This is Gaming Cypher’s PC review of Total War: Warhammer by SEGA and Creative Assembly. The game is due to release May 24, 2016 for PC on Steam.
The Total War series is combination of both turn-based resource management and real-time strategy, with separate macro and micro components. With previous games set in historical and realistic background, the new Warhammer expands into a fantasy setting with never before seen units. The Warhammer world features four different races and playable factions, with a fifth race added as a DLC. Each faction has different units and a different play style, with faction-specific “conditions” and attributes. The Empire are the humans and plays like the previous Total War series, with nothing unique besides for powerful mages. The Dwarves lack any cavalry and mages, but have access to some of the best artillery units in the game. In addition, dwarves have to deal with “Grudges,” with both positive and negative results. Each time a dwarven territory is raided or attacked, a grudge is recorded. Avenging the grudge provides rewards while ignoring grudges result in a loss of morale. Greenskins have a special meter called “Fightiness”, which can be raised by winning battle, and lowered by idling and losing battles. With enough “Fightiness”, greenskins gain free army units during battles. Greenskins encourages and rewards an aggressive playstyle. Vampires on the other hand, have to spread “Corruption” around the map during the turn-based phase. Like creep from Starcraft, Vampires can only move and invade on tiles infected with corruption.
The overall Total War feels like a mixture between the turn-based strategy from the popular Civilization series and a large scale Starcraft RTS. During the turn phase, players can micro-manage occupied territories and move armies around. Buildings and upgrades can be constructed to provide an income boost, upkeep decrease, or allow the recruitment of new units. Having more advanced buildings also unlock portions of the technology tree, which provide unit bonuses and etc. During this phase, armies can be moved around the map, constrained within a movement radius.
Now for the main focus of Total War, the large scale battle between the armies. Each army possesses a special unit called the Lord. The Lord acts like the general for the army and possesses special skills which enhances your army or causes detrimental effects to the opponent’s. Another special unit in Warhammer is the hero. Unlike Lords, heroes cannot lead armies but their battle prowess cannot be underestimated. Heroes are in a unit group by themselves and prove devastating on the battlefield. With enough experience, heroes can level-up, up to a max of 30. Furthermore, heroes can equip armor and weapons to further enhance their abilities. In battle, the Lord and heroes behave alike, with the only difference in that heroes cannot lead armies. The army is composed of different unit groups: the Lord, the Hero, and normal legion of units. Some of the normal legion composes of 20-30 units of normal units like swordsmen, halberdiers, and riflemen. Each battle takes place on a certain map, with differentiating terrains that can be used to your advantage. After setting up your legions in the starting position, the battle essentially “starts”, with the two armies usually on different sides of the map. From there, a variety of actions can be made. Each individual legion can be tasked to march and maneuver around the map, with different march speeds and maneuverability. Troops can be hidden within forests for a surprise attack or to get closed to the ranged units. Once the units engage each other, there are special factors and meters to keep track off. Each legion has a health bar, with each unit’s death lowering the legion health. In addition to the health bar, there is a morale bar. Once the legion morale reaches zero, the legion will pull away and flee from the battle. One important interaction on the battlefield is the flank, or flanking. When a legion attacks an enemy legion from the side or back, they receive a flanking bonus, lowering enemy morale and dealing extra damage. Slower units are harder to flank with and more suspicable to flanks. In addition, different units have different attributes, such as speed, armour, and attack. Certain units are stronger against larger enemies or otherwise have bonuses against cavalries or other unit types. There are multiple ways of accomplishing victory, killing the enemy Lord usually result in a huge loss of morale which leads to the disintegration of the opposing army. Killing all enemy units would also result in the ending of a battle.
After the ending of a battle, the player can choose the outcome for the prisoners or the conquered territory. Prisoners can be used to replenish any losses sustained by your army during the battle, executed for a boost in morale, or ransomed for gold if your treasury is low. New territories can be occupied, ransacked and occupied, or simply destroyed following a successful takeover. Throughout the course of the campaign, there are also missions made available to the player. Missions give desirable rewards, such as hero abilities and gold, for suppressing rebellions or accomplishing certain events.
As a fan of real-time strategy games, I am very pleased with Total War: Warhammer. Warhammer reminds me of Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth with the battles and flanking mechanics, as well as the fantasy component. The campaign and the short tutorial felt very well-made, with quality cut scenes that provide a brief background on all of the races and conflicts preexisting in the Warhammer world. There is a definite sense of strategy and micro in the battles, which increases in complexity and size with advancement in the campaign. The Lord’s abilities, troops positioning, and flanking kept me actively engaged. The graphics and animations for the units and battles are amazing, as I can see my cavalry crashing into the opponent’s rank of riflemen and sending lifeless bodies flying. Even though I was playing the campaign in the normal difficulty, the opponent’s AI seems a bit easy and exhibited many questionable behaviors, such as funky legion movement and idling.
My review of Total War: Warhammer does not include any multiplayer experiences and is solely for the single-player experience. My final verdict is a 8.5 out of 10, for continuing and improving upon the Total War series but still feature most of the same mechanics from previous games. The effort to incorporate the Warhammer universe was very commendable but there are issues with the turn-based phase of the game, as it felt quite lacking in terms of gameplay and development.
Enjoy the What is Total War: WARHAMMER video:
Total War: WARHAMMER combines an addictive turn-based campaign of conquest and empire-building with explosive, colossal, real-time battles, all set in the vivid and incredible world of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Total War: WARHAMMER will release on May 24th2016 and is available now to pre-order on Steam.