It’s possible to lose Total War: Warhammer II’s vortex campaign even if you have the biggest empire, and we can expect the deepest storytelling in the franchise to date.
We played the early stages of the new campaign. Read about what’s changing in our Total War: Warhammer 2 campaign preview.
We’ve known for a while now that the main campaign in Total War: Warhammer II is a fight for the Great Vortex at the centre of Ulthuan, the High Elves’ homeland. Each of the four core races have a unique ‘ritual currency’ which you’ll race to accrue. When you have enough, you can cast rituals to influence the Vortex.
Those are the broad strokes, but we asked lead writer Andy Hall about some of the finer points at Gamescom today.
It takes five rituals to win the game, but “even when you cast your fifth ritual, it’s not over yet,” Hall says. The fifth ritual triggers a battle that’s “kind of like an end of game boss – it’s basically gonna be the biggest Total War battle ever. And you’ve got to participate in it.”
If you’ve cast the fifth ritual, the other races will send armies to stop you (see our campaign preview for more on how this works), “but if it’s another race, you’ve got to go and stop them, because if they then win that battle, it’s game over – this is the first Total War campaign where there’s a game over screen. So, literally, you can lose this campaign, even if you’ve got the biggest empire.”
This affords developers Creative Assembly two opportunities: to maintain tension throughout the campaign – addressing the dull late-game steamrolling that Hall concedes has been a long-standing criticism of Total War – and to deliver some story. As a former writer with IP holders Games Workshop, Hall is obviously very excited about that.
“When game director Ian [Roxburgh] was first pitching Warhammer, one of the design pillars was narrative. You have this rich history of Warhammer, 30 years of cool IP, and we wanted to bring it in in a story sense. The caveat to that is we can’t put the player on rails, or interfere with that sandbox gameplay that Total War is famous for.”
Accordingly, Hall hints that the Vortex campaign will differ between the four races in more ways than simply renaming their ritual currency, particularly with respect to the final battle, but he isn’t giving anything away.
“There might be certain reveals there that, hopefully, will blindside some players,” he says.
It’s just over a month to go until Total War: Warhammer II releases on September 28. For more details, or to pre-order, head over to the Steam page.