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Hammer and Bolter – Old Bale Eye Review and First Impressions

Today Games Workshop are showing off their first offering from Warhammer+ today in the form of the Hammer and Bolter episode “Old Bale Eye” in advance of the launch of Warhammer+ next week!

A couple of days ago we and some of the other Warhammer content producers had been invited to an advance screening of the episode, and today we are able to share our thoughts on the episode! Thanks again to Games Workshop for letting us see the episode a little early!

Hammer and Bolter is an anthology series that takes unconnected stories from around the universes of both Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar, giving us a look into multiple different characters, races and worlds in animated form!

Without going into spoilers, Old Bale Eye is the story of Commissar Yarrick and his long standing rivalry with Ghazghkull Thraka – but told from the point of view of an Ork Runtherd trying to inspire a pair of yoofs into the importance of finding a “proper” foe rather than bullying a grot!

If you want a little tease yourself we also have a couple of audio clips from the show here:

As the first introduction into Warhammer animations, Old Bale Eye had a lot riding on it’s shoulders – So what did we think? Did it live up to our expectations? Here’s our thoughts on the show:

Dave

The much anticipated Warhammer+ is upon us, and we got the opportunity to watch a full episode of Hammer & Bolter, Old Bale Eye! 
What we were greeted with was a characterful, 80s throwback, with the Orks front and centre as we learn the history of Commisar Yarrick and his ongoing conflicts against Ghazghkull! 
Everything about the 20 minute episode felt like a classic American Saturday morning show (albeit with more flying limbs and blood). The animation wasn’t crisp, but then I don’t feel it wasn’t meant to be. The backgrounds, music and dialogue were spot on, and I loved the references to other races. 
Old Bale Eye showed perfectly how Games Workshop can introduce the classic parts of the lore to fans of the hobby, whether they be new to Warhammer or veterans. I’m sure they’ll also introduce new characters and stories through this channel of the business. 
The comic style of this particular episode worked with the style of American animation, but I’m super looking forward to seeing what else we’ll see in the Hammer & Bolter series, as well as other shows that will be appearing on Warhammer+.
Now when are we getting a plastic Yarrick with new epic rules?! 

Andy

Old Bale Eye was in short amazing … seeing the grim darkness of the 41st millennium brought to life was nothing short of a childhood dream come true and what a perfect way to introduce
Warhammer + animations than Old Bale Eye. The animation gave me that 90’s cartoon vibe but
with the gruesome style that you would expect from the grim darkness of the far future, everything from the lowly grot to the big green man himself was captured perfectly. The action was immense and again really captured both Yarrik and Orks really well ; seeing Yarrik’s story told from the perspective of a grot herder was interesting to say the least.

The sound gave me a truly immersive experience, really pumping you up during the action
sequences with a metal soundtrack which is exactly how I imagine Orks go to war or indeed any
force in the Warhammer 40,000 setting. The episode itself was soo engaging from start to finish,
never once did I ever take my eyes off the screen, there’s something about a rattling sniper
shooting a grot in a killa kan that was really fun to watch, and thats not even the best part. The
pacing of the episode flowed very well giving us a great setting intro, an amazing story about
Yarrik and then finishing with the grot herder (who dare I say stole the show for me) leaving the
story “unfinished” (something to finish on the table top I think) worked really well.
Overall the episode “Old Bale Eye” really was just the beginning of what I imagine is going to be a lot of amazing content set in the Warhammer universe and if the aim of that show was to get me to buy Orks it worked very well.

Jay

Woah! That was amazing! Everything a lifelong Warhammer 40,000 fan could have wished for! I know the story of Yarrick, Ghaz’ghul and Armageddon almost inside out and have fond memories of reading about this iconic conflict in old Codexes and White Dwarf magazines with my brother as a young Warhammer fan, so I was especially excited that the first episode we’d get to watch was focussed around this iconic Warhammer 40,000 event – it did not disappoint.

The animation itself felt like a mix between a graphic novel and an early 90’s cartoon, with some scenes transitioning with a ‘comic book’ style border effect and others playing out in a traditional animated style. I feel this worked well with the tongue in cheek humour and over the top violence you’d expect from Orks that ran through the whole episode. The sound effects and music were great too. Bolters, Battle Cannons and Chainswords all sounded impressivly meaty and destructive, all over an awesome thumping background soundtrack. It was noisy, chaotic and really brought the Ork WAAAGH! to life on screen.

Seeing characters I’ve been reading about and playing with for the last 25 years or so brought to life in a cracking animation is such a cool experience, especially as Warhammer and all of it’s stories have been such a big part of my life. The 20 minutes of Warhammer+ we’ve seen so far definitely has me hyped about what else is coming. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Warhammer+ team bring other characters and events to life in future episodes!

Matt

Finally we’ll end with me, as my thoughts on the show are a little more mixed than the other guys.

It was amazing seeing an official Warhammer cartoon, something I never expected I would ever see in my life, and have to say I did have a silly grin on my face watching the story unfold.

We’ll start on what I enjoyed, as there are great parts to this show. Firstly, the episode captured the spirit of Warhammer 40,000, from the design to Easter eggs such as Ghazghkull’s original banner, you can tell this has been crafted by people who love Warhammer as much as we do.

Sound is also a high point with decent voice action and possibly the most 80’s soundtrack ever dripping in synth and guitars taking us back to the era when the original Codex Orks dropped! Sound effects are suitably crunchy too with the thump of a bolt gun being particularly satisfying.

The show is also surprisingly gory and badged with a 15 certificate, with gallons of blood being spilled and limbs being removed, I don’t think we need to worry about things being toned down in these shows!

Background animation and backdrops are absolutely gorgeous, and I’m looking forward to watching the episode again in higher resolution to enjoy these more – but while the character design is on point, I have to say I feel a little disappointed by the character animation. To me this seemed a little “cheap” looking with less frames of animation and a bit of a janky look to it. Now, as some of the guys have mentioned above this may be intentional in order to capture the 80’s vibes in this show – but I do hope we see some slicker animation within the rest of Hammer and Bolter (And indeed the rest of the Warhammer+ animations)

Despite those criticisms I did thoroughly enjoy the show and look forward to seeing more from the series – If I could go back in time and tell my young self that we would be able to watch Warhammer cartoons one day, my young self would not believe me!

So that’s our thoughts on Old Bale Eye, but we would love to know what you think! The episode is available to watch from 12 today over on Warhammer Community – do let us know what you thought of the show!

Warhammer+ launches on Wednesday, and we will be giving the service a full review as soon as we can!

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