+Doesn’t deviate from Warhammer or Total War source materials
+Character models are top notch and highly detailed
+Combat remains as strategic as ever
+Four new and delightful factions to enjoy
+Post release content is a delight to play and look forward to
-Can be overwhelmingly difficult to take in for newcomers
When we reviewed the original Total War: Warhammer title, we appraised the game rather highly thanks to its creative approach using the Warhammer setting, and the races that lie within. Again, Creative Assembly has already begun to prove the relevance of using the Warhammer universe in Total War. Of course, that doesn’t go without stating that the Warhammer properties have been used across all sorts of games and genres. They’ve been hits, misses, and a few successes.
Luckily, this second time around is still a charm, and one that hardcore RTS fans will enjoy. We’ve seen new additions such as new races, new abilities, and even flying units for those races. Luckily, even the addition of magic doesn’t take away from the game, nor does it cause the developers to cut any corners or sacrifice any of the Total War franchises core tactical gameplay elements.
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With this latest installment Total War: Warhammer II, the series has once more proven why the franchise is still around, and how they can create an even more coherent campaign. A campaign that is filled with new exotic races and a way to shakeup everything we thought we know about Warhammer both on and off the field. This time around, we find the campaign is more focused on its story by using the Great Vortex as its mainstay.
Like any standard tale, the faction that claims the Great Vortex, has all of the power in the world, and can bend the other factions to their will. Like any standard Total War title, half of your time spent will be on the world map. Here you will get to see what locations are controlled by your enemies, what locations are free for the taking, where you can develop strongholds, build your economy, and construct your forces into a powerful army.
The other portion of your time is spent on the games battlefield. Battles occur in real time, requiring players to coordinate their forces, and execute tactical combat maneuvers. When combat comes down to it, you will get to see your forces clash with others in an all out brawl, which will determine who the victor is. Getting to that point in on its own is actually quite fun. Players whom choose to take spell casters can do so at any point, turning the tide of combat in their favor, and even send massive units of T-Rex like Carnosaurs or Rat Ogres in order to dispatch enemies quickly.
These giant campaigns are quite enjoyable for those that don’t mind splitting their time evenly between combat and overworld leadership. These giant campaigns do have an unfortunate side to them – they get bogged down late game due to the sheer size of forces of enemies in play. That is, however, where Creative Assembly comes into play. They did a moderately good job at alleviating your late game struggles by doing this, but it doesn’t help question as to why it even happens in the first place.
But how you get to this point does eventually happen whether you play as the High Elves, Dark Elves, Skaven, or Lizardmen. Luckily for fans, these are the newest races to the series, and they are the strongest reason why you’d want to even give Total War: Warhammer II a chance over Total War: Warhammer. Like many, I leaned in favor of the Lizardmen. During the campaign, my overworld came to be quite appealing. My holdings were quite nice, something close to what I’d expect if I were to visit the Mayan temples in South America. My overworld settlement was much the same and didn’t remain hidden away.
Instead lush forests surrounded my bases, giving them life, and my bases were even more-so beautiful than I’d expected. Unlike forces such as the Skaven who sought to spread their disgusting corruption throughout the lands and make it look like a giant infested sewer, the Lizardmen did quite the opposite. They built the world with beautiful shrines, temples, and forests.
During my campaign for the Skaven, I found maintaining my empire a bit tougher due to the Skaven spreading their corruption through the lands. Due to this unique approach, maintaining order was a task of its own. I often had to work to control the uprisings that unfolded due to it. If you choose to play as the Skaven, you’ll be more prepared for these issues as the Skaven, but because of mechanics such as this, it’s hard to not admire the amount of detail that is put into play by Creative Assembly.
When it comes to combat, the Lizardmen were admirable to watch as they began fighting off against those that opposed them. Unlike my expectations of Lizardmen running on four legs, marching into combat, and plowing through their enemy forces; I got a chance to see them march forth like Spartan forces. They were packed tightly side-by-side. Weapons wielded and their jaws tight as they anticipated combat.
The only difference between my army and the Dark Elves before me? Those Spartan forces didn’t have two-story hulking creatures strutting forth into combat, unleashing laser type attacks against them, nor did my ankylosaurs back down when attacked. Instead they marched forth, feet causing the ground to rumble with each step while my aerial assault unleashed, raining spears down upon those below my air units, and my unforeseen charge of Carnosaurs split from the jungles into the Dark Elf forces.
What’s best about the approach Creative Assembly used for combat is the fact that combat alone isn’t cosmetic. It’s actually a living and breathing part of the game itself. It’s an overall approach that works quite well for the Total War series and continues to do so to this day. Units are living and breathing entities, the battlefield itself is one as well, and this is where the game shines on a tactical level. Deploying forces such as Carnosaurs is quite satisfying due to the amount of detail that has been put into them.
The same goes with hiding my Lizardmen among the trees in order to ambush the opposing forces. This tactical approach comes to life even more if you have something to hide and wish for a secondary attack by pulling some of your troops out of combat. But nothing is as fun as deploying your forces before the battle starts. While an ensuing battle in the middle of a field is a blast to have, nothing is satisfying as watching your forces attempt to attacking a castle wall during a siege battle.
I’ve had to spend multiple turns on such a battle sending my troops back and forth before seeing the walls finally come tumbling down. When the walls came down, the experience of seeing my forces pour into the castles walls became an enjoyable experience, and that’s due to the battle that took place. Since my slower, more powerful troops were in the front, my weaker were in the back. Eventually combat takes place in a centralized area in each of these siege maps.
Over time combat does begin to show its wear. The action at times can slow down to a halt when two titanic creatures that are evenly matched beat on one another until one of them falls somewhere on the map. What’s more annoying about this is the fact the game still uses an invisible grid system, one that sits below every map, and limits the options that you have when it comes to control your army of strapping young Lizardmen. But it’s a minor limitation that has been around during the entirety of the Total War franchise itself.
But the multiplayer is where the game itself shines the most. It’s a robust, rewarding, and enjoyable experience. Both quick-play skirmish battles and rank matches are never one-in-the-same. Unfortunately, we did miss out on our chance to join in on the press-only sessions, but we have had a chance to join in post-release, which has been absolute fun in itself.
During your selection of combat, you get to choose from one of several leaders, one coming with their own starting location on each of the games maps. Each of these leaders also comes with their own abilities that they can execute in combat. Due to how in depth these menus are, you do need to consider using a notebook. The menus are deep, so are the descriptions between each unit, and what those units are capable of. If you have a preferred squad, you can save this squad, and take advantage of this feature.
What’s more confusing, is a feature that even stumped Dustin when I approached him for both his thoughts and opinions. Some of the lords you can choose from can equip magic items, they can attract followers that join your faction, and help them out. This means your hero characters will have to take small adventures throughout the map and undertake a heft amount of missions in order to progress through the game. This, however, will war thin on some, and it does quickly become quite exhausting.
The fatigue set in quickly when I finally had to begin undergoing mini-objectives and venture forth in order to complete my overall story. After a few poor choices, combat casualties, and a need to start a new campaign because of my failures, I decided to let Dustin take over, but that’s not because of poor development or decision making by the developer.
Instead, it’s my own choices that lead to my ultimate downfall. Between the use of spells, armor, items, and my heroes, I found my time with Total War: Warhammer 2 to be a marathon, not a sprint. It is a game that will take a lot out of it. It requires patience, attention to detail, and a willingness to keep track of every small decision you can be held accountable for. The most remarkable part about this? I’ve spent over 150 turns or more in a single world, I’ve found my armies to fall to some of my enemies finest warriors, and ultimately found my experience to be remarkably rewarding.
Total War: Warhammer II – PC
Developer: Creative Assembly
Release Date: Available Now
Even the overall story itself was the same. It was enjoyable, fun to experience, and overall a delight. The narrative itself is quite brilliant and could be quite easily be proclaimed as one of the best stories I’ve experienced this year. Sadly, I wish it hadn’t taken Dustin helping me to get back to where I’d been, and ultimately guiding myself back to where I had been before giving up.
Our review is based upon a retail version provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
About the Writer:
David Murphy is B.A.T.G.R.’s behind the scenes man who helps get things up and going as well as keeping things in order. Don’t be surprised to know that the old man contributes rather heavily to editing, news, and information he digs up so that editorials as well as articles are done properly. He also likes Fallout… A lot. We’re not sure he’s not secretly the Vault Boy in disguise.