Total War: Warhammer 2
I picked up TW:W2 off of a recent Steam sale a few weeks ago. I've never played the series at all despite having a buddy badgering about how good Shogun 2 was years ago. I have to say I'm very impressed. Combining Diplomacy, Real-Time Strategy, and just Tactics to take over the world in Mortal Empires has been such a great great time.
I'll say the game is very intimidating if you are a new player. There's just plain a lot to learn in regards to race relations, diplomacy and trade(even trade routes), not to mention just how many goddamn little control nuances there can be with the keyboard and mouse. I must have started the Vampire Count Mortal Empires campaign over at least 3 times, realizing how many mistakes I was making by not building certain buildings in specific parts of the map. It's just a ton to take in. I'm currently in the middle of a Vampire campaign and am having a blast discovering how differently they play compared to the High Elves.
Graphics are incredible, the game looks fantastic and having a horde of zombies shambling towards a group of elves while they are slowly dieing off to arrow shots but unable to hold back the impending tide feels like watching a movie sometimes. Then to have a pack of Direwolves or Blood Knights flanking and just running through a group looks so impressive with the bodies flying around everywhere. Animations and npc models for both normal units and GIANT monster units all look great considering the scale of these fights. And the scale it's what is so impressive.
Fighting off thousands of Skaven(rat men) as a vampire while you are casting spells on the battlefield and raising the dead right behind enemy lines can be so exhilarating considering how quickly the tide of battle can shift. Your basic tactic for most battles is have a good box and engage your enemy while moving another group for flanking. Though, that strategy works better with Elves and Dwarves as they have bows and guns, where as the Vampire counts have no ranged combat but can send giant bats to keep ranged units busy until you can move your shambling horde. It's easy to have a plan fall to shit in the middle of a fight though and trying to panic recover can be very pulse pounding.
The sound of thousands of units fighting is way better than I expected and sounds like it should. Music could be more memorable, but it's fine in the "not-in-your-face" kind of way.
The map is HUGE. There's so much territory to conquer and potential new trade allies all over. On top of Chaos Armies random spawning and Vampiric/Skaven corruption potentially weakening your lands over time as well. There's a lot to do. If you can make your armies strong and big enough with enough WarLords around, you can confederate other territories, gaining ALL their property and responsibilities without actually having to have a fight, so paying attention to diplomacy can have a huge impact if you know how to use it effectively. I find myself going into a new territory, trying and hopefully making peace with a few of the border nations and focus my attention on one or two nations, slowly spreading corruption as a vampire and spreading across the lands like I'm Covid-19. The game scratches an itch that just makes you want to do "one more turn" before bed and then it's 5 a.m. You want to see how other nations will respond to what you've done. It's very addicting.
ControlsThis is still the biggest point of contention for me. The controls in this game are something else. It's a lot like ARMA in that aspect in which there's a ton of nuance to how you can form your army, how you can form them up(even locking in formations), how you can assign waypoints or draw out lines for them to follow, how to shift them while holding the left ALT key. There's just plain a lot of control that it's super confusing at first learning things. Left clicks while holding shift, control, or ALT all do different things, right click on the mouse along with those same modifiers do other things too. You can have your army run or walk(and that matters too as they can show up to a fight tired) There's just so much and even after 60 hours in a few weeks, I still don't fully understand the controls. Though I am learning pretty well. The controls seem really great, there's just SOOOOOOOO much shit to learn, on top of remembering which units are more effective against others and the best way to form your army in a fight based off of what your army consists of. There can be a ton to it.
I can't believe how deeply I've fallen into this game. It's crazy fun and I haven't even finished it. 60 hours in and I feel like I kind of know a decent amount about The Vampire Count, High Elves, and Dwarf factions, but that's nothing considering there's still like 4 more races I've yet to fight, along with 20+ more WarLords to discover. My Dad came over and we had a few drinks and started a Dwarf campaign and played for almost 5 hours straight. We haven't done that in a long time. I've never played a Table Top RPG, but this feels like a modern take on what I'd expect those things to feel like. I can't wait to restart and pick a new race and starting location and just see how it all plays out. I feel like this game has a ton of replay value. I've still yet to finish the Eye of Vortex campaign as I've been addicted to trying world domination as a Vampire Count in Mortal Empire.
Speaking of which, this game has some funky DLC. To get the "Mortal Empires" campaign, which essentially is a "take over the world" mode, you have to have Total War: Warhammer 1. When i bought TW:WH2 a good number of people online said that buying the first game was important for access to "Mortal Empires" in Warhammer 2 as you'll get a bunch of the base races from that game to play as well, and I really wanted the Vampire Counts as I was in the Halloween mood at the time. Half the DLC on Steam is free, the other half is payed, I've yet to pay for ANY of the DLC unless you count just buying the first game. Which tbf, you probably should as Mortal Empires is so goddamn fun. I'm looking forward to picking up Tomb Kings, Norsca, Vampire Coast and a few more minor ones the next time they go on a sale. You can fight ALL the races in the game, but you can only PLAY as the ones which you own, and between Warhammer 1 and Warhammer 2 base games, there's still a lot on offer, Skaves, Lizardmen, Greenskins, High Elves, Empire, Brettonia, etc.
Overall, I'm extremely impressed with this game. It ALMOST makes me want to go and check the other Total Wars, I got Troy on Epic when it was free, still yet to play it. And I know I own Shogun 2, but from what I've read, people have said because of the Warhammer license that Creative Assembly has a lot more room to make more unique classes and units because they aren't limited by real-world limitations. I got to say, they've nailed this game and I see myself spending a lot of time playing it. Hell, I could see my Dad and I playing this shit together for years to be honest. He's a huge fantasy nerd and this game is right up his alley. Not to mention the HUGE amount of mods that can make minor or major changes to the game and with integrated Steam Workshop, it's been pretty easy to mod and I've yet to have issues. Really thankful for mod support as it'll extend the life of the game indefinitely.
I really hope we get news of a Total War: Warhammer 3 soon, as it now has my eye going forward. And if you have a casual passing interest in strategy games like I do, then maybe check it out if it's on sale, if you are willing to put some effort into learning all the nuances of the game you could be in for something very rewarding. Or if you haven't played Mortal Empires in a long time, maybe give it another go, apparently it got some pretty significant updates in 2019.
All pics were random googles as I've been too busy playing the game and forget to take pictures while playing.