The times where ‘Total War’ was only about historic times of battle are over. The newest installment of the franchise ist called ‘Warhammer’ and most of the people have at least heard the name. While games like ‘Dawn of War’ focus on the 40k version of the game (the future stuff), the fantasy edition reminds you of all the fantastic games you know, filled with orcs, humans, dwarfs etc. Now all this combined with the epic battle gameplay of a ‘Total War’, sounds absolutely awesome! But is it?
People who have played another ‘Total War’-game will find their way in the game pretty fast. The main menu has everything you know, the campaign, the quest battles are the new historic battles, custom battles and multiplayer. So far so similar. The changes of course are the game mechanics.
First of all the campaign. And even though the core elements remain the same there are a few improvments here and there to make the game different. Well, every faction will be played differently they said. Yes, that’s true. But not as much as expected. Chaos is the only really different faction, playable like the huns in in ‘Total War: Atilla’. The rest has faction-only goals and mechanics, the vampires need to corrupt the country they walk on, orcs need to fight all the time to keep up the good mood, dwarfs have their book of grudges that needs to be avenged, humans are … humans. But the basic basics like tech-trees, base building and army management is the same. Vampires need dark magic and humans gold but that’s like dollar and euro. It will be a different feeling when you play with the other factions but it could be much more different. Maybe new coming races bring new improvements with them. Apart from this the campaign is a lot of fun. Conquering the old world (as much as you can) is challenging, the other factions make (mostly) smart decisions and the tech-trees and buildings give you a lot to do. I haven’t finished one but I’m about to come to an end and I really enjoyed it.
Aside from the campaign the other big element of a ‘Total War’-game is the battles. Huge armies with hundreds of soldiers clashing into each other. And with todays technology they are really getting a cinematic aspect into the battles. This didn’t change at all. It’s even more impressive to see a giant dragon landing in a group of soldiers, ripping them apart while a magician tries to stop it with a deadly meteor strike.
And the AI is doing a good job. It places its soldiers right and even has clever tactics, like flanking with fast units or do multiple charges with the same cavalry unit instead of just standing there. The balancing is good as well, even the most deadly dragon units cannot win a battle alone. Just some hero units seem to be a bit too strong. I have won battles with only my vampire lord. He just didn’t die (yes, he is already dead, so funny) and after a long time killing units the enemy army just ran away. Cool for me, but actually not how it should be. The rest seems to be working very well.
Sieges are also changed in a better way. Instead of attacking a whole city where players and AI have no clue what to do, you now try to conquer a certain part of a city. A corner part or a piece of the front wall. The rest of the city isn’t part of the map, but still visible in the background (looking amazing). With smaller siege-maps, the AI acts a lot smarter and players can focus easier on one piece of the city. Rest is like the previous games, instead of destroying the enemies you can conquer certain points in the city to win. The tactics however have changed of course. Flying units don’t have to wait for a broken gate and even normal units can use ladders to get on top of the walls. Siege towers and battering rams still exist though and are still usefull.
One of the biggest changes is the magic system. A lot of people feared that magic will be too powerfull and that you can destroy a whole army just using one wizard. This is not the case. Magic is powerfull and should be used, but it isn’t a free ticket to victory. Even the most powerfull spells don’t kill a lot of people, it’s more like destroying enemy formations and especially to buff your troops. And wizards are pretty bad in combat, so even a basic unit could take out a powerfull magician. Again, magic is a key element in battle and should be used as much as you use your different types of units.
The guys who use this magic are the heroes. Like generals you always need one to battle an enemy. But unlike in previous games these heroes are actually good fighters and you have to use them to win. Magicians of course should be in the background doing magic and stuff, but your melee champions should be in the front line because as I mentioned earlier they are very powerfull. And they look cool as shit.
I really like the ‘Total War’-games so I really like this one. ‘Warhammer’ keeps the core elements of the franchise and adds fresh new elements to the game. But it could add more new elements. It isn’t just a mod with new skins, absolutely not. But there could be more to make this game really different. We all know there will be two more parts for ‘Total War’ and a lot of DLCs, so I assume that the new games will bring more gameplay mechanics and it always changes a bit more (like every sports game). So hopefully after the release of the third ‘Total War: Warhammer’ we have the perfect fantasy strategy game.
And new animations would be cool. Flying battles should be more than two dragons giving each other headbutts.