Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2 and Chaos Campaign Review

Platform: PC
Developer: Tindalos Interactive
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release: 29th January 2019
Price: 39.99

Since Homeworld and Empire at War I discovered my love for space strategy games centered around … well, space ships. If done right they can give you just this immense sense of scale and provide an almost cineastic experience by just watching the battles unfold. On the other hand, I always loved most of the Warhammer designs as well, so while the first Gothic Fleet Armada based on that franchise passed me by, the sequel seemed way too promising to leave out.

As with most strategy games, Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2 offers a campaign, which will be the main entry point for starters but also people looking to get into the lore of the 40k universe. Admittedly, I fall more into the first category still and often the campaigns just symbolize a perfect tutorial with some neat story beats.

What stands out though, is the fact, all that isn´t true in the long run. Each of the three big campaigns (Imperial, Necrons and Tyranids) offer around 20 hours of gameplay, at least I took so long for the Necrons one while ignoring most of the side stuff. The sheer length of those shows already how they´re meant to be experienced: As full blown experiences created with a lot of love. Each of them offer a story that´s more than just bland dialogues to lead into the next missions but mainly focus on aspects of the 40k franchise which weren´t covered in games often nor require a ton of background knowledge. Instead, a lot of the story often felt like slimmed down versions of a probably giant lore, fitted into the shape of a more tension and drama oriented plot to capture you in-between skirmishes, which works really well for what it is.

What´s not nearly as captivating though is the overall mission structure and it´s sheer sole focus on “destroying all ships” or “capturing a point” without much variety to be seen. Especially combined with the fact you can either play skirmishes or online battles outside the campaign, I hoped for some more creative ideas here to add some flavour to the very one-sided deal. Unfortunately not, making most of Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2 only enjoyable for people finding love in pure strategy in the long run, where Starcraft 2 or others found ways to create enjoyable campaigns for everyone.

The latest expansion titled Chaos Campaign on the other hand tries some things to change up the quite repetitive formula and introduces the pretty interesting Chaos side. Unfortunately, most of it is buried under, well, the exact same missions. Here and there there may be some more chaotic matches and “swarm-like” tactics but in the end most of it plays like another campaign without many actually effective ideas or interestingly unique stuff.

Except this fault though, there´s still a ton of fun to be had in this sequel, even for very casual space strategy players, mainly due to the overall, stunning presentation. Since it´s a game focused on commanding a fleet of giant warships around, every skirmish consists of a few but impressive array of heavy destroyers and supporters that really look fantastic all around, mainly due to the remarkable sincerity to the almost cartoonish 40k designs and the feel of size.

This is done by the breathtaking amount of detail in particular. Similar to the beloved Homeworld or other big titles in this genre, Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2 allows you to zoom into each and every detail. While the battleships looks fantastic alone, it´s possible to see every detail and far more important, follow each and every tiny fighter sent out by them, which you can´t even control. It´s possible to follow any part of the battle, even the ones you can´t control, and just watch the really good looking effects in action. It´s just a joy to behold.

Naturally though, in skirmishes, you rarely get the chance of actually observing all that without feeling pressured by everything else. The game is stuffed with micromanagement, either wanting you to maneuver your fleet to the various points to defend or attack, deploy fighters, manage their orientation and a lot, lot more. There´s even a huge array of ship specific things that you need to learn and manage to effectively support your fleet. It´s a lot per ship, making their slow movement and the overall slower speed of Gothic Fleet Armada 2 feel needed to actually have time for all these things. Nonetheless, during actual battles, all this quickly results in chaos for newer players, which also is one of its biggest entry hurdles.

Conclusion

So for anyone in love with space real time strategy, Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2 offers a giant amount of things to love, get pressureized by and more. Additionally, with the new Chaos Campaign there´s a new very viable way to experience it, even though it doesn´t fix many of the other campaign issues.

[A Review Code was provided by Focus Home Interactive]