Total War has been a series that’s been around for many years now and at this point you could easily consider the franchise a flagship title at this point. Even with Total War’s popularity, it’s been one of those franchises that have stayed in the line of realism – to a degree. Some of the previous games in the series focused on their real-world counterparts, such as Napoleon or some other empire that existed in the real-world. Despite this, Total War has yet to have a game that focuses solely on the fantasy setting of video games: until now!
For those who might not know what Total War actually is, allow me to fill you in: the Total War franchise is a real-time strategy game that’s been around for a number of years now. A lot of the gameplay boils down to managing your troops on the battlefield to ensure that victory is yours for your faction. Unlike Total War’s counterparts/competition, it isn’t simply the combat that you’ll have to keep your eye out for. You are also required to do the necessary research and taxation of your faction to balance out your economy that’s both efficient and required for your faction to keep operations running.
One major problem that not only I have found issue with in the series is in the form of the factions. The problem with earlier titles, such as Total War: Rome was how similar factions seemed to be when compared to one another. Occasionally you might find someone or something that is purely unique, but for the most part a change in faction was more of a pallet swap, rather than anything else. Pretty much every faction had some form of infantry, some form of artillery, and a few extras here and there to split up the monotony; yet for the most part those soldier-types felt similar to every other faction’s.
With the release of Total War: Warhammer – a series all on its own that’s one for being incredibly unique and interesting, especially in regards to the fantasy genre – this new, fantasy-based property allows the series to soar to new interesting and fun heights. Instead of having a different faction being little more than a change in colour, each and every single one of the factions in the game have their own strengths and weaknesses with the combatants that they receive.
To top all of that off, you’ve got an extra level of individuality that one faction or race might get, whereas another might not. Allow me to take a look at the Orcs, a species in the Warhammer universe well known for their aggression and readiness to go to war. To compliment that style of play and accentuate how their race truly is! What I mean by all this is a certain Orc-specific trait that effectively boils down to more aggression; more troops! If you regularly go to war, destroying your opponents, and whatever else, the Orcs can gain troops completely for free, an advantage that is exclusive to them and no one else. These specific-traits that haven’t been as nearly as prominent in previous iterations of the game; yet they are most certainly a welcome addition this time around.
Depending on which faction you pick, your tactics are going to change – either more defensively or more offensively. This once again leads to an RTS experience that you wouldn’t really get from anywhere else and as such makes every single new game or campaign you start a unique and new experience for all involved.
Ever fancy getting yourself wrapped up in politics where you are the sole beneficiary? Then be sure to continue reading! Total War isn’t all murder and war because politics can play a very handy part throughout your campaign; more so than some other factions I must say. There’s a saying that may be along the lines of “money can’t buy you happiness” but in this game it can most assuredly buy you some peace and quiet from other armies. If you can afford to buy them off for a little while, then you’ll get the chance to revaluate your situation and resituate your position in the war.
One element of the Total War franchise we all know and love at this point is the amount of detail that goes into the single-person combat when you zoom in all the way into the battlefield. At first it’s definitely a fascinating set of animations that you’re going to want to watch the first time around, but the level of immersion and detail you get from it clearly slumps to a degree when battles have a considerable amount of units on the field. The reason I say this is because units will clump together and clip through one another to some degree during the combat phase and there’s not much that can be done to avoid it, at least other than having much smaller armies – which is no fun at all in a Total War game.
From an aesthetic standpoint the game has improved from its previous versions, but there’s only so much graphical fidelity you can fit in the game; alas that’s understandable. Even though I would very much like to see the graphics improved a little more – not to say that it is ugly, not at all – but the graphics do need to be throttled a little due to the size of the battles. Thankfully they didn’t opt to reduce the size of battles or anything else, because it’s the size and scale that really puts Total War in a spot of its own.
Going back to individual units, every faction is clearly identifiable by their design and that’s exactly how it should be. Orcs are easy to spot, so are Dwarves, as are Vampires, and the list goes on and on until you mention every single faction in the game. After a single second spent looking at a certain unit you’ll be able to tell what faction they belong to and whether or not they are a good or a bad thing in the upcoming battle. Previous Total War games had this problem show up every now and again, but with Total War: Warhammer it has managed to avoid it with ease.
One thing I’ve found rather irritating and not very becoming of the franchise is that any named heroes won’t actually die, regardless of whatever might happen to them. Before too long, it is one of those things that niggles in the back of your head every time you hit that “assassinate” button because by the time it is done and dusted, hero is only going to be out of action for a little while and nothing more.
Overall, Total War: Warhammer is one of the most improved Total War games we as an industry and as gamers have seen in quite some time. Obviously it isn’t perfect by any means, but the game does manage to do a whole hell of a lot right! Gameplay is an element of the game that you won’t easily find yourself getting bored of; even though at times it does appear to have a bit more of a lacking aesthetic, but that’s something that is easy to look past.
The variety in the factions and races is easily the greatest part of the game and manages to keep you engaged in “Total War”. Each race/faction have their own access to sort units that someone else may not have and can create a unique campaign for you as the player, all depending on who you pick and who you go up against.
The fantasy setting is a welcome change to the series and as such has led the developers to create one of their better Total War games in recent years; a fact many people are going to be happy with.