Total War: Warhammer comes at a weird time, just as Games Workshop obliterate their fantasy world of 30 years and start anew with Age of Sigmar. But it feels less period piece than last hurrah – particularly when watching its Battle of Black Fire Pass battle demo, in which the Teutonic war machine of Emperor Karl Franz is matched against the arrer boyz and ogres of an orcish warboss.
What’s striking is how the setting has amplified what we know about Total War. There’s pistoleer cavalry on one side, yes, but ginormous spider mounts on the other. Units don’t seem to collide anymore so much as leap on top of each other. Even the environments are more angular and extreme than you could reasonably expect from Europe or Japan.
Grimgore Ironhide’s goblin fanatics become Total War’s first ever homing missiles – fired from catapults on homemade wings. Players can steer their brief, kamikaze flights in third-person.
Black Fire Pass is one of the bespoke encounters Empire players will unlock as they progress through the campaign. It’s also the one that inspired fervour for Total War: Warhammer in our Tim a couple of months back.
“I mean it when I say Creative Assembly aren’t fucking about. There’s a reverence to the Warhammer world in their game that feels unusual. They are not making a game that is a slavish replica of the system: but something that works both as a PC game, and a recreation of Warhammer’s world.”
This demo is scripted – but is it churlish to complain when the spectacle is this spectacular?