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Total War Pharaoh isn’t about winning, it’s about apocalyptic survival

Total War Pharaoh harkens back to the days of Troy and Rome 2, and Creative Assembly tells us how the game is no longer about winning, it's about survival.

Total War Pharaoh survival: a Pharaoh looking a beetle resting on top of a finger

Total War Pharaoh is a call back for the longstanding Creative Assembly strategy game series. Coming from CA’s Sofia branch, which worked on multiple Rome 2 DLCs and Troy, Pharaoh wants to remind you of the more historical entries over its Warhammer counterparts, taking you to the collapse of the Bronze Age in Ancient Egypt to do just that. With this societal collapse looming in Total War Pharaoh, the overall goal of your time with the game has changed, as we’ve learned all about at Gamescom 2023 ahead of the Total War Pharaoh release date.

After our Total War Pharaoh preview I had a chance to sit down with game director Todor Nikolov and dive into what makes Pharaoh different from the rest of the series, and he had a lot to say about how the Bronze Age collapse, which took place around 1200 BCE and saw countless civilizations come to an end, plays into both the mechanics and overall goal of the game.

“At the beginning of the campaign the world starts in the state of prosperity, where everything is shining and hopeful and pure,” Nikolov tells PCGamesN. “But as these civilizations get damaged or destroyed as they exchange hands or get conquered, the civilizations will go down into crisis, which visually is a different kind of campaign.”

What this means for you during your Total War game campaign is that the world space you’re playing in will change. There are more natural disasters and everything will get darker, as a way to mechanically and visually represent the impending change in the world.

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“It’ll get foggy, a sandstorm seems to be approaching because it feels like the end of the world, and the civilizations can go even deeper into collapse. It’s all darkness and very apocalyptic in both the visuals of the campaign and in battle.”

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Nikolov explains that if you play well enough, you can actually almost bring civilization back from the brink.

“Theoretically, you can bring a fully destroyed world back back to prosperity,” Nikolov explains. “However, you will have the Sea Peoples, these mysterious invaders, coming from across the sea and just laying waste to the land in an endgame event.

“So you will need to overcome the Sea Peoples and play some more and try to unite the world if you want to bring it back to prosperity. But this is not the goal of your campaign. The goal of your campaign is to survive.”

History is fragmented regarding the Sea Peoples – aggressive seafarers who came to Egypt and the surrounding areas in an attempt to invade – but they were a collection of civilizations that came over and even ended up destroying the Hittite Empire, so you’re going to have your hands full when they do arrive.

Total War Pharaoh survival

Don’t worry though, Nikolov and the team at Sofia have made some quality-of-life changes and encourage you to save scum in Total War Pharaoh if you want, so you might just hold off the Sea Peoples yet.

If you can’t wait for Pharaoh’s imminent release we’ve got everything you need to know about all of the Total War Pharaoh factions and the Total War Pharaoh leaders, and how each impacts play.