Ah, dictatorship… I mean, uh, diplomacy! Err, maybe a mix of both? Actually, let’s start over:
Total War: Warhammer is an addictive turn-based empire-building game with epic real-time battles, all set in the world of Warhammer’s legendary heroes, giant monsters, flying creatures and storms of magical power. That sounds much better, doesn’t it?! And definitely, if I had one word to describe Total War: Warhammer, it would be “epic.” This installment in the Total War series is the team’s first endeavor into the fantasy realm, and while it builds upon what other Total War games have brought to the table, it also comes with significant changes to the Total War universe.
Total War: Warhammer Concept
The Total War system is a turn-based campaign game of statecraft, city development, technological research, army building, character customization and territorial expansion. The other component is an epic RTS battle system initiated when your armies enter battle. You will act as the commander after loading into the battle and your skill (or lack of?) in managing the troops can influence the outcome. And with this game sticking faithfully to the world of Warhammer, the armies you command and the characters you encounter will consist of warriors, monsters, and more from the Warhammer universe. Campaigns will span across The Old World – the central area of the Warhammer world-map. As players continue through the campaign, the map will expand, with new areas and races becoming playable. Every race is quite unique, so if you play only one of the core races (the Empire, the Dwarfs, the Vampire Counts and the Greenskins), you’ll only experience a quarter of what Total War: Warhammer has to offer!
Total War: Warhammer Key Features
Lead Extraordinary Races – Each Race is vastly different with their own unique characters, campaign mechanics, battlefield units and play style
- Command Legendary Characters – Take control as one of eight Legendary Lords from the Warhammer Fantasy Battles World, equipping procured weapons, armor, mounts and deadly magic all while uncovering their tales through a series of unique narrative quest chains
- Conquer the Warhammer world – This being the very first Total War game to feature a fantasy setting, you’ll explore incredible depth and the freedom to conquer as you see fit across a huge sand-box Campaign map. This magical landscape is populated with an unbelievable array of awesome and deadly creatures on a large scale
- Unleash epic monsters – The battlefields of Total War: Warhammer quake to the roars of dragons, the bellowing of giants and the hooves of monstrous cavalry. Towering beasts storm into the heat of battle, bringing death to hundreds of lesser beings at a time.
- Harness the Winds of Magic – Smite your enemies with powerful storms, sap their fighting spirit or bolster your own forces with devastating spells that split the sky and consume the battlefield. Wizards, shamans and necromancers join your armies to break titanic and unpredictable foes.
Overall Likes and Dislikes
The Good – Those who love a good RTS-slash-Political Diplomacy game will certainly enjoy Total War: Warhammer. As a newcomer to both the universes of Total War and Warhammer, I also feel this game mostly does a good job of showing you the ropes. It is very easy to quickly become immersed in the campaign and the various routes of diplomacy (or tyranny) available to take. The cinematic sequences and some of the game’s artwork are also very brilliant and beautiful. Being able to zoom in and watch large-scale battles up close is also a plus, and if I wasn’t so dang involved in giving commands to my armies, I would be watching the skirmishes more intently! And lastly, fusing the worlds of Total War and Warhammer creates a wonderful match made in heaven, as the Warhammer setting fits sublimely with the Total War formula.
The Bad – Unfortunately, while the battles may look great, the controls and overall playability of them are not so great. Players could spend many minutes positioning units in the “setup phase” only to then require all of the units to move forward because the enemy is not advancing to attack. While it seems they wanted that pre-battle setup time to be used for a multitude of strategies, it ultimately doesn’t really matter once the battles actually start; units will either end up needing to move from their positions anyway, or they’ll run away in a pool of their own cowardice. Occasionally I also felt as though the command callouts were a bit clunky… tell a unit group to attack something, and it’s only about a 70% chance they’ll follow through to do exactly what you’ve told them. Some of that is meant to be game mechanics (like how armies often flee when their Lord is not around), but I also perceive it to be the slow-paced battle system.
Many players have also complained of the campaign’s difficulty. I also personally felt I could best experience the game only when I played on “easy.”
And while I do believe the campaign is initially intuitive from the start, it then becomes a bit complicated and messy, even within the interface. As a small and personal gripe, the text could be a bit bigger overall, but I also feel as though the building tech-tree, diplomacy menu, and a few other parts of the UI could use some more explaining. It wasn’t until about 2 days in before I even realized where and how to equip the various banners, new recruits (the Lord or army upgrades like “messengers,” not the individual recruiting of armies themselves), etc… it’s in the “Character Details” page, and there’s a very small portrait of one of your existing Lords if he is already using the weapon, banner, or upgrade you wish to equip, just FYI.
Score: 7 out of 10
All in all, I would have loved to see a bit more polish to the game as a whole; it was in production long enough to warrant such a thing. This isn’t at all to say the game is bad. Certainly the Total War fans out there will enjoy it, but it could do an adequate job of also pulling in first-timers to the franchise, and I personally loved the graphics, creatures, and environments of the Warhammer universe.
Total War: Warhammer will launch May 24th on Steam for $59.99 and will come with the Chaos Warriors playable race for those who pre-purchase the game.
Fellow DKC Gaming writer AlexanderVonKoopa also got his hands on Total War: Warhammer, as two review codes were provided for the purposes of this review. Please read his thoughts here – “War. War never changes. Total War, the series, though, it does. Not in a complete overhaul, but enough to show that the developers really care about their product and their consumers. Their latest product, Total War: WARHAMMER, is a prime example – with new changes to the formula, like flying units and magic, there’s enough new content here for long-time Total War fans. Warhammer fans will also be pleased – the four main races (five, counting the Chaos DLC) each have playstyles that match the characterization the armies have been through over the years – the humans uniting many factions under one banner, the dwarves holding grudges and building ludicrous technology, the vampire courts refusing to let the dead stay that way, and the Greenskins (objectively the best (WAAAAAGH!)) smashing everything. (Chaos plays like a more magic-and-single-unit based mix of Vampires and Greenskins)
Unfortunately, the game is resource-intensive, as is to be expected in a world this massive in scale. Load times are long, textures sometimes don’t behave (Pixellated clouds ahoy!) and the voice acting is… questionable. Also, on any difficulty but “easy,” CPU opponents are going to fight smart, which means if you’re the type that likes to go in guns blazing rather than plan a strategy (see e.g. me), then you’re going to get overrun and die. A lot. But these are mere quibbles and facts one has to deal with in an AAA strategy game. The blood god smiles from his skull throne, as Total War once again proves a winner.”