Creative Assembly is at it again, this time with a beautiful expansion for their hallmark game: Total War: Warhammer II. You might remember we visited TWWII a while ago, and this time it’s just as fun. One thing that I absolutely have to say about this game, is that they seem to do an excellent job of creating factions that are amazingly different from one another. One of the biggest problems with RTS’s is that they have factions that have different aesthetics, but when it comes down to gameplay, they’re just mirror images of one another. We’re looking at you C&C. Knock that crap off. Curse of the Vampire Coast breaks the mold just as with every other faction by bringing not only unique units but an entirely different style of gameplay. The game starts, as all others do, with selecting your lord.
Selecting your Lord to Get Started
At the start of the game you pick between one of four lords, and you know the drill here; each one has different abilities, different aesthetics, and different names, obviously. This time around your options are:
- Luthor Harkon
- Count Noctilus
- Aranessa Saltspite
- Cylosta Direfin
As always, the one you choose will define how you play the campaign so either choose wisely or try all of them.
A Different Style of Gameplay
I mentioned before that Creative Assembly has really managed to change the game up. Most Total War games are entirely land-based, and to an extent, this one is, but you use a ship as your mobile base of operations. You can have multiple ships, of course, forming your own fleet to bring terror to the waves. There are still land settlements and you can control many of them, but your primary focus is going to be what’s happening on the water. You are a pirate, after all, so um..yo ho ho.
To really dig into the game you will need to get your infamy points up and you can do that through a few basic actions:
- Defeating Enemy Armies
- Capturing Settlements
- Establishing Pirate Coves
So that last item on that list and it’s actually one of the most important parts of the game. In a settlement you can build a pirate cove which will allow you to leech off of the occupants and their resources, supplying your troops with much-needed cash. The best part about this is that you don’t even need to capture the port to establish a pirate cove. You can just move into their house and start using the oven and the washing machine without saying a word. It’s kind of like establishing a satellite base in the other Total War games I suppose, except you’re a parasite, and it’s not your corn field. Like that time I live in the basement of that occupied house for nine years, which worked really, really well until the couple who live there figured out they had a basement, and that there was someone living down there.
Gaining Heroes and Followers
Heroes can be recruited or discovered, and they pretty much work like standard RPG units. When they complete missions they gain in rank at which point you can skill them up, making them more effective. A great example would be sending a hero to a port to steal technology; just make sure the port doesn’t come under sieve by Amanar while they’re parked there.
One of the best parts about having heroes in Total War: Warhammer II is the fact that they can bring certain benefits to your port, such as a gold increase, or various stat boosts so long as they are in a garrison stance. The other superb benefit is the fact that they can act independently without an army or a general.
Each hero is able to have up to six followers, and they gain traits throughout the course of the game. Keep in mind that the stats gained can be positive or negative; you really have no control over it. Ultimately, your heroes will become who they are.
Upgrading your Ships
Because ships are a mobile base, you can upgrade them. Expand your captain’s quarter, or whatever you would like, but keep in mind that while the ship is being upgraded, it is immobile. Yes, you can initiate upgrades whenever and wherever you wish, but you probably shouldn’t do it out in the middle of the water unless your fleet is adequately protected; bad things can happen.
Kill the Beast, Resurrect the Beast, Rule the Waves
The primary goal of the game is to find the fragments of Sea Shanties so that you can claim the Star Metal Harpoon, ultimately killing Amnar, the creature from the deep. Amnar was asleep for millennia but now he’s away, he’s pissed, and a settlement check probably isn’t going to do the trick. Once you put the weapon together, you can go after him but until then he’s going to be harassing you and your fleet throughout the entirety of the game.
The game takes a rather surprising twist on the killing of Amnar; instead of simply killing him and leaving him dead as any sensible protagonist in an RPG/RTS would do, they issue the following directing: Kill the beast, resurrect the beast, rule the waves. Well, you know what, it sounds a little risky but we’ll see if that works out for them!
Set Sail and Start Plundering
While this is still a Total War game, it definitely feels like something different. The battles are still the same, though they’re more interesting, especially with the vampire faction focusing more on firearms than traditional melee weaponry. Apart from that, however, most of this DLC is about plundering. Sure there’s an endgame and a beautiful final battle, but getting to the end just isn’t the goal here. Instead, it’s more about seeing what you can find, waging battles, finding treasure and living the pirate…vampire life. Okay, I’m just going to say it, considering this faction was lifted from like…a single paragraph in White Dwarf Magazine (Episode 306), they did a pretty damn good job.
The cool thing about this expansion is that it doesn’t follow the Total War formula entirely, and it doesn’t just go through the motions of adding new content. It gives you an entirely new gameplay experience and in some ways, it feels like a completely new installment, even though you’re just playing a new faction.
Learning Curve: 7/10
Total War has always had some pretty good tutorials and this one is no different. Text prompts and voiceovers will teach you what you need to know but this is an entirely new way of playing.
Graphics / Sound: 8/10
It’s the same engine and graphics as Total War: Warhammer II, so you shouldn’t be expecting a huge change. The sound is solid, the graphics are beautiful, and it makes for some incredible screenshots.
If you have played through all of the factions and want to try something new, this year, this is something that you’ll want to buy. It adds entirely new campaign mechanics and feels like a different game. Also, I probably don’t need to say this again, but I’m going to… Vampires. Vampire. Pirates. Do you really need any other reason to buy this DLC? Come on man, vampire pirates!
+Great Campaign Expansion
– Mild Learning Curve
– Long Loading Screens
– Some Bugs After Establishing Sea Ports
Related: DLC, Expansion, Pirates, Review, Total War: Warhammer II, Vampires