The Old World is wrought with war. The Empire struggles to unify, the Greenskins seek to bring about an ultimate Waagh!, the Dwarfs look to rebuild their kingdom from the brink of ruin, and the Vampire Counts seek to transform the world into their unliving image. With this in mind, it is up to us to take the role of one of these various races and see that our ultimate goals are met. A few months ago, we did a preview of the Vampire Counts for Total War: Warhammer and now the time has come to look at the full product. So buckle up as we dive into this complex, but extremely fun and beautiful strategy game.
We currently have two campaigns going here, Vampire Counts and Dwarfs with the Vampires being the one that is more progressed. First, the game features 4 playable races with the 5th, Warriors of Chaos, being DLC that was available for free during the first week of launch. Each of these races has a variety of different units, play-styles, goals, quests, and heroes that make each experience a completely new one. Even within each race, you get to begin controlling one of two Legendary Lords (for Vampires being Mannfred Von Carstein and Heinrich Himmler) that each have their own skill tree and legendary quests to obtain their special weapons and items featured directly from the tabletop. It’s definitely striking to switch between one campaign to the next and feel like you are playing a different product based on the differences with the races. The Vampire Counts focus more on corrupting the provinces and slowly taking over territory (with corruption giving bonuses) while the Dwarfs have a steady flow of Grudges to fulfill, providing money upon completion. We can’t wait to dive into the other 3 races and see how they play.
The campaign map is far easier to use and see compared to previous iterations, falling somewhere in between Shogun 2 and Rome 2. The map itself is gorgeous, featuring the corrupted and blighted realms of Sylvania, the frozen and Chaos despoiled northern wastes, and the orc infested and sandy Badlands. I was surprised at how large the map was when I had to send a hero down south to scout for a legendary quest for Mannfred. Although you have to travel a long way to start the quest, the ending quest battle allows instant teleportation for a small cost. All of the tabs have a clear purpose and are clearly marked and along with quest chains, give a new player to the franchise a decent starting point and display on how the features work.
One criticism of the game would be how Warriors of Chaos work (if you aren’t in fact playing as them) *Spoiler Alert* right around turn 50, you will receive a notice that Chaos is stirring and see different agents begin to appear in your territory along with some of the Chaos armies invading and despoiling some of the northern settlements. Another 50 turns down the road, Archaon and a massive horde burst forth and start destroying all that you have worked for towards your objectives. It feels that the “End Time” is a little rushed, not giving players enough time to get a lead on their objectives before they have to deal with a massively overpowered horde bearing down upon you. While this doesn’t seem to affect Dwarfs and Greenskins as much(for they are way further south and in a sense removed from Chaos’ range for a while) it poses a huge problem for players of the other 2 factions. Being at turn 127 in a Vampire Counts campaign and playing a race that excels more at attrition and slow takeover, now we have to deal with a gigantic threat on another front and have fully put our main objective aside whilst obtaining no help from the AI. It’s understood that they are supposed to be the “boss” of the game, so give players more of a chance to secure what they need before completely disrupting what they are working for.
All in all, Total War: Warhammer represents a return to polish and form for Creative Assembly. The switch from history to fantasy has done CA well, with Total War: Warhammer topping 500,000 units within its first week and still selling strong. CA has promised to keep a steady supply of Free and DLC for the game as well as 2 additions to the trilogy, with the plan being “all major races being playable at some point”. Definitely one to recommend to friends and fans of grand strategy and newcomers alike. See you guys next time! Remember your axe before you begin the WAAAAAGGGHH!