As I close in on the last few re-writes of Bloodlust: The Seeds of Ruin I have encountered a formidable obstacle; I am positively addicted to Total War: Warhammer.
The Total War series is well known among fans of computer wargames and Total War: Warhammer is Creative Assemblies first foray into a non-historical setting. After two less than stellar releases in Rome 2 and Attila (I pre-ordered Rome2, oops) the boys at CA really must have felt the need to knock this one out of the park, and they did.
Let’s start with the negatives, just for fun.
- Pre-Order DLC: CA managed to cause a stir with the news that The Chaos Faction was going to be available for free to people who pre-ordered. This was widely seen as a dick move, in an industry where consumers are constantly being milked. Eventually they reneged and made Chaos available for free during week 1, but it still left some feeling sour.
- My biggest complaint about the game is the dominance of elite and special units. In the tabletop game even the most impressive armies had to field some grunts due to army structure. In Total War: Warhammer you really want to pack as much punch into each army as possible and the main limitation is the 20 unit/army max (although you can have multiple armies, I feel the cost increase still pushes you toward stacking elites).
- In previous Total War games and some editions of Warhammer, units had better use of formations and special moves. I would like to have seen shield walls on certain units and grape-shots on cannons (the level of unit abilities in TW: Napoleon would be perfect IMO) for example.
- You cannot customize your regular troops colour or kit.
Here are some features that I feel are neutral, some people will love them, others will hate them.
- Heroes can be very, very powerful. Some people like this, some hate it. It was the same with some iterations of the tabletop. They definitely have impact on both playstyle and in combat.
- As per usual in TW, the AI can skirmish like crazy. I found it irritating to fight Chaos horse missile troops, and just ended up auto-resolving against the armies of the North most of the time in my Chaos campaigns. The AI in general is better than the last couple of TW games, but still predictable.
- Some people feel the diplomacy and city management are too bare-bones. I’m ok with them for the most part.
- The battlefields are fairly open for the most part. I have seen some unusual fields, but not a lot of terrain cheese.
- TW agents can be annoyingly OP.
And finally the positives.
- Fun battles that are just great to watch, especially on a PC that can handle the largest unit sizes. The level of detail just zooming in on the battles is staggering.
- Each faction has a unique play style, both on and off the fields of battle and unit roster. While some of these choices do not see play, especially later in the campaign or in competitive multiplayer, there is enough variety in late-game units to create interesting armies.
- Dwarves, for example, lack cavalry, magic, and monstrous units but have tremendous ranged units and artillery while the Vampire counts have a lot of awesome cannon fodder, fast monstrous troops , and fearsome elites but really lacking in missile weapons and artillery.
- Multiplayer campaign coop: I cannot emphasize how much I love this feature. I can play a campaign head to head or with another player against the AI. Games you can play cooperatively are just awesome.
- Most of the battles are fun, especially once you get a decent variety of units. Some of them are just incredible.
- Quest battles in the campaign are very enjoyable for the most part, with some of them presenting interesting tactical challenges balanced for a single army.
- The map feels just big enough.
- CA will be adding the full faction roster from 8th edition, including some for free.
- Magic feels just right. Sometimes it is crazy strong, sometimes it just does not get you there, just like in the tabletop.
- While the unit abilities are limited, the depth of tactics on the field is still there, once you get use to it.
As a whole, I love the game. I have played orcs, dwarves, and Chaos in depth so far and dabbled in empire and vampire counts. I am already drooling over bretonnia, wood elves and beastmen getting added in. It might not have grapeshot, but hey, maybe I can make a mod for that.