Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is available on Steam for pre order with a price of US$35.99 and this game will unlock on April 22, 2016. Should you buy it?
The game is set in a space battle themed click based RTS. Warhammer 40K in deep space! The never ending wars between the several races are extending even to the trenches of space and the game provides an opportunity to let's you the player take part in it.
To let you know right at the beginning, the beta itself was fun and the mechanics of the game were easy enough to get around with, since the single player campaign is only for tutorial on a prologue chapter. Theme of the game rests on the fleet control and customization of ships that the player will be responsible for throughout the war.
Four races are the available choices after the game is fully released but for now I was able to take control of three races. First off is the Imperium fleet, second is the Chaos armada and lastly the Orc fleet with each having distinguishable aspects of their own. These races really do have a significant advantage and weakness over each other but it mostly depends on the synchronization between player and strategy. Though I haven’t had the chance to test out the Eldar race as of yet but their attributes are quite versatile and nimble, to that end I hope it makes the player feel like a true corsair.
Graphics and SoundGraphics and layout are primarily minimalist as it tries to let the player have a bird's eye view on the options he can take or avoid.The art alone is astonishing with the details on the ships are well dedicated to the source fiction and felt like an epic quest with every intro of the battlefield. The scenic views in different space sectors were worthwhile to notice and some have animations or colorful planetary backgrounds. There are animations of each ship from engine thrusters flaring, armor being hit and firing their payload are noticeable enough to keep the player notified of current events. The intro cinematic actually portray your current loadout of ships rather than a default frame for each match and has a pretty sweet aesthetic to it while it pans over the intricate designs of your fleet up close for a few moments.
Music fit right in the fierce moments in battle or the intense anticipation of opposing fleets coming to clash on very wide maps because even starships can’t move that fast. The sound effects and voice acting gets the ship battle lively and especially with the humorous responses of the orcs.
GameplayThe battle starts with each player planning out which ship to bring into the battlefield at menu selection before the game starts and given a limited army points to fill the quota of how many you can deploy in this fight, each match may vary just in case there is an additional challenges that will deplete or increase the number of ships you can deploy. Now when I say drag and click a green outline will highlight the ships you want within that screen.
Of course as is common for this type of games, a minimap is provided to help provide overview of the battlefield and will be accessible on the lower left corner with colored blips of your units and map hazards/mists. Once you select a target with the ship of your choosing the a green line will be shown indicating of where it is looking at and a symbol of the command you used for it.
The sub menu on the lower right hand of the screen has the available options for each ship from offensive, defensive and unique commands. You will have an option of giving each ship a priority command or special ability but it will be carried out one at a time since there is a cooldown on the entire row of that category once a command is given there but other rows will not be affected if you do not use them yet.
Main mechanics are to select and deploy the selected ships of your choosing on a battlefield then the player has optional commands of movement, attack and special abilities. The main control of the game is having your mouse click and drag to highlight a ship or multiple ships of your command on designated targets or activating a special ability or attack with the side menu which is found lower right of the picture below.When right clicking on an opponent the ship will move and attack that ship with a priority and if it's done with your whole fleet the ships will plot a course not to hit each other. The rest of movements are directing the ships with waypoints with just a click on the mouse on the battlefield to assign them elsewhere even if an opponent is not within that perimeter. Several abilities or priority commands will relay the extended focus of your command and carry them out but since they have a cooldown it gives consideration for each decision for the strategy rocking in your mind.Focus fire increases offensive power but get's the ship to go on auto pilot of placing itself further into the battlefield. Even if you still control the ship it will still have the directive of chasing the target even if it means being in the middle of every other hostile. Presence of mind and micromanagement are increasing once the variables kick in like damage, affected by an ability or commencing self repair and your own ships will have their own path to follow until you intervene, but it's best to let the weaker link of the fight to recuperate and reassemble the remaining fleet.
You gain resources for upgrades and repairs after each battle and receive renown-experience points to level up the admiral your using. If you lose the match or use warp jump to run away the game will still reward you for your efforts with a few resources but it will not be given if you just simply select capitulate (term for surrender) . The game is a real time strategy game much like Star craft but with a more fluid motion of battle that still await your command but each unit does not simply wait for action since the players act as a guiding hand to get the fight going and the ships do not simply fire simultaneously since it has to reload the payload before firing again.
Decisions on the battlefield are on the positions of the ships and some designate their forces to flank the opposing force. Ramming an opponent's ship is still an option especially if the other opponent may have weaker armor or already had their boarding party expended on another ship. Options such as bracing for impact (increases armor) and running silent (medium invisibility) help keep the ship stable before an incoming fight. The maps are too large that it will require a bit of patience so when playing the game you will be given time to think as the star ships roam across the map to meet the opposing fleet.
I highly advised to use warp jumps on ships that are less than 30% of the overall health since it costs 50 resources and a few minutes of a turn to reinitialize a fully functioning ship. Replacing a destroyed ship won't bypass the wait time of your previous failure and still demand the same amount to reconstitute another starship for war. It's not total annihilation since the game has different objectives on other rounds that places targets of either mere transport ships, defense platforms or a singular capital ship for a player to eliminate and gaining an instant win.
Her is my viewpoint of the 3 factions to give you an overview why you can expect of them.
Imperium of Man
+ Offensive, heavy armored and maneuverable
- Requires close proximity / moderate speed / cost heavy ships on army point total
+ Quickest / high maneuverability / long range / high offensive
- Weak armor / not enough torpedoes / not good on prolonged engagements
+ Powerful / multiple customizations / cheap cost on army pint total
- Very poor accuracy / no maneuverability / single & full use of boost in one direction
You must also consider upgrades
The pinnacle of ideal strategy is preparation and with an accommodating array of upgrades, skills and a quality time with the denizens of your ship crew. The abilities made available does land a wide coverage of effect but it does present the opponents with a forced decision of moving out of the way. Even base weaknesses can be covered with enough levels to boost the failing attributes unto a more suitable level, but it does not cover all weaknesses like the single use boost of the orks. Favors can be called in for special purposes and the crew tab let’s you manage the crew’s assets and increase their value, like the daemonic influence to insure lesser possibility of insubordination and gunners on all races to increase firepower.
Hazards are present in the battlefield with the scattered debris of the asteroids and the strange red mines that spawn in the middle of the field (may or may not be an ability that or I never installed on my ships). The asteroid field in itself can only be determined with the minimap as the guide due to some maps having beautiful but distracting designs that one can mistake an asteroid field as a far off background design. The ships themselves are a clear danger to each other as well since it damages the main hull armor and not the regenerating shields, since the materials of the ships are physical in nature. The only easy variable on the map to utilize against opponents are the space mists that cover the ship in invisibility until a hostile action is executed.
SummaryIn short I’m having fun with the game and the universe of Warhammer 40k. The intensity of the fights are fast paced and must have full attention on the ships deployed because some may even drift off or have an ability long in wait for it's uses. Only has a buffered start as shortcoming and probably because of it still in the beta stages. Hope the game is a blast to the rest of you as it was for me and do share it among fans and friends. The game should be released in 3 weeks from now and if everything will go smoothly, all the W40k fans could have a very nice game to play and enjoy :-). Also do not forget that I was able to play just a different version of the game where not every features were live and available.