Total War: Warhammer is out after being delayed. I am a big Warhammer 40k fan, and have some knowledge of Warhammer Fantasy. I actually have a 750 pt Space Wolf, and 750 pt Ok Army, not huge but still decent. What I don’t know is Total War, I have never played any of the series before. So this review will be in the eyes of a novice, so you veteran players will probably not have the same issues I have. That being said I do not have much to say, because I have no background knowledge. I was thinking this would be a game similar to Civilization, but it is not. It more in-depth in some areas and less in other areas.
(Here is a gallery link for all picture in the article: http://imgur.com/a/vudsG)
Let’s start with game settings as people seem to like to see what options the game developers give us. The options are pretty standard plus a few extra for a game, it does support 21:9 monitors which I will always say is progress into making it a standard for games as much as 16:9. The Gamma setting (not pictured) was really poorly implemented as a slider with percentages, and no grey on black image to gauge whether you in the ballpark for your gamma setting. The audio setting support “stereo headphones”, instead of just “stereo”. I was unable hear any differences on my Astro A40’s. I used my wife's computer again, I feel as though a GTX 980 is closer to what most people are using than a GTX 980 Ti. You will not max the settings on a GTX 980. The "not enough VRAM" issue will come back, as it did in DOOM. Though once I did turn down some settings I did notice a steady ~50 FPS on 3440x1440, so anyone playing on 2560x1440, will see a full 60fps.
Starting a game you are greeted with five factions, The Empire whom are mostly humans, The Dwarfs, The Greenskins whom are Orcs, The Vampire Count, and Warriors of Chaos who serve the Chaos Gods and are various races. Each of these races have their own unique lore and special abilities. You can also choose Victory Objectives, which there are two options: short or long. The short objective is your baseline and the long objective furthers this list. I chose dwarfs because of beards and beer. After you select your faction, you must select a leader to play as, each faction has two leaders except chaos which has three. These leaders have their own special abilities and starting units. A veteran player will know how to min-max these to get the best play through. It does give you some, but still very limited, flexibility in your play style. You can also choose a difficulty here.
The graphics were, I would say, average or even just below average. Though I would quickly come to realize that this was not due to Creative Assembly not trying, but simply because they go for quantity over quality. There are so many units on the map during a battle that you can’t possibly have top end graphics and expect them to also have that large size of the armies. This is actually a big aspect of Warhammer Fantasy, large scale armies. In fact the army you see above is the starter army that is rather small compared to the armies you will quickly build. I will give them a pass on the graphic quality while in game, but their cut scenes need some work. Though maybe one day we will see our computers be able to handle large scale battles and have breathtaking graphics, today is not that day. That said I really think Creative Assembly tried their best to balance the two objectives, large armies and good graphics.
The graphics are good quality but the tutorial is complete and utter crap. They teach you the basic on how to attack and move in the overworld, but how to siege, placement of troops etc etc it wants you to use this in-game browser to look it up. First requiring on-line connection to see a tutorial is a huge no-no. I have no idea what they were thinking doing this, it is a poor choice. The second issue is that it never loads and gave me a black screen, or it gave me a error stating that it couldn’t connect. This was just in shambles and completely unnecessary, would have been better to put the darn tutorial on the hard drive. Once it does work it gives you some data and it is semi-useful, though I only got 2 pages to actually work and neither one contained how-to-play information. Get used to reading an online tutorial that are always down. Even then good luck spending time reading about the subject instead of actually doing it
“Now that the page is loaded it says the my Pickmen can be placed anywhere not on the enemy starting position, so that's why they are over there dying.”
Combat consists of four parts, engaging, fighting, resolving, leveling. You must first march and confront an enemy army, once there you will decide on three options Fight, Auto-Resolve, and Retreat. Fight is where you manually control your army and fight, this takes longer but if you know what you are doing you can pull of some extraordinary feats. Next is Auto-Resolve, this is where the computer automatically tallies up your armies and spouts out who wins. There is a red and yellow bar above your options that shows each armies strength, if you are in the middle to three-quarters mark I would say fight manually, if more than that you can auto-resolve with safety. Finally is retreat, which is to retreat.
Second step is to fight if you choose not to auto-resolve or retreat, you start off deciding how you want to position your army, and begin the battle. You must remember to flank your enemies and have forces ready to catch retreating forces to annihilate them from recovering.
Next is the resolving, if you are attacking another option that you can release your prisoners which will give you a bit of gold and make your enemies not hate you as much. The other is to carry out the orders and get more leadership for a few turns. If you are attacking a city you can occupy it adding it to your empire. Loot and occupy, take the city and raid some coin at the expense of the city hating you more for a time. Loot, where you don’t capture the city but you make some gold. The last option is to raze the city, and that destroys the city forever. The last option comes in use when you have a city that you and an enemy are continuously fighting over and you just want to end it with a nuclear strike.
Finally you can level your characters, adding unique abilities to them and improving upon their skills/leadership/empire benefits. This is useful and allows you again to improve in areas you might be struggling in.
The overworld also has 3 major options. Building cities that give you benefits like better soldiers, improved gold flow, improved citizen “happiness” and improved defenses. You also have technology research which again does improves your troops or your economy/growth/cities. Then there is your objectives book. The dwarves call it the book of grudges. It basically gives you mission objectives to compete like wiping out X army, or taking over Y town.
“I’m exhausted after just reading your review”
There are many many more aspects to this game, but this is the longest review I have done yet and your attention is probably starting to wander. The game is good, it has lots of gameplay and is very in-depth. If they fixed the tutorial/help guide it would be much better for new players, as it stands I feel like new players will be detoured into misunderstanding and having a harder time than they should.
It’s hard to do a review on a game after being spoiled by DOOM, but I don’t recommend this game for everyone. It’s very meticulous there is no “oops go back” button even in the overworld. Once it's done it is done. It can be daunting doing your first siege without a tutorial to help. If you like paying attention to detail and controlling large armies while making your citizens happy, you will like this game. For everyone else, wait for it to drop down to a comfortable price or the bugs are worked out, play it on a easier setting and just have fun with it.
Otherwise you will be putting your head on the desk when you accidentally click the wrong spot on a map and your forces move away from a city allowing a orc army to capture it. That being said even though I struggled with the game, I started playing 10pm, and looked up to realize it was 1am. It has the Civilization feeling of “Just one more turn”.