Review – Battlefleet: Gothic Armada
My first intro to Games Workshop’s universe was way back in 1995 when Electronic Arts dropped Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels on the 3DO. There was something about the chunky power armor, the crazy-looking aliens, and the incredibly stylized environments that appealed to me. Now some 20 years later I’ve developed an unlikely affection for Games Workshop and its properties entirely through the games they’ve licensed out.
The latest of those games is Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, developed by Tindalos Interactive based on a now-discontinued tabletop game, available now on PC. With four factions (Chaos, Eldar, Humans, and Orks) battling for space domination, there’s plenty of action to go around as you command fleets and take down your enemies. There’s quite a bit of behind-the-scenes dice rolling that’s essentially invisible to the player out of necessity, allowing you to have your ship automatically target enemies, monitor ranges, or target certain enemies first. These touches prove essential as even small-scale battles can get out of control quickly.
In no time at all you’ll be firing torpedo barrages, which follow a set path with no enemy tracking, and using them to force enemy ships to alter their path, hemming them in for close-quarters salvos or a devastating ramming attack. Coordinating and executing advanced attacks to wipe out multiple enemy craft, especially when they involve one or more ship’s special abilities – more powerful attacks unlocked via upgrades – is incredibly satisfying. Spec your ships how you prefer to play, prioritizing long distance encounters, for example, or buffing your boarding parties and close range guns.
That degree of customization also applies in multiplayer, and you can never be quite sure what you’ll run into as a result. Trying to build a fleet that can take the fight to the enemy while also defending against what they’ve brought to the table adds a level of tactical strategy I really enjoyed.
Single player, normally a throwaway mode in strategy titles, also proved to have legs with two options: a classic story-style campaign for the Humans and a skirmish-mode campaign for the other races. Mission selection offers up branching paths, and losing a battle doesn’t mean losing the war entirely. Future missions might be more difficult as a result, but it’s nothing that repairs, upgrades, and using better tactics can’t fix.