Total War : Warhammer 2 (2019)
The Total War Series has Degraded Over Time
I am a big RTS player and I do not have kind things to say about the Total War Series. The last good Total War game was Shogun 2. After Shogun 2 the Total War series has reduced the strategic and tactical approaches a player can make. Design wise it moved closer towards a board game with graphics than it’s older video game predecessors. After Shogun 2 the games have been very much the same game but with different themes applied. So here’s what I feel really devastated the Total War Series.
Generals are Required for Moving Units
You want to send 2 infantry sections to reinforce an army. Sorry but that infantry section is going to need a very expensive general to hold their hand. This is just ridiculous. In older Total War games a unit may desert because of lack of loyalty. So having a General escort to keep an eye on them would be useful but if you have enough loyalty then you can trust your soldiers to get to where you want them to be.
You may only have a small amount of generals.
To extend upon this problem you can’t have many Generals, you’re looking at between 3 and 5. So not only do you require a General to move units to where they need to be, you will struggle to have the Generals to do so without creating some kind of problem. An example being defending a city. You are constantly faced with a question of “Do I defend this thing or do I move my general up to the other General and transfer units over”. It’s preposterous.
Maximum Army Size
There is no compensation for this pointless maximum Generals and them being required to move units. This is especially bothersome for me because I like the playstyle of having lots of weak soldiers as opposed to having powerful soldiers.
Sadly though, you are forced to invest into the stronger units because you can only have a certain amount of units per General and since you can only have a certain amount of Generals you can’t overwhelm opposing forces with clever use of weak units in large quantities.
Previous Total War games allowed you to build units and simply Garrison them in your city or stronghold. This makes ‘Total’ sense. Units in Total War games today must be holding hands with a General which means you can no longer station units at locations you want to defend. There are buildings which give the city more garrisoned units but these are easily overwhelmed by almost any attacking army.
I always thought pre-shogun 2 era that Total War series would give the player more control, that eventually we may even place structures in our cities and strongholds like towers. Even just a simple city plot system. To improve your defenses now can only be done in two ways. Stick a General with soldiers there or hit the “upgrade defense” button of which there are up to 5 levels of defense dependant on the population, size and nature of the settlement.
Even if you could station units in Garrisons at a reduced cost. Even if you could have multiple generals with weak units. You wouldn’t be able to sustain this with the available methods of generating gold. Cities have limits as to what you can build in them and besides one city having a gold pit and another having a clay pit with different gold values. There’s not much room for a player to succeed or fail. To play around and optimise. To experiment or come up with new ideas to try!
Lack of Tactical Abilities for Units
Want to put up a shield wall? That’s not going to happen in most of the new Total Wars. The lack of unit tactics reduces combat to be dominated by simply positioning and unit type versus unit type. All these unit tactics being removed once again reduces the players ability to succeed or fail, to experiment and learn. Why can’t we make our spear soldiers point their spears in front of them?
The game crashed a few times (March 2019) and for multiplayer co-op a specific person had to host otherwise it would always crash on the loading screen. This has been a problem for quite a while now. I have experienced multiple crashes from all Total War Games after Shogun 2. It most certainly isn’t a hardware problem.
So Let's Talk Specifically "Total War : Warhammer 2"
So now let’s talk Total War: Warhammer specifically. Which features all of the faults above like the last 5 or 6 Total War games have. Total War Warhammer 2 (TWW2) is more of an expansion. It’s not a new game. In fact if you own the first game you can access the content of the first in the second game. Yeah. It’s really not a sequel. Yes we are kind of being cheated with the price. Packaging it up as a whole new game isn’t truthful.
Look at this “Free DLC”. Trying to get on customers good terms are you? You know free DLC is a patch. Since you can’t label a patch on the steam front page though. Labeling it as a Free bit of Downloadable Content though is going to make you look good. SEGA and Creative Assembly are putting much more effort into these things than the game.
The first good thing to say is that a fantasy based Total War is very pleasing. You have Armies of Ratlings, Lizards, Undead (with DLC), Vampires, Humans, Dwarves and more. There’s a decent selection to appeal to different tastes but no one is saying more wouldn’t be good either!
But let’s say you want to play one of those zerg style races like the Skaven. Their units are suppose to be weak but large in number. The issue previously stated is that you have a maximum army size. You ultimately end up having to build the more powerful units to keep up. Playstyles get lost as each faction resorts to just building the more powerful units they have access too. This isn’t opening strategic or tactical playstyles!
Puzzles. Yes. That's Right. PUZZLES in a Total War Game
I’m not sure why this game needs puzzles but it has them. There are 4 types of puzzles and 3 of them are redundant as they are extremely easy to solve. The fourth which is listed as a “dial” puzzle is more tricky. It’s tricky because you can’t interact with the puzzle. This seems to have resulted in frustration for a lot of players. I’d rather have a lot of old features back as opposed to these simple puzzles which give gold and item rewards.
Your Generals can have items and mounts. This is actually pretty cool and I’d love this feature to be retained for future Total War games. You can also level your Generals stats and abilities up but in all honesty besides a few abilities they aren’t all that interesting. Some are actually annoying. For example having a Skaven (Rat) General be able to summon from out of thin air an entire unit of 100 rats right next to you consecutively…
Animations could use work. I tried getting some epic battle footage but most units just idle stand around. The combat animations havn’t improved or have got worse.
There are huge power differences between units. A Stegadon, which is like a Triceratops, defeated 5000 rats alone on normal difficulty. “Massive” units which can take on ridiculous amounts of smaller foes. Then you have shield units which can’t shield themselves from incoming arrow fire.
And I’m not joking. My co-op partner was ambushed and all their units defeated except their Stegadon. They couldn’t retreat so we had to watch a Stegadon on fast forward slowly defeat all these rats.
I found the resources to be rather unclear. Money is obvious but the trade resources which generate money is hidden in the background. It doesn’t appear to play a big role except for trade agreements so you may as well forget it even exists.
Faction Specific Resources
The Skaven have a “food” resource and whilst sometimes it is clear how you earn food, other times you feel the number may as well be randomly generated because the feedback on what actions cause it to increase or decrease is poor. Not that it is difficult to maintain, somehow, but clearly like the other resources it is lacking in clarity.
Cities and Keeps
Keep combat is atrocious. You know all the way back in Total War Rome you had huge cities to take over. Sure it was simple but that’s a 2004 game.
Keeps in Total War: Warhammer lack any characteristics of their race. Sure it would be a lot of work to create cities for Rats, Skeletons, Vampires, Humans, Dwarves, Lizards, Elves and Orcs but I pose a question. If they didn’t take on this task because it was deemed too big, where the hell has the effort been put in the rest of the game?
Keeps are also extremely tiny. So tiny that the attacker can only place their units within range of the keeps walls. That’s right! The attacker will immediately begin taking enemy fire once hitting deploy.
Forget thinking you can pick Lizards and your ally can pick the Skaven. You don’t have that freedom. Both you and your co-op partner must play the same faction.
As per usual I struggled to get the game to work co-op. Once getting past the problem with launching a co-op game to begin with, we were surprised that we could get past the first 20 turns. Unlike previous iterations of Total War Games after and including Rome 2 which peristantly had problems which made multiplayer unplayable.
What’s pure garbage is Creative Assembley’s idea of co-operative play. Yes you can play in the same world but if for example you want to play as the lizard’s their location on the world map is so far apart. Generally when players want to play co-operatively they want to play near each other. This isn’t “true” co-operative play. This may as well be two people playing a single player game in the same room at the same time.
The AI declared war on me. Then payed me 600 gold for a peace treaty. Alright. Diplomacy has never been a strong point in any RTS game. Of course it’s a tricky matter to deal with.
I was raiding in enemy territory, which is the act of putting your army in the enemies territory and just looting from it rather than attacking settlements. I had a nonaggression pact with the owner of this territory. After about 15 turns of me raiding their territory, they finally decided to end the non aggression pact. I’m not sure if this good that the AI saw me taking the pact with zero consideration and made amends and officially ended the contract or something else.
The Total War Series after Shogun is the Call of Duty of RTS. It’s turning out a lot of games but they are basically asset swaps. Change the theme. The newest one being Total War : Three Kingdoms set in the Chinese Feudal era.
They’ve been punching out a game every year since 2015. 2014 was a miss year after they made Rome 2 in 2013. Now Rome 2 is interesting because that’s immediately when all the bad changes were implemented and have stuck around till today. Rome 2 is the base game.
Atilla, Warhammer 1 and 2, Britannia and Three Kingdoms are the same game as Rome 2 but with different models, a different map, and a whole load of missing features prior to 2013, with a much higher asking price.