REVIEW: Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II
In Battlefleet Gothic Armada II, you can purge every corner of the cosmos from xenos and heretic alike. Developed by Tindalos Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive, Armada II had a full release on January 24th, 2019. I was granted a key to participate however as far back as the December 2018 beta. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, even though I only touched the multiplayer. I wanted to hold off on the review due to a lack of co-op campaigns working at release. It was subsequently patched, and ready to go within a couple of months. Now that I’ve played through some of the Imperial Navy campaign, I’m ready to give you a full review of the game.
For the uninitiated Warhammer 40,000 fans out there, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II is a space RTS. You command fleets from nearly all the races and factions in the Warhammer 40k universe. It’s identical to the first Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, and the campaign resembles the Total War: Warhammer II style world map with RTS battles. It retails for $39.99 wherever Steam keys are sold. There is currently no DLC available as all races are available in the base game. A welcome improvement from the first game.
There are singleplayer campaigns available for the Imperial Navy, Necrons, and Tyranids. The game is set 800 years after the events of the first Battlefleet Gothic: Armada in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The Cadian sector has fallen, and Admiral Spire returns just in time to take control of the situation. The game is friendly to casual and more tactical fans alike. You can play versus AI on low difficulty, or turn it up and experiment with different fleet builds and skill/ability combinations.
The graphics in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II are absolutely beautiful, just like the first one. The visuals really are one of the game’s biggest draws. You can zoom in very close during battles for a spectacular view. The cutscenes are also out of this world with both cinematic and partially animated styles. The soundtrack is the same as the first one, which isn’t a bad thing. The music matches well with the game and fits the Warhammer 40,000 universe perfectly.
Gameplay consists of capital ship combat, using small escorts up to enormous battleships. Each faction has a different approach to tactics. These tactics range from brawling up close with heavy defenses and boarding attacks, to dancing around at long range with lighter defenses but faster engines, and everything in between. There is lots of variety available for different commander styles. Each RTS battle, in singleplayer or multiplayer, has a set number of points for your fleet. Smaller ships are worth less points, larger ships are worth more points. Points range from 1000 to 4000 points, and also vary by 1v1 and 2v2 queues. You can build your fleets and choose your abilities based on the situation or your opponent. Singleplayer also complements with a galaxy map that you manage fleets and resources on, and then switches to the aforementioned RTS battle for any engagements. Singleplayer progression lets you choose different upgrades for your ships, though some upgrades affect a certain class of ships (Cruisers for example), and some affect all ships. Multiplayer progression is minimal. All skills and abilities unlock from level 1 to 10, after which you win random cosmetic portraits.
The co-op campaign for Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II has one small problem. This issue centers around permissions for the players. For example, only the host can actually add ships and create fleets. Only one player at a time can look at the fleets, so it’s very clunky when deciding which ships to buy. Otherwise the RTS battles run smoothly with no hiccups and the ships are easily swapped at any time. The multiplayer initially was quite unbalanced between the factions, however balance has undergone several iterations. It currently feels like it’s in a good place, but I have seen it swing pretty wildly so it’s a bit of a wild card. Developers have been pushing balance updates regularly, so problems do seem to get addressed. Of course it always seems like it takes too long when it’s your faction that’s taking the nerfs.
This is easily one of my favorite Warhammer games. I’m a fan already of capital ship combat, and Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II sprinkles on a few Space Marines for icing on the cake. The multiplayer now has ranked queues with seasonal rewards, and a new singleplayer campaign is on the way in an upcoming free update. There’s so much in the game and planned that I wouldn’t even know what to wish for next. With less than 4 months under its belt at this point, I’m very excited to see what (hopefully) long-term plans Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II has in store.