It’s here, it’s finally here! Total War: Warhammer built up massive expectations, and given the concerns I expressed in my last post on the subject, it was ripe for a disappointing launch.
But not only did it launch to acclaim, it is utterly addictive and well polished. I sat down to play, and 6 hours vanished. I’ve been excited to boot up the game each time since. Here are some of my initial thoughts of the game.
What is Total War: Warhammer
Total War: Warhammer mixes traditional grand strategy with battle-level RTS. There is an overworld map (which is gorgeously detailed), which houses all of the settlements and army banners.
The game divides up the geography by provinces, which are further made up of three settlements. Controlling all three settlements allows for a monopoly-like set, which allows further bonuses.
Armies move about in banners, which are like chess pieces. They have stances (such ambush, raid, march) and are each led by a Lord character. When two of these banners meet, the game reverts to a battle, where the armies are deployed and fight on the battlefield.
What It Does Right
#1 Unique Factions – This has been the biggest standout so far, and stood out particularly given my experience playing other Total War games. No longer are the faction differentiated by what type of unit they “specialize” in. Now, each army is completely unique. Orcs rampage via large Waaagh!s while Vampire Counts utilize strong character units. I cannot wait to get to play through the full campaigns with each faction (Empire, Vampires, Dwarfs, Orcs, and Chaos).
#2 Details – As a veteran of the tabletop game, I am very pleased to see all of the abilites and magic items carefully translated into their Total War counterparts. Danse Macabre, Invocation of Nehek – its all there. Not only in the characters, but the overworld map is beautifully detailed, and the terrain matters more than ever.
#3 Performance – A major sticking point for the Total War series, performance issues are commonplace in games that represents such grand scales. However, in my playtime thus far (with both large and small battles), playing on a fairly robust specced laptop, I’ve encountered no issues.
Where It Misses
#1 Agents – For those unfamiliar, Agents are the individual units on the overworld map that perform a some function, but are not army banners. Things like Diplomats, Spies, Assassins, Merchants etc. The problem is, these units can be spammed by the AI opponents, and you quickly find yourself with a Lord character surrounded by Heroes repeatedly assassinating him. This became annoying quite quickly.
#2 Factions – This issue will be remedied, but given my excitement with how unique the factions are, there are only 5 playable factions. I know it takes awhile to balance and develop each, which leads me to my next point….
What I’m Looking Forward Too
#1 Factions – …but nonetheless, my enjoyment would greatly increase if I could test out Tomb Kings, High Elves, or Ogre Kingdoms. The game has been announced as a trilogy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if additional factions re not trotted out as DLC. It’s the perfect match for that system, and I will certainly buy all of it.
#2 Mods – The developers have voiced their support for the modding community, which has always been pretty robust for past titles in the series. I’ve already looked at a couple of mods on the Steam Workshop, notably ones that reduce the annoyingness of AI assassins.
Tips For Starting Out
I’ve spent some time finally stabilizing Sylvania after quickly figuring out the different pace Total War: Warhammer takes compared to past titles. Here are a couple tips to help you get started if you are new to the series (or need a refresher):
Pay Attention to What Buildings Are In Your Provinces
This seems fairly straightforward, but I often fell into this trap. As mentioned, each province is made up of three settlements, and each settlement has tiered building construction queues. Thing is, you do not need to duplicate any buildings within each province. Sometimes you may want the additional benefits (like income) but in terms of recruitment chains, you only need the one requisite building. The game flags repeats, but when taking over new territory, don’t be afraid to demolish repeated structures.
Take a Slow Pace
While past titles might have put an emphasis on quickly taking new settlements, and using the loot funds to steamroll through a continent, Total War Warhammer rewards a steadier hand. Taking each province and managing the public order/corruption is more prudent then dumping everything into army and just playing offense. Especially if you are starting out, use the free garrisons and upgrades to get a base of operations before seeking conquest.
War = Money
Despite what I said above, you can still use war to fill your coffers – without even fighting a battle. Factions, likely due to the AI programming, will offer up sums of cash to just end a war, whether there happens to be actual fighting or not. You can use this to put pressure on a foe and extract their meager funds for an actual conflict down the road.
In Battle, Use Control Groups
Sometimes the battles get hectic, and even more so when the camera angle refuses to cooperate. Its in these times that you will wish that you had grouped up your units. To do so, simply select multiple units and then hit “Control +” and any number of your choice. This will allow to you to say, control group several units of cavalry that you want to flank a block of troops. You can also use it to manage units stuck in the thick of combat along walls or the ground during sieges. It really helps to identify and track your units.
I am really excited to keep playing this wonderful game. Creative Assembly has gone a long way to bringing the lore of Warhammer to the series, while also innovating and improving upon their iconic series.