Make war not love

To­tal War: Warham­mer II

HWM (Singapore) - - TEST - By Ade Pu­tra (GameAxis)

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.

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