While their science-fiction comrades have been playing Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War for over a decade, the gaming options for fans of Games Workshops’ Warhammer Fantasy universe have been comparatively slim. Even counting the recently-released Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide, it’s been years since anyone really tried to tackle the scale that comes with the grim and bloodthirsty franchise. However, The Creative Assembly are just the developer to break that ground. Their flagship series is leaving the annals of history behind and set to embracing the rich Warhammer lore with Total War: Warhammer.
We were lucky enough to sit down and spend some time with the game at PAX Australia 2015 and came away really impressed and excited with how it’s shaping up.
The battle we played through saw us lead a Dwarven army to war against a greenskin incursion. It was a fairly isolated scenario but it gave us a good intro to the feel and rhythm of the game’s battle sequences. As a newcomer to the Total War series, I admit I did struggle to pick up some of the nuances of the combat here. That said, I did find it much more approachable than previous installments of the series.
Something that struck us here about the game is the absolutely jaw-dropping level of detail units possessed. I could zoom in and see an impressive level of variation among my dwarf warriors – and this even extended to the animation of the character models. Even after only a little bit of time with the game it was very clear that the Total War engine is a perfect fit for Warhammer’s specific brand of dark fantasy and one that finally offers players the chance to really experience the scale of the franchise without shelling out thousands of dollars on miniatures.
However, a part of the Warhammer experience that Total War: Warhammer won’t offer fans is that of customizing your armies. While this feature was a staple of Relic’s Dawn of War series, we were told it’s something that The Creative Assembly are looking to implement later down the line – potentially as a patch or DLC. Other downloadable content will include new battlefields and races. The latter is particularly important for fans to consider as Total War: Warhammer will only feature five races at launch – Dwarves, Humans, High Elves, Greenskins & Vampire Counts – with others set to be added through later expansions.
As a long-time fan of both fantasy strategy games and Warhammer Fantasy, Total War: Warhammer is shaping up to be one of my most-wanted games of 2016. From what we played, the game revels in its sense of scale and the presentation is positively dripping with the rich overwritten fiction that Warhammer fans know and love. It feels like there hasn’t been a truly great fantasy strategy game since Warcraft 3, but there’s a lot of potential here.
Total War: Warhammer is set to release for PC on April 28th 2016.