Battlefleet Gothic: Armada Review
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is a real-time strategy game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. It is developed by Tindalos Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive, using the Unreal 4 engine. The game was released on April 21st, 2016 for PC.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada features space battles, utilising fleets of spaceships. Players can micromanage the composition of their fleet, upgrading and customising each ship in order to create the ultimate battle fleet, both during battle, and in between battles.
The campaign is set out similar to the campaign in Star Wars: Battlefront II, in which there is a galaxy map with the planets extending throughout. You are required to take turns, in order to fight off and attack the enemy. Unlike Battlefront II, however, due to the direction of the game’s story, you are offered a lot less freedom in how you progress, with progression being dictated by the direction the story takes. You play as the Imperial Navy, and are sent to engage in combat against the enemies of the Emperor, such as the Orks who seem to be constantly raiding and harassing planets and transport ships, the Chaos forces who seek the fall of the Emperor, and the Eldar, who are an ancient and advanced race of aliens.
Before even entering battle, it is in your best interests to consider a visit to Port Maw Station. This is an area in which you can upgrade and buy new ships using ‘renown’, a system of points that you earn from being victorious in battles and performing different actions throughout the battle. You can unlock new slots for new ships, and upgrade the new or the old ships, depending on how you prefer to fight. There are multiple categories when upgrading your fleet, and it is easy to spend ages on this screen alone, simply customising and creating your fleet. You can upgrade every aspect of your ship, from the hull, weapons and movement systems, along with upgrading your crew which will grant you different passive abilities. You can also use skill points to allot skills, assigning new abilities and power-ups to utilise in battle. Skill points are achieved by earning enough renown to reach the next level for your Admiral. If you are not a fan of micromanagement, this game might not be a good fit for you. Messing around with your fleet and creating different compositions of ships is just as important as the battles themselves, for, without proper care and upkeep, you will become hopelessly outmatched very quickly. Micromanagement is just one of those things that can either be loved or hated, so it isn’t a bad addition, just one that won’t suit some people’s play styles and preferences.
There are multiple layers as to how a battle must begin and progress. Firstly you must choose which battle to undertake and then you select your fleet. You are assigned a set number of fleet points, which each ship will use to enter the fleet, with larger ships obviously costing more points. Once the fleet is chosen, the map is decided and you must deploy your ships, either from the auto-deploy option, or setting them yourself in the deployable selection area. Once the battle begins, you have control over each ship and must perform whatever the objective may be in order to secure victory. Thankfully, there are usually a few ways to perform the objectives, so you don’t have to fight in just one way. For instance, if you have an objective to defend transport ships, there is a choice to escort the fleet to the other side of the map, or choose to fight and defeat certain ships, instantly claiming victory. Defeating specific ships in any mission will almost always secure victory, as the enemy can actually no longer perform their objective.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada offers multiple modes in which you can play: campaign, skirmish against AI, multiplayer and custom game. In each game mode, aside from campaign, you can create an Admiral from one of the four factions which you can level up while playing said mode with that Admiral. These game modes pit you against the enemy in 1 v 1 or 2 v 2, in which you must engage and eliminate the enemy. The multiplayer mode requires a little balancing, as you could be matched up against someone who has you hopelessly outclassed from the very beginning.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is not played for fun, it is played to win. One wrong move can determine the entire battle, so you need to be completely ready and alert when in battle. On normal and even easy difficulty, this game can be tough. You must be ever vigilant and make use of that slow motion button, which does exactly as it sounds. It slows the game down enough for you to make actions and decisions, without worrying about being too slow, to avoid an opportunity for attack or defence. There is no save option while in battle, so the act of ‘save scumming’ becomes a lot harder. For those who don’t know, save scumming is the act of saving constantly when about to do anything, so if you fail you can easily reload and try again. If the battle turns bad, there is no reload option, so you either need to continue the fight, or ‘Capitulate’, which is basically surrendering. Once the battle is over, you can then reload a previous save before that battle if you so choose. So long as you take care, use your skills and abilities wisely and don’t make any silly decisions, you can claim victory, with some decent tactics and solid strategy.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is out on PC for $55 AUD ($40 USD), and is well worth the price if you are a fan of Warhammer or strategy games in general. The game looks to remain faithful to the tabletop game, yet reinvents it for the PC while having that classic Warhammer feel to it. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada receives an 8/10; aside from having small nagging issues such as balance issues in multiplayer, or being a little unfriendly to casual gamers, it provides an excellent challenge for strategy and Warhammer lovers alike and is a great adaption of the popular and well-loved tabletop game.