Players are able to choose to play as a character from one of the game's different factions. Although the Warhammer 40,000 universe is known for having many factions; Eternal Crusade allows players to choose from only four different factions. The available factions to choose from are Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Orks and Eldar. There is also an additional fifth faction that is controlled by the game's AI, known as the Tyranids.
Choosing a faction determines which side that character takes in the war for the world of Arkhona, and allows you to play as different subclasses with similar archetypes across factions, which are asymmetrically balanced. This means that, for the most part, playing a jump class for one faction doesn't necessarily need to equate to the same abilities and play style of another faction's jump class. Each faction has its own supply drops and tree of advances.
Each faction also has an additional five sub-factions, which are named differently depending of what faction they belong to. Space Marines have Chapters, Chaos Space Marines have Warbands, Orks have Clans, and Eldar have Craftworlds.
Space Marine Chapters
A Chapter is a self-contained Space Marine army usually made up of a thousand or so Space Marines, as well as a large number of administrative and functionary personnel.
The Adeptus Astartes is divided into roughly a thousand Chapters. Each constituent Chapter is autonomous and constitutes a complete army, with its own leadership, support and administrative staff, reliant only on its own Chapter members. Each chapter has its own traditions, specialties, its own cult, beliefs and practices.
Eternal Crusade has the following chapters that are present in the game:
- Ultramarines: The Ultramarines were the XIII Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. This loyalist Legion was later re-organized and divided into Chapters according to the Codex Astartes. Their Primarch is Roboute Guilliman, whose leadership, not to mention his authorship of the Codex Astartes, were instrumental in humanity's survival following the Horus Heresy. Because their Primarch wrote the text that defines a Space Marine Chapter, the Ultramarines follow this Codex strictly; their only deviation being the recent formation of the Tyrannic War Veterans, comprised entirely of veterans of battles with the Tyranids. The Ultramarines are possibly the most important Imperial organization on the Eastern Fringe.
- Blood Angels: The Blood Angels were the IX Legion of the original Space Marine Legions under their Primarch Sanguinius. They are particularly well known for their bloodthirsty nature in battle. They are also one of the most long-lived Chapters, and have a refined aesthetic sense.
- Space Wolves: The Space Wolves (or Vlka Fenryka, Wolves of Fenris in Fenrisian) were the VI Legion of the twenty Space Marine Legions. Their primarch is Leman Russ. After the Horus Heresy and the resultant reforms, the legion was divided into two chapters: the new Space Wolves chapter retained the name of their parent Legion, while the second chapter took on the name of the Wolf Brothers. The latter however suffered from mutation and was disbanded. It is currently unknown if there are any other descendant chapters of the Space Wolves at all. The Space Wolves are notorious throughout the rest of the Imperium for their ferocity in battle and their defiance of authority, including the dictates of the Codex Astartes that govern the organization and combat doctrines of other Space Marine chapters.
- Dark Angels: The Dark Angels were the I Legion of the twenty original Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch is Lion El'Jonson. After remaining loyal to the Emperor during the Horus Heresy, this legion was later re-organized and divided into several Chapters during the Second Founding. One of these chapters would keep the original legion's name and assets, though all of the Dark Angels descendants continue to work together as the Unforgiven.
- Imperial Fist: The Imperial Fists were the VII Legion of the twenty Original Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch is Rogal Dorn. Known for their siege and defense abilities this chapter holds the honor of having Terra as it's homeworld. They are also known for their extensive use of the Pain Glove A device of both torture and penitence to the Imperial Fists. The most notable of their successor chapters is the Black Templar.
Chaos Space Marine Warbands
In the 10,000 years since their creation, many Space Marines have betrayed the Emperor and turned to worship of the Chaos Gods, becoming Chaos Space Marines. These former chapters are now known as Legions or Warbands, and some Chapters may have changed their names during their history. The difference with Renegade Chapters is that Warbands worship the Chaos Gods.
Eternal Crusade has the following warbands that are present in the game:
- Black Legion: The Black Legion, formerly known as the Luna Wolves and the Sons of Horus, were the XVI Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch was Horus, known to them as Horus Lupercal, and to Imperial history as the instigator of the Horus Heresy, the first great Imperial civil war. Originally named the Luna Wolves, the legion adopted the moniker 'Sons of Horus' after Horus' ascension to Imperial Warmaster. Some time after their defeat in the Horus Heresy, they were renamed the 'Black Legion' by their new commander, Ezekyle Abaddon, also known as Abaddon the Despoiler. Largely since disintegrated as a unified Legion, they can be found operating in countless small warbands across the galaxy, apart from when called together under Abaddon's banner to spearhead one of his notorious Black Crusades.
- Iron Warriors: The Iron Warriors were the IV Legion of the twenty original Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch is Perturabo. They were one of the nine legions which betrayed the Emperor during the Horus Heresy, becoming Chaos Space Marines. Their specialty is siege warfare and the reduction of fortified positions, which made them natural rivals of the Imperial Fists even before the Heresy. The Iron Warriors are also fierce close-range fighters, witnesses comparing their ferocity to the berserkers of the World Eaters traitor legion or the loyalist Blood Angels. They make common use of slave-soldiers as cannon fodder to wither the ammunition supplies of the besieged and to locate the positions of enemy gun emplacements.
- Word Bearers: The Word Bearers, originally known as the Imperial Heralds, were the XVII Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. They were one of the nine Legions which betrayed the Emperor during the Horus Heresy, becoming Chaos Space Marines, their allegiance pledged to their Primarch Lorgar and to Chaos as a whole. Known for their extreme religious fervour even before their conversion to Chaos, they are some of the most fanatical Chaos Marines, notable for using Dark Apostles (a corrupted version of Space Marine Chaplains) to inspire their Marines and their cultist allies in battle.
- Night Lords: The Night Lords were the VIII Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch was Konrad Curze, also called the Night Haunter. The Legion turned traitor during the Horus Heresy, after which it fought its way across Imperial space in a bloody campaign that culminated with the death of Konrad Curze at the hands of an Imperial Assassin. Since the loss of their primarch the Night Lords have based themselves in the Eye of Terror and now operate as a somewhat fragmented terror force who seem to go to war only to slaughter or acquire material possessions. While most certainly Chaos Space Marines, the Night Lords scorn all forms of faith and respect only temporal and material power; indeed, many of them consider themselves free of the taint of Chaos and despise those they deem to be so corrupted.
- Alpha Legion: The Alpha Legion were the XX Legion of the original twenty Space Marine Legions. Their Primarchs are the twins Alpharius and Omegon. Much of this legion was shrouded in mystery since their founding. It is even believed that this legion may still be loyal to the Emperor. This legion operates very differently from the other traitor legions preferring not to take to the field of battle. The end result is all that matters to them, and they often take winding paths in order to ensure they reach it. The legion tend to hide behind their cultists using their marines in pinpoint strikes and take action in independent cells so that, much like the Hydra that is their symbol, cutting off only one head is useless.
Ork Clans are cultural groupings of Orks rather than actual communities, each embodying a distinct Orkish philosophy. Clans exist outside the organization of tribes, where tribes are inconstant, breaking apart and reforming in war, Clans are constant and enduring.
There are countless tribes and warbands throughout the galaxy, but only six significant Clans. Each has its own distinct character, culture, colours, markings, and ways of waging war. The Clan distinctions are possibly genetic, engineered into the Orks by the Brainboys of the distant past.
A large tribe usually consists of Orks of different Clans. Orks tend to form tribes and warbands with others who follow the same clan, but different groups tend to be lumped together after suffering casualties during a Waaagh.
Eternal Crusade has the following clans that are present in the game:
- Evil Sunz: The Evil Sunz are one of the six major Ork Clans, their most notable characteristic is their love of fast vehicles (or "jalopies"). The Evil Sunz love loud, rumbling engines, the smell of gasoline, and above all, going as fast as Orkily possible - arguably even more than splitting heads (of course, going as fast as Orkily possible while splitting heads is a dream fulfilled). Usually, an Evil Sunz band will consist almost entirely of Speed Kult members. Even warbands that haven't given completely over to their love of speed will often have many bikes or vehicles in their force. The clan also contains more Mekboyz than most, and therefore they often field more mechanical creations than other clanz. What little footsloggers they do have are saving up their teeth for a good bike, or perhaps a group of Ork mates are pooling in for a flash truck.
- Bad Moons: The Bad Moons are an Ork clan, and as their teef grow faster than anyone else's, they are the richest of the Ork Clans. This is not considered an unfair advantage, because other Clans figure that they can always bash a Bad Moon Ork over the head and take his teef. As a result, Bad Moons must use part of their wealth to purchase the best gear in order to defend themselves against opportunists seeking to redistribute the wealth; their Warbosses are known to possess Kustom weapons and Battlewagons. They trade with other Orks to get the biggest guns, the flashiest gear, and the best food (therefore often appearing fatter than the average Ork), but are not as concerned with close combat as other orks, acting as a type of merchant class within larger Ork society. They have been noted to have a greater proportion of Gretchin slaves. The signature mob of the Bad Moons are the Flash Gitz, Orks with devastating Kustom Shootas.
- Deathskulls: The Deathskulls are an Ork clan of looters who grab whatever they can from corpses on the battlefield, although they aren't above taking things from other Orks who aren't watching. They collect anything that might be useful, as well as various lucky trinkets and charms, and even junk and whats-its that "might come in 'andy later'". Deathskulls would make capable scientists and excellent engineers if their fascination for new things lasted longer than the time it took to steal them. They have a bad reputation with other Ork clans, as they are seen as scheming thieves. They are superstitious even for Orks, and often paint themselves blue (which Orks feel is a lucky color) to protect themselves from harm. Meks play an integral part of Deathskull society, because it is they who build guns, tanks, and all other manner of wargear out of the bits and gubbins found on the battlefield by their less technologically inclined brethren. Deathskull Meks are proficient at constructing Kustom Kombi-weapons, due to the large amount of random weaponry they have a habit of ending up with. Many Lootas are affiliated with the Deathskulls clan who, being a dangerous band of grubby-fisted thieves, welcome their Loota brethren with open arms.
- Goffs: The Goffs are an Ork Clan and are amongst the toughest and most brutal orks. Goffs value close combat above all else, and have a large proportion of veteran Skarboyz. Goffs dress mostly in black, with some white or red checks for relief, as they see bright colors as being un-Orky. Gretchin and younger orks who have yet to prove themselves in battle are prohibited from wearing black clothes, but are allowed to cover their faces with black paint.
- Blood Axes: The Blood Axes are extremely strange Orks. They're well known for being extremely Un-Orky to the point that that may retreat on purpose. The Blood Axes were the first of the Clans to encounter the Imperium. They've picked up much from the Humans including the concepts of camouflage. These Orks will even serve as mercenaries for Humans! Naturally, many other Orks distrust them.
Craftworlds are vast craft populated by Eldar. They travel through the void of space at sub-light speeds, carrying the greater remnant of the Eldar race after the Fall of their civilisation. Each craftworld is a self-sufficient, independent realm with its own culture. Craftworlds are in many ways living entities, powered by psychic energy from its Infinity Circuit and responding in an organic way to the stimuli of psychic forces. The power within a Craftworld can be expended as light or heat, and most Craftworld technology could not function without this psychic power grid.
Eternal Crusade has the following craftworlds that are present in the game:
- Ulthwé: Ulthwé is one of the largest and most populous Eldar craftworlds remaining since the Fall of the Eldar. Ulthwé was caught in the gravitational pull of the Eye of Terror when it formed during the birth of Slaanesh and now orbits it, perilously close to ultimate absorption and under regular attack from the denizens of the Eye of Terror. Being so near the Eye, the craftworld has fought long and bitterly against Chaos forces. The location of Ulthwé is the reason given by Ulthwé for maintaining such a large number of Warlocks,while others believe it more due to be their location causing exaggerated psychic powers in the Ulthwé population that causes the emergence of more Warlocks. Whatever the reason, many Warlocks and other psychic warriors follow the Ulthwé armies to battle and their skills are even more advanced than other craftworlds, being able to see further and long ahead in time and with greater precision. One of the more famous and integral aspects of the Ulthwé craftworld is that of the Seer Council. Formerly led by the now deceased Eldrad Ulthran, the council both overtly and secretly interferes with other races in an attempt to steer fate in their favour.
- Saim-Hann: Saim-Hann is an Eldar Craftworld with a reputation for wildness and a preference for lightning-fast attacks. Saim-Hann (literally, "Quest for Enlightenment") is regarded by other Craftworlds as anything from a slightly wild and dangerous place to a nest of barbarians living on the edge of Eldar society. They have developed the Path of the Eldar in a much more flexible way than other Eldar. On Saim-Hann, the Path is still a form of control over Eldar life, but it allows Eldar to experience the more wild and carefree ways of old. This practice is regarded by other Eldar as being dangerous, as it was just those sorts of feelings and experiences that led to the Fall of the Eldar. It is said that Saim-Hann was one of the first Craftworlds to escape the Eldar homeworlds before the birth of Slaanesh. It still maintains many links with the somewhat primitive Exodites. The Warriors of Saim-Hann are proud, boisterous and aggressive, and use fast, mobile troops with a high quantity of Jetbikes. Young Guardians are always trying to outdo each other in contests of speed, and particularly in battle. Their symbol is the Cosmic Serpent, and they wear red armour with contrasting black and white detailing.
- Iyanden: Iyanden is an Eldar Craftworld. Once the most populated and largest of the Craftworlds, it is now on the brink of extinction after being invaded by Hive Fleet Kraken. Iyanden barely repelled the attack, losing thousands upon thousands of Eldar warriors in the process. With so few numbers remaining, Iyanden must now rely heavily on Wraith-constructs inhabited by the spirits of their dead, such as Wraithlords and Wraithguard, to form the backbone of its armies. Hence, the people of Iyanden are often referred to as the "Ghost Warriors". Despite suffering such a significant loss, the eldar of Iyanden are determined that their Craftworld will shine brightly once again.
- Biel-Tan: The Biel-tan Craftworld is famous for its inhabitants' militancy; it is home to more Aspect Warriors than any other craftworld. The Eldar of Biel-tan are honourable warriors who have taken it upon themselves to rebuild the lost glory of the ancient Eldar empire, through the destruction of the lesser races who have "usurped" the galaxy, and believe it is glorious to die fighting the enemies of the Craftworld. The main target of the Biel-Tan are non-Eldar colonists - particularly non-Eldar occupying Eldar Maiden Worlds. It is especially galling to the Eldar who created these paradise worlds from dead worlds to find them overrun with inferior species. The Eldar of Biel-tan believe the success of other alien races is a threat to the future progression of the Eldar empire. For this reason the Biel-Tan particularly hate the Orks, Orks being a completely expansionist race, whose occupation of a world quickly becomes permanent. In many cases Biel-Tan have helped Imperial forces that were under heavy attack by Orks and to hunt down Ork Roks before the tide of Orks can overrun a planet.
- Altansar: The Altansar craftworld has recently returned to real space after spending 10 thousand years trapped in the Eye of Terror. Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra freed the Craftworld with disturbances in the warp created by the 13th Black Crusade. Thanks to its long sealing within the Eye of Terror, other Eldar distrust this craftworld unable to conceive an Eldar trapped in the warp for so long can be untouched. It doesn't help that these Eldar never remove their helmets. The Craftworld itself is said to be located near Terra, but as to how such a feat can be achievable by a Xenos without severe retribution from the Imperium is unclear.
Hive Fleets are massive locust-like Tyranid swarms, comprising billions of creatures including the actual bio-ships, living spacecraft used to cross interstellar space and the voids between galaxies. Each creature of the Hive Fleet is an inseparable part of the Hive Mind.
The bio-ships contain everything required to sustain the fleet; some ships being purely for crushing resistance, the larger ships contain birthing pools to create the huge land armies of the Tyranids and even more ships when the need arises. The nutrients used as food and raw material are replenished by scouring conquered planets of every cell of biological matter, including all the Tyranids it seeded onto the planet. Because the Tyranid forces are recycled in this way, the "design" of the Tyranid warriors can be altered by genetic engineering, allowing the Tyranid forces to rapidly adapt to overcome any enemy.
There is yet no confirmation that there will be more than just one Tyranid Hive Fleet present in Eternal Crusade, nor what would be the name of said fleets. However, it has been confirmed that despite there being Tyranids on this planet, there is no Hive Fleet in sight of Arkhona's or the Kharon system's orbit.
- Each faction has one jump/jet unit.
- Each faction has 5 primary classes (save for Eldar, which has 7).