Total War: Warhammer Review – Epic Fantasy Replaces Mundane History Lessons
For over a decade now, Creative Assembly has been working tediously on the Total War franchise. During this time we’ve been treated with numerous installments, spanning across a vast historical timeline and which have more than enough helped it cement itself as one of the best strategy series out there.
However, being the best does not mean that the franchise is not without faults. Such is the magic of Total War games that we’ve just become accustomed to botched launches, technical and performance hazards, and witnessing the series reach stagnancy in terms of content delivery.
Suffice to say, with time we’ve simply come to accept the negatives from Creative Assembly as part of the Total War experience.
With Total War: Warhammer, the franchise has shed its skin to reveal an epic installment that does away numerous major flaws that have been plaguing the brand until now. I would dare say that the development team itself had grown weary of the seemingly monotonous affair that it had to work with for each new release.
I must confess of being a bit reserved at the beginning about this marriage of Total War and Warhammer. The former has always focused on reenacting historical settings and characters. Ditching those otherwise mundane history lessons for a fantasy theme was always going to carry its share of risks for the brand’s image.
However, as it turns out, giving the Total War treatment to Games Workshop’s dark and gritty Warhammer universe was an excellent move to have the series distance itself from its predecessors and hence, reignite appeal.
A common complaint with previous Total War games, or a personal observation, is the fact that its factions have always had difficulty portraying themselves unique from others. Not to say that Creative Assembly hasn’t worked to deliver us with disparate factions, but at its core the differences have always been far too slim for a personalized experience.
Thanks to the enriched Warhammer universe, this pesky issue has been shown the door. Total War: Warhammer features four distinct factions that come with utterly different lore, settings, skillsets, armies, mechanics, diplomatic policies, and mannerism. It doesn’t take long for a player to realize how much work has been put in to make each race an entirely different prospect.
Each faction boasts unique units, and has its own methods (strategies and tactical superiority) of marching across a battlefield or dealing with threats. This leaves the player to decide which individual style of play he/she is interested in.
Total War: Warhammer gives you the option of playing as one of the following: the Empire, Dwarfs, Greenskins, Vampire Counts, and Warriors of Chaos. Rather than going into detail about the gameplay, I thought it better to simply give a brief review of each faction to help you better understand the unique gameplay design surrounding each race.
Those coming in from previous Total War games will immediately connect with the Empire and its well-disciplined and balanced military that comprises powerful wizards, zealous heroes, varied artillery, excellent cavalry and fearsome war machines.
It utilizes “Confederation” as its key mechanic; having strong diplomatic relations with another human faction allows that faction to merge with yours, giving you complete control over their settlements and armies.
Proud and courageous, the Dwarfs seek to regain their lost glory and reform the old Dwarfen Empire. The faction’s precious knowledge of crafting and smithing allows the soldiers to be fitted with strong heavy armor, and their ranks backed by excellent long-range artillery war machines.
They can also take advantage of a network of underground tunnel system to avoid impassable terrain and ambush unsuspecting enemy armies. Combined with strong leadership and favorable economy options, the Dwarfs are not a side to be pushed around.
It utilizes “Grudges” as its key mechanic; Dwarfs must resolve all grudges against other factions from the map, or else suffer negative traits. Additionally, you won’t be able to win the campaign if you are unable to clear the majority of the Great Book of Grudges.
The bloodthirsty orcs and goblins are fueled by hatred and war. Such is their hunger for carnage that the brutes will begin fighting amongst themselves if they go too long without raiding any settlement or crushing any foe.
With access to limited technology, the Greenskins are relatively cheaper when it comes to amassing an army. Their ranks are filled with cavalry, infantry, monstrous units and artillery; all of whom feature quick maneuverability on the battlefield. Their inability to trade is balanced by a handsome bonus income from raiding and sacking.
It utilizes “Fightiness” as its key mechanic; waging constant wars and wreaking havoc will summon a second AI-controlled army that will greatly improve your military might. However, opting for peaceful times will instead drop the Fightiness rating, leading to rebellions in your mix.
The Vampire Counts
The undead faction drains life from its foes and the very ground it marches on. They excel in magic on the battlefield, allowing the unholy revival of units by bringing them back from the dead. This is an incredibly powerful ability that works even when you’re not fighting.
Ultimately, the Vampire Counts can raise legions of zombies, skeleton warriors, ethereal wraiths, and all kinds of horrors. The faction has no access to any form of ranged weaponry. However, its ability to raise the dead and immunity to panic helps spread terror into any foe standing against you on the battlefield.
It utilizes “Vampiric Corruption” as its key mechanic; expanding on the campaign map means tainting the ground. This corruption can reduce public order in territories belonging to other factions, leading to turmoil and rebellions.
Warriors of Chaos
Featuring an extremely strong unit roster that comprises armored infantry and legions of monsters, the Horde is a force to reckon with. It’s unique in the way that it is the only faction that has no settlements.
All building/infrastructure options and military improvements are tied to the individual leading each horde. There are no diplomatic relations to be found with any faction, and the inability to trade means that your economy solely depends upon raiding and sacking.
It utilizes “Chaos Corruption” as its key mechanic; similar to “Vampiric Corruption” and increases the chances of reducing public order for other factions, ultimately leading to unrest and rebellions.
Another aspect in which Total War: Warhammer excels is in the importance it gives to its leading characters and political leaders. Much thanks to the powerful Warhammer universe, Creative Assembly has been able to finally make them relevant by granting them personalities.
You’ll quickly find yourself closely following the actions of your favorites and with time becoming close to them and their manner of handling disputes.
It’s simply incredible how balanced the entire game is in terms of content delivery. From the moment you begin your campaign, Total War: Warhammer is going to be throwing something new at you at every moment.
You’ll seldom find yourself without any objective; having to choose between possible scenarios, deciding between routes and ambush points, tactical decision-making, diplomatic woes, all help in keeping the game fresh and interesting until the very end.
Total War: Warhammer has simply spoiled us. The devoted fan-base is now going to look forward to Creative Assembly releasing further Warhammer-like installments.
This review was conducted using retail PC downloadable codes provided by Creative Assembly.