Friday, 11 September 2015

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada - Gameplay And Promising Plans

There are ships, there are big guns, and everything looks like a skull crested cathedral. If nothing else, they've got the look down. With so many Games Workshop video game releases being promoted via mobile, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada has been a subject of interest for many. While not exactly a Space Marine II or Dawn of War III, it's the closest the franchise has to a truly big budget new release and something set on a massive scale. While fans have had little to go on beyond a few basic interviews and cinematic trailers, the developer has finally opted to release some detailed info via a gameplay trailer.

While certainly less stylised than the average AAA bombastic trailer, and certainly less blood pumping, what we have here is better in many regards. Direct, succinct, and brimming with good information, it relies upon narration backed by some gameplay but still features some of the great eye candy. Given it's aiming for demographics more interested in tactical engagement than raging battles, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Furthermore, it also still keeps its cards close to its chest. While we have some basic information for the Imperial and Chaos fleets, little to nothing of the Ork WAAAAGH!fleet or Eldar Wraithfleets are mentioned. The two there are also covered in very basic information at most, leaving plenty of room for great surprises in the future.

The real meat here instead focuses upon how the game will play overall. Along with depicting a two dimensional plane (which is likely to draw some ire from space RTS fans over the tabletop loyalists) the maps is riddled with environmental hazards, navigational issues and areas to exploit. Better yet, it goes into informing the players how this will influence the outcome of each engagement, with some special focus upon certain bits and pieces which might go unnoticed at first. Chief among these is how each fleet and each death seems to have more meaning here than with the average RTS. Along with focusing upon smaller groups of fleets at a time, there's the detail mentioned that wrecks and derelicts can be used as cover between warships, showing enemy cruisers are not simply consigned to oblivion.

However, the most interesting point is the emphasis upon suitability and progression. Along with mentioning, perhaps even encouraging, a ship's ability to warp out of combat and return later, progression is a big part of each warship. On Chaos' side they can manifest unique tributes to the Ruinous Powers, gaining favour with one force or another and bonuses as a result. However, with others you have crews upgrading and officers benefiting from experience, with many covering multiple areas of the ship and enhancing its capabilities across each point. While an idea carried over from the tabletop game, it means you're viewing the fleet as truly yours. Most RTS titles always make the mistake of treating units as offer, puffing out of existence and never carrying over to the next engagement. This means that each unit now has more value, as you grow attached to them. It's really what made Homeworld so memorable, building your fleet over time, and that lacked this same method of gaining experience.

So, do we need more information? Oh most definitely, but it certainly holds a great deal of promise. Here's hoping future promotional material expands upon what we've seen thus far.


  1. I disagree on one point here. The 'warp out of combat and return later' thing. This is a worrying development, because it's completely counter to all previous fluff about 40k void combat. Warp drives do not work reliably in system, hence why jump points are a thing. Plus the way repairing crippled ships take weeks/months docked in repair facilities. If it's just the disengaging mechanic from the tabletop game, where a ship 'goes dark' to escape, that would be fine as a method of preserving a ship's upgrades/veterancy. But return to the battle? Nope.

    1. Not quite all of it actually, there have been some cases and stories of ships using Warp drives to rapidly jump from one location to the next. The original Battlefleet Gothic novel, Execution Hour, featured this in a running battle between two warships. It's a bit of a grey area admittedly and most sources do favour the point of fixed jump points over any location, but there is a little establishment in the canon.

      Not saying you're wrong at all, and i'll admit that the older mechanic would have been preferable, but I personally don't see it as COMPLETELY lore breaking.