It seemed like a dream that could never happen, a wish that would never come true. And yet, the impossible has happened; Creative Assembly is bringing Warhammer Fantasy to Total War.
After a long series of mysterious photos and an art book leak, we now have a cinematic trailer to provide some clarity to the situation. It shows a small glimpse into the factions present including Orks, Chaos, the undead (Sylvania), Dwarfs and the kingdoms of man. Skaven, Goblins, and most notably Elves were missing from the trailer, but considering the numerous factions CA has included in previous Total War titles, it is unlikely they will be ignored.
The tabletop time-line is set around The End Times, wherein numerous factions are readying for a final battle for domination. It is not clear if this is when the game itself will be set despite the dire tone of the trailer, but Warhammer is always dire; suitably so in a timeline where humanity invented antidepressants before fire. Magic and airborne creatures feature heavily in the trailer, and CA has yet to comment on how these units will be implemented as neither have been attempted in Total War before. The ominous tag ‘Our Rules Have Changed’ at the end of the video seems to apply more to CA than the setting itself.
After the sad fall of THQ (the primary holder of the Warhammer license), Games Workshop’s presence in video games has been under threat. The excellent Dawn of War series proved that in the right hands, the 40k setting could be used to create something special. However, fantasy Warhammer was left sitting quietly in the corner, waiting for its day. THQ auctioned off its licences to numerous companies, with Sega emerging as the dominant buyer. It was only a matter of time until Creative Assembly, one of Sega’s core developers prepared to take on the precarious role of relaunching big-budget Warhammer title. This is not Warhammer Fantasy’s first rodeo in strategy games, however; Warhammer Mark of Chaos previously attempted to mimic the Total War formula, but to mixed success.
Recently the developers invited a selection of press to see the progress the project has made, unveiling the battle of BlackFire Pass. A short demo was presented, demonstrating the overhauled animations and scale that the game is hoping to achieve. In it the outnumbered Empire lead by leader Karl Franz battles the Orc armies in an apocalyptic setting. The Orc army similarly has an infamous leader, one Grimgor Ironhide. War machines, shamans and wizards all are in attendance, using devastating magic to demolish entire units. Interestingly, the army that wins the battle will gain access to unique upgrades. Karl Franz upon gaining victory will be able to wield the hammer of Sigmar, likely increasing his power on the field.
One CA developer Ian Roxburgh was quoted referencing the increased scale of animation for units; “The sheer amount of animations is huge—even down to the amount of different skeletons, 30 types as opposed to 5 or 6 in previous total war games.”
It is believed that CA may be upgrading their TW3 engine from 32 bit to 64 bit, which would allow for a greater number of animations and unit detail. Rumors of the change has gained movement after CA was mentioned to have said that new technology has been implemented that increases unit numbers to much higher than was seen in previous entries. It is also claimed that this will come at a limited performance hit, although after the disastrous launch of Total War: Rome 2 this may fall under some justified skepticism.
Hero units will be used similarly to agents in other Total War titles, but once added to an army will appear on the battlefield as a morale boosting powerhouse. Similar Total War features such as diplomacy and trade will also be included but with drastic differences for each faction. The Orc’s most notably will be heavily penalized for peace, instead encouraged to maintain a constant series of wars for enhanced bonuses. CA is clearly putting great attention to the series lore in order to appease hard-core fans of the tabletop experience.
So far other factions such as the Undead or Dwarf armies haven’t had much focus, but a large number of minor races will be included. The limited number of factions to choose from may be offset by the inclusion of a number of species included various areas of the map. The Chaos faction in particular has received little information, despite their significance in the setting and initial trailer. It is unlikely they will not be included in the full game, but they may act as a non-playable faction that menaces all the Empires during a campaign. More information is likely to show during PC portion of E3.
If you can’t wait for the game to come out, the excellent Call Of Warhammer mod for Medieval 2: Total War is available. It includes all major factions and features of the setting with enormous success, barring a few hugely overpowered units.
It’s an exciting time to be a Warhammer fan. Praise Sigmar!