(In the voice of Hal Douglas – movie intro guy)
In a fractured kingdom, one newly-elected emperor must stake his claim of the land. Against all odds, against countless armies, against corruption. And against those bloody chaos packs that just have to attack one of my settlements as I move my army out of range! This is my experience of delving deeper into the combined realms of Total War and Warhammer.
No surprise this isn’t a “hot-off-the-press” piece considering the game released nearly two years ago. In fact, Total War: Three Kingdoms is set to release this Fall and you could speculate that the third instalment of TW:W will release early next year. But with the second instalment (Total War: Warhammer II) getting so many awards and nominations since release, starting with the first made more sense in getting to grips with the game.
Strategy games aren’t a completely new kettle of fish to me; Anno, Halo Wars, Starcraft and venturing back to the old Command and Conquer games have each had their fair share of hours devoted to them. However, the sheer vastness of political, infrastructure and (of course) RTS combat results in micro-managing on a massive scale. It can be a little overwhelming if you’re new to the game and understanding what each of the many buttons lead to. But fear not, after time your grip will strengthen and you’ll be ready to invade enemy territory with confidence – and lots of swords.
The in-game Advisor will be a helpful guide in your first few actions and “turns”. As other factions create alliances or wage war, your first town or two will grow in population as will your coffers, supporting further growth and development. Armies or heroes will traverse your land, leaders will level up and new units to research will create new actions, some of which can be interacted with (e.g. diplomacy requests). Further details on newly discovered game mechanics can usually be found via the advisor and in-depth guidance via tutorial videos that can be watched while still within the game.
With everyone having a kinaesthetic side (self included) I felt there was an opportunity missed to help newer players understand the combat system. A few battles in, frustration was creeping in at setting units into a complex formation for greatest efficiency (or so I told myself) only to begin battle and they all converge into groups by unit type. Once understanding unit locking, the glory of marching an entire army in unison was possibly far sweeter than it should have been! The short combat introduction does help a little, but having even a small range of interactive tutorial sessions to learn broader strategies would have been welcomed.
Whatever your skill levels are though, I’d recommend viewing the Creative Assembly Youtube Channel which hosts over 350 videos on anything from basic tutorials to upcoming releases. Another place to regularly drop in to, or at least have as a helpful tool when in need, is the Total War Forums. After recently writing about game toxicity in games, the community of TW seems like a breath of fresh air – friendly and supportive. This is one of the many areas where the “older” legacy games trump those of more recent years. The first in the series released in 2000 (Shogun: Total War) and with a potentially more mature player base comes less toxic gameplay and chatter.
Getting excited at being able to use cannon artillery and a larger force of Reiksguard might be shadowed by the future prospects of the largest units in the game. Dragons are one of those (above, just in case you were wondering) but how they’ll compare against giants, mammoths and Treekin stokes the anticipation of upcoming battles yet to be fought. And I haven’t even dared to start on multiplayer; with the ability to play out a campaign with a friend-turned-enemy, bring an army to help a battle or just go head-to-head in a skirmish mode. Phew, someone get me a drink of Amasec!