Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 PC Preview

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 is shaping up to be bigger and louder than its predecessor.

By Woozie, Posted 13 Dec 2018

The green glow of alien energy flowing through Necron ships is one of my favorite sights in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2. Sure, their roster is by far the smallest, but I’ve always been a fan of the silent machines whose only aim is that of extinguishing life. As a fleet, they’re in the middle of the mobile Eldar and the sturdy Imperial Navy. They do good damage at range and their teleports allow them to suddenly appear where the enemy least expects them, unleashing the devastating Star Pulse Generator without much warning. They contrast quite heavily with the Tyranids who, thanks to their biological form, move unseen until they’re close, only to burst in, eager to take a bite. They’ve also nasty tentacles which pull ships in, draining the troops on board.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, PC, Preview, Screenshot

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 makes quite a jump from its predecessor. Instead of four factions, it features all twelve from the tabletop game. It’s quite a selection, as the recent pre-order beta has shown me. Going through the each faction’s roster is truly a daunting task at first. Factions like the Tyranids or the Imperial Navy have plenty of different ship types with varying weapon configurations and, just like the first game, learning their intricacies will be done across many trials by fire.

From the looks of it, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 moves away from individually customizing ships. Going into a match, you can choose either preset fleets or make up your own from fixed ship types. You can also take two powers and traits from a pool of several. Some of these traits do overlap between factions, but specific ones, like the Necrons’ ability to mass teleport their entire fleet to their flagship’s position definitely help with further making a faction’s strength shine.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, PC, Preview, Screenshot

The point limit is larger and, at least in 1v1, battles feel bigger than in the original. Going into 2v2 multiplayer as someone who fancies larger ships, I was often only controlling two, maybe three ships. This felt slightly underwhelming, but the added variety in terms of factions definitely helps. Conversely, taking care of higher numbers of smaller ships significantly increases the required quantity of micromanagement. In broad terms, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2’s battles work the same way as those in the original. Ship movement, enemy identification, weapon angles, range and good use of stances continue to be vital for success.

Some changes have occurred, though. Active weapons, like Nova Cannons, torpedoes, fighters and bombers now have limited charges, which removes the possibility of spamming them endlessly. Morale is a bit trickier to sustain without using abilities. Stances persist after being selected until they’re changed. An emphasis has been put on crews and turrets. It’s much easier to lose your crew, turning ships into drifting hulks which, unless reclaimed, are only good as a last, desperate means of dealing damage to enemies unlucky enough to be close when they’re scuttled.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, PC, Preview, Screenshot

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2’s pre-order beta featured one multiplayer mode: Domination. It’s a mixed affair where victory can be obtained either by destroying the opposing fleet or by capturing and holding victory points. Going into it, I kept to my old habits of blowing everything to bits and it wasn’t long until a fleet of Eldar, and later Tau, showed me the error of my ways. Mobile fleets have high potential of controlling the map and earning victory via points while you try to chase them around – provided they’re micromanaged well enough. The mode itself is a breath of fresh air and could be modified to remove the victory point condition, for a more straightforward experience. A series of events, like a migration of space titans, or plasmic medusae littered across the map, can now occur during matches. Some of those I encountered were more impactful than others but overall, they add extra flavor to battles. I do hope they’ll make it into PvP in the full version, as the Ranked play options in the beta featured some relatively barren maps, devoid of these new additions.

Although Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 ran excellently for the most part, a couple of technical issues did appear. The client would occasionally freeze, crash or forget to connect all the way to matches. Although the ships look and sound goddamn majestic, from massive floating weaponized cathedrals to the slick, sharp design of Dark Eldar ships, using antialiasing still blurs textures, an issue that was also present in the previous title. A few extra jagged edges are, however, a small price to pay when you finally zoom in to see how much attention was given to the ship models, down to the smallest floating pyramid, fleshy tongue and turret.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, PC, Preview, Screenshot

Although the two campaign missions in the beta are meant as tutorials, they’re a grand introduction to the 13th Black Crusade. A mixture of battles that don’t shun away from including massive ships, gorgeously drawn cutscenes and one in-game sequence that wrestles control away from you only to provide an surprisingly effective climax to events, all provide a giant sense of scale that had me craving to get into the three campaigs proper. It was an intro that felt thoroughly 40K.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 promises to be bigger and grander than its predecessor and, judging from this first glimpse, it’s on the right path. It’s due out in late January, so there’s not that big of a wait until we’ll get to see just how well it delivers on that promise.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Focus Home Interactive
Developer(s): Tindalos Interactive
Genres: Real Time Strategy, Tactical
Themes: Warhammer 40000, Grimdark, Sci-fi
Release Date: 2019-01-24

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