Battlefleet Gothic: Armada is ready to take you to church

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Space-church that is! With lasers! And massive spaceships! In space!

I saw two Warhammer 40K games during my second day at E3. The first one was the delightfully violent and gory Spacehulk: Deathwing. The second? The exact opposite, as we were shown some proper deep tactical gameplay and battles fought on a solar scale in the cold, dark vacuum of space.

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Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, spins the action out into the cosmic reaches of the Imperium of Man, set during the momentous battles of the Twelfth Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler. From what I was told, players will be able to wield the armada of four races in the game: Imperial, Eldar, Ork and Chaos.

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Each faction has a unique design aesthetic to their ships, as well as various units with their own strengths and weaknesses. Because piloting a mobile church that can level a planet, requires some deep thinking, y’know? Each ship also has its own AI commander who will pilot it into battle, but if you think that the captain is doing a piss-poor job, you can override his decisions and take control.

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Although this might backfire, based on crew loyalty. The actual gameplay takes place on a slower three-dimensional plane, giving players enough time to chart their course and engage in flight or fight actions. It’s genuinely beautiful to watch the action unfold, as ships slowly lose chunks of their hull in the cosmic battlefield while lasers and torpedos rain down on them.

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Much like the previously-mentioned Spacehulk: Deathwing, it’s those details that make the game. Developer Tindalos Interactive told us how the development crew behind Battlefleet Gothic: Armada had all been playing the Warhammer tabletop games for the last two decades, bringing that love of the franchise to the game itself.

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And it genuinely shows, with insanely detailed skill trees, PvP multiplayer and a tactical bend spread across the various frigates and battlecruisers. Ships can be properly customised to include better weapons, armour and support sub-systems. And when you lose a ship, it feels like a genuine loss, thanks to the permadath nature of the game.

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The Warhammer 40K franchise is in a damned good position right now. Alongside Spacehulk: Deathwing and the upcoming Total War: Warhammer, fans are getting slices of games that would have been impossible to think of a few years ago. But best of all, the franchise is in good hands thanks to some truly dedicated developers.

Last Updated: June 23, 2015

Darryn Bonthuys

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