Strategic Anticipation for Total War: Warhammer

total war: warhammer featured
Written by Puching Zhang

The Total War series will get a major reboot with Total War: Warhammer. Fantasy and strategy combine. Puching Zhang commentary on the upcoming game.

aNewDomain — Creative Assembly in April 2015 announced the production of “Total War: Warhammer,” a fantasy strategy game based on the Warhammer franchise of games. At E3 2015, Creative Assembly released the first major trailer for the new game, and the community (myself included) can hardly wait.

For those not familiar with the Total War series, nine games have been released so far; “Total War: Warhammer” is the tenth. Each game is a mix of historical real time and turn-based strategy gaming, covering periods from the rise of Rome to the early modern era. After 15 years of existence, Total War finally dove into the fantasy genre.

total war: warhammer logoThe specifics of “Total War: Warhammer’s” gameplay is still not known, so this is not your typical game-master review. Instead I’ll go into what I think this transition means for the series, and whether it’ll bring success to my favorite strategy game franchise.

A History of War

Over the past 15 years Total War has had a very Hollywood-like approach to history. By Hollywood, I mean Creative Assembly doesn’t exactly play to historical accuracy — they miss a few details here and there, but do stick to the general arc of history.

total war: warhammer romeFor example, its first big hit, “Rome: Total War,” was slammed by a lot of history fans for a number of historical inaccuracies, particularly the fact that it divided the Roman Republic into four different factions. The game, though, was solid, highly praised for its awesome game engine and great combat mechanics. To me, “Rome: Total War” shows that Creative Assembly doesn’t need to create ultra-historical games to succeed — how good the game is and how well it runs matter more to fans. (Also, those inaccuracies seemed fairly inconsequential when television shows on the History Channel used the game engine for their historical documentaries.)

The engines of early Total War games were a bit archaic, which meant that the number of factions available to the player was way smaller than it is today. But that usually could be taken care of by game modifications from the community.

When I saw the preview for “Total War: Warhammer,” I saw four races: humans, orcs, dwarves and vampires. I pray that “Total War: Warhammer” includes more than two factions per race. It’s 2015! Creative Assembly should deliver to us patient and dedicated fans a wide diversity of factions. It’s a fantasy land with four races, which means the potential for diversity and creativity is clearly there. Don’t make this like another “Napoleon: Total War,” with a grand total of 5 playable factions!

No Bugs, Please

While historical inaccuracies and lack of factions can be taken care of by modding, harder to clean up are the sloppy bugs and glitches that occasionally come in Creative Assembly’s games. “Empire: Total War” was a bug-filled mess with a downright stupid AI at times. The AI, when attacking, would sometimes stay rooted at a single position, doing absolutely nothing. That’s especially annoying when you’re doing timed battles. (Thankfully, I never do timed battles.)

And don’t remind me of Creative Assembly’s new, basically beta-released “Total War: Rome II.” Creative Assembly introduced a new engine that had a lot of potential, but the game itself was so rushed that the end product was a complete disaster.

total war: warhammer logo empireThe new water mechanics were prone to elementary failures, like ships diving straight into the beaches instead of coming to a stop. Also, the massive amount of factions turned out to be a huge pain — Creative Assembly has now learned that there’s a fine balance between too few and too many factions in a game. Due to this, the end turn sequence in “Total War: Rome II” takes an eternity to be over. Oh, and don’t even consider checking the “show AI moves” box. That’ll put you at your desk forever.

total war: warhammer medievalTo its credit, Creative Assembly corrected most of these flaws in the subsequent release, “Total War: Attila.” My point still stands: do not rush “Total War: Warhammer!” I suspect that the company will be introducing a lot of new mechanics to the game, as this is the first foray into the fantasy genre. While “Total War: Warhammer” may seem like a clean slate to some, the Total War community still remembers the mechanics failures in “Empire: Total War” and “Total War: Rome II.” So don’t rush it, guys.

“Total War: Warhammer” has a lot of marketing potential — it’s a new genre to explore and provides a breath of fresh air for a lot of fans. Creative Assembly is a good company, and it does well on most of its games. However, it needs to execute its games, this game specifically, in order to be successful. I can’t wait until “Total War: Warhammer” comes out, and I pray that no bugs, mistakes and careless errors are included. Enjoy the original cinematic trailer for now.

Video: Total War: Warhammer – Announcement Cinematic

For aNewDomain, I’m Puching Zhang.

Image credits: Creative Assembly