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Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 1 - 2019

It’s all kicking off again in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe is a pretty violent place, and video games have made a point of cashing in on that violence by basing games on pretty much every different type of conflict available. Back in 2016, Tindalos Interactive took these conflicts into space and gave the player command of massive spaceships with which to wage war and decimate other factions. The spaceship RTS has now returned with Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II, once again inspired by the tabletop game, complete with more factions, more campaigns, and just the right amount of impressive space explosions.

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The most exciting aspect of the sequel for Warhammer 40,000 fans is surely the inclusion, from launch, of all 12 factions from the tabletop game, complete with multiple variations and sub factions to give players a sense of uniqueness. This means that whatever the players’ favour of future conflict may be, from the hardy Space Marines to the incredibly alien Tyranid Hive Fleet, Armada II has got you covered. It also means that, as different fleets will play very differently, from the Orks and their heavily armoured up close and personal approach, to the Eldar that favour speed and agility, there will be a faction that will suit most RTS players’ tastes. Kudos goes to the developers for not being tempted to hide some factions behind future paid DLC, it’s a nice move.

For those who have not played the first game in the series, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II predominantly revolves around massive space battles that are played out on a 2D plane, avoiding any of that complicated manoeuvring through three planes. Take away the back drop, which I have to say are incredibly impressive and atmospheric in this sequel, and you could simply be looking at ships on the sea, or tanks moving across the land. The spaceships have different movement properties from type to type and faction to faction, but generally they move a lot like ships at sea, and much of the combat will involve manoeuvring the spaceships, either alone or grouped into fleets, into range and facing the right direction. Of course it is much more complex than that, and indeed newcomers may find the steep learning curve a struggle, but those are the basics.

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The battles themselves really are a sight to behold. With the celestial backdrops and occasional terrain features such as giant gas clouds or asteroid belts, which can offer advantages in stealth to the clever commander, watching massive starships slowly manoeuvrer around, with smaller, more agile ships zipping in and out, is incredibly enjoyable. Once the action starts heating up, and both weapon fire and explosions start filling the screen, things get very busy and chaotic, but it all adds to the tension. It has already been seen that Tindalos were capable of making some very good looking ships, but they have gone above and beyond in ensuring that each faction and sub-faction have a fleet of different ships that feel appropriate to them, and they all look really nice.

In what is perhaps a bit of a backstep from the previous game, the different types of battles has diminished to allow players either to capture important points on the battlefield, or to simply annihilate the enemy. While this makes for some very exciting encounters, it does bring the possibility of repetition after a very short time. This is especially so for the skirmish games where players can face off, or team up, with other real world players. This part of the game more than anything else could do with some more complex objectives or game modes.

To start off, there is a prologue campaign which includes a half way decent tutorial which gives the player all of the basics that they need to play, without going into enough detail. It serves a purpose, although much more will be learned through trial and error playing the game. From there, the player has three different full campaigns to choose from, a step up from the previous title, involving the Imperium, the Necrons and the Tyranids. Due to these races having very different abilities, each campaign gives the player something new to learn, and they are all quite enjoyable and filled with juicy Warhammer 40,000 lore that will have the fan boys all excited. This all adds up to a whole lot of single player content, which is always good.

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Outside of battles, players will be moving their fleets through various sectors of space, wiping out any opposing fleets along the way and then taking control of planets in order to harvest resources and the like to maintain or build up your fleet. Normally, this is the side of the game that I would find most enjoyable, but in Armada II, with the AI and other limitations, it doesn’t feel like it goes deep enough. It is nice that it is there, and certainly makes the game more involving than a string of missions, but it really does feel like it needs more work.

Another place the game has changed substantially from the first is in the level of customisation available. While there may be more factions and sub-factions in Armada II, the ships themselves are less open to change as they each have their own specific set up now, not giving the player any choice in skills or upgrades. The different sub-factions offer all manner of colour schemes, but the player is not free to create their own, which will leave some players feeling disconnected to their fleet. This was all likely for balancing reasons, but it still feels like more choices have been taken away from the player.

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Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II is a truly epic space-faring RTS game that can be enjoyed both by Warhammer 40,000 fans and those who just like big spaceships fighting each other. There have been some changes since the previous game, some more welcome than others, and the game feels bigger and more impressive than before. If you enjoyed the first game, then this sequel will certainly hit the mark. For those who didn’t play the first game, if you are looking for raging battles in space, then Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II will be a good place to start.




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