Total War™: ROME II - Emperor Edition PC game | PCGamesN

Total War™: ROME II - Emperor Edition PC Game | PCGamesN

Total War: Rome II - One Year On

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Total War: Rome II - One Year On

When Total War: Rome II launched last year, it had big sandals to fill. It came after the most polished, focused Total War game, Shogun II, and was the sequel to what is probably the most fondly remembered installment in the series, the original Rome. Ultimately, it did not live up to expectations. 

While the combat was spectacular, huge swathes of the game were bogged down by poorly implemented features like the politics system, and the turn based campaign was painfully slow and dreadfully dull. One year on, though, much has changed. 

A slew of patches and updates culminating in the launch of the Emperor Edition last month have revitalised the game. A massive new campaign, a plethora of tweaks and broad, sweeping alterations necessitate a second look. It’s time to reinstall Rome II. 

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We're breaking up: Rome II's Imperator campaign map is a fractured mess of warring factions

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We're breaking up: Rome II's Imperator campaign map is a fractured mess of warring factions

Total War: Rome II’s free Imperator Augustus campaign offers up one of the most interesting periods of antiquity as a stage for war. While Caesar established the foundations that would allow his adopted son, Octavian, to ascend to the position of Emperor, it was after the war between Octavian and Marc Antony that he would actually become ruler of the Roman world. And in the Imperator Augustus campaign, you can try to stop him if you want. 

Creative Assembly has released the campaign map, revealing the playable factions available in this war - which managed to be both a civil war and an international one. Slap your eyes on it below. 

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Total War: Rome II's free Imperator Augustus campaign to keep things civil on September 16

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Total War: Rome II's free Imperator Augustus campaign to keep things civil on September 16

You might think crumbly old Emperor Augustus could be expected to turn up in the month of his own name. Imperator Septemberus, more like. If there were a Jeremarch, you can be sure I’d make a public appearance or two. But we shouldn’t grumble: a new civil war campaign for Total War: Rome II is due in a little over a week, and it’ll come as a free update on Steam.

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Total War: Rome II to get new campaign map, "hundreds of hours" of free geopolitics

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Total War: Rome II to get new campaign map, "hundreds of hours" of free geopolitics

Was the existing version of Total War: Rome II fit for a king? Creative Assembly didn’t think so, so they’re bringing out an Emperor Edition sometime in September.

That'll collect together all the free updates Rome has had to date - which isn’t particularly remarkable for anybody with broadband and a spare day to leave Steam whirring.

But it'll also herald a brand new expansion campaign that’ll last players “hundreds of hours". Called ‘Imperator Augustus’, it'll come to all Rome II owners for free.

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Total Yaaar: Rome 2 gets a swashbuckling culture pack

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Total Yaaar: Rome 2 gets a swashbuckling culture pack

Total War: Rome 2 is getting smacked with some culture with the Pirates and Raiders DLC. Creative Assembly is tossing the new, Ardiaei, Odrysian Kingdom and Tylis factions, all part of the new Balkan culture group. These guys are the first playable Thracian and Dacian factions in Rome 2 and come with their own specialisations. 

They’ll crop up as mercenaries, too, so you don’t need to play as one of these factions to send their warriors into battle, though you would miss out on their cultural traits. The pack is due out soon, priced at £5.99.

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Grudge match: Rome II DLC pits Carthage against Rome in the Second Punic War

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Grudge match: Rome II DLC pits Carthage against Rome in the Second Punic War

The Second Punic War is ripe for dramatisation, so it’s odd that Hollywood hasn’t picked it apart. Maybe it’s because the “bad guys" win in the end. Rome initiates yet another war against its old adversaries, Carthage, kicking off a conflict that engulfs the Mediterranean. So the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, crosses the Alps with ferocious elephants and angry Gauls, beating up Romans up and down Italy. 

Of course, it didn’t end well for Carthage. The Romans took back their fallen cities, chucked the North African powerhouse out of Iberia and eventually turned once mighty Carthage into yet another client state. In Total War: Rome II’s new DLC, Hannibal at the Gates, you’ll have a chance to change the fortunes of Carthage. Or you can put yourself in Scipio’s shoes, trying to make the war play out just as it did historically. 

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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 2; a game described as a good "romp" in Fraser's Total War: Rome 2 review.

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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!

If you're having a hard time understanding the excitement, you ought to check out our Total War: Rome 2 review.

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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, and you can read more about it in our Total War: Rome 2 review.

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, which has come a long way since our Total War: Rome 2 review.

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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, which is great when you read our Total War: Rome 2 review.

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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 - which we gave a 7/10 in our Total War: Rome 2 review - 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 2 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".

It's a good thing Fraser wasn't in that 2% with his Total War: Rome 2 review.

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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

Total War: Rome 2 is out now; here's our Total War: Rome 2 review.

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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