Battle Fleet 2 alpha takes to the water

By Nik Gaukroger 12 Jun 2014 0

The original Battle Fleet was released back in 2012 for iPad and Mac; however, Battle Fleet 2 will also be available for the PC and it was a PC alpha version that we were sent. I didn't play the original game so am not in a position to make comparisons. However, looking at the website it is clear that the graphics have been significantly upgraded.

Battle Fleet 2 is a WW2 naval game set in the Pacific theatre, so we're looking at (mainly) the Japanese and United States navies here. When you fire up the game you have the choice of single or multi-player games: the former gives a campaign, quick battle or custom battle option, whilst the latter allows hotseat or online game options (at least, those are the current menu options). The campaign will let you play as either the Empire of Japan or the United States/Allies and looks like it will run from 1941 when the US entered the war, until the end of hostilities one way or the other. The campaign is set up like a boardgame with the Pacific theatre divided up into sectors between which your forces move. All the major island chains that featured in the war appear to be represented as are Australia and New Zealand. Which is nice to see as they are sometimes forgotten by those more focused on the US.

When a battle occurs (or you've jumped into a quick battle) the player has command of all the ships of a naval task force under their direct command, and in a big engagement this could be a lot of ships; these battles will not be completed in half an hour during your lunch break. Ships activate in a set order and you must complete all the actions you want with one before you (or the AI if playing solo) move on to the next one. This does mean it's going to be a game for those who like to have a coherent plan and can maintain focus on it during play. Your ships can move and shoot, or shoot and move or, indeed, shoot then move then shoot again if you desire; again, lots more decision making and tactics here. Being WW2 aircraft feature and are handled in a similar way to shooting if you launch an air strike, or are an abstracted factor against enemy aircraft if flying CAP. Land based aircraft are also promised.

The 'battlefield' over which you fight obviously represents a large area of sea and, possibly, a number of islands. This means that you will inevitably be using the zoom in and out function quite a lot so as to keep an eye on where your ships are and those of the enemy. When zoomed in you see a nice top down view of the ships, and when zoomed out ship positions are marked with a blue or red diamond. You can also take a more detailed look at an individual ship in which you get a 3D view which shows various stats about the vessel. I must note at this point that when zoomed in the water effect is very pretty - one of the best I think I've seen.

Movement and shooting are done by similar mechanisms. For movement you move a 'dial' to give the ships heading and set the speed. The speed can affect manoeuvre; slower speeds are better for tighter turns. Shooting, which is done on an individual gun/turret basis, is also done using a dial (which shows the available shooting arc) and you set the range to which your ordinance is to be sent. This you have to judge from the relative positions of the shooting and target ship, although you are helped by a 2000 yard ring displayed centred on your ship. Because of this, firing ranging shots is very important. Hits cause damage and may knock out enemy guns, steering, etc.

In addition to all the moving and shooting there are Strategic Command Cards to play, which can give you special actions like deploying mines, sabotage, enhanced aiming, airstrikes and more! These can be collected during a battle which adds another layer of decision making and tactics.

Overall this is shaping up to be an interesting game that should appeal to those who like to manage a lot of things during a game as opposed to just picking a target and letting the game do all the work. As mentioned above it does mean that games with larger numbers of ships will inevitably take a fair amount of time to complete, however, even on the fairly quick run through of a few battles I have managed it was noticeable that once you have got the hang of the fairly simple and intuitive controls, the game can progress at a good pace.

If you're a naval game fan this is definitely one to keep a look out for. As this was an alpha build there will no doubt be many changes before release, and we'll keep abreast of progress for you.

The game is also on Steam Greenlight looking for support for release through the Steam channel; so if you'd like to support it, get over there and vote for it to get greenlit.

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