The Total War franchise has long been a refuge for strategy gamers who have wanted a mix between real time and turn based, but also for those who want to escape the dull grind of unit production and subsequent unit spamming. That being said, Total War has done it again, and for the second time in the Warhammer universe. For those who have played it before, it’s a welcome return to more of the same with prettier graphics and a new story. In today’s Total War: Warhammer II review, we’re going to talk a bit about the multiplayer and the single player, both of which offer a rewarding gameplay experience.
Multiplayer – Taking Your War Online
The first mode I tried was multiplayer and having never really delved into the Total War series (at least since Medieval), I have to say it’s amazing. The battlefield is huge and the unit tactics are extremely diverse. Let me try to clarify this. When you start a multiplayer game you will first be tasked with choosing unit deployments, and you’ll have to choose carefully because you’re only given a certain amount of gold to spend on those units. Basic units are cheaper than the more advanced units but a few advanced units can stomp those basics so far into the ground that they’ll come out in Shogun: Total War.
Deploying in multiplayer is much like single player but you don’t have to fret about the world map. Instead, you’re deployed right into battle and you’ll be free to face off against your opponent. One thing that I noticed about this iteration of total war was that the units seemed to move toward each other much faster, making for a slightly less boring battle.
As you would expect, terrain and environment plays a huge role in the performance of your troops, so do pay attention to that as you’re deploying and positioning post-deployment. Many of the maps feature trees, for example, and thick forests can make a difference in your effectiveness. Also remember that just like in real life, keeping archers behind your front lines will save your life.
Units have a morale system in Total War Warhammer II, and when they are outnumbered or highly damaged, they may start to flee the battlefield. They may come to their senses on their own, but there is a good chance that you’ll have to invoke your Lord’s abilities to bring them back into the fray.
Total War Warhammer II is going to take some planning, and for some it might get frustrating, but it can be some serious fun for real-time strategy gamers.
If you don’t feel like taking the game online, you can always play the skirmish mode which allows you to play against any of the AI opponents that you wish. If you were just looking for a quick battle without all of the frills of single player, this is a great option for you, and it’s also a great way for you to refine your strategy for when you DO feel up to facing the world.
The Single Player – A World to Explore
Like any good Total War game, there’s an awesome single player mode to explore that goes far beyond just fighting. As an RTS player, I was actually pretty surprised here because I’m used to games that only embrace the combat side of the equation, so to see so many options available, well…I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, I did play Soulstorm.
When you start the game you have several Lords to choose from, each one representing a different campaign and a different race. Keep in mind however that choosing your favorite race and story from the start could result in a higher or lower difficulty level.
Once you choose your starting Lord (race), you will be dropped onto the world map with a selectable hero but unfortunately, the game will want to beat you upside the head with a tutorial. After some muddling around you’ll end up in your first battle, which will once again force you to listen to a number of tutorials during the fight. If you’ve already played Total War then you’ll probably be extremely frustrated at this point because some of the tutorials were simply common sense.
In any case, during the battle story events can cause you or the enemy to receive reinforcements which can turn the tide of the battle and at some points, they might allow you to think you’re about to lose a battle only to supply you with a battalion of Cavalry. Also remember that sometimes the goal of a scenario may not be to kill all of your opponents, but to drain their morale and force them off the battlefield.
Once you finish a battle you will be returned to the meta-game where you will be given an opportunity to decide what you’ll be doing with the prisoners you captured during the battle. In many cases, you cannot afford to be merciful because the way you treat your prisoners will have an effect on your troop morale and your ability to recruit new soldiers. You could ransom them, which gives you extra cash, you could kill them, or you could set them to work in forced labor camps – whichever one is most convenient to you at the time.
Outside of the typical strategy and combat you have a metagame that involves capturing territories and building up towns. By doing this, and by reducing their corruption, you can charge higher taxes and gain more money per turn, ultimately earning more money for the troops that you recruit. Just remember that the more troops you have, the higher upkeep you’re going to have to pay, which gives you more than ample reason to continue playing the metagame, especially if you want to move toward the end of the game at some point. You see, this isn’t a game that starts you out fresh on every single mission; the entire game IS one long mission and it’s going to be up to you to keep it going. Each campaign presents you with a different story, and those who love to micromanage will be more than happy with the established system. From capturing territories to building up towns and of course, fighting battles, there’s something for every strategy gamer here.
The gameplay in this one is par for the course in a Total War title with a strong metagame. The tactics are fun to play with, and up close, the action is absolutely amazing.
It’s roughly the same as any other recent Total War title, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Players of typical strategy games will thoroughly enjoy the metagame and everything it brings to the table. To be quite honest, the metagame adds a component that can significantly stretch out what would otherwise be a very short game.
The voice acting in the game is extremely solid considering it was probably secondary to the gameplay. It didn’t sound stiff or cardboard by any means. As a matter of fact, I felt like many of the characters were actually speaking to me rather than reading off of a script, though I wonder how my opinion on that will hold up over the next few years. Graphically the game is beautiful; it’s not just an RTS with a single square map and a black backdrop. The environment moves about, it’s alive, and you can see far off into the distance, as if you’re really there in some mythical land, fighting evil and taking in the sights.
If you’re up for a new story and some new online multiplayer action, there are plenty of new features and tons of fun to be had here. New Total War fans would probably find this an outstanding jump off point if their rigs can handle it, and current fans of Total War will probably find the strategy to be satisfying overall. There are multiple campaigns, multiple maps, and a considerable amount of content for the price tag they’re asking. Remember: there is also the potential for expansion packs and even player mods which expand the content even further. When you compare a game like Total War to a typical shooter, you’ll realize you have years worth of content and many battles to be fought. All in all, it’s going to be a great value.
Total War Warhammer II is definitely a game I could see myself playing for a very long time and I, in fact, will be going back through to finish the various campaigns. If you’re a strategy gamer, or if you want to jump into the Total War arena and have an extra $60 to spare, do yourself a huge favor and pick this up. You’re not going to regret it.
+Great Overworld and Meta Game
-Tutorial was long, annoying, and explained too many obvious real-time strategy concepts.Related: Review, RTS, Strategy, Total War: Warhammer II