Back in December, when I first previewed Battlefleet Gothic, I was hesitant to get overly excited about the game. Games Workshop, the company who owns the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 IP’s, is notoriously bad at choosing game developers and I wasn’t convinced that Tindalos Interactive’s Battlefleet Gothic: Armada would buck the trend. However, the title did have potential and I was cautiously excited.
After playing the beta, which wasn’t terribly extensive, I’ve got good news and bad news. This upcoming space-RTS is not as bad as I’d feared, but it’s also not as amazing as I’d hoped.
Tindalos did an excellent job of portraying the dystopian and desperate future of Warhammer 40,000; this is where the game truly excels. The artistic choices are absolutely spot-on. The brooding and ominous music matches the dark tone of a future full of evil, danger, and war. The voice acting, although sometimes a little overzealous, captures the different factions and ranks quite well.
Only two campaign missions, one of which was a tutorial, are playable in the beta. Solo skirmishes can be played with your faction and ships of choice, but the match conditions are randomized. The combat felt rather flat, unimpressive even. Cannons and lances (lasers) never gave me a sense of power or satisfaction when firing or hitting a target, instead they just seemed boring. I never got the sense that my ships were armed to the teeth, bristling with weapons that could flatten a city.
Engagements need some help. Enemy ships tend to circle your own units, plunking away while your ships fumble around trying to orient themselves properly for either a broadside or a prow shot. The battles often seemed like an unorganized maelstrom of interlocking circles. Some rebalancing is necessary as well; Imperial ships were out-gunned, slow and sluggish.
Success or failure during a battle is far too dependent on micromanagement, and ships are far too sluggish to make the excessive amount of options and abilities actually useful. Macro cannons, “Nova” cannons, lances, torpedoes, variable engagement ranges, high-speed turns, lightning strikes, boarding actions, lock-on ability, self-repair, the list goes on and on. It’s too much to manage effectively, and is badly in need of trimming or streamlining.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada still has potential. Despite all the obvious hiccups and need for retuning, this RTS could turn out to be magnificent, if the proper changes are made. If the mechanics and hindrances of this upcoming strategy game are not tweaked, however, it may well end up on the ever-growing list of Games Workshop’s poor choices.