Is this the best Total War to date? Let’s take a look. If you have never played a turned based or real time strategy game now is the time to do it, this title is stellar. We are not going to break down the story in this review so there will be no spoilers! Instead we will focus on gameplay, mechanics, new features, and production. Being the second part of a trilogy following a big time hit, Creative Assembly clearly had their work cut out for them. Total War was first launched on June 13th 2000 with the first Warhammer version released on May 24th 2016. Creative assembly has the most experience developing gameas in this genre with over 17 years of experience. Who better to take on the task? First let’s walk through some of new features Creative Assembly added into Total War: Warhammer II.
The Great Vortex – One major feature they added is a faction common victory condition. You can play the game in drastically different styles then part 1. Winning the game can still be accomplished through a good old fashion map wide beat down but we like the new variation as well. The Vortex is the center of the story line and the victory condition, you are tasked with performing rituals to seal it which will eventually unlock the final battle. Performing rituals can be messy your main city becomes linked to the vortex for everyone to see, you will need to be prepared to defend it at all costs.
Exploration – A fun new way to earn gold, gain magic items, open bonus campaign scenarios, or even encounter hidden Skaven danger is exploring settlement ruins. You find these settlement ruins throughout the map “Proceed with caution!” Encounters can also be found in the ocean on islands or shipwrecks, ocean encounters offer different rewards then settlement ruins. Approach each encounter differently with new an all new interface panel providing choices for exploring the encounter. I am a fan on this addition sometimes in life you just need some good old fashion treasure hunting!
Rogue Forces – Randomness keeps the brain on duty! You will come across rogue armies roaming about throughout the map. Rogue armies can be difficult feats of strength to defeat and they pop up out of nowhere when you least expect it. Multiple races can band together to create rogue armies including the any playable race from part 1.
Performing Rites – Rites are amazing! You can earn a faction wide buffs which are very powerful and often game changing. Information about your races Rites can be found in the new interface panel accessed through the button the bottom right of the screen. Do not overlook these rites they are very important and you will need them to stay alive.
Chokepoints – It is what it is said to be a chokepoint. Chokepoints can be very annoying when attacking and more so favor the defender. Getting your army through an hourglass can be taxing so proceed with caution! You will find a new assortment of maps which include this feature.
Racial Abilities – Each race now has its own abilities which apply to you army’s in the battlefield. Passive, offensive, and defensive abilities can be activated during battle at the bottom right side of the interface. You will need to earn these abilities before you can use them each race has different requirements to achieve before attaining an ability.
Loyalty – Skaven and Dark Elf heroes now have a loyalty rating which can produce negative consequences if not dealt as soon as possible. Your army will uproot and rebel against your lord ultimately attacking your faction until defeated. Research skills, technologies, and avoid keeping your army idle for long periods of time.
New Trait System – You are what you eat right? Doing something over and over or spending a lot of time in one place can influence you to learning a trait. Lords can have multiple traits for example if you are in a zone with low public order for an extended time then you will soon learn the “strict” trait. Strict trait will eventually boost public order in any zone you are in you can level up the effectiveness of this trait by remaining in disorderly zones. I recommend researching which traits are best for your faction before you begin your campaign.
Storms – Severe weather patterns can be found throughout the ocean and sometimes on land. Avoid these storms or your forces will end up suffering attrition!
Ocean Hazards – Sailing through coral reef or shallow areas will also cause attrition if you pass over them. Proceed at your own risk!
Capture Any Settlement – Yes! I am so glad they changed this! Your army can now capture any type of building no matter which faction it belongs too. I remember the struggle in part 1 when playing the vampire campaign not being able to capture the dwarfs directly south of you. Occupying a settlement will now change the graphics of the settlement to something which better suits your faction.
The Small Things – Surprisingly sometimes just the small things can make a game so much greater! There are way too many to list but overall the gameplay is much smoother. Changes made to the user interface have made the campaigns flow better. Fighting battles is much more fun to watch due to the new level of visual detail and mechanical upgrades. They really improved every aspect of the game.
Total War: Warhammer II features 4 playable factions High Elfs, Dark Elfs, Lizardmen, and Skaven. Become captivated with the story lines of each faction through the very much upgraded cinematic cut scenes. They did a much better job adding a more fluent storyline allowing you to become fully immersed in the Warhammer universe. Much credit to the audio team the soundtrack is second to none keeping you on the edge of your seat and motivated for the next battle. Soundtracks change the mood as you face adversity or win major a battle setting the tone for your next move in your campaign for conquest. A note for you seasoned Total War Veterans if you own part 1 you will be able to play in a massive campaign which will includes both maps and every faction! Expect tons of DLC to be released within the next year enhancing the experience and replayability of this title, they did a phenomenal job with releasing fresh content in part 1. If you are new to Total War games expect to become highly addicted to this title, make sure you have plenty of time to dive deep into the campaigns.
It is our belief the level of improvements added into part 2 of this trilogy make this the BEST total War ever released. We are already looking forward to part 3!!! Below you will find some basic information from the insider’s guide about each faction which we hope will help you on your way to conquest!
High Elves – The austere High Elves are among the most ancient civilizations in the New World. Proud and compassionate in equal measure, they are peerless seafarers and mages with a rigorous martial tradition. The Great Vortex is their creation, roiling endlessly at the heart of their homeland of Ulthuan. It is the High Elves’ greatest weapon in a war against the forces of Chaos that they have been fighting for thousands of years, and they will stop at nothing to see it restored.
The High Elves specialize in defensive warfare, with rows of armored spearmen protecting skilled archers and powerful mages. Yet they are also the masters of the skies, calling upon the services of Great Eagles and Total War: Warhammer II’s most powerful dragons to strike with speed and ferocity.
Dark Elves – Striking from the bleak wastes of Naggaroth, the wicked and ambitious Dark Elves glory in murder and deceit. Slavers and reavers without compare, their cruelest ire is reserved for their hated cousins, the High Elves. The Vortex’s disruption has presented the Dark Elves with an opportunity to claim its power for themselves, and these remorseless warriors value power above all else. Dark Elves are vicious fighters that get access to armour-piercing and anti-infantry weaponry early on in the campaign; you should not expect to fight them without taking losses, and Dark Elf commanders should let nothing stand between them and the destruction of their foe. Kills are vitally important for triggering their crucial Murderous Prowess ability – a routing foe is likely to frustrate Dark Elves more than one that stands, fights, and dies.
Lizardmen – Despite their bestial appearance, the sage Lizardmen of Lustria are no barbarians. Though their civilization has since crumbled into ruin, these ancient cold-bloods predate even the Elves. They are the star-spawned children of the Old Ones, agents of the Great Plan whose tenets still drive them in the twilight years of their civilization. Enigmatic servants of order, their war against Chaos spans millennia. And though the Great Vortex is not their creation, the restoration of its warding spells is cause to rouse the Slann from their meditations and set the armies of Lustria on the march once again. In battle, Lizardmen rely primarily on infantry, beasts and magic – their cavalry options are relatively sparse and they have no traditional siege weapons, but they make up for this with creative use of Lustria’s deadliest creatures.
Skaven – Dismissed as myth by many of the civilized peoples of the Old World, the cunning Skaven are as tenacious and numerous as the sewer rats they resemble. The yawning hunger that drives the Skaven has also inspired in them an eccentric intelligence – these are no stalwart warriors, but their ambition, inventiveness and talent for subterfuge makes them uniquely capable of collapsing entire civilizations from within.
In-game, Skaven are a high-risk, high-reward faction with a unique way of approaching the campaign and a distinctive style of battle that combines expendable mobs of infantry with highly specialized elite units like Warp Lightning Cannons an Stormvermin.