Conflict in the violent Warhammer 40,000 universe, resolved with spaceships.
Tindalos Interactive have taken Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 space battle board game and turned it into a deep and challenging RTS videogame featuring some of the most tense space battles I have ever encountered. Command the Imperial Navy, and do it for the Emperor!
In the single player campaign, the player takes on the role of a simple captain in the Imperial Navy who is charged with defending the region against an incursion of Chaos, led by the Chaos Warmaster Abbadon. It may seem like a hopeless task, fighting back the tide of Chaos, but no-one can accuse this game of being easy.
Warhammer 40,000 fans will enjoy the premise for the campaign, having to deal with the mighty Chaos fleet while also facing off against the brutish Orks and the enigmatic Eldar along the way. Failure in certain missions will result in the story heading off in different directions rather than just presenting a game over, which is really handy considering the difficulty level in Battlefleet Gothic. Defeat doesn’t mean the end of the game, but just changes it slightly, offering great replayability as a players skills improve, whilst giving the novice space commander a chance to actually improve without becoming frustrated after being wiped out. It’s a great system.
Between playing through the various story missions, the player will also find themselves defending systems from attack. Again, success is not always expected. In fact, players will be unable to keep all of the systems safe, and as such will have to pick and choose which they help and which they let fall according to the bonuses these systems offer to the player.
The actual mission structures are mostly taken straight from the skirmish game, such as simple escort missions or destroying the opposing lead ship. There are a few missions that break from this structure, usually to move the story along, but otherwise players will quickly become familiar with the different objectives and will be able to develop the tactics required to become successful.
Progressing leads to both your commander and ships earning experience and leveling up. As they level up, the relatively weak starter ships become more powerful, unlocking abilities and skills that can allow them to take a more specialised role in the battlefields of deep space. Leveling up the commander leads to larger and more powerful ships becoming available that can then be deployed into battle.
Battles are quite fast-paced, which certainly adds to the difficulty as the player has more ships under their command. There is a lot to consider, and a lot of options for the player. Engaging an enemy ship will most often require the player positioning their own ships perfectly before using weapons. However, there are some more unusual and powerful weapons available, along with the option of ramming an enemy ship with your own, or launching boarding parties to diminish the enemies capabilities.
Things get even more complex when the player heads into multiplayer or skirmish missions, as then they have the chance to command different fleets. Alongside the Imperial Navy, players will be able to command the Chaos fleet, the Ork fleet and the Eldar fleet. The Chaos Fleet is fast and dangerous from a distance, while the Orks prefer to get up close and personal, while also having some “do or die” weaponry that can be devastating to either fleet. The Eldar are perhaps the most difficult faction to command, thanks largely to the weakness of their ships and the Holo Shields which rely on the speed of their movement to work. Still, they have some impressive weaponry and offer a substantial challenge to the more veteran player.
The Eldar Fleet could certainly do with some tweaking to just improve the balance of the game, although a skilled commander will work around this flaw. Aside from this, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is a nicely polished game with very few issues. It runs well and is less buggy than most games seem to be nowadays on release. Those who pick the game up within the first couple of months will be treated to some nice DLC in the form of additional factions to play as, including Space Marines and an as yet unrevealed faction, which is a nice thank you to the early adopters.
Fans of the Battlefleet Gothic board game will on this videogame adaptation like Gretchin on Fungus Beer. But those who have never played the board game will find a tactically challenging, but fair, spaceship-based RTS game that is incredibly enjoyable. The difficulty, and the speed at which the game plays, may put off some less experienced commanders, but it is worth putting in the time and learning how to play. Great fun for Games Workshop and RTS fans.