Total War: Warhammer (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 27.06.2016 1

Review for Total War: Warhammer on PC

Total War is one of the more iconic series in gaming. Sure, it may not be quite up there with the likes of Civilization, but its mix of turn-based and real-time has its great place. The Warhammer franchise has occupied a similar location in regards to Dungeons and Dragons - not as high-profile, yet holding a great place just as well. So, when one combines the two into a fantasy strategy title does it end up being like mixing peanut butter and chocolate, or a Carolina reaper and raw coco beans?

Starting with an overhead map, players are encouraged to build up towns and navigate armies around as one would expect in a turn-based strategy game, before engaging with the foe in real-time battles upon the ground, where they would take control over their massive armies in battle. The tactics could be simple or amazingly complicated, and, with the right commander, could result in tiny forces delivering resounding victories. However, the Total War series has also been kept in historical settings such as Sengoku Japan or the Roman Empire, making this its first foray into a brand new locale. How does it turn out?

Well… quite good, actually! The team who make the series down at Sega appear to be quite experienced by now, and, between Rome II and Attila have had plenty of time to sharpen up for this. The elements from the Warhammer universe seem to have been integrated well too. Some die-hard fans may complain but, for those simply seeking a dash of Warhammer in their Total War fun, it’s A-Okay!

Screenshot for Total War: Warhammer on PC

As one might expect, all the gooey Total War goodness is there. As always, players will take control of one of several factions, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and guide them through a series of goals to accomplish their own, unique, victories. However, from the Total War aspect, much has been improved. For one, the Warhammer setting brings in multiple unique unit types that previously simply haven't existed in the franchise. The most glaring of all of these is the 'flying' unit type which, as one would expect, is capable of flight. This allows it to hold some very strong battlefield control when used properly, but they are often weaker than their non-flying counterparts.

In addition, there are now 'monstrous' unit types whom are exceptionally large in size and power, but also fairly few in number making every loss felt more. Lastly, the heroes themselves can take directly to the battlefield and are strong! On-par with at least a relatively similar squad of units, capable of wrecking stuff up, mages with access to spells, and so-forth, really alters the game. A single well-placed mage with enough power can, quite literally, score hundreds of kills with ease. Never mind the other classes of heroes in the game, though.

Screenshot for Total War: Warhammer on PC

Each of the different civilizations also boasts its own unique tech tree. The Empire, for example, has only a few technologies that are unlocked via holding specific buildings while the Dwarves have full-on access to all their techs but a HUGE tech-tree to move through to get many of the good ones. Combined with the fact that each civilization has its own distinctly unique units and it feels like each civilization is actually very unique. From the dwarves' lack of cavalry and constant need to settle grudges, to the vampires' hordes of undead each faction feels very unique.

This isn't to say it's some flawless piece though, like the enemy A.I. which has a tendency to be unfairly frustrating, often stopping one pixel out of reach and escaping flawlessly, or how annoying it can be to try and actually clamp pressure down on certain groups simply because of said movement or the constant need for temples to stave off corruption. This isn't to say that the game fails, just that the A.I. seems to rely a bit too much on tricks than competence.

Screenshot for Total War: Warhammer on PC

What about the Warhammer side of things, though? When all is said and done, is it a faithful adaptation? Well… the key word in there is 'adaptation.' There was only one way this really could have turned out and fans of both franchises likely realised it the instant they heard the title. What is likely more disappointing, however, is the limited number of factions. Empire, Dwarves, Greenskins, Vampires, and Chaos (with DLC); races and factions such as the Elves are simply non-existent as of now, with at least two other factions (Bretonnia and Norsca) practically begging to be future DLC. This will certainly upset some players, as well as the limited scope removing many other factions, races, and lands from the game.

While not being able to play as the Tomb Kings may not be a huge loss considering the scope of the project with every little bit filed off and shaved away to make room for future DLC or a future expansion the Warhammer lore feels more… confined - and it shows. With only five possible factions to even play with only a variant leader (no different start places or the like) it all feels like it's practically biting at the edges of its map, begging for some new faction to make its entrance.

Screenshot for Total War: Warhammer on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

As a Total War game, Total War: Warhammer comes off as being a bit confined in terms of bounds, yet varied within said bounds. Boasting a lot of options, it is a genuinely enjoyable experience as it does take advantage of its licence. As a Warhammer title, it is a solid and enjoyable experience even if it's quite clear a lot was filed off either to make it work as a game or for future DLC. As a whole? It's a good new direction for the series to head in, and, hopefully, will let it expand beyond the confines of history into new, fantastical realms.

Developer

Creative Assembly

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

My biggest disappointment is probably something a lot of Warhammer fans will be flustered by, but no random map mode. We're bursting out of history into a realm in which most people simply don't even know there is a defined lore for, nevermind a concrete map. If there was a single entry in which a random map could have been implemented into Total War, it was likely this one.

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