Battlefleet Gothic: Armada Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

There seems to be an influx of Warhammer games at the moment. At the demise of THQ it seemed that there would be a long drought for the next Warhammer title and wouldn’t you know, a couple of years down the line we are up to our collective pauldrons in the grim universe. It is refreshing to see a game that breaks from what we have come to expect from a Warhammer game, be it a dwarf slaughtering Skaven, Terminator Marines scourging a Space Hulk from a Genestealer taint or a rather average mobile experience that takes all the elements from Clash of Clans and throws in the phrase “For the Warmaster”. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada looks to change what we can expect from our Warhammer games, and after some time with a Beta, here is what I took from it.


Setting up your fleet is just as important as engaging in combat.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada breaks from the tradition of ground combat, it takes the battle far from the blood soaked dirt and deep into the void. There isn’t that much available in the beta just now aside from a short tutorial to help you find the basics, random skirmishes with AI and 1 v 1 multiplayer matches. It is still a work in progress and there seems to be a lot more that Battlefleet Gothic: Armada will offer when it launches in earnest but as it stands, the short taste has got me thirsty for more.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada looks simply stunning. That is the start and end of it. If you have a rig powerful enough to run it on its highest settings, then you are in for a treat. The ship models are beautifully realised and there has clearly been a staggering amount of research done to make the ships look authentically Warhammer. The maps looks pretty spectacular too and fighting with city sized starships under the backdrop of a nebula has to be one of the best visual representations of space combat since Homeworld. The maps are two dimensional so there isn’t any verticality like the aforementioned Homeworld but I have to say that Battlefleet Gothic: Armada seems to be doing a stellar job of the overall look of the game. There are times when the sheer awesomeness of the visuals blew me away, sometimes quite literally. When zoomed in on the combat you can see blossoming explosions as rounds hit their mark, you can watch as your assault ships board the enemy to grant damage bonuses or stop the enemy from warping out of the fight, and when a large ship explodes it looks exactly as I imagine it would in the Warhammer universe. The sound design ties into this well and while some of the voice acting in the beta wasn’t exactly Oscar worthy, it was still good enough that it doesn’t take anything away from the experience based on the short access I had with the game. Explosions sound forceful and the sound of your ships prow slamming into an enemy’s midsection is a thing of beauty.


Look at all those cannons!

There were a few mission modes available in the beta ranging from a standard last man standing style Cruiser Clash, to more elaborate game modes like Data recovery where one team will have to assault a specific enemy ship, board their vessel to retrieve data and escape to the warp before it can be reclaimed. Assassination makes you either destroy or defend a flagship and modes like Blockade and Escort force players to either defend ships and stations or destroy them. The Beta ran with a random selection of modes and lacked the ability to go in for a certain mission type or fight against a certain enemy. This sapped a lot of the fun out of the skirmish experience after I had three Chaos V Chaos Blockades in a row, when all I wanted to do was destroy the lackeys of the False Emperor. I hope this is changed by the games launch later this month as it was one of the few drawbacks that I had when playing. That issue aside, there is a good selection of engaging game modes that were available to give us a taste of what is to come.

There were two playable factions in the Beta, Imperial and Chaos (With Orks and Eldar to come later), each faction has their own strengths and weaknesses, Chaos being faster and able to engage at longer range and Imperial ships being more sturdy and able to deal more damage. There’s plenty of choice in what ships you take into battle with more ships and slots becoming available as you level up. If you don’t know much about the Gothic tabletop game then you may struggle to figure out which ships are better deployed with each other or what ships should stay at range and which should go in for a broadside. Each ship has a specific point allocation that will come out of an allowance at the beginning of each game. It stays true to the tabletop game and the Warhammer universe in this regard and puts a spin on the usual unit cap we get in our RTS games.

Overall I am impressed with the content of the beta and I am looking forward to the full realisation of the title upon its release. It is visually impressive at the moment and has a solid premise, but more importantly, the developers have shown not only respect for the source material but an appreciation for it, and there is nothing more promising than a passionate developer. It is Warhammer, but not as we know it.