I could tell immediately that I’d enjoy the second entry in the Total War: Warhammer trilogy more than it’s predecessor, a game which I’d deemed quite good last year. The core gameplay loop and mechanics of Total War are still present, but some details of the game have been tweaked just enough to excite me.
Endgame content is something that I’ve always struggled with in the Total War series. After 68 rounds of attrition against multiple other factions, even if I had the upper hand, I was always discouraged by how much there was left to do before the game ended. Weakened empires would almost always have various small and disconnected territories, causing a few dozen turns to be taken up by mopping up enemies who were already essentially defeated.
Total War: Warhammer II solves this dilemma by introducing a central objective, the Great Vortex, a massive magical storm capable of vast power. The four races in Warhammer II, the high elves, dark elves, the lizardmen and an unannounced race are either tasked with repairing or disrupting the great vortex, with slight variations on this theme.
In the gameplay demo we were treated to, which you can check out in the video below, I played as the Lizardmen, more specifically the subfaction of Lizardmen commanded by Kroq-Gar. In this battle scenario, the High Elves are attempting to capture a fallen gate, a part of both side’s history and culture.
Kroq-Gar, leader of one of the two factions of allied Lizardmen, was basically a small dinosaur commanding a T-Rex, to great effect. Nothing is more badass than commanding and controlling a horde of dinosaurs as they make they charge into masses of elves. I couldn’t help but zoom as far in as possible and simply watch as my pet T-Rex chomped and threw High elves with its powerful jaws. Speaking with Game Director Ian Roxborough and Jim winston, Campaign Design Lead, I got a picture about how much effort went into the improved close-up visuals and more.
It’s genuinely refreshing to hear a developer be so passionate about a universe that they themselves didn’t begin. When I spoken to Creative Assembly about what it was like to dive into the lore and keep things within the canonized universe, I was told that it’s not too different from delving into and pulling from actual history. Some of the biggest challenges I was told about were matching gameplay mechanics to race personalities. For example, the High Elves, a race of arrogant but intelligent beings, control through political corruption and deception. When playing as the High Elves the player gains access to everything another empire can see as long as they establish trade agreements with those countries through economic spies.
Not much has changed with the unit makeup, each side has their own units that aren’t completely analogous but are closely balanced. The biggest changes to moment to moment gameplay were Army Abilities. These are powerful skills your army can call on in times of need and take many forms, such as bombardments and other attacks. The Lizardmen have the ability to spawn a unit of feral Cold Ones anywhere on the field.
Creative Assembly spoke with me about maintaining Total War: Warhammer II much like the original, with a similar combination of free and paid DLC updates. However, if you own both Total War: Warhammer and Total War: Warhammer II you’ll receive a free DLC pack shortly after launch, combining the two giant continents and races.
Total War: Warhammer II doesn’t have a set release date yet, but will be coming to PC on Steam sometime later this year.