In 2016, Tindalos Interactive and Focus Home Interactive released the Battlefleet Gothic: Armada strategy, based on the rules of the eponymous “desktop” by Warhammer 40K. There we flew space fleets in fascinating tactical battles. The game was good, but not without flaws. We saw far from all the factions, there were problems with balance, and the story campaign was only one. The authors tried to correct all these shortcomings in the sequel.
Chaos for three
Despite the fact that in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 everything is still twisted around the attempts of the traitor-chaos Abaddon the Destroyer to destroy the world (starting from the unfortunate imperial planet-fortress Kadiya), and the Imperial Lord Admiral Spire, now in the game just three story campaigns. Therefore, we can look at the events of the times of the Oncoming Storm and the Thirteenth Black Crusade, organized by the forces of Chaos, through the eyes of the heroes of the Imperium, Necrons and Tyranids.
Campaigns turned out fascinating, full of proper charge of pathos, brutality and gloomy, truly Gothic despair. And most importantly, they are really related. An hour ago, you defended the flagship of Lord Admiral Spire, and at the very beginning of the campaign for the Tyranids have to destroy it. Necrons, waking up from a dream that has lasted for millions of years, try to take advantage of the chaos around them and regain their former greatness.
All the story missions, as in the first part, are worked out perfectly and regularly throw up unpleasant surprises – some kind of plasma jellyfish exploding with powerful bombs will appear on the battlefield, then we will be ambushed during the accompaniment of an important character, and then in an obvious minority we will try to survive and survive.
Low-priced, but still pretty painted videos, prettier graphics, expressive sound and music (you should hear instruments roar here), huge ships similar to Gothic cathedrals, heroes without a doubt going to die for the Emperor or for some of their own ideas and principles – all this also contributes to immersion in the atmosphere.
Navy – glory!
The gameplay in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, as in the first part, is divided into two components – a strategy on a global map and a tactical battle. In the battles of space fleets in general, everything is familiar – select destroyers, battleships and patrol ships (they all differ in a bunch of parameters) and set attacks on enemies, trying to destroy/force all opponents to flee or to capture and hold control points in order to earn enough points to win .
That just highlights and incite a little. It is also necessary to take into account a lot of nuances – speed and inertia, where the tools are located and where they are aimed. Therefore, it is often necessary to abruptly stop the ship and perform complex manoeuvres, turning the guns in one direction or another. In addition, you need to correctly use the numerous active skills such as firing torpedoes, hitting lightning, boarding, turning on a void shield or sending a detachment of fighters to detect and bombard the enemy. You can set priorities and point-shoot opponents of the weapons system, generators, engines, and so on. And it is still important to monitor the morale of your wards and suppress riots in time if you do not want the morally decayed team to simply run away from the battlefield.
Some important changes are noticeable in the interface (it has become more unified and convenient), as well as in the system of pumping. In Armada 2, units get levels, but there is no need to improve the parameters of each individual battleship. For all the successes on the global or tactical maps, we earn fame points and improve our overall level of development, and this gives improvement points, for which we pump in general our entire flotilla or certain types of ships – imperial, ships with hangars or macro puns, etc…
New strategic initiative
In the strategic part of the gameplay, change is much more significant. Previously, it was mainly like this: at every turn, new hot spots appeared in the sector of the galaxy, where we had to fight, and in general, the level of threat gradually increased (well, or decreased, if our actions were successful).
Now everything is much more interesting. Now you can create and move your fleets around the map, capturing new sectors that speed up ship repairs or increase revenue growth — they just go to maintain your armada and buy new ships or hire cool heroes. Sectors also need to be developed to increase the effectiveness of their bonuses.
If you delay the execution of story missions (they are called special operations here), then the threat level of other factions increases, and hence the likelihood of invasions into your sectors. Enemies, too, make moves, save up resources, create armies, send reinforcements, move and capture regions. And the storming can be delayed with the help of the so-called military plans, which we receive as a reward for, particularly successful actions. Also, your possessions need to be protected by erecting minefields, turret batteries or space stations that will shoot attackers.
All this, of course, makes the passage even more interesting: you have to keep track of resources, trying not to go into budget deficit, decide who and in which sector to send, focusing on your strength and enemy fleets, as well as the strategic importance of the planets themselves.
By their own rules
And here it is very important that all three factions represented in the campaigns differ from each other not only in tactical battles but also in the strategy on the global map. In battles, Necrons, for example, are actively teleported, which allows them to make sudden attacks and move away from threats, and Tyranids start fights in stealth mode, shoot bio-missiles and explode dangerous spores in clouds. And in the strategy on the global map, the same Tyranids absorb, process the planets into biomass, which is their main resource. They can also grow organic plants. That is, the gameplay for them in the strategic mode will also be felt somewhat differently than in the campaign of the Imperium or the Necrons.
It becomes even more interesting in multiplayer and in battle mode, where now, as the authors promised, all the 12 main factions from the original desktop system are given – among others, the cult of Adeptus Mechanicus, the Eldar Corsairs, the Durham, and the T fleets ‘ay. And each group has unique features that are simply vital to know and skillfully use.
Also in the network game, there were useful innovations – there is a function of gathering your troops, you do not need to be pumped as long as possible to open all the ships.
Of course, there are still questions to Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2. The ships became less individual, the possibilities for pinpoint customization and pumping also corrected the balance, but, for example, the Eldar ships with their speed, invisibility and psycho turms in multiplayer seem too imbalanced. AI enemies become better, but at times also act stupid and predictable. That is, the game needs to be further developed – and there is no doubt that the authors will take care of this.
But in general, it is noticeable that the sequel made a big step forward – this is already a more diverse, interesting, epic, beautiful and well-optimized strategy. Many consider it the best of everything that came out on Warhammer 40K in recent years – and certainly better than Dawn of War III. In general, I tend to agree with this.
Pros: perfectly maintained atmosphere of pathos and darkness; three interesting campaigns for different races; all 12 major factions from the “desktop” and its additions are presented; fascinating and very difficult tactical battles; much more comprehensive strategy on the global map; interface, balance, optimization and graphics are better than in the first part; chic sound.
Minuses: in the balance and the behaviour of AI, there are still holes that need to be patched; fewer options for customizing ships.