Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II Beta Impressions

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada was a great example of great core gameplay not making up for lack of content. The combat and aesthetic were fantastic, but the unbalanced multiplayer, the repetitive campaign that only supported one faction, and far too many bugs killed what would have been a welcome addition to the otherwise Space Hulk dominated 40k game space. Tindalos Interactive seem to have been listening to our feedback as after spending some time with Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II, it seems more and more like what we all wanted the first game to be and more.

Let’s start with the most important part of the game, the factions. The first Battlefleet Gothic: Armada included the core tabletop factions: Orks, Imperium, Chaos, and Eldar, with Space Marines and the Tau added via DLC. BG:AII meanwhile will launch with all twelve factions from the tabletop game. Each faction is comprised of four to six sub-factions, further diversifying the roster. It’s an impressive showing, and shows how dedicated Tindalos is to making this game all it can be by putting an easy DLC scheme in the base game. Always appreciated.

When faced with an overwhelming number of options, ALWAYS choose space vikings. Always. 

I put most of my multiplayer as my favorite 40K faction, the noble Space Wolves Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, with a few rounds as various others, and was glad to see that the gameplay has only improved from the first game. It manages to capture the perfect balance between fast-paced ship to ship combat, and the feel of commanding these gigantic titans hurtling through space. There’s plenty of strategic options for all your ship, but also plenty of options to automate systems that you don’t wish to micromanage every second. Toss in a flexible time management tool, and you have a system that can accommodate plenty of skill levels and ease them into the more complex techniques.

You get to control the big one.

Multiplayer wasn’t the only one that got a makeover, the single-player offering is much more robust this time. The game will launch with three complete campaigns, one each for the Imperium, Necron, and Tyranid factions. While only the first sectors of the Imperium and Necron campaign were available in the beta, they more then impress and tease what is to come. They’re similar to Total War‘s grand campaigns (if not quite as deep) and should have plenty of replayability, faction specific mechanics to make each feel unique, and at launch will support full co-op. Each is it’s own story based around the main storyline “The Gathering Storm”, told from each faction’s perspective. It’s similar to what Total War Warhammer II did with it’s faction specific “Into the Vortex” campaigns, and given how well that was received this should be no different.

The big moments of the story are told through these nice looking animated vignettes.

It’s not perfect however. While not as buggy as the first game at launch, there are still a few hiccups in the system. Some are pretty major such as a glitch that clears all your chosen Upgrades once you start a match, which can spell a quick defeat. There’s also an issue with the loading screens where sometimes it’ll load to the menu, freeze up for a second, and then re load. The factions could also use another balance once over, especially the Eldar, but there’s nothing truly game-breaking (at least as I’ve seen so far). Fortunately, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed before the game launches next week but it’s still currently an issue.

Even the selection circles are gothically designed.

Overall, as a huge fan of the 40K universe who’s tired of Space Hulk games, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II looks like the answer to my prayers. Beautiful models and effects bringing every faction to life, highly strategic combat that successfully conveys the feeling of battle among the stars, and a strong single-player offering as well as a large variety of multiplayer experiences make this a game I’m very very excited to get my hands on it as soon as possible.