Into the Storm is a companion book of sorts to the Rogue Trader core book, like The Inquisitor’s Handbook was for Dark Heresy. While the Inquisitor’s Handbook was a nice add-on, I’d rate this one as near-required – there’s a lot of important stuff here, so much so that I’d hesitate to run a Rogue Trader game without this. It’s not like anything absolutely critical is missing from the core, but this book does expand the options a lot, especially for initial character creation.
In addition to a top of expanded career paths and background options, we now also get the first options for playing alien (xeno) PCs. The options are still limited, you basically have either Kroot Mercenary or Orc Freebooter – but so are the options in-game for nonhumans in the game world (the book goes into some detail on the problems nonhumans can expect to encounter). The new careers and elite packages expand options for PCs quite a bit, so with this plus the core book you have quite a nice selection of careers and backgrounds to choose from. Of course, if you’re happy with the selection in the core book, you won’t get much from this except perhaps some elite options later on.
We also get a nice section on generating the PCs’ ship, with different background histories, ship types and stuff like that. It’s still not a huge selection, but much better than the bare-bones information the core book gives you. You can either grab one of the pre-generated ships presented here, or use the rules here to generate a fun and unique ship (with appropriate stats).
Another major section is the one one vehicles in general, including mechanical rules for them – something totally missing from the core book. The PCs can now drive around planets in various deathmobiles, without the GM having to invent stuff from scratch.
There’s a lot of stuff here, much of it “crunch” -oriented. Lots of new rules, subsystems, expansions to old stuff, etc. While I would have liked to see some of this in the core book, I can understand splitting it into this separate book for page count reasons; the core book is already a heft tome, and this isn’t all that tiny either.
Consider this to be a near-essential core book for the game line. Proper rules for full-on tactical space combat are still missing, but I expect to see those in some follow-up book.