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Total War Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires crowns a decade of development

Total War: Warhammer 3's Immortal Empires campaign fulfills a 10-year promise, so we asked Creative Assembly how it feels to have achieved that lofty goal

Total War: Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires interview: A Skaven lord raises a magic staff, tipped with a green crystal, as hordes of daemons and foot soldiers stream over the hills toward a Cathayan walled settlement

When the Total War: Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires combined campaign is finally introduced to the series of fantasy strategy games, it’s not simply going to double the size of the Mortal Empires sandbox map. Instead, it’s combining everything that Creative Assembly has ever made for the three Warhammer games, a series that began a decade ago when the studio announced its long-term partnership with Warhammer publisher Games Workshop. For the developers who have been with the studio since that day, the launch of Immortal Empires represents a career-defining moment.

“What Immortal Empires ultimately is,” says lead designer Mitchell Heastie, “is it’s the culmination of everything we’ve ever worked on.”

Heastie has been working on Total War for even longer than he’s had an official role at Creative Assembly – he got his start as a Total War modder, which eventually led to a job on the Total War: Attila DLC team. He’s worked alongside Warhammer DLC game director Richard Aldridge since the series began, and the pair has watched as the Warhammer games have expanded and changed drastically with each entry.

Immortal Empires includes everything released for all three Total War: Warhammer games, as well as space to add whatever comes next for Warhammer 3. It’s a dizzying amount of content at this point, at a scale far beyond anything the Total War series has ever attempted.

For comparison purposes, Total War: Three Kingdoms and its DLC include around 50 playable characters and their armies, and more than a hundred non-playable factions. Immortal Empires will start with 86 playable legendary lords, 278 starting factions, and 554 settlements – and those numbers will all grow as more DLC is released for Total War: Warhammer 3.

“It’s kind of the pinnacle of Warhammer,” Aldridge says, wistfully recalling one of the early days of the studio’s collaboration with Games Workshop, when the publisher sent “literally a truckload” of reference volumes, artwork, rulebooks, and other Warhammer materials to the studio.

Total War: Warhammer 3 Immortal Empires map, with factional crests representing where each race starts.

A ‘truckload’ is a good way to describe the amount of Warhammer content that’s been wrapped into Immortal Empires. Total War: Warhammer added Bretonnia, the Beastmen, the Norsca, the Wood Elves, and Chaos Warriors to its four starting factions. The Tomb Kings and Vampire Coast (a faction Creative Assembly fleshed out from an obscure White Dwarf article) joined the Skaven, Lizardmen, Dark Elves, and High Elves in Warhammer 2. All of those join the Total War: Warhammer 3 races Cathay, Kislev, Chaos, the Ogre Kingdoms, and the four Chaos god factions on the brimming Immortal Empires map.

“It’s such a daunting task,” Heastie tells us. “So where do you begin? The very first thing we did was to break the world down into what we call theatres. These were essentially discrete parts of the world, and we really just focused on each of these.”

While the plan had always been to one day combine everything on one massive map, the developers wound up surprising even themselves with the size of the task they had set out for themselves.

“Thinking back to when we first started with the Warhammer trilogy, I don’t think we really understood just how big the scope was of what Immortal Empires would become,” Heastie says. “It’s a huge challenge to bring over half a decade of content all into one place.”

Pulling that off has required some extra time: unlike Mortal Empires, which launched (after a slight delay) a month after Total War: Warhammer II came out, it’ll be half a year after the release of Warhammer III that we finally get our hands on Immortal Empires. Part of that is down to the unprecedented volume of content, but it was never as simple as just dumping everything into the same bin. Older factions were never designed with daemons in mind, and so the Total Warhammer team has had to update legacy lists to make sure they’re fit to fight alongside the newer, flashier factions.

“I remember when I was designing the tech tree on the Norsca [in Warhammer 1], and I had this idea where you’ll go and roam around like Vikings and raiders do, and you’ll go to these big cities in the world and you’ll get a special bonus for it, thinking that the map was this big,” Aldridge explains. “Well, we’ve totally blown that out of the water, haven’t we? That whole design philosophy has had to change.”

Having been deeply involved in the Total War: Warhammer series since 2012, the August 23 launch of Immortal Empires is a significant career moment for both Aldridge and Heastie.

“It’s that promise we made at the start to do this big combined map, finally fulfilled,” Heastie says. “It’s really a special moment from that point alone, I think – just getting to see all of our stuff, all together in one place.”

Immortal Empires is more than that, though: it’s also a monument to careers spent working on a beloved property both as long-time fans and as creators who’ve had a hand in shaping the world of Warhammer.

“This is what, in 50 years, people are going to look back to and say, ‘Hey, remember Total War: Warhammer?’ They’re going to think about Immortal Empires,” Heastie tells us. “It’s nice to now be at that stage, where more than anything else, we’re working on the legacy. It’s the thing that’s going to stand the test of time. So I think that’s quite special as well.”

Total War: Warhammer 3 update 1.3: Cathayan

“I’m genuinely excited,” says Aldridge, adding that this is by no means the end of the road. Immortal Empires is launching in a beta state, and there will be bumps along the way to iron out. More than that, however, it will continue to grow alongside Total War: Warhammer III.

“I’m actually super pumped and positive about the future,” Aldridge tells us. “It feels like this is a massive capstone, right. But we’ve got so much more to give. Working with the players, the community, who enjoy this as much as we do, we’re going to shape this thing into something quite special.”

The Immortal Empires release date is set for August 23, and it’ll launch alongside Total War: Warhammer III’s first expansion DLC, the Champions of Chaos lords pack. Our list of the best Total War: Warhammer 3 mods will keep you busy until then.