Few franchises can claim an undisputed position in the best games of all time list, but Creative Assembly’s long-running real-time strategy saga is one such series. Building upon the foundations of strategy gaming forerunners, Total War spanned the ages, bringing previously unseen levels of depth and tactical freedom to players’ fingertips.
Casting our minds all the way back to the year 2000, the very first entry in this venerable series was Total War: Shogun, which saw players command the ruthless armies of feudal Japan. Combining top-down battle scenarios with brain-teasing empire management, players could be immersed in the role of an all-powerful Shogun.
The game captured the imagination of players with its intricate battle scenarios and immersive empire management. It made players feel at the heart of a true war effort, as they were forced to consider where and when to engage enemies, whether they would flank or fight head-on, or whether they would use mounted troops or foot soldiers, and many more tactical options.
Time marches on
As the series moved through the ages, the available tactics became increasingly diverse and advanced. Medieval: Total War took the battle to Europe, allowing players to command a cavalry of knights and archers in some of the period’s bloodiest battles. Rome: Total War added even more complexity to proceedings, as players travelled to the land of Caesar.
In 2016, Creative Assembly made its first foray into non-historical settings with Total War: Warhammer. For the first time, fans saw the lands of Warhammer recreated in full 3D with the stunning audiovisual flair that the studio was known for. The new variety of unit types added a level of strategic depth previously unseen in the Total War series.
The sequel built upon everything that made the original great, adding four new races, new unit types, a bigger map, and a more immersive story. More races were later added via DLC, before the Immortal Empires expansion combined both games into one enormous campaign. This paired with the robust multiplayer component has kept fans immersed in Total War: Warhammer 2 for years following its release.
Hammering it out
Now, the third and final Total War: Warhammer title presents fans with the ultimate fusion of strategy gameplay and tabletop lore, as the madness of Chaos spills out across the land. Taking players to the mysterious lands of Cathay and Kislev, Total War: Warhammer 3 is the most ambitious game Creative Assembly has devised yet. Featuring eight unique races, and a vast array of unit types, the tactical options are almost endless.
The map itself is massive, with each faction possessing different strategies of moving through it to achieve victory. The monstrous armies of the Ogre Kingdoms are cursed with insatiable appetites, and wander the mountains of their homeland as nomadic tribes ruling through brutality and gluttony. The human factions, Cathay and Kislev, play much more like traditional Total War armies. Kislev uses a balanced army and diplomatic tactics to work towards their aims, whereas Grand Cathay utilises technological savvy and building skills to mount their advances.
Then there are the Daemons of Chaos, encompassing units from all four Chaos gods, whose unpredictable and unbridled power can throw a wrench in the plans of any foe they come up against. Tzeentch can manipulate peaceful settlements into turning to his side. Khorne, by contrast, uses brute force to achieve his goals, using superior numbers and sheer ferocity to crash across territories in a wave of violence.
Many new strategic wrinkles have been introduced to Warhammer 3’s campaign, meaning that players must always be thinking a few steps ahead of their current position. Rifts into the Realm of Chaos frequently appear and you’ll need to send a faction leader through these portals to battle through the Chaos gods’ domain. Fail to quell the Chaos within and you could lose your faction leader, and risk further corruption spreading out into your territories.
With the return of the Immortal Empires DLC, you can also bring in all of the fantastic units that were available in the previous two games across single-player and multiplayer modes. With the latest patch, you don’t even need to have owned the previous two games to get access to all this fabulous content.