EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Sorin Annuar
previewed on PC
Capturing the essence
Miniature-gaming kingpin Games Workshop is best known for its Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 franchises, first established in the early 80s and growing into a monolithic wargaming imperium. Over the decades various developers have attempted to drill down to the essence of what captured the imagination of fans of Games Workshop’s works, but few have succeeded. Even those that did made concessions or changed the core mechanic of the game.
Battlefleet Gothic Armada, then, is one of the latest attempts to translate the war-torn future of the 41st century into game form, focusing exclusively on space battles between fleets of hulking ships. French developer Tindalos Interactive’s take on the now-discontinued tabletop wargame of the same name trades turn-based combat for RTS-style trappings. If Dawn of War was Relic Entertainment channelling Command and Conquer and its ilk, then Battlefleet Gothic Armada is Tindalos Interactive summoning the ghost of Homeworld.
Concentrate, or lose
The game will launch with 4 factions: the Imperium, their corrupt counterparts Chaos Undivided, Orks and the Eldar. Multiplayer is an unsurprising addition to the game, and much like the tabletop game, players will have to build their fleet within a set number of points, of which each ship type has a different value.
Compared to many other RTS games, Battlefleet Gothic Armada seems slow and ponderous in the way units move; this to an extent works in the game’s favour, as directional facing is an important factor to consider in terms of attack and defence; certain weapons can only be used broadside, for example, whilst others require the ship to be facing the enemy. Other options include being able to send probes out to scout parts of the map for enemies, and launching boarding parties in drop pods to breach the hull of enemy ships.
The game appears to require a large degree of concentration from the player; simply selecting all your units and telling them to attack en masse generally will not work out well for you. Specific parts of enemy ships must be targeted, such as the engines to stop or slow down your target, in order to ensure success.
At present the only criticism of the UI is that it can appear overwhelming and even when the game is pointing out a button for you to press with a big yellow arrow, you may still fail to spot it, resulting in the destruction of your ship and having to redo the mission. It is worth noting that this was only the tutorial.
There is a sense of familiarity to the UI, soundtrack (although it does seem that the only suitable musical accompaniment to any Games Workshop property involves ominous choir music and strings) and even the way in which mid-mission story exposition is delivered via talking heads in the corner of the screen. It riffs off Dawn of War II heavily, which may not necessarily be a bad thing, as all the elements in that game came together well.
Fans looking forward to testing their tactical mettle against the Xenos and the corrupt will have to hold position until April 21st then the game launches. For those not sold on the concept but curious, wait for our full review before purchasing.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.