While I am a fan of tough games, and often play on higher difficulties, I consider Battlefleet Gothic: Armada to be a difficult game. Even on the easier settings it can crush you for simple mistakes, but then again that’s most likely what its fans want from it. The now discontinued turn-based board game it was based on required plenty of forward planning, and that still remains the case in this virtual rebirth crafted by Tindalos Interactive.

The single player campaign only covers the Imperial Navy side of things, but with it lasting a good 20 hours there’s plenty to get through. As for the story, players assume the role of newly-promoted Admiral Spire as they fight against the approaching Chaos forces, along with anything else threatening Imperial interests in the Gothic sector. It’s not the greatest narrative in the world, but the overblown nature of the dialogue and accompanying melodrama fits well with the Warhammer 40K universe.


Of course, it’s not the story players are probably concerned about – it’s if the gameplay works in a real-time setting. I’m glad to say that the translation from the board game’s turn-based origins has been expertly done, and I honestly feel that nothing is lost by keeping the gameplay on a 2D battle space. There’s so much to think about in terms of firing arcs and various abilities that adding vertical movement would have made controlling fleets an absolute mess. While the tutorial does a decent job of explaining the basics of movement, combat orders and abilities, it doesn’t prepare you for the significant difficultly jump once you got into the campaign proper.

Because as I mentioned before, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is damn tough.

It doesn’t help that certain mission types feel too stacked in the AI’s favour. Escort and Waypoint missions were the bane of my playthrough, requiring serious amounts of planning and prayers to the RNG gods that AI units spawned in more favourable positions. You could argue that reloading cheapens the experience, but losing early on means less resources for later missions when you desperately need them, making it feel like you can’t lose. Ever. Perhaps that’s the point – you’ve got to use your tactical superiority to win the day. Because of this, genre newcomers will find BG:A punishes too harshly for mistakes, even on lower difficulty settings, making it less enjoyable to learn by doing.


In my opinion, BG:A is at its best when it’s a full-on brawl between two opposing forces. While the skirmishes are usually 5v5 or under, there is more than enough to worry about even when you only have three ships at your command. Gameplay aspects such as missile trajectory, combat distances, engine speeds and hard turns mean players are always on their toes. The ability to slow down time by hitting the space bar is invaluable in this regard, giving time to react to incoming attacks or minefields. If I do have an issue, it’s the lack of being able to view the entire battlefield. The limited zoom really can hamper the ability to react, despite having a radar on the UI.

While the missions are played out in real-time, the campaign is represented in turns. It is on the sector map screen that players decide which missions to take, but the limited number of engagements (and ability to fail missions) creates a feel similar to that found in Firaxis’ XCOM titles. Decisions such as which planet to liberate or whether to ignore a raid by Ork pirates makes every choice matter. Success and failure also affect how the story progresses, creating unique playthroughs, but if you’d rather avoid all that there’s always the Skirmish mode to jump straight into the fray.


One of my favourite aspects is being able to customise fleets, with a range of choices such as which ships to include in missions and abilities to equip them with. I really liked the way the systems unlocked as vessels levelled up and the player accumulates Renown – the currency used to buy everything. It got to the point where I was spending more time customising my fleet and naming my ships (yes, “Spacey McSpaceFace” was a thing) than I probably should have. But I digress – the number of choices here means you could go all out damage, focus on speed, or specialise certain ships in crowd control. It’s a phrase I use often, but choice is good – especially when it comes to developing the perfect tactics with which to crush your enemies.

All of this is especially important in the multiplayer side of BG:A, which allows players to command Chaos, Ork and Eldar forces (with more to come in the near future.) I should probably make it very clear at this point that I am terrible at the multiplayer. Like, absolutely horrendous. At the time of writing the lack of true matchmaking based on skill also make it difficult to be in with a fighting chance. Yes, I could always follow the Dark Souls mantra of “git gud” but it would have been welcome to have been paired up against someone equally as clueless (thankfully this is happening soon, but more on that in a bit.)


Here’s the thing, though – despite being the worst Admiral in all of existence I recognise how players who know what they’re doing will find an enjoyable multiplayer experience. More to the point, being able to try out new tactics by using different combinations of ships, abilities and crew upgrades is almost certainly what fans of the board game are after.

So yes, BG:A isn’t exactly newcomer friendly or forgiving of mistakes, but those willing to learn in a trial by fire will most likely be rewarded with a rich tactical experience. It’s also hugely promising that the game will continue to be supported by its developers in the coming months While it would have been much better to have included ELO matchmaking & custom games at launch, the fact they will be patched in in the immediate future bodes well for BG:A and its players. There’s also the planned DLC fleets and new abilities, the first bunch of which early adopters get for free. Whether the £30 asking price is too much will depend on how much you want a intricate and deep strategy game, but I expect Warhammer 40K fans will be in heaven here.


  • Fantastic translation from turn-based origins to real-time gameplay.
  • Great amount of fleet customisation.
  • Adaptive single player campaign creates unique playthroughs.


  • Mistakes are punished harshly, so genre newcomers may find it too overwhelming.
  • While four factions are in the MP, having only one in the SP campaign is disappointing.
  • Being unable to view the entire battlefield can be frustrating.


The Short Version:

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada isn’t really newcomer friendly or forgiving of mistakes, but those willing to learn in a trial by fire will be rewarded with a rich tactical experience.

Click here to learn about our review scores.


Platform: PC (Tested)

Developer: Tindalos Interactive

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive