Make war not love
Total War: Warhammer II
Creative Assembly (CA) has staunchly kept the Total War series alive for seventeen years. In 2016, we saw CA make their most signi cant change by shifting their attention to the Warhammer Fantasy universe. Now, one year on, Total War: Warhammer II has arrived to prove they made the right decision.
Total War: Warhammer II features eight factions from four different races: High Elves, Dark Elves, Skaven, and Lizardmen. Each race features two distinct Legendary Lords, such as Tyrion (no, not that dwarf serving a dragon queen) and Teclis for the High Elves. The differences aren’t simply cosmetic. Like the previous game, one Lord focuses on physical strength while the other focuses on magic. However, this time they’ve changed the starting positions.
Tyrion, for example, now starts in Ulthuan, the ancestral home of the High Elves. That means players will have an easier time cementing alliances. Playing as Teclis, however, poses a challenge. Enemies surround his settlements, forcing players to think and carefully plan their next move before committing. You’ll nd this repeated for all the other races. Each has a faction with a more comfortable starting position, making these Lords a good pick for players new to the series.
Players can now occupy every settlement available on the map. However, there are penalties for conquering lands foreign to the player’s race. Having the High Elves hold the Frozen Wastelands can incur debuffs such as 50% lower income from buildings and negative public orders. It helps to keep things fresh and engaging as players will have to decide between occupying, sacking, or razing a settlement.
Total War: Warhammer II’s campaign pacing feels entirely different from older titles. Here, it felt more like a race to complete the ritual, rather than seeing who owns more territory. Sure, holding more provinces can make one feel powerful, but it also means that players have more fronts to defend. Not only will other factions try to eat away at your income by raiding or sacking your settlements, but players will also have to consider the strategic locations to place their armies before starting a ritual. Of course, rituals are not the only way to win a campaign; players may simply go for a domination victory by controlling specic provinces and destroying the other factions.
The late-game portion of the campaign is one of the most exciting and challenging CA has ever made in the Total War series. As the hunt to acquire more way-fragments continues, players will go from ritual to ritual in order to win the campaign. However, every time a ritual starts, forces of Chaos will slip through to random places near your provinces, razing settlements unfortunate enough to be in their path.
At times, Chaos forces are not the only ones hellbent on destroying your lands either. Players and major factions may also pay a hefty amount of gold to send an army to interfere with the rituals. Even so, Chaos grows increasingly difficult to suppress over time, and when the nal battle arrives an epic ght for the vortex will ensue.
For any Total War fan, the game’s real gems are the large-scale battles. Armies ghting armies, hero against hero, as majestic beasts tear into one another in the background. The surrounding Warhammer scenery is also terri c. In the distance lie landmarks such as the vortex, the Tower of Hoeth, or even the Northern Great Jungle. Naturally, the visuals are an improvement compared to the previous title, and the character models are top-notch.
However, the maps themselves didn’t always impress. Battles that determine the fate of towns were only fought on open ground, while siege battles focused only on a single side of the wall. Players may see the city they’re ghting for but can never reach its boundaries.
Like the older titles, Total War: Warhammer II still suffers from inconsistent AI, declaring war on players only to demand peace a few turns later, without even attacking any player settlement. Better still, the AI was willing to spend money to end the wars they started.
Total War: Warhammer II is a fun sequel to the Warhammer spin-offs. With vast improvements from the previous title, this game offers countless replayability and ways to approach a campaign.