“There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter…”
In this quote, Warhammer 40k’s story is loosely given the only words that can begin to describe the type or future imagined in the 41st millenium. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II (developed by Tindalos Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive) takes the expansive space battles described in the Warhammer 40k series and brings them to life in a beautiful, flashy, and at times visceral representation of the books and tabletop miniatures.
In the Beta for Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II you gain access to the prologue of the campaign, a mission called “The Battle of Cadia” that takes place in the orbit of the planet of Cadia where the Imperial forces have established a defensive position.
The Imperial army is a vast and diverse faction of humans; they range from the meek but numerous Imperial guard and the hulking fist of the emperor; The Space Marines. As you learn the mechanics of piloting a single spacecraft of the Grey Wolves fleet you begin to encounter the dark shadow of the Imperial army. The Chaos Space Marines; Heretics that have cast away their duty to the emperor and mankind, and have made pacts with the Dark Lords of Chaos begin to attack from the shadows of space.
Not the only factions involved in the campaign of Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II the gravitas of this opening to the next installment of the series brought a whirlwind of geeky astoundment to me personally and has me champing at the bit for more. The next three missions listed in the beta will have you playing as the Necrons: An undying race of robots that travel space in massive black pyramids and the Tyranids: a massive army of hive-minded, carapace covered, organic war machines that only live to consume and transform the universe ento their image. If you’re missing your favorite faction from the Warhammer 40k universe in that description you will still get an opportunity to play them within the Skirmish and Online modes available in the game.
The controls of the game feel fairly fluid and the ships maneuver like you would imagine such tremendous vesicles to travel in zero gravity. You constantly have to plan your next moves and your fleets formation for when you encounter enemies. Many of your ships will have their guns facing the port and starboard of the ship and will not fire unless aligned properly so be aware of the direction of your ship when they’re traveling through the battlefield.
During combat you have many resources and abilities that are available for each faction. Things like boarding pods for Space Marines, or interceptors for the Imperial Navy will be your primary forms of engaging opposing factions. There are many different ways to play your favorite armies as each faction has their own premade fleets for you to control, but once you get an idea of how you like to play and the ships you find to be the most effective you can create your own custom fleet of any of the ships available to that army. Be aware that each fleet will have you designate an admiral that is the flagship of your fleet during battle. Lose this ship and the remaining ships crews will begin “mutiny”, a phase that will make your ships uncontrollable and only recoverable by killing off the mutineers that will reduce your crew to a third of its previous size.
If you find yourself desperate during combat you’re able to put your ships thrusters to “Full speed ahead” and call your crew to “brace for impact” this enables you to use your ship as a battering ram and crash into your enemies usually followed with a display of the casualties each side faced. Even medium sized ships when used in this manner will sustain massive damage killing most of the crew but I would gather that’s just all in a day’s work for a deathless emperor that needs to consume a thousand souls a day to survive.
The graphics and visuals of the game add a level of immersion that makes you feel like you’ve just opened up the most recent Codec or rule book from Games Workshop and you’re admiring the beautiful art that brings the tabletop game to life. There’s many aspects from tabletop that even apply to Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II. You can pilot your ship into asteroid fields or gas clouds to gain cover from your enemies at the cost of some hull damage or maneuverability. The backgrounds of the game areas are detailed and littered with the drifting hulls of destroyed ships that range in size from rivaling the size of a planet to something small enough you could fly into during battle.
All in all this taste of Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II has me shouting “For the glory of the Emperor!” Maybe you will too when the game is released for PC on January 24th Or you can shout some other heretic war cry.
Check out the game and it’s developers from the following links: