Every franchise has its icons to cement its image. Just as an oversized scarf and police box brings to mind time lords, a glowing green sword of light is emblematic of Star Wars, oversized pauldrons and yells of “Emprah!” instantly evokes Warhammer 40,000. As such, it was only a matter of time before the Adeptus Astartes – or Space Marines if you don’t want to bother with the faux Latin – rolled onto Battlefleet Gothic.
Despite having previously appeared as a small unplayable faction, the fleets here give a full impression of their capabilities. Alongside Strike Cruisers and the Gladius class frigates, they now retain a wide array of escorts and several variants of each major vessel. These tend to fit into three distinct categories, offering a ship with lance capabilities to shred armour, the ever famous bombardment cannon or a small torpedo launcher array. However, what makes each ship stand out is that most come equipped with a launch bay, allowing for players to field a fleet of light carriers, hitting targets at long range before closing in for the kill.
On a mechanical level, the Space Marine fleets are an odd blend of Ork and Imperial elements. With strong armour, a relatively slow speed and powerful boarding actions, they fit right in with brawlers; yet they retain the ranged capabilities and speed boosts of the Imperium. While they lack the innate strengths of either faction, they can more easily enter and escape close range engagements and avoid being hemmed in by faster vessels. Given the criticisms surrounding the Orks facing down the likes of the Eldar, this offers a heavy hitting balance many fans have been desperately wanting.
Many of the upgrades are what you would expect, offering unique personages to the fleet from the chapter’s upper tiers. Some offer greater discipline, others a major bonus when relating to all things of the Warp, and so on and so forth. Sadly, despite the interesting units within the fleet, there’s a distinct lack of personality when it comes to the chapters themselves. The Ultramarines, Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Dark Angels and Imperial Fists are all present, but little is done to reflect their own innate tactics and culture. What’s more, there’s a distinct lack of variety between certain classes, with many being limited simply to slight variations of the same vessel.
Overall, the Space Marine DLC is good but not spectacular. The lack of variety and personality definitely hurts it, but there’s no denying the innate fun of the fleet tactics and new strategies. If you’re looking for a little more fun from Battlefleet Gothic, this DLC will keep you entertained for hours on end.
Verdict: 7 out of 10