SUBSIM review: Battle Fleet 2

It's all about the gunnery.

Aug. 25, 2014 by Neal Stevens

Since Silent Hunter 5, iPads and iPhone, Kindles, and Android phones have become the platform de jour for naval games and subsims.  Surely this can’t be the demise of PC based subsims, can it? Well, maybe, but there is at least one new title that you can still play using a mouse and keyboard as God intended: Battle Fleet 2. Available on nearly every platform–iPad, Mac, Android and yes, Windows PC, Battle Fleet 2 is a more refined and graphically superior upgrade that should satisfy newbies to the battleship genre and Fighting Steel old-timers alike.

BF2 features the Pacific war and allows the player to choose either the Imperial Japanese Navy or US Navy. The gameplay is turn-based so you get to fire your weapons and make a move with each turn. Weapons such as guns and torpedoes are limited to a specific radius, which means maneuvering your ships to bring them to bear is part of the tactical component of the game. With carriers, you can also launch aircraft to either scout, attack or defend. The inventory includes carriers, cruisers, battleships, frigates, and destroyers. Oh, and coastal batteries. Alas, no submarines. But we all know that the inclusion of submarines adds a whole ‘nother level of strategy and this game’s focus is on surface combatants. Last minute update: Expect subs in the next version!

As you can imagine, one of the key elements of the game is range estimation. In each turn, you need to point your guns at the enemy and estimate range before firing. The game provides an interface that makes this pretty simple, to be point of being easy. You can adjust the aim point using a broad control, and fine tune it to the nearest foot.

Another element, and a most satisfactory one, is locating the enemy and avoiding detection. When an engagement begins, sometimes you do not have an enemy position, such as when your adversary is on the far side of an island. That’s where sending recon flights out plays a critical role. If you can find the enemy before they find you, you can get in some significant early shots.


Wolfpack realistic voice.


Battle Fleet 2 provides three difficulty levels and mission type are Quick Battle, Custom Battle missions, where you set up the type of ships in the mission, and a campaign. The campaign uses a Pacific strategic map where you influence the war by moving units and building additional vessels. There is also a multiplayer matchup and I got in several battles during my review session. There is a lot to be said of multiplayer with this type of game. It’s much more rewarding that playing against the computer.

As stated above, each ship has a defined turning radius, speed, and weapon range. One part that puzzled me was setting the range on torpedoes. I realize there is a maximum limit, but the game also prompts you to set the range, and if you do not set it for maximum, your torpedoes could fall short of the target. When ships are hit, they take specific damage, and there is an health bar to gauge the overall damage. You can have your ship’s capabilities degraded, such as losing a turret.

The menu screens and interface are sharp and the overall tone of the game is very professional. There is a score, but it gets quite repetitive, and can be muted. The game also includes “Strategic Command Cards”, which can be collected by steering your ship across various crates floating in the ocean. Think of these as special missions or wildcards that can handicap the enemy.

Given that this is a title that can be played on a 4″ telephone screen, the graphics are satisfactory, if not overwhelming. There are plenty of thoughtful details, such as splashes that mark where shells strike the waves, and smoke from damaged ships. The sound effects rate about the same: there are vocal commands that acknowledge your orders, and the “boom” from the big guns has a reverb effect that sounds like it should.


Although Battle Fleet 2 plays very much like a board game, it has the visuals and gameplay dynamics only a computer program can provide. Matched with the deliberate physical characteristics and damage modeling that serve to ground the game in historical reality in a way that purists can appreciate, Battle Fleet 2 anchors a respectable place in the current crop of naval games.

Click here for more info and to try out Battle Fleet 2

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