There has been a steady stream of Warhammer games lately, and with Sanctus Reach and Dawn of War III just around the corner, it doesn’t appear this will stop anytime soon.
Battlefield Gothic: Armada is an interesting standout from the bunch, however, just as it was a standout from the tabletop games. It’s focus is solely on fleet combat. Games Workshop unfortunately discontinued it in March 2013, so it came as a pleasant surprise for fans when a full PC version was announced—and an even more pleasant surprise when they found it was a blast to play.
It features a campaign mode, focused only on the Imperial Navy, and an online scrimish mode that brings in the Orcs, Eldar, and Chaos. If you want to hand over some extra cash, you can also get the Tao and Space Marine DLCs (both of which have been well received by the community).
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada holds surprisingly true to its tabletop cousin—from the mechanics and feel, right down to the ship designs.
The game takes place during the 12th black crusade, and the campaign puts you in the shoes of an admiral of the Imperial Navy fighting off Abaddon’s chaos forces as they attack the gothic sector. Along the way you’ll also face off against the Eldar and Ork pirates. It features some great voice acting, and well-done cutscenes that draw you into the story.
As for the scrimish PVP mode, there are mixed results. The multiplayer combat is very fun, and it’s where I spent the bulk of my time. Unfortunately, it takes some time to find a match, and the mechanics make it fairly easy for players to cheese matches if they choose. For example, the orcs are slow yet well armored, and can devastate enemy fleets by ramming into them (all factions can do this, but Orcs have special armor for it), and the Eldar are fast with strong long-range weapons, yet weak armor. It’s not uncommon for Eldar players to stay on the edge of the playfield and hammer you with long-range weapons, zipping around, while the Orcs slowly and helplessly trudge through space towards them.
There are also the occasional poor loser players who will retreat with a single Eldar ship, cloak it, and force you to wait out the rest of the match—which can have you floating around in space doing nothing for 15 or 20 minutes, with little hope of locating them. It’s not too much different from Terran opponents in Starcraft floating a base off into the corner of the map and forcing you to fly out and destroy them, but the cloaking mechanics in Battlefleet Gothic: Armada can make this an even more difficult task.
Of course, the above cheese scenarios aren’t too common. Most players show good sportsmanship, and it’s still a blast to play regardless. There are 1v1 and 2v2 modes, and ranked matches.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada plays like a naval combat game, and is easily one of the best in the genre. It’s available on Steam for $39.99 (since the player-base has gone down, we recommend waiting for a sale).