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Total War: Warhammer's campaign map focuses on faction asymmetry

Hayden Dingman | Dec. 4, 2015
We took the Greenskins to WAAAGH.

Each Greenskin army also has a “Fightiness” rating that constantly decreases when not in battle or in Raiding Stance. Too low and your troops will start killing each other off. Get it high enough though and you’ll trigger a “WAAAGH!”—in Total Warhammer represented as a second, AI-controlled army that shadows your actual army and backs you up in battle.

It’s a faction designed for long, drawn-out military campaigns. Diplomacy is decidedly limited. Civil services are crude. But war, that’s a thing the Greenskins understand. Even their tech tree is military-centric, with Goblins slapping together research upgrades like ‘Eavy Clubs and Big Wheels.

The other factions? None of this applies.

Humans, for instance, play “more like a standard Total War faction,” according to Creative Assembly. Greenskins get most of their money from armies in Raiding Stance. Humans have a normal economy with taxation. Greenskin research focuses primarily on military matters. Humans have a tech tree that unlocks as you create more buildings.

And dwarfs, they have two tech trees—one for civil and one for military matters.

Total War: Warhammer

Also interesting: Cities are now faction-specific. “Humans would never occupy an orc city,” I was told by Creative Assembly—which is probably true, because orc cities are filthy. When humans conquer a Greenskin city, they have to raze it.

But when Greenskins conquer and occupy a Dwarf city, for instance, they make it their own. Literally. The campaign map now updates the art for each city, so a Dwarf hall high in the mountains might suddenly sprout Greenskin banners and scratched-out runes and rickety wooden contraptions to show who’s in control.

It’s a nice touch, though I’m worried that faction-specific cities mean a less modular map and, thus, less of the traditional Total War sandbox feel. Put that in the “Unknown” column until we get some real hands-on time with the game.

I mostly like what I’ve seen though, including the way the “story” is handled. Factions are led by Legendary Lords, which function sort of like hero units. They can take part in battles and level up, at which point they can either spend points on skills or on unique quest chains—recruit this unit, go to this place, et cetera. Quests then culminate in a massive one-off battle, like the Battle of Black Fire Pass I saw in my earlier demo. Win, and your hero gets to equip a new lore-related item.

Total War: Warhammer

Given I’m not a huge Warhammer fan, I don’t really care about these quests from a Warhammer lore perspective. It’s an interesting experiment for Total War though—and, again, I think some experimentation is something the series sorely needs.

 

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