I’ve always been a fan of the Total War games, but found myself drifting away from them after Empire: Total War. As a fantasy fan though, Total War: Warhammer pulled me back in somewhat, especially with the trailers which showed the epic battles of humanity and the creatures of the Old World. Was this a good time to venture back into the world of Total War? The short answer is yes, but as to why… read on.
There is a certain epic feel to Total War: Warhammer as soon as you load it in and watch the introduction to the game. From there you can select from Humans, Dwarfs, Vampire Counts, or the Greenskins (Orcs and Goblins). With the version I was testing for review being a pre-release build though I didn’t have the chance to play as the Chaos Warriors, though this will come after release. Even though I couldn’t choose them, the threat from this race was very real.
My first choice of race was to go for the Dwarf class, and this went well. I won battles and build up my territory in a swift manner, but also with a view on having a big army I soon led myself into bankruptcy. I did survive longer than I thought with money problems though, especially when I bullied other regions to pay me money so that we were didn’t go to war. This was a good place to start, but I wanted something a little darker, which is why I then moved onto the Vampire Lords.
While I’ve yet to fully try the Human and Greenskin races I do think that the Vampire Lords will be my favourite race to use. This is the one that gripped me and kept me playing for hours. Through shrewd use of the dead (which I Vampire Lords can raise) I built a sizable army, but this time looked to build a strong realm which grew at a steady pace. This may have been a little slow, but it gave me chance to see the story of the game play out, and the oncoming threat of the Chaos Warriors build.
What is impressive about the Chaos entering the land is the fact that it is a constant threat, and even though you may build diplomacy with your neighbours around your territory, the threat is going to have to be answered. Just as the vampires are somewhat of a virus to the land, spreading corruption, it often feels that the Chaos Warriors are an even bigger threat, and one that must be vanquished.
This feeling of impending doom is what gives the game impetus, and actually gives you something to focus on. You are constantly given challenges to do like take over settlements or be part of set battles, but there are points where this could feel a little slow. What the Chaos Warrior element does is push you into action, and all for the better.
In terms of gameplay, Creative Assembly really have a very solid foundation for the Total War games, though some of the weaknesses from past games are still lingering for those who know to look for them. This is especially the case for ranged forces. Looking past this though, the strategy building Civilisation style part of the game is as strong as ever, and the battles are surprisingly exciting. It is easier than ever to handle huge forces, looking for weaknesses in the enemy and looking where to add a little intimidation into the battle.
While I know I’ve not played the game nearly enough (I had a weekend to build up some game time before the release) this is a game that easily stokes up my love of the Total War games. Through using the Warhammer license we finally get that true epic feeling of the dwarves going to war with the Greenskins, Humanity fighting for dominance in a monstrous world, and of course the corrupting nature of the Vampire Lords. With Chaos invading too, this is one game that will keep you busy.
Total War: Warhammer is a game that can be a little bewildering for beginners, but there are plenty of tutorials available, and help provided to keep you progressing. It’s not hard to upgrade settlements, build up armies and send our “heroes” to influence the world around you, but there is still a lot to learn. Given patience though and focus on actually learning how to play the game, you’ll soon reap the rewards of the hours you’ll put into this game.
If you are a fan like me that hasn’t played Total War for some time, this is a perfect place to get back into the action, even for total beginners too. Fans who have invested hundreds of hours into the games will also get a lot out of Total War: Warhammer, as will Warhammer fans. I’m not sure if this will be the best strategy game of the year, but it’ll be up there with whatever competition is released. Just be ready for all of your free time to be taken up with this one.
Total War: Warhammer is available on PC now.