The Total War series is well known for creating some off the biggest historical land battles to have ever taken place. The series has however become a little stale in recent years and there are only so many times you can force your cavalry into a flank position to rush enemy archers before you feel like you have done it a million times. That’s why a new approach to the series was taken with Total War: Warhammer, which boasts the epic scale of the Total War games mixed with the characters and lore of the Warhammer universe. It’s a great idea on paper, but is it any good?
For Azeroth…I mean The Old World
At the start of Total War: Warhammer’s campaign you get to choose one of four races, the Dwarves, the Green Skins, the Vampire Counts and lastly The Empire. The look and feel of Total War: Warhammer reminded me of my early Warcraft 2 days when I ruled Azeroth as the Orc’s, so I picked the Green Skins race for old time sake. I also wanted to use the bigger units that the other classes seemed to be lacking. I chose Grimgor Ironhide as my warlord as he looked pretty mean and began my campaign to conquer the realm. After a quick siege of an enemy faction of Green Skins I was set loose to conquer the realm and lay claim to territories across The Old World.
Old tricks won’t work
You get to command your armies from a tactical map view in conquest mode and only when you engage another army do you get to go down to the battlefield and watch the chaos unfold. If you want you can actually play most of the game from the tactical map view, but where is the fun in that? Total War is about massive armies charging at each other and in Total War: Warhammer the battles are bigger and more intense than ever. The campaign will force you into enemy territory but you will often be forced to go back to defend your own area as enemies will try grab territory from you. You also have to play tug of war with your resources because recruiting a troop is expensive, and just like in previous Total War games you will have to manage your armies very carefully. While troop management is important it certainly is not where you will have the most fun. Total War: Warhammer lets you take control of 20 foot trolls and powerful dragons as well as many other amazing creatures and beasts that make for some very visually entertaining clashes on the battlefield.
If Dark Souls was an RTS
As the Total War games go Total War: Warhammer sets a new visual benchmark for the series. One of the most impressive things about the game wasn’t the massive armies but the battlefields themselves. For years Total War games have made you battle it out over boring fields or the odd mountainside. Total War: Warhammer, however, has locations that look like they were ripped out of a Tolkien novel. Each set looks very different from the Chaos Wastes to the Dwarven Realm, each with a unique look and feel.
You won’t have much time to take in your detailed surroundings however because Total War: Warhammer is as hard as dragon scales. Sure the campaign does a good job of easing you in, but jump into a quick skirmish match with the difficulty set to easy and you will still end up with your head on a pike. In one of my first skirmish games I sent my archers up onto a hill to try lure a few enemy battalions towards certain death, and while a few did take the bait the AI quickly caught on to what I was doing and sent flanking cavalry as well as some long range projectiles my way, crushing my hopes of victory in under a minute. Also in previous Total War games there were no flesh-eating dragons to swoop down on your archers from behind the tree line. Oh no, you will quickly realise you have to learn some new tricks to survive in the harsh plains of The Old World.
You shall not pass
Naturally you can jump online to test your skills against real opponents but I dread to think what kind of armchair strategic masterminds you would be put up against, so you are more than likely better off trying to beat the ridiculously hard AI instead. Total War: Warhammer may be very challenging but it is very rewarding when you do manage to turn the tides of battle in your favour and clinch a victory. It’s very much a trial and error type of game to start with while you try to master the different races and classes, but the most important thing is that it has breathed new life into the Total War series. It is my favorite Total War game to date and I can’t wait to see where they take the series from here. One thing is for sure, I will gladly put my money on the front line for Total War: Warhammer.