Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 posed quite the predicament for me. On one hand, I generally like strategy games, but on the other, I feared that I would not be able to get into the game due to having no experience with the Warhammer 40k universe. Unfortunately, the latter proved to be true when it came to the story, but I found that the game had more problems to it than just its story.
However, as usual I am going to start with what I did like about the game, the first being its top-notch polish. With the new trend these days being releasing games in a half-finished state, I was quite impressed with the level of polish here in Armada 2. I played several hours on day 1 of release and ran into only one technical issue, that being textures popping in and out at times. Outside of that, there were no frame drops, no stuttering issues, and I didn’t run into any lag in the multiplayer mode. It was all pretty nicely polished in terms of optimization.
I also quite enjoyed the game’s level of depth when it came to its strategy elements. Not only does the game allow the player full control of its combat, but it also makes the experience customizable. For example, the tutorial teaches the player how to target specific parts on an enemy ship, but also stresses that this is not necessary and that one can just as easily target the ship as a whole. On top of that, the player can even toggle “auto-engagement”, which basically directs ships to automatically chase down and target enemy vessels. Of course, this feature is optional too. If the player wants to micro-manage, then they can, but if they don’t, then these features serve as a nice way to make the game less micro-heavy. It was a nice way to cater to both crowds.
Now unfortunately, the level of depth to the game’s strategy could not save it from mediocrity. If anything, I found the combat to be too slow and rather lackluster overall. Part of this disappointment stems from the game’s marketing. Just about every trailer I saw for the game depicted these epic space battles with tons of ships out on the field, but when actually playing, most of the time you are just stuck with maybe five or so ships, especially in the campaign. In multiplayer, custom fleets do allow more ships to be added, but even then, it just feels underwhelming. I would even call the trailers deceptive in that regard.
However, even looking past that initial disappointment, the overall combat just felt stale. Most of the time it seemed like campaign missions boiled down to chasing after enemies and slowly whittling them down, oftentimes taking far too long to do so even at max game speed. When I have such a clear advantage over the enemies, it just becomes boring to wait for my ships to circle and kill them, with my only input being the occasional ability or two when they come off of cooldown. It provided for some rather stale combat, which, when coupled with the boring storyline, makes for a rather lackluster campaign mode.
Granted, I imagine many are not going to be playing the game for its campaign, but that is usually where I spend most of my time with strategy games like this. I did try the multiplayer mode, but figured out pretty early on that I would need another fifty or so hours before I stood a chance there, so I pretty much just stuck with the campaign.
As such, I cannot recommend Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, especially so if you are not already a big fan of the Warhammer 40k universe. Although the game looks good, runs well, and has some pretty deep strategy elements, the combat just ends up feeling slow and stale, killing the experience. The campaign was also nothing special, with the storyline being rather generic and providing little to distinguish itself from similar works. If you are already a fan of the Warhammer 40k universe or a fan of the previous Armada game, then you may not find much issue here, but as a newcomer to the series, I was rather disappointed.
You can buy Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of this game. Read more about how I do my game reviews/impressions here.