Total War: WARHAMMER II review by FreddyFish
Total War: WARHAMMER II review by FreddyFish
The short review, for people that are not into reading:
This game is amazing! If you liked the first game, then you will definitely like this one as well! And yes, this game is worth every single penny.
And now for the review!
All 4 of the new races are a joy to play and feel both varied and faithful to the lore through their army rosters and the unique mechanics each enjoys on the campaign map. It feels like CA(Creative Assembly) spent a lot of time thinking about how to make playing as each race feel fresh and different, even when choosing between the 2 Elven races.
The New World is a beautiful map that feels a lot more varied than the Old World. It's split across the 4 continents of Lustria, Naggaroth, Ulthuuan, and the Southlands and features a range of climates - with each race having their preferred climates and those they're not fond of (which incur penalties for colonizing and possibly attrition for any armies you send there). The introduction of the Climate system is a smart replacement for how races in the first game simply could or couldn't settle whole chunks of the map - opening up the option to settle anywhere if you believe the benefits outweigh the penalties.
Eye of the Vortex Campaign
The premise of the campaign is straightforward: the 4 races are all competing for control of the vortex at the heart of Ulthuuan by each collecting a resource (called something different for each race) to power a series of 5 rituals. Straightforward, but incredibly effective.
Not only does the framing of the 5 rituals allow CA to inject more story into the game than its' predecessor, with beautiful cutscenes coming after the successful completion of every ritual to flesh out the 'why' and the 'what' of what you're doing, but it also manages to successfully mitigate the 'late-game steamroll' that so many strategy games have a tendency to run into:
Whenever you, or an enemy, begins a ritual three of your settlements are designated as ritual sites - and everyone else is going to know about it. Not only will this instantly attract the forces of Chaos (who are drawn to the energy at your settlements and will spawn at random locations around your territory) but the other races may try and halt your progress by sending their forces to one of your ritual sites or spending gold to instantly spawn 'Intervention Armies' by them. For 10 turns you'll have to defend these sites, and if you fail than the ritual fails and you'll have to start again.
Eye of the Vortex forces you to play a defensive game throughout, as much as an expansionist one, and it makes for a far more interesting campaign. What really maintains the suspense into the late game, however, is the increasing pace: with every successive ritual greater forces of Chaos are sent against you, and the other races will work harder to stop you whilst diplomacy becomes harder and harder with them for each ritual you complete - until eventually, by the end of the 4th ritual, you're forced into war with all 3 of them. This culminates in the desperate race to finish the 5th and final ritual which pits you against wave after wave of Chaos, while the other races throw everything they have at you in a desparate last stand. It's fantastic fun, all the way through, and without spoiling anything for you the final quest battle is nothing short of epic.
Sprinkle in unique quest battles along the way for each Legendary Lord (which reward you with their legendary weapons/armor) and this is not just a more focused, story-driven campaign than the Old World but the best campaign Creative Assembly has ever produced.
Not a lot to say except it feels even more polished and refined than Warhammer I. Units on the battlefield and details on the campaign map look that bit better, while framerates seem to have improved on the same settings - all in all, a good showing from CA (Creative Assembly).
What Needs Adjusting
Lack of Battle Formations
Same issue I had with the Warhammer 1 really, which is that there are still only 2 very basic pre-defined formations on the UI bar (Melee Front and Missile Front) while older TW games, like Rome II, featured a wide variety for all manner of situations. It's a very small gripe but it forces you to put your troops into formations manually most of the time, which takes longer, and although the Steam Workshop will probably go on to provide mods addressing this it would've been nice to see CA include a few more in the vanilla game.
With regards to diplomacy the AI still makes some baffling decisions, and trying to predict if it will or won't respond appropriately to your diplomatic advances can be a guessing game. Equally, the behavior of Intervention Armies needs looking at to make them more reliable as they’ll often just sit there doing nothing.
Still, AI behavior is a recuring issue in most 4X strategy games and the AI in Warhammer II is still better than most while managing an awful lot of factions. Otherwise this IS still the best Total War's AI has ever been at building its' settlements and forces on the campaign map and playing strategically in battle - and that's something.
A fantastic sequel that refines and improves on the winning formula of Total War: Warhammer in almost every way, delves deeper into the rich world of its' source material and is only held back from perfection by the weight of its' grand ambitions:
9/10 - This game is worth buying!
Keep in mind, I started writing this review a few days ago. Something might have changed, so please keep up to date with the changelogs.
I really enjoyed making this review, and I have put a lot of work into this, so...!
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