened. Used by Stormtrooper Sergeants and Techpriests, this is a rare find, but once secured is hilarious; each shot does tons of damage - often enough to kill normal enemies in one shot - and the killing shot will ignite the corpse hilariously with plasma fire. For a brief time after getting one, you will laugh as any target you shoot gets a lesson in humility, and then the ammo will run out. Later on it becomes way more common because Chaos Raptors carry the damned things, but by then you have better guns.
      • Primary Fire: Single big plasma blast.
      • Secondary Fire: None.
  • Plasma Gun
    • Used by Space Marines of both Chaos and Loyalist flavors, this is basically a bigger, stronger, and longer-ranged version of an already-great weapon. In all ways it handles like a better version of the Plasma Pistol, and it's good for both hammering heavier targets (Marines) and punching weaker foes. It has a secondary mode that is absolutely hilarious as well, letting it charge up and pierce everything in front of it. Use that mode for hallway clearance.
      • Primary Fire: Single big plasma blast.
      • Secondary Fire: Charges up to fire a piercing plasma blast.
  • Missile Launcher
    • Used exclusively by Chaos Space Marines, the Missile Launcher is a one-hit wonder. Typically it does enough damage to kill a Chaos Space Marine in one shot, although sometimes they'll live and/or come back to life from a faked death animation. It also has 100% accuracy, although nearly every time you find it there'll only be enough ammo for a single shot. The blast also passes through walls for some reason, and the enemies will exploit this by being beneath and shooting the floor of the ramps you tend to stand on, while you won't be able to shoot back.
      • Primary Fire: Fires a rocket.
      • Secondary Fire: None.

But Then Suddenly[edit]

Word from Dark Crusade's development team is that Shas'O Kais, the protagonist of Fire Warrior, is the very same Kais that is the Tau Commander in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. This is actually kind of clever, since after all the shit Kais wound up drowning in pulse fire/photon grenades/railgun slugs/etc in Fire Warrior (including a Greater Daemon, apparently), Kais was certainly qualified for a promotion. According to interviews, it's never fully stated that such is the case in-game (Kais is an extremely common fire caste name, as evidenced by the fact that Commander Farsight has it, among others, but that him being the same Kais from Fire Warrior was expressly intended as a polite nod towards the earlier game.

You shouldn't be surprised; Eliphas the Inheritor came back like 3 times, albeit by Chaos bullshit a tau wouldn't have access to.

The Novelization[edit]

Believe it or not, they made a book about this game. Written by Simon Spurrier, it is a lot less goofy than the game, though that alone is not saying much. It still struggles a bit in the sections where it cannot avoid some of the more egregious crap that happens in the game, but it balances those out with several moments of awesome too.

It goes into a lot of Tau philosophy and psychology, often switching perspectives between characters both to give a wider view of the conflict and to bring their views of the situation into contrast. Lots of pointless characters get introduced to give the narrative weight and get the reader empathizing, and many of those characters are killed off a paragraph or so after their introduction and exposition of their back stories and aspirations just to underscore how fucking Grimderp the setting is.

It is also interesting in that it gives snippets of Ethereal perspectives that both impart the evidence of them being on blatant power trips, using pheromone conditioning, and displaying their absurdly derp levels of ignorance towards the dangers of Chaos counterbalanced by their genuine desire to bring prosperity to the Tau race, foster order and cooperation between the castes, making a cursory attempt to get along with the rest of the galaxy, and wrecking the shit out of the races that are a threat to everyone. Though one could dispute the last statement since the fluffy Tau, at the time of Fire Warrior, were kind of trying to give three-fingered handshakes to factions like the Dark Eldar and Orks. At least they were smart enough to yank said hands back from the Nids before they were bitten off, because the mere thought of them jetting some Por'El diplomats to a Hive Fleet just epitomizes failure.

There is lot of semi-poetic description going on, with characters observing to themselves the vagaries of the universe they inhabit. For example, this is an excerpt from a scene in which Kais comes on the remains of some Fire Warriors and Imperial Navy Armsmen in the wake of a Chaos attack:

  • "Here a tau arm lay, knuckles clenched, beside a de-limbed human corpse. There was a symbolism here, perhaps. A sense of unity, a sense of physical sameness. Given a talented enough Por'Ui journalist, this scene might mean something. `In death, we're all the same'..."

Heavy shit right there. Khorne cares not from where the blood flows, red or blue is all the same to him, no matter what side of the conflict you are fighting on. In this universe, everyone ends up butchered meat, no matter which species they are.

Speaking of Chaos, the book does justify a lot of why Kais is kicking Imperial ass left and right. You know the big bad of the piece is a Changer of Ways of Chaos Undivided, right? Did you really think that a lone Fire Warrior doing improbably well would not be a case of Just As Planned? Or that Khorne himself is not also capable of pulling off a different plan of his own? The Tau are as a whole resistant to Chaos, but not completely immune. When they find one Tau with enough rage to get Khorne's attention, even despite the weak warp connection, that starts the Chaos Gods thinking about trying a few experiments.

This is probably the only time you will hear a tau yelling Khorne's favorite line... which would certainly explain the cover art quite nicely.

The end also has the main character's commander talk about the Nature of the Greater Good in a Galaxy like 40k has. More or less the Tau ideals are impossible to truly reach, but what's really important is trying to reach them. In other words "the grim darkness of the forty-first millennium is grimdark enough as is, so let's not add to it if we can help it."

Ruining a mediocre thing[edit]

While you would certainly be forgiven to think this game was just a fluke, and non-canon for the most part, there have been some recent developments in the fluff pointing otherwise. Aside from the aforemented Dark Crusade character, the name Kais has been popping up surprisingly often in Tau Codexes and novelizations. Specifically references to a third pupil of Puretide who, unlike Farsight who chose Mont'ka and Shadowsun who chose Kauyon, this one sought a third way of warfare. This pupil named, in a totally coincidental way, Kais sought to master the way of Monat, the way of the lone warrior. In other words the bastard wanted to be an army in and of himself, even though this is at complete odds with what little character he was given when the game came out (such as the short comic which served as a prologue to the game's prologue).

This is something that Phil Kelly would eventually enshrine in a shitty novel, where Kais becomes a complete Mary Sue who does such ridiculous shit that all of the events in this game seem reasonable and well written by comparison.