Let’s maintain this easy: Total Warfare: Warhammer was an excellent technique recreation. Total Warfare: Warhammer 2 is healthier.
The sport continues Artistic Meeting’s custom of constructing on the discharge of a brand new Total Warfare with a type of semi-sequel. Up to now we’ve seen a bunch of those, from Napoleon (following Empire) to Attila (following Rome 2), releases which might be kinda pitched as full sequels, however which gamers can shortly inform nonetheless have so much in widespread with the sport they’re following, from unit rosters to the menus.
Solely this time TWW2 nearly does really feel like an all-new recreation. There’s simply a lot occurring right here, a lot to separate it from its predecessor, from some pleasurable new races to a map that already ranks as one among Total Warfare’s finest.
The place the primary recreation was set within the Previous World, dominated by The Empire, TWW2 takes place in Warhammer’s New World, a totally recent space the place the human presence is proscribed to some pirates and colonists. As a substitute, the main focus right here is on 4 new races: the Excessive Elves, Darkish Elves, Lizardmen and Skaven.
Each single one among these are cool. The Elves are moderately standard however costly and powerful as hell. The Lizardmen are ferocious and enjoyable. And the Skaven are a blast, in a position to scurry about underground and conceal their settlements.
The aim within the first Warhammer Total Warfare was to carry off a large Chaos invasion that might sweep in from the north of the map. That was a novel thought, and at some instances for some factions (like my very own overview recreation as The Empire) it labored! Different instances and in different spots of the map nevertheless it was much less efficient; I performed a recreation because the Dwarfs as soon as the place the Chaos had been stopped by the AI earlier than they even reached my lands.
In TWW2 that’s gone, and we’ve a brand new endgame. Which additionally occurs to be the start and center of the sport as nicely. How? The map (and story itself ) is dominated by the opening of a large magical vortex. Every faction is attempting to work together with this vortex in a roundabout way, and that is achieved by performing a sequence of rituals all through the marketing campaign.
To start out one, you’ll want to accrue a sure sort of forex from territories you maintain, after which to truly carry out one you’ll want to shield a collection of your cities from enemy assault for a sure variety of turns whereas magic swirls from their buildings into the vortex. Full one ritual and you may transfer on to the subsequent, so if nothing else they function a helpful yardstick as to how the sport is progressing (letting you simply see who’s “profitable” at anyone time).
Whilst you’re attempting to carry out rituals the opposite main factions are as nicely, and that is the place the technique of TWW2 is flipped on its head. See, the marketing campaign right here doesn’t care what number of territories you maintain or what number of armies you’ve slain. It solely cares concerning the rituals.
So the outdated steamroller strategy to Total Warfare video games, the place all you care about is taking up increasingly more of the map, has been tossed out the window. As a substitute, we see right here the crusading/raiding affect of the primary Warhammer’s most pleasurable growth races (Bretonnia and Norscaa), as gamers are actually inspired to ditch large invasions in favour of surgical strikes.
If one other faction is starting a ritual and also you wish to cease it—one thing that may occur in an in depth recreation, lest the AI get forward of you—you’ve gotten two choices: you may spend a load of money and mainly summon a military proper at their doorstop (there’s an entire button devoted simply to this), or you may ship in a precision strike with your individual models. Every ritual solely lasts a handful of turns, so that you most likely gained’t have time to launch a full-scale invasion of a rival’s whole territory; as an alternative you’ll want to get in, strike exhausting, smash the place up then get out.
This throws numerous established Total Warfare technique within the trash, and I adore it. The problem runs each methods, too: it’s important to fear about defending your individual rituals whereas they’re happening, that are typically in cities unfold out throughout the map, forcing you to assume much more concerning the placement of your armies than simply speeding everybody to the entrance.
The rituals positively assist alleviate one among Total Warfare’s longest-running issues, which has been pacing, as older video games have a tendency to start out nicely sufficient, ramp up into epic confrontations then fade out over the second half of the sport right into a boring slog. Right here, the sport feels extra like a race than a battle, with factions continuously jockeying for the lead within the rush to carry out their rituals first.
Serving to with each the sensation of freshness and aiding the brand new crusading technique is the brand new world map, which isn’t solely large, but in addition tremendous attention-grabbing to poke round. It’s divided into continents separated by massive oceans; enjoying because the Excessive Elves positioned within the centre, for instance, chances are you’ll by no means encounter the Vampires or Dwarfs in any respect, and the huge distances between every land actually add to the sense of journey (and remoteness) you’re feeling putting out throughout the seas to assault an enemy.
As for the remainder of the sport, nicely, for all the brand new stuff on present that is nonetheless technically a Total Warfare quasi-sequel. So that you’ll discover most of the similar races and models hanging across the fringes of the map, the identical person interface, the identical hero RPG focus, even the identical narrator.
This after all signifies that there are until a number of the usual Total Warproblems as nicely. Diplomatic AI remains to be drunk, and a quirk from the primary Warhammer—the place foes would bamboozle themselves by declaring conflict on me, by no means attacking then providing me hundreds in gold to signal a peace treaty—was very a lot nonetheless current in TWW2.
Worst of all, the primary Warhammer’s load instances as you leap between the strategic and tactical maps are nonetheless a problem. Until you’ve gotten an SSD they’re excruciating, measured in complete minutes. They’re so unhealthy that as my marketing campaign wore on I discovered myself simulating increasingly more battles simply to keep away from the delays.
In my overview of the primary Warhammer, I discussed how other than releasing a incredible technique recreation, Artistic Meeting had one way or the other managed to get me considering Warhamme lore. They’ve achieved it once more right here; I had zero information of any of those factions going into this recreation, however by the top I’d grown so keen on my very severe however deadly Excessive Elves that I used to be having hassle saying goodbye to them and their lovely little spot on the map (which as you possibly can see above is simply beautiful, although your entire map is way prettier this time round than the extra muted tones of the primary recreation).
In doing so, I’ve additionally been gained over on the concept of those half-sequels. Warhammer 2 may need so much in widespread with the primary recreation, however the whole lot it has achieved to set itself aside is huge and recent and daring, making this a recreation that’s worthy of its personal place within the highlight.