After leaving Total War: Warhammer 2 until more factions had been included, I have finally come back to its pampering arms. I was ready to see the hours of my life drift away, muttering to myself those stupid words “one more turn”.
So, Warhammer 2 has been out for quite a while now but only in the last few months has anything really significant been added to titillate me to review the game. I guess this begs the questions; what has been added to make it worthwhile to review now?
Well so far this year we’ve had the Laboratory The Tomb Kings, finally, and most recently we had the Norsca added (from Warhammer 1), along with some new Lords to the roster. These additions have made a very nice change to the usual churn of races who all acted the same way every game. Change can be good.
The Tomb Kings act in a similar, yet more powerful, way to the Skaven. They’re fairly weak but can conjure entire armies almost instantly, creating a plague of combatants. The roster is fun to play around with and seeing the effect they have on other factions is always interesting. In true Tomb King style, the Egyptian influence is magnanimous and achieves a more unique playthrough than the rosters we’ve been left to play with before.
Instead of wolves and the such, we now have the Anubis warriors, and instead of giants they have the Hierotitan. Seeing the latter gravitate towards an army swinging a pair of scales is certainly symbolic of the culture the faction is inspired form.
While the Tomb kings are generally weak with their traditional grunts, the cost to raise armies is incredibly minimal and the big lads pack a punch. So what at first feels like a quest to constantly build throwaway armies, soon becomes a campaign of quick erosion of enemy fortifications.
The other faction added were the Norsca, brought back from the first game. This faction is another set of Chaos warriors. Those familiar with the game will have an idea of what this race could potentially inflict upon the world.
The units, like the Tomb Kings, brings a fresh perspective to the campaign. Made up of mammoths, giants and werewolf type opponents the Norsca are a force to be cautious around. With the passive ability of spreading corruption across the lands players who choose this faction should be cautioned that this will result in upsetting a lot of other factions.
Unfortunately the Norsca are only available to play as in the Grand Campaign. This means players are limited to playing a long winded campaign instead of a more versatile one.
Factions which Rule them All
One of the big let downs of the game is that each playthrough of the Grand Campaign can be summarised with three races being complete dickbags. Of course I’m referring to the Dwarves, Chaos and High Eves.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a few powerful factions, you get them in all games, but it is a problem if you want to try out more than one race. At the time of writing this review I’ve completed several campaigns, each using a different faction.
Every…single…time it basically becomes a brawl against one or more of these factions. They don’t even take long to become an adequate adversary. And when they do, all those random, colourful factions that you could have encountered are wiped out. This becomes particularly more annoying the more campaigns you undertake as you’ll find yourself using the same strategies over and over, as they work. Lord, how do you manage to make a replayable game boring?
The Laboratory is a nifty little feature. It lets players compete in a battle with a wide range of options to alter the game. These can be changing the sizes of units to the power of gravity. The Laboratory was included as a sort of experiment, rather fittingly. It helps show players where the future of the game can lead when computers become more powerful. In its favour, being able to see colossal sized units hurl smaller ones into the air and to see them rain down slowly conjures up worrying pleasure I found.
Tactics vs Raw Aggression
The combat in Warhammer 2 plays out like any other Total War game. That is, strategy is good but overwhelming forces work out just as well. This is good and bad depending on the sort of player you are. This is particularly evident by The Laboratory mode where you can test tactics. By withdrawing the dependency of using tactics allows novices to come in and have a chance to win. This simultaneously allows the more dynamic players to use less resources and conquer a country.
This idea of baby’s first RTS, while working on the most part and especially in battle, becomes a problem when moving onto diplomacy.
In my oh so humble opinion, one of the few major detriments to the Total War series it through it’s beige diplomacy. It plays like one of those “for Dummies” books. Everything of interest is stripped down to its bare minimum so the player alludes to a notion of free will.
It fails in Warhammer 2 for the same reason it fails in every other Total War game; you can’t get past racism. If a faction despises you, no matter what you do they’ll probably always hate you. I’ve helped rise empires out of the dirt from whence they left, brought them back to life. You’d think this level of benevolence would secure at least a little respect. Nope. You’re a different race and we aren’t mates in the lore so fuck you, to war we go again.
Simplicity vs Difficulty
The disregard for a more complex diplomacy system is certainly a missed opportunity. Not only on an entertainment level but also on a business level. I mean, there are zealots who adore the Paradox games. Games where you’re needed to inhale LSD to make the spreadsheets, that are their games’ diplomacy, to make sense. People love and hate those games cause of this complexity. So why not grab the market by the balls and make a simpler system? One that isn’t so simple that it’s reduced to different skin colours meaning bad.
As I said earlier, the three OP nations always require a culling if you’re wanting to succeed. A lot of the time that means you’ll need help. And it doesn’t matter how arrogant you are, help is always a nice thing. The issue is that with a lot of the races they’ll bend the knee to at least one of the OP nations no matter how detrimental it is to their health. This creates an atmosphere banality, like a balloon slowly letting out air.
Total War: Warhammer 2 is a really fun game if the more basic RTS is your type of thing. There are a lot of issues with the game. These predominantly show with AI and how the Dwarves and High Elves seem to be the main opponents for any playthrough.
There are mods, thankfully. These help deal with the AI issue but as of yet there’s still nothing which radically transforms how the campaign usually turns out. Hopefully with some future updates or factions this could change for the better. It’s still an enjoyable game which has sucked more hours of my life than I’d care to know. However, it’s definitely worth looking into the mods available to have a more unique experience.