This is war! Well, Total War Warhammer 2 to be precise and the Skaven no less! I had the opportunity to get some hands on time with Creative Assembly’s latest foray into the Warhammer universe at Gamescom 2017. Published by Sega, the second installment in this trilogy is due to land on September 28, 2017, and will be available on PC.
The latest installment in the Warhammer universe has moved on since we last saw Orc and Man battling their way across the Old World and while much has changed there are more than a few familiar sights. The game remains a distinctly Total War title, taking players on a turn based tirade across the New World this time, slaughtering everything in their path. The campaign map remains familiar and is divided into provinces to conquer and control while navigating continues to rely on the format established in the Old World. Following your lust for conquest shouldn’t be too difficult for veterans who want to jump straight back in, except Creative Assembly has introduced a new narrative for Total War Warhammer 2.The sandbox environment of its predecessor is not entirely discarded. While players still retain the option to navigate as they wish, slaughtering enemies and forging alliances across the New World, their armies must work towards a goal.
Presented as a series of icons rituals across the top of the campaign map, these rituals are prerequisites to capture an ancient vortex of immeasurable power, situated on the Island of Ulthuan. Each ritual requires players to complete a specific goal or even capture a particular point, eventually seizing the home of the High Elves and the Vortex it surrounds. This provides some definitive direction throughout campaigns. Not only do players need to work towards this objective but they must beat their competitors to the prize. This is the first time that Total War Warhammer has a narrative goal and a definite failure state. This could be a risky approach for Creative Assembly. The Total War audience is used to having free reign, able to play a defensive game while amassing huge armies or even winning by subterfuge. In the end, the team felt it was a positive direction to take the game in and we spoke to the team about this at Gamescom 2017.
This is not the only change that Total War Warhammer 2 introduces. Not content with a new narrative, landing on an unexplored continent brings a range of new foes. Lizardmen, Dark Elves, High Elves, and the Skaven populate the new campaign map. I put the Skaven army, in particular, through their paces, and while each playable race can be compared to their counterparts in the first game, they unveil something unique as they evolve during the later stages of the game. Specifically, the subterranean Skaven could easily be mistaken for Dwarven armies. They can traverse the map without emerging from their tunnels yet their military prowess, including the monstrous Hell Pit Abomination and Doomwheel, provide a refreshingly different play style when clashing with opponents. Similarly, flavor changes to a warren’s motivations, such as hunger and the option to feed on the defeated armies, are excellent touches that help characterize the Skaven as a brutal force of nature.
Ultimately Total War Warhammer 2 is a change to the first incarnation of the game that will resonate with fans of the series, especially those that either know the lore. Newcomers to the franchise will appreciate the changes that Creative Assembly has made to the tutorial sections of the game. Total War Warhammer is a massively complex undertaking. Managing, trade, diplomacy, research, recruitment, disorder, corruption, and even construction is a daunting task for newcomers. Creative Assembly took another look at the tutorial, specifically adding more direction for finance, sub menus, and the use of terrain during battles.
When it comes down to it, the most iconic moments in Total War Warhammer are still found on the battlefield, be it the AI or your online friends. Total War Warhammer 2 does not mess with a formula that already works incredibly well. Instead, it adds a new twist to the rest of the game and eases new players into the world. If you have ever been intimidated by the world of Warhammer then this is a fantastic place to start.