Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 is the sequel to the 2016 RTS set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Its predecessor is not just a great strategy game, but also one of the best titles in the franchise, a tough order considering just how many games are set in that series.
So, this follow up has a lot to live up to when you consider the success of the first title. The question is whether it can go one better or if it will fail at the first hurdle.
As previously mentioned, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 takes place within the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop universe. However, it isn’t the traditional tabletop experience that most players will be familiar with.
Rather than use individual units on the ground, it focuses on gigantic space battles. Naval warfare provides the opportunity for larger scale battles involving thousands of ships. In the case of Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2, players are not just restricted to watching battles unfold from a distance. You are able to get involved in the action up close and personal, seeing the devastation take place firsthand.
Those who are not entirely familiar with the lore of the series might not fully understand every reference. Yet, the overall narrative is still fairly easy to follow. The story begins at a pivotal event within the Warhammer 40,000 history. The Fall of Cadia marks the moment that a huge seemingly impregnable planet was destroyed by Abbadon.
From here, the story branches across three campaigns that tie together with the events of the first game. Unlike many other RTS games, this story does a good job of engrossing you and getting you to invest in the characters.
Gameplay can also be overwhelming, as there are just so many different systems and elements to account for. At its most basic level, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 requires you to build up a large enough fleet to take into battle.
Then, players are able to win star systems to add to their empire, providing more resources as they progress. You spend most of your time outside of combat carefully building up your limited resources. Sometimes the game can feel like it is straying too much into management like a 4X title rather than an RTS.
Despite the complexities of the various management aspects, the game does a good job of explaining things on the fly. The tutorial is not the greatest in terms of teaching you what you need to know but it does enough.
When it comes to combat, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 really comes into its own. You can set a number of autopilot functions, like ordering ships to take out certain enemy units first. This is useful as it gives you more time to concentrate on the special abilities of your faction.
Winning an encounter is as simple as collecting enough battle points, by holding certain sectors long enough. Of course, you can always just wipe out the enemy fleet completely. Getting into the right position is vital to do this, allowing your ships to fire their broadside weapons.
That is not the only way to play, though. Each of the three factions have their own unique play styles. Some, like the Necrons, are focused on stealth while the Imperial are more like a traditional navy. This means that there are plenty of ways to play Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2.
There are few complaints when it comes to the visuals. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 sports a stylish and distinctive look. In fact, there are few games that manage to pull off such a vibrant and colorful approach this well, without appearing cartoonlike.
Great ship designs abound, as well, giving players the chance to play with some unique vehicle models. The end result is a game that can really put on a show. Each space battle has a sense of grandeur and immensity that the visuals get across perfectly.
A superb array of sound effects and accompanying music help this all the more. My only real complaint is that the dialogue often comes across as tacky or corny.
On the other hand, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 does have some niggling performance problems. These technical issues are not game-breaking most of the time. However, there are occasional crashes that result in in you needing to restart the game.
Another notable issue are the extremely long loading times. Finally, the more intense moments will see slowdown and some frame rate drops. This is most prominent when there are lots of units on screen at once.
Ultimately, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 lives up to its sequel status. It is a far better game than its 2016 predecessor, delivering a bigger and more refined experience. Along with improved visuals and polished combat, the developers have created a riveting story that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Above all else, it manages to do all of this while staying true to the spirit of Warhammer 40,000. That means you still get all the outrageous and frankly absurd action that fans of the franchise expect.