Battlefleet Gothic: Armada review (PC)

The development of Battlefleet Gothic: Armada must have gone quickly over the past eight or nine months. Back in August we met up with the developers from Tindalos Interactive, and back then all we were able to see was some early pre-recorded footage of the game in action. Fast forward to April, and the game is here in its finished form – here’s our review.

We weren’t the only ones at the aforementioned meeting either. As coincidence would have it, we were joined by two Games Workshop employees who were also eager to see Tindalos’ interpretation of their Warhammer 40K universe. Clearly experts on the source material, they walked away from the meeting after first expressing they were more than happy with what they had seen – our first sign that this was a game to look out for.

What they probably saw, and we couldn’t possibly see, were some of the signs that pointed to the incredibly depth that comes with Battlefleet Gothic: Armada. Where we see a rolling demo with giant spaceships doing battle with each other and colliding with each other, they probably saw some of the inner workings of the Battlefleet Gothic board game with the Armada expansion come to life. Having played through the entire campaign, we still feel like we don’t understand it all – and that’s a good thing if you like a challenge.

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Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is a difficult real time strategy – it does for real time strategy games what Mordheim: City of the Damned did for turn based strategy a few months ago. The setting is completely different though – you’re commanding a fleet of enormous spaceships in a sector of space where intergalactic war between humans and alien races is an everyday fact. The game does a great job at easing you into the game, its dynamics and all the major players and their unique characteristics.

After this is laid out, the game’s intricacies are slowly but surely explained to you. All of this is part of a lengthy tutorial, which gradually fades away to the background and lets the game’s campaign story take over. This isn’t a linear affair either, because even in the tutorial you have choices to make that will result in the game branching out into different directions. Add the fact that this game has a very lengthy campaign and you’re looking at a lot of replayability and value for money.

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Missions vary when it comes to the objectives you have to meet – they can range from an assault of a major spaceship to taking out minor ships in a small fleet to escorting or assassinating. This greatly affects how you load out your fleet before the start of each mission – and this is a time-consuming process if you want to get it right. You always have a good selection of ships to choose from, and each ship has a number of ways in which you can tweak it according to the abilities you’ve unlocked – there’s more to choose from the further you get in the game as well.

It’ll take a long time to really start feeling like you’re in control, but when you reach that point it’s extremely rewarding. We had plenty of reloads and at some point just started the campaign over again, but the learning process before we reached that point made it worth the extra effort. It takes time to craft the right strategy for the right type of mission, and although the tutorial is good it doesn’t hold your hand in making those decisions.

So, as with Mordheim, bring tons of perseverance. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is worth sticking with, because as an RTS that constantly keeps you on your toes there are very few games that can rival it. If you’re a fan of the source material then that probably helps, but it’s in no way a requirement to be able to enjoy this.

Score: 8.4/10

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