Total War: Warhammer 2 is a massive open world turn based strategy game with real time battles you direct first hand. The game plays like any other Total War game, with several caveats. It’s set in the Warhammer universe and unlike most of the Total War games, it has a story and actually plays that story out through your actions during gameplay. Sure, the others have lore, and try to make it “seem” like there is a story hidden somewhere within the carnage, but Warhammer 2 brings back the true story telling that Total War: Warhammer begun! This is our Total War: Warhammer 2 review.
Total War: Warhammer 2
Total War:Warhammer 2 follows a story set in the Warhammer universe. The story is based around the Great Vortex, which involves the four major factions: High Elves, Dark Elves, Scaven, and Lizardmen. The story is engaging, your actions lead you to different parts of the story either good or bad. It is played out in a way that it doesn’t take away from the core gameplay of a Total War game, but also provides an in-depth story full of lore.
The combat is much the same as every Total War game before it. The only exception is the new abilities that come into play from the Legendary Lord, Lord characters, and Heroes. These abilities will be discussed below.
Total War: Warhammer 2 offers many ruins to be searched over for treasure, much like the system in a Civilization game, but with a catch. While these ruins can grant you a nice reward of gold, or even magic items, they aren’t always easy and safe. These ruins can harbor enemies within, not only random monsters, but also the Skaven faction! While you might be exploring and expect nothing to happen, you might end up losing a large portion of your army to a monster in the caves, so be wary! Ruins aren’t the only exploration areas, out on the seas there are new areas to explore as well, such as sunken ships. All of these ruins and ships all reward you with something, or trap you and kill some of your men.
The Rites system was the first thing I noticed when jumping into a new campaign. These things are powerful and awesome! As you progress through your game you obtain “Rites” these rituals give you an advantage of numerous proportions. For Dark Elves for example have one Rite that I think is a must for early on conquests, Sacrificing Slaves to raise faction wide Public Order by 8 points. This was a lifesaver for me, as you conquest on a large scale, you often leave cities with low public order and risk rebellions. This instantly raises not only your public order in all provinces, but also has the chance to provide all of your lords a loyalty point. Each of these rites costs a number of slaves as sacrifices, and have heft cooldowns. As the campaign progresses the cost of casting a rite increases exponentially, making it more difficult to take advantage, while also not making them too overpowered in the long run.
A new gameplay mechanic added to the game is the Army Abilities mechanic. Army Abilities are unlocked in various ways, either by technology research or through your provinces and skill trees. Along with Army Abilities are individual hero and lord abilities. These are unlocked solely through the experience skill tree. These abilities (both Army and Hero) can change the tide of a battle in moments. They are powerful abilities that should be considered over just having a massive army!
The Loyalty system is in place mostly for Skaven and Dark Elves. For these factions loyalty is a huge system to deal with, and forgetting it will leave you with regrets while those lords you recruited start beating down your castle walls. Each lord you recruit starts with a loyalty point that can rise or fall throughout the campaign. You will have to keep an eye on your lords at all times, often having to resort to appeasement. Certain legendary lord skills and a couple technology points will help you with this.
New Trait System
Alongside leveling up your skill trees, each lord (legendary or regular) will occasionally earn a new trait based on their activity. If you continually do a certain action over and over again, such as sacking cities, you will earn a trait accordingly, which will improve the action you obtained the trait through. These traits will eventually level up and evolve into a higher tier of that trait, granting more bonuses towards the action they are taking.
New Sea Attrition Methods
You now have to worry about the sea, and the creatures that inhabit it. No longer are your fleets safe to sail where you choose. You now have giant maelstroms that will appear and travel around the area that will devastate your fleet within a few turns. Along with the storms, you also have new Reefs and shallow areas that will also cause you to have attrition losses for passing over them.
Universal Territory Capture
A lot of people weren’t happy with the capture system for Total War: Warhammer. You could only capture areas within your “area” based on your faction. They rectified that with Total War: Warhammer 2. You can now capture any area in any province regardless of faction. The catch is each area has a suitability towards your faction. It will either be favorable, or unfavorable. If you are trying to maintain a city within an unfavorable area you will be slapped with major penalties, seen below, but you still can do it nonetheless.
Technology Research Slightly Changed
The Technology Research panel has been changed slightly. Whereas before it was split into Military and Economy, it is now on one screen combined into one tree. There is still different choices for military and economy, but it isn’t as pronounced as previous installments of Total War. It can be a big confusing at first, so I suggest really reading into each point prior to committing the time to the research.
Trading seems to be a lot more difficult than in previous games. My last Total War game was Rome II. I seemed to have trade partners every direction I looked. In Warhammer 2, however, trade partners seem to be a bit more scarce. Eight hours into the game I only had 1 trade partner. Everyone else said I needed a route to their capital, with several close by and none still available. This made massive expansion a huge issue, you had to conserve your resources and obtain a steady infrastructure in order to maintain a large army.
Total War: Warhammer 2 has taken the original Total War: Warhammer and fixed a lot of the issues that people complained about. It’s breathed fresh life into the series and in my opinion possibly made the best entry into the series to date. It’s beautiful, hard, and fun. The new gameplay mechanics bring Total War into a higher realm of gameplay that makes you ask “Why didn’t they do this before?” This is something that I could get lost in, and sink in hundreds of hours into without realizing it.
If you are a Total War fan, I highly recommend Total War: Warhammer 2, regardless if you are a Warhammer fan or not!