Warhammer 40,000's Animated Shorts Are Finally (Slightly) Branching Out Beyond Space Marines

Get ready for some Stealth Suit action.
Get ready for some Stealth Suit action.
Screenshot: Games Workshop

Okay, three of them are still about the fascistic zealotry that is the footsoldiers of 40K’s dystopian Human empire, the Space Marines. But the other is about the fascistic zealotry of a dystopian alien Empire! Baby steps.

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In the past year, Games Workshop has made huge strides to bring the grimdark sci-fi world of its Warhammer 40,000 tabletop strategy game to other mediums—from announcing big TV deals, to tie-in spinoffs like Marvel comics and even an upcoming foray into Magic: The Gathering, to pumping out cool animated shorts to expand the universe beyond rad miniatures. But, for the most part, these pushes have primarily focused on bringing us new stories about the Imperium of Man’s vanguard: the chapters of the Space Marines.

There’s a reason for that, of course, and the Space Marines are iconic for a reason (remember that weird-ass time when Games Workshop tried to trademark the concept, because it was so integral to its brand?). They’re the poster children of 40K, and the stompy power-armor look is probably one of the few things people with a passing familiarity with the franchise are aware of.

But part of what makes 40K so interesting in the first place is the bevy of alien factions that represent the galaxy beyond the perpetual squabble between the Imperium and, well, literally everything else in the galaxy. From the demonic hordes of Chaos’ followers to Xeno races like the Orks, Tyranids, and Aeldari, there’s plenty there for this new focus on spinoffs to pull on...and at last, they are doing so with one of the most intriguing 40K factions of all: the T’au Empire.

Announced today alongside three other shorts—a mysterious follow-up project spearheaded by Syama Pedersen (who dazzled the world with the incredible fan animation Astartes), a Black Templar short called Primaris: The Last Templar by PaxelArt, and an Iron Warriors/Drukhari mashup called Iron Within by Codex Film—was The Exodite, by Lost Legion Studios. The Exodite (which was originally a fan project before Games Workshop offered the chance for it to become an official short) follows a T’au operative as they navigate the castes and hierarchies of the Empire—an interstellar force made up of an amalgam of races that have joined up with the mysterious T’au ruling faction, the Ethereals, willingly or under threat of annihilation. They do so in the name of the “Greater Good,” the T’au Empire’s spiritual belief in striving for the best outcomes for the largest number of sentient beings in the galaxy.

That is, as long as that good work falls under the purview of the T’au Empire, of course.

Aside from the fact that this means getting to explore a side of 40K that we don’t typically get to see in its expanded fiction all that often, given the Space Marine focus, it also means we’re going to see some of the T’au’s extremely cool mecha laser blast the hell out of some stuff, presumably. Because really, that’s what we all want to see at the end of the day, right?

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The Exodite doesn’t currently have a planned release date, but Games Workshop promises to reveal more details about it and its future plans for Warhammer animated series in the near future.

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

DISCUSSION

interrogator-chaplain
interrogator-chaplain

Astartes was free advertising for Games Workshop. They didn’t have to do a thing and in return they got free exposure from it. I don’t exactly know how revenue for online content is generated, so I don’t know if Syama Petersen got money from it directly, but as a fan film, that’s unlikely. Now no company is above reproach or criticism, GW included. (Full disclosure: I’m a 20 year GW fanboy.) But the community has been fairly consistent in one message concerning Astartes: “Hire this man.” And well shit, they went and did it, and seeing as how Astartes has moved from YouTube to Warhammer Community and now bears a Warhammer logo, I can only assume that Mr. Petersen has been compensated for his work. And like, can I just say that this is nice? It didn’t need to go this way, they could’ve reaped the association for nothing while carrying along and Astartes would’ve been a helluva demo reel piece for Syama.
Now, we’re getting more. And a fan is now getting paid by the people he’s a fan of. GW please, give this guy the resources for a team and let him do his thing.

Maybe I’m wrong but this feels like a win-win scenario.