Armada and Dangerous.
There are going to be two people who remember Battlefleet Gothic, each not unique from each other. The first group will remember the tabletop franchise which ran for about 14 years; the second will remember the first iteration of this series from 2016.
Now Warhammer games are like rats, you’re never really more than 3 metres from one. However, Armada always set itself apart by giving you a rather unpicked angle of the universe to play with. Dawn of War gave you a small taste of the space but nothing on the scale of Armada.
Scale is the key word here, because my god this game got huge quickly. Taking the pretty solid formula of the original and buffing up the scale of detail means that for those of you gurning for some imminent destruction you will get to ram an orbital weapons platform out of orbit and crack a planet in two within the tutorial.
The rest of the tutorial is pretty good too I guess.
Now at heart there is no real difference between the gameplay of Armada and Armada II. The core is the same Total War style active real-time strategy as before: You have several ships under your command which can be placed at the beginning of the match, with you using that match to take control of strategic points throughout the battle. You win through either of the two means of total obliteration of your opponent or by capturing all the objectives and gaining more points than your opponent.
This you will master through the three campaigns where you play as the Imperium fleet, Necrons, and Tyranids. You do have 9 other choices to play with though and alongside those three you get Space Marines, Adeptus Mechanicus, Chaos, Aeldari Corsairs, Aeldari Craftworld, Drukhari, T’au Merchants, Protector Fleets and Orks. Each of these are uniquely styled and are naturally different from each other. The Imperium is immune to mutiny, which is a nice skill for a new person entering this style of game, and there are inverse groups such as the Necrons who instantly retreat if their morale bombs. Orks are slow but super tough, and the Drukhari is weak but they cannot be easily targeted if moving thanks to invisibility cloaks.
Along with plenty of new classes, you get plenty of particulars with the actual battle the play around with. The new nitty gritty is there, even to the point of picking the side of the ship you point at the enemies to unleash your barrage from. Top level players will need to learn all of the shortcuts and time-saving tactics around to really get an advantage, as well as learning all the weaknesses and strengths of each fleet.
Visually the game has had an insane overhaul. Space is full of wondrous and colourful phenomena and the game works hard to bring them to life. It makes it satisfying to do anything in the game because the result is so bright and visceral on the backdrop of space. The music is a little lackluster, and while it does a solid job of providing a backing to the battles full of tension it seems a little safe an option and something more industrial and wild would have been a little more apt for this style of game and story. There are a few bugs here and there, but I found nothing that wasn’t already noted to me as ‘known’ so I’m not too worried about the performance of the game beyond whether my computer will slug out when things start exploding.
Armada II promised and subsequently delivered a massive improvement over the original in the game. Nothing was safe from the overhaul and II comes out as a phenomenal game as a result. This game will definitely draw in fans of the original and will bring in RTS fans thanks to its deeper interface in the battles. I was not expecting such a change from the original and I’m thankful for it. If you need a game to add to your collection in the thin selection of January Armada II should be on that list.