It’s the calm before the storm for a lot of us gamers. It’s been awhile since any huge releases and there isn’t another big title due for at least a month. I know you’re hungry for something to play, but what’s out there right now? The answer to that question is Battlefleet Gothic Armada by Tindalos Interactive. Games Workshop has never been shy about selling out licenses for the Warhammer 40k IP. The past decade has seen numerous releases set in the universe. These games can run the gamut in terms of both genre and quality. Like you I was skeptical about BFG, and for good reason. A revival of a cult classic tabletop miniature game and a developer whose first outing in space combat wasn’t very well received. It seems like this game would have been destined to fail, so you didn’t play Battlefleet Gothic: Armada. I’m about to tell you why you should.
BFG is a real time strategy game where two fleets of space cruisers clash on a procedurally generated battlefield. The battlefield can be littered with asteroid fields that damage ships they travel through. Nebulous gases, that ships can hide in to avoid detection. Or mine clusters can can hide from sensors until it’s too late to avoid them. Then, with the deathtraps in place we get to add the coolest thing ever, space ships! There are four playable factions available now; The Imperial Navy, The Ork Pirates, The Eldar Corsairs, and the Forces of Chaos.The Imperials are big fans of their maneuvers and can execute high energy turns to get out of the way of oncoming attacks or swerve to avoid a mine cluster. Chaos is similar, but with more blood for the blood god and skulls for the skull throne. The Orks play like you might imagine they would. Big, beefy, brutish ships that are very good at running face first into other ships to inflict massive damage. The Eldar are a fascinating race that relies heavily on run and gun tactics. Favoring strafing runs as opposed to drawn out conflicts. The different strengths and various weakness’ of the different factions strike a very good balance. Orks are tough and hard to kill, but slow and unwieldy. The Eldar exemplify the “Glass Cannon” by having powerful weapons but their ships are rather fragile. The Imperial ships are generally good, and are a little tough to take down; Again, Chaos is similar but leans more to offense in lieu of defense. It makes for some interesting battles.
BFG at its core is a naval warfare sim. Except instead of the oceans of earth in space, battles take place in the deep space of the Gothic sector. The game takes place on a 2d plane,which means combat doesn’t feature the third axis. Some people cry foul at a space combat game without it, but in this game it works just fine. The ships are massive, and they move like it, turns are not immediate and ships take a moment to stop or gain speed, forcing players to be creative in avoiding firing arcs of weapons. Each faction has their own form of speed boost, which can be used to avoid fire, or in some cases, get within range of a weapon or ability that could turn the tide of battle. Despite the slow nature of the massive ships, the game is rather quick. Combat is often intense and requires a fair bit of micromanagement in order to avoid destruction. An average game, depending on the type of battle sits around ten minutes.
Objectives on missions vary. Beginning with Cruiser clash, which is basically a death match mode where ships pound on each other until one team warps out or gets destroyed. Next there is an escort mission where one player is responsible for three squishy transport vessels to defend from the enemy who only has to destroy two of the three to attain victory. My personal favorite is the defense mission, where one player is given two outposts to defend against an oncoming attack. Games are kept balanced by a points system, similar to the tabletop version of the game, or games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Let’s say a match is capped at 300 points. Sure you can take your massive Shiny battleship, but it’s going to cost 250 of your points, leaving you with just enough to take a small sword class frigate. Meanwhile, the enemy player has taken three smaller light cruisers and a couple frigates. Sure you’ve got the bigger guns, but it’s possible to be overwhelmed by force of numbers so remember to spend those points wisely.
The game features Multiplayer, which involves starting a brand new admiral and leveling him and your fleet up to bigger and better ships. At the time of this writing, the online pool was slim and matchmaking was a bit of a mess. Nothing’s more of a buzzkill then going up against a fully stacked fleet on your first few games out.I’m confident that it’ll even itself out soon and make the format more fun. There is also a very well fleshed out campaign which features a compelling story, If multiplayer battles aren’t really your thing. Check out the story, it is sure to keep you entertained for hours on end.
As much as I like this game it’s not perfect. Hit boxes on ships can be a little wonky in my opinion. The AI can also gets incredibly tunnel visioned on objectives which makes them a little easy to exploit . But, it’s still a very strong title in an underrepresented genre. You haven’t played Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, and now that you’ve read this. What’s stopping you?