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Total War: Rome II Beasts of War DLC introduces throwing bees, snakes, scorpions

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Total War: Rome II Beasts of War DLC introduces throwing bees, snakes, scorpions

I can never quite muster the necessary enthusiasm for giant robots sometimes required for PC gaming, and for that I blame Beast Wars: Transformers - the Canadian CGI spinoff that I watched after school in the ‘90s. In that, the robots became birds and bears, and so Optimus Prime became Optimus Primal, y’see? Very clever stuff.

This is not a tie-in to that - though you can’t rule such things out while Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior exists. Rather, it’s an only marginally less ridiculous unit pack that brings ranged scorpion hurling to Total War: Rome II.

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A new way to be trampled: Total War: Rome II updated with geographically accurate elephants

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A new way to be trampled: Total War: Rome II updated with geographically accurate elephants

As Maximus Cannus Fodderus looked up at the Saharan sun for the final time, he sighed. The ears weren’t right. They were much too small - and the animal’s reared back was convex, rather than dipped, as it should have been. The leg that came down on his chest was long and lean, not stocky and thickset. 

He was going to die - and it wasn’t even the right sort of bloody elephant.

In recognition of Rome II’s wide geographical scope and its well-educated generals, Creative Assembly have introduced a new African elephant model to the game.

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Total War: Rome 2 modding is a go with the release of the Assembly Kit

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Total War: Rome 2 modding is a go with the release of the Assembly Kit

Who would win in a fight, the Romans or the Zerg? Till now it’s only been a fight in the cinema of the mind. Now it can be in the cinema of the... can a mouse click be a cinema? I’m thoroughly confused on that front. Let’s just say if the finger were a projector and the mouse button were a screen then the distance in between is... Creative Assembly have released mod tools for Rome 2!

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Close-up combat: Rome II: Caesar in Gaul DLC out now

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Close-up combat: Rome II: Caesar in Gaul DLC out now

There’s a bit in the trailer for Rome II’s new campaign DLC where the camera swoops low above the trees, like one of Peter Jackson’s helicopters might. As it speeds along the coast, the view quickly begins to lift and - oh Christ, it’s the map. It’s the new strategic map. This game is gorgeous.

It’s a map that takes in future France, rather than the entirety of Europe and its environs - and that narrower, deeper perspective is reflected throughout Creative Assembly’s approach to Caesar's Got Gall. Which is out, by the way.

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Come Caesar these screenshots of Total War: Rome II's Gallic campaign

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Come Caesar these screenshots of Total War: Rome II's Gallic campaign

The draw of Creative Assembly’s newly announced Caesar in Gaul campaign is that it’s a small-scale affair - the business of one country over less than a decade. But the veteran Total War developers know better than to extend that approach to the battlefields themselves, which are crammed full of thousands of woad warriors and men in sandals. Check them out.

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Creative Assembly field Total War: Rome II's first standalone expansion pack: Caesar in Gaul

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Creative Assembly field Total War: Rome II's first standalone expansion pack: Caesar in Gaul

When in Rome, goes the saying. That is, one should work to accept and enjoy others’ norms when in their homes. It’s espoused as a universally-applicable idea, but it turns out the Romans didn’t employ the same logic elsewhere. When in Gaul, for instance, Caesar thought it perfectly reasonable to wage war in the name of profit, the support of Rome’s public, and the ire of its senators.

I suppose we can mull over the hypocrisy of the budding dictator while we conduct his armies and raze future France to the ground. Caesar’s campaign is to be the subject of Rome II’s first expansion pack.

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Total War: Rome II coming to SteamOS "early next year", Steam Controller support to follow

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Total War: Rome II coming to SteamOS "early next year", Steam Controller support to follow

This time last month, Total War brand director Rob Bartholomew told us that he was “confident" that Creative Assembly could pull together a SteamOS port for Rome II. Last night he upgraded his studio’s readiness level to DEFCON “very confident", and issued a note to Valve’s OS team instructing them to make the news public knowledge.

There will be a version of Rome II on SteamOS - and it’ll likely be ready before most of the Steam Machines are.

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Creative Assembly on patching Rome II: "We’re achieving in weeks what, on previous projects, took months"

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Creative Assembly on patching Rome II: "We’re achieving in weeks what, on previous projects, took months"

Total War: Rome II is getting better - and not even ‘buy in the Steam Christmas Sale’ better. If the patch notes of the recent flurry of weekly updates are anything to go by, it’s already significantly closer to being the game players had hoped it would be.

Tomorrow’s patch will bring new, free DLC to the game and Creative Assembly’s “next major step towards mod support". Beyond that, the Total War series will enjoy a path of post-release betterment it never has before.

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Total War: Rome II "not difficult at all" to adapt for Steam Controller; "We could get something within an hour"

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Total War: Rome II "not difficult at all" to adapt for Steam Controller; "We could get something within an hour"

Our Tim had a big old chat with Creative Assembly brand director Rob Bartholomew the other day. It transpires the Total War developers have already pointed a portion of their units at Valve’s new Steam Controller, and found it an easy fit for their flavour of sweeping battle management and omnipotent continent-drifting.

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Total War: Rome 2 would have hit No.1 if digital counted

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Total War: Rome 2 would have hit No.1 if digital counted

Digital sales don’t count when it comes to the weekly games sales charts; that No.1 spot is dictated entirely by retail. Considering the increasing levels of PC games that are purchased on systems like Steam and Origin, each year the PC charts tell a blurrier picture. It has been revealed that Rome 2 would have hit the big No.1 spot in the UK’s chart if digital sales had been counted. 

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Creative Assembly will patch Total War: Rome II weekly "till the problems are gone"

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Creative Assembly will patch Total War: Rome II weekly "till the problems are gone"

When our Fraser played Total War: Rome II for review, he found it plodding in pace, anaemic of AI, “more Varro than Caesar". But he was at least lucky enough not to be one of the 2% reporting in-game technical problems to Creative Assembly. Rome II, by some accounts, is running very poorly indeed.

Creative director Mike Simpson has taken to the Total War forums to make clear that 2% is “2% too many" - and that while CA’s code team works to quash every last bug, the design department are already looking to “add further options and rebalance aspects of the game".

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Total War: Rome 2 patch ready to march in

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Total War: Rome 2 patch ready to march in

The Creative Assembly have made ready the first of a trio of patches that will address issues that Total War: Rome 2 players have discovered in the days since launch. The first patch, which is available right now, deals with technical hitches that “2% of Rome 2 players reported". 

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Total War: Rome II PC Review

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Total War: Rome II PC Review

The first time I saw Creative Assembly’s first foray into antiquity was not in a magazine or in a trailer, it was on the BBC show Time Commanders. The beeb were using Rome’s engine to craft historical battles for contestants to participate in, and the vast conflicts were shown in all their glory on a huge screen. It blew my tiny mind. Countless, detailed soldiers slaughtering each other amid the din of swords and spears bouncing off shields. I fell instantly in love.

Almost a decade later, playing Total War Rome II, I can feel that same shiver run down my spine as I send 5000 battlehardened Romans over the wooden walls of Bibracte, either to die or to end the threat of the painted Celts once and for all. The ground trembles at their approach, and the spears of their shrieking, howling enemies are harmlessly deflected as the men close ranks and adopt the testudo formation, snow covering their shields.

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Creative Assembly give us a "Greek-peek" into city growth on Total War: Rome 2's campaign map

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Creative Assembly give us a "Greek-peek" into city growth on Total War: Rome 2's campaign map

Being able to watch a place grow is a privilege not readily open to human beings, what with their measly lifespans. I never heard the steel factories of my adopted hometown of Sheffield hammering at full pelt, for instance, nor saw their workers go about raising funds to build a university for their children (true story).

Total War: Rome 2 players are unconstrained by the temporal concerns of the mortals they survey, however. They can watch their hamlets become towns become cities become Romes and Carthages and Troys. Creative Assembly offer a glimpse into that process below.

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Total War: Arena early access coming free to all Rome 2 owners

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Total War: Arena early access coming free to all Rome 2 owners

Total War: Arena is a hard sell. Creative Assembly have built a multiplayer RTS-cum-MOBA - team-based, fast-paced and free to play. Total War, on the whole, is none of those things.

Which is probably why the developers have decided to do something quite clever: initially, they won’t be selling Arena at all. Instead, they’ll be handing beta keys for free to every single person who buys Total War: Rome 2.

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Creative Assembly divulge secrets of Rome 2 in campaign map-focused video; "Everyone likes bread"

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Creative Assembly divulge secrets of Rome 2 in campaign map-focused video; "Everyone likes bread"

Rome 2’s campaign map. The holistic heart of the game. Witness to the rise and fall of every empire on Earth. The subject of this Creative Assembly-made ‘Let’s Play’ video.

But before we get to that: four and a half minutes spent watching the rise and fall of a legionnaire’s chest on the game’s main menu. Phwoar.

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Total War: Rome 2 Let’s Play sees Egyptians scattered in a manner you or I probably couldn’t recreate

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Total War: Rome 2 Let’s Play sees Egyptians scattered in a manner you or I probably couldn’t recreate

Relatively uncostly victory, thy name is Al Bickham. The Creative Assembly communications manager is at the mouse for the duration of this 14 minute Let’s Play video. Or should I say, Let's-Play-an-unreleased-game-from-the-offices-of-the-team-what-done-it video. But who's complaining when we're being shown the minutiae of minute-to-minute battling for once?

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How Total War: Rome 2's scaled up campaign map will scale back the siege battles

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How Total War: Rome 2's scaled up campaign map will scale back the siege battles

When somebody tells Creative Assembly’s Al Bickham that Total War: Rome 2’s campaign map is big, he corrects them: “It’s colossal." Its reach reportedly stretches from the westernmost point of Spain to ancient Afghanistan, Bactria, and from the British Isles right down to north Africa and the Nile. And what are Creative Assembly doing with all this new space they’ve afforded themselves? Something new.

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