Total War Pharaoh’s terrain system is a nightmare – but in a good way

Total War Pharaoh transforms the Creative Assembly strategy sim with new factions and leaders, but a fresh devlog outlines a seriously tough terrain system.

Total War Pharaoh terrain: An Egyptian leader from Creative Assembly strategy game Total War Pharaoh

Total War Pharaoh aims to introduce heightened realism and brutality to the longstanding strategy game, with Creative Assembly and Sega focusing on the intricacies of battle and how moment-to-moment decisions can seriously turn the tide. With the Total War Pharaoh release date now on the horizon, and a lot of details regarding new leaders and factions, there’s fresh info on how terrain and weather can help or hinder your battle plans. You need to choose your chariots carefully in Total War Pharaoh. It’s all about weight.

We already know about Total War Pharaoh factions and Total War Pharaoh leaders, with the Egyptians, Hittites, and Canaanites going toe-to-toe, sword to shield across a multitude of different battlefields and environments. In our own Total War Pharaoh preview, we saw how the new dynamic weather system can affect the momentum of a fight.

If it starts raining, your troops are more likely to become bogged down and less maneuverable, whereas sweltering heat will lead to fatigue. In the pursuit of greater realism, Total War Pharaoh is also focused on how weight and equipment affect your performance.

See, a lot of the battles in Total War Pharoah are fought across deserts and sand. In the past, it might have seemed sensible to recruit the most heavily armored troops and chariots; the toughest, most rugged units with the best defense.

In Pharaoh, however, that’s likely to lead to death. Even in clear weather, heavy units will actually, partially, sink into the sand, reducing their speed and efficiency. Likewise, chunky chariots will become semi submerged, slowing their advance and leaving them vulnerable to attack.

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The solution, seemingly, is to prioritize more lightly armored soldiers and vehicles, but that comes with the natural downside that they’re weaker and less protected. Total War Pharaoh’s new UI may help, however. ‘Royal Decrees,’ which provide various advantages over the course of several turns, are available by a simple, accessible skill tree.

When you choose a faction, you can also pick from a variety of legacies, which define how your faction will function over time. So, terrain is tough, battles are more intricate, but you have a greater variety of options to help overcome the new challenges. We’ll see how it all shakes out once Total War Pharaoh arrives.

In the meantime, try some of the other best Total War games. You might also want to test your leadership mettle with the best grand strategy games on PC.