Creative Assembly returns for another fantasy take on their popular strategy war-gaming series with Total War Warhammer II.
For me, one of the major draws of the Total War games is the historical aspect. I wasn’t holding out much hope for last year’s fictional fantasy-based Total War Warhammer. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised.
Based on the Games Workshop fantasy table-top battle game, Warhammer is a good fit for a PC strategy game. With units ranging from lizardmen to high elves, Total War Warhammer II, brings to life the painted white-metal (which are probably now plastic) figures, that I remember from my younger days.
As will all Total War games, Warhammer II plays on two levels. First, you’ve got your real-time battles, where you are in direct control of your individual regiments on the battle map. You choose the formation, position and targets for army.
The second, exclusive to the campaign mode, is the turn-based campaign map. Here you command you armies to travel across the world to engage the enemy, capture settlements and explore ruins and wreaks. You also manage your towns and cities, recruit additional troops, engage in diplomacy amongst many, many other things.
Part two of an apparent trilogy of Total War Warhammer games, Total War Warhammer II’s main campaign, Entitled Eye of the Vortex, focuses on a war between the forces of darkness surrounding an idyllic High Elven island haven. There’s eight factions to choose from consisting of one of four races: High Eves and Lizardmen on the side of good and Dark Elves and Skaven representing evil.
The action is set over a massive map consisting of a variety of interesting environments, from the rainbow-adorned, care-bear-like land if the high elves, to the lush forest of the lizardmen and the blacken soil of the realm of the Dark Elves.
The campaign story is a bit of a mouthful, the narrative being packed with clichéd fantasy dialogue that sounds pretty ridiculous at times. The eight factions mean that you do get eight different variations on the campaign each with their own story variations.
Being based on a tabletop RPG-based war game, Warhammer II, like it’s namesake, places particular importance on the lords and heroes commanding the armies. Each lord and hero can be equipped with unique weapons, armour and talisman that you find as you explore the world. You can also equip Bannermen to support them and unlock mounts. This customisation, along with a huge skill tree, that is in addition to the tech tree for your faction, provides players with their own, personal, gameplay experience.
Of course, you are not just restricted to the campaign, there are other ways to play. You can dive straight in command your army of choice in real-time battle via the quick game option, create your own custom battles, or try the pre-authored quest battles. Extruding the game further, you can play both single battles and the campaign in multiplayer, both local and online.
Whilst the visuals are pleasant enough to look at, they are getting a bit stale. The messy user interface is just a re-skin of what Creative Assembly have been using since 2009’s Empire Total War. The graphic engine is starting to show its age, lacking the fidelity and lighting that a more modern engine affords.
Whilst it’s nice to play a game without loot boxes, what I’m not looking forward to is being inundated with DLC that should probably have been included in the initial release. Creative Assembly (or, maybe, publisher, Sega) are a bit fast and loose when it comes to premium DLC. Common in Total War games, paying extra for blood on the battlefield has got to be some of the lamest DLC since Oblivion’s horse armour. Good news for owners of the first Warhammer game – if you bought the blood DLC for that game, you won’t need to buy it again for number two.
The real bonus of owning both Total War Warhammer games is the upcoming free DLC, Mortal Empires. This expansion features an all-new map created as an amalgamation of the campaign maps from both games. You can play as any one of the Legendary Lords from either game, plus any included in owned DLC packs.
Total War Warhammer II is a huge game that’ll keep you busy for weeks if not months. It offers players a deep, dynamic war-gaming experience. Despite the complex multi-layers gameplay, it’s still easy to get into, with tutorials teaching you how to play “on the job”.
The game’s good use of Games Workshop’s source material and Creative Assembly’s always-excellent gameplay makes Total War Warhammer II a must have title for both fans of Warhammer fantasy RPG and the Total War series.
Released: September 2017
Platforms: PC (Windows 10)
Developer: Creative Assembly