Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader artwork for the Dark Eldar companion Marazhai

As I've detailed throughout my review, Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader is an incredibly deep and complex cRPG that gives you the freedom to make some truly wild and creative builds. This sort of freedom come at a cost, however, and that cost is accessibility.

Unless you're a veteran of the genre, figuring out what to do and how to do it can be quite a daunting task. So in an effort to help you get started off on the right foot, allow me to share with you some of the key tricks and strategies I uncovered throughout my lengthy playthrough. Without further ado, let us begin!

Video version of this guide (~11 minutes)

1) Specialize

Rogue Trader has a large array of skills that will help you increase your combat capabilities, give you access to new dialogue options, or even just open up new areas to explore. However, there are far too many of these skills for a single character to master, so make sure to specialize so you're amazing at a couple rather than simply mediocre at all of them.

The important thing to note here is that you are almost always able to use your companion's skill levels when resolving skill checks. So even if your main character has the charisma of an old crusty sock, you'll still be able to talk your way through situations if you have a companion with plenty of Persuasion. As such, make sure to have a good spread of skills across all of your characters as this will give you the most options.

Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader - Beginner's Guide screenshot of the ideal stat sheet

A few great skills per companion is all it takes

2) Don't blindly follow suggestions

As you level up in Rogue Trader you will be given the ability to acquire a plethora of unique abilities and perks, so much so that it might be hard to figure out which ones to take. In order to help you out, the game will always highlight a couple of options it deems important for your type of build. Do not blindly follow these suggestions.

While they are never actively bad, these suggestions will often ignore powerful synergies and class-based abilies, especially for Psykers. For whatever reason the recommendations will never suggest you unlock new types of spells, or even increase your Psi level which is what makes you a stronger caster.

So as daunting as it may be at first glance, I'd highly recommend taking a bit of time to read through the perks and using the in-built 'favorites' system to mark ones you like. Then, combine those with some of the suggested perks to create a build that works for you.

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader - Beginner's Guide screenshot of the recommendation system

The game really doesn't like recommending Psykers new spells

3) Supports are super strong

While dishing out buffs might not be as flashy as mowing down a dozen cultists with a heavy bolter, support focused characters in Rogue Trader are incredibly powerful. They can greatly amplify stats, give temporary health and cure debuffs, shred enemy defenses, and most importantly of all, give extra turns to other characters!

As a result of all of this, a support character can actually end up dishing out more hurt than even the best damage dealer, albeit through a proxy. So when you're building your team, don't ignore those seemingly boring abilities that help others as they are incredibly powerful and only get better the more of them you stack on one character.

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader screenshot of the Grand strategist's zones

Even a single Grand Strategist can massively buff the team

4) Your build sucks? Just respec!

No matter how many guides you read and how much experience you have with the RPG genre, chances are good you'll make a couple of mistakes and completely mess up a character's build. This isn't even remotely a problem, however, as you can respec any of your characters for (basically) free at any time. The only cost is a tiny bit of profit factor, a stat that is easy to inflate and matters little.

In order to respec you simply need to visit your ship, talk to High Factotum Janris Danrok who's standing near the central console, tell him you and your team need training, and that's it. While you can't change your base class and the perks you chose at character selection, you can respec literally everything else, so feel free to experiment as there's a lot of different builds to explore!

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader screenshot of the free respec system

Sometimes, all you need is a clean slate

5) Utilize your entire toolkit

Even if you have a highly optimized team, you're going to run into some tough fights sooner or later. Besides simply smashing your head against the wall until it breaks, the best way to deal with these difficulty spikes is to get creative and utilize the entirety of your toolkit. Here's a brief rundown of some tricks you should keep in mind:

- You can swap between your weapon loadouts for free at any time in combat. Use fast-firing weapons for chaff and armor-piercing ones for bosses.
- Stims can greatly increase your DPS and make it easier to burst down bosses or get to distant enemies.
- Some equippable items can completely negate or even just greatly weaken certain enemy attacks, so dress for the occasion.
- Chaining extra turns on your fastest character can kill problematic enemies before they can even act.
- Grenades and Psyker spells can incapacitate large numbers of enemies, thus giving you the opening you need to deal with the nastiest ones.

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader screenshot of the Elixir of Warp neutrality item

Items like these can trivialize certain encounters

6) The need for speed

Regardless of how charismatic you might be, Rogue Trader is going to have you fight against a lot of enemies. And I really do mean a lot! While smashing through them is always a nice bit of fun, it can get quite time-consuming.

Thankfully, Rogue Trader has a couple of options to help you speed up combat. You can find these at the bottom of 'Game' tab in the Options menu. Alternatively, if you don't want everything to be super fast all of the time, you can also hold down [Space] (the skip button) while the enemies are doing their turn in order to make them go faster. If you do this, just make sure not to mash [Space] as you might accidentally skip through one of your character's turns!

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader Beginner's Guide screenshot of the settings for speeding up the game

These are the settings you'll want to tweak

7) Scour the entire map for secrets

Most of the really good items in Rogue Trader come from either boss fights or secrets. The latter usually come in two forms: loot that's hidden behind skill checks like Awareness or Demolition, and loot that is hidden behind some sort of puzzle you'll need to manually solve.

As such, not only should you listen to my first bit of advice and have a good spread of skill across your characters, but you should also snoop around every corner of the map as you never know what you might find! And if you do run into one of these puzzles, don't feel bad if you can't solve them yourself and need to rely on a wiki as some of them are absolutely insane! Either way, they're all well worth doing as they'll give you a nice spread of unique items and accessories to mess around with. 

8) Money is meaningless

In sharp contrast to most RPGs, your character in Rogue Trader is so obscenely wealthy that you no longer have a need for money. Instead, you're able to 'purchase' new items by obtaining a certain amount of reputation with the various factions, something that is mostly done by gifting them large quantities of junk you find while adventuring.

There are two important things to note here. First and foremost, you can select which items will automatically go to the cargo hold and which will be added to your inventory for personal use. You can do this by right clicking on the individual items, and it's something I would highly recommend you do for any random bits of garbage you run across as you'll otherwise have to manually purge your inventory of obsolete swords and pistols.

The second, and perhaps most important thing, is that all of the items are free! If you have the required profit factor and reputation, you can simply grab the items from the store. Even if there's twenty items on that list, you can grab all of them without paying a single cent. Turns out being stupidly rich is quite useful!

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader screenshot of the reputation item shop

Free stuff! What's not to love?

9) Don't waste Navigator Insight

Once you get to the star map you'll be able to explore distant planets by first uncovering and then following warp routes. In their basic form these warp routes are fairly dangerous as every single 'step' will have you roll a dice to see if something bad happens. To counteract this the game gives you Navigator Insight every time you uncover new routes, and by using this insight you can decrease the danger level of your routes and thus allow for smoother traveling.

Do not do this! Navigator Insight is a highly limited resource and not something you should spend frivolously, as I've painfully learned! The reason this is the case is that you don't have to follow the pre-set routes and can instead spend 3 insight to first create a new route between planets, and then another 3 to make that route perfectly safe.

So instead of making random routes to nowhere a little bit safer, my recommendation would be to save all of your insight and exclusively use it to open and secure routes between your major cities as those are the locations you'll be visiting over and over again. The only exception here are some of the planets that are otherwise inaccessible, as for those you'll need to spend a bit of insight in order to explore them, though you will also get some back in the process so it's well worth the trouble.

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader Beginner's Guide screenshot of the warp routes

Don't repeat my mistakes. Connect your cities!

10) When in doubt, save!

Regardless of what kind of playstyle you might have, I would highly recommend saving frequently, and ideally in multiple save slots. The first and most obvious reason is to protect yourself from bugs, as unfortunately Rogue Trader is currently full of them.

The second reason is the simple fact that you never really know when you're going to run into a point of no return, or perhaps just a really difficult fight. This is especially important with space battles as some of the first ones you'll encounter are far, far too difficult for your starter ship, yet the game doesn't tell you this until you find yourself looking like a torpedo pincushion.

So in order to save yourself a lot of trouble, it's always good to have a save point that's no more than 10 minutes away. Trust me on this one!

Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader artwork showing off the Adeptus Mechanicus tech priests

I bet they wish they could reload a save!

Closing thoughts

There you have it, ten simple tips that will hopefully make your first run through Rogue Trader a nice and pleasant one. But, like I said at the very start, this is an extremely deep and complex cRPG, so don't feel bad if you end up struggling for a while. I've got a ton of experience with Owlcat's games and even I had to respec my main character four times before I landed on something I could actually call good.

Thankfully, every mistake is fixable, so don't stress too much about the details and just enjoy the journey. After all, the more you mess up the more memorable and satisfying it'll all be once you finally succeed!