Forget the Old World you know: we’re going west, where the carnosaurs roam and toad-like mage-priests levitate in their palanquin-thrones. Total War: Warhammer II takes Creative Assembly’s trilogy-in-progress to new continents, but it’s no grab for territory - a new campaign shakes up the victory conditions too.
Creative Assembly made their name with the Total War series, at least one of which will probably always be on our list of the best strategy games on PC.
Read on for everything we know about the grand strategy sequel, and to find out how you can combine the two Total Warhammers in one big mega-map.
Total War: Warhammer II release date
With the announcement already in our rear-view mirror, it’s tempting to think ahead to release. It’s not likely to be a terribly long wait: Creative Assembly are planning a PC release by the end of 2017.
That’s not so surprising when you consider that the studio have two dedicated Warhammer squads: a new content team, and the ‘main’ team, responsible for producing the expected trilogy of Total Wars in partnership with Games Workshop.
Total War: Warhammer II setting
CA emphasise that the continents we’re exploring in Warhammer II are “mysterious”, but they’re not so enigmatic that we don’t know which they are.
If you followed the countdown that preceded the game’s announcement, you might already have had a glimpse of Lustria - the Aztec-ian jungle empire also known as ‘the one with the Lizardmen’. The land itself has a reputation for being hostile - not to mention stuffed with dinosaurs, so that should be an interesting one to scout out.
We’ll also be seeing the isle of Ulthuan, a geographically odd ring of land partially sunken during the Sundering - the great civil war that divided its natives into High Elves and Dark Elves. If you’ve ever played either of those races in the tabletop game, you’ve this one curved strip of land to thank. To the east are the Shifting Isles, a maze of mists and magically-moving sandbanks. And beneath the volcanic mountains live most of the dragons left in the Warhammer world. In the centre of the ring is the Isle of the Dead, where the great elven mage Caledor Dragontamer conjured a vortex to drain the Winds of Magic from the world. More on that later.
Naggaroth, or the ‘Land of Chill’, is where the Dark Elves wound up. They inhabit the north-eastern quarter of the continent, though their influence is felt all over this frozen land. And finally we have The Southlands - the part of Total War: Warhammer II’s map that’s been least explored in Games Workshop’s existing fiction. Believed to have once been connected to Lustria, the Lizardmen have many cities in the jungle here, and there are also Dwarfen and High Elven outposts nearby. Perhaps the most notable inhabitants, though, are the Skaven Clan Pestilens, who kicked out their rivals in a bitter civil war and whose eventual dominance of the continent led to them being given a seat on the ruling Council of Thirteen. Finally, the jungle is also infested with Greenskins, with the Savage Orc tribes that dwell here considered barbarous even by orcish standards.
Total War: Warhammer II races
Given the lands we’ve just described, the new playable races in Warhammer II will come as no surprise: the High Elves, Dark Elves and Lizardmen will all show up to defend their respective continents and fight with their neighbours. They’ll each come with unique campaign mechanics, and their army rosters will be a nice variety of troops, monsters, spellcasters, and siege weapons, plus Total Warhammer’s character classes: Heroes, Lords and Legendary Lords.
A fourth faction is yet to be revealed, but the presence of a rat at the tail end of the trailer, and the fact that one of the four new continents has a heavy Skaven presence in the lore, should let you make a pretty confident guess.
Total War: Warhammer II campaign
This is where Warhammer II gets really interesting, in a couple of respects.
First, this is a Total War campaign in which the goal isn’t territorial conquest. Not alone, anyway. We come to the New World at a time of crisis - just as the Great Vortex that has swirled above Ulthuan for millennia starts to fail.
The Vortex is a great plughole that sucks magic - the essence of Chaos - from the world. Every race has a vested interest in either saving or disrupting it. Campaign progress is made by performing a series of arcane rituals, and Creative Assembly say this struggle will lead to a “cataclysmic” endgame that will shape the fate of the Warhammer world.
The second point of interest is the prospect of a combined campaign map. If you own both Total War: Warhammer I and II, you’ll get a free update shortly after release that lets you play across both maps stitched together, as any of the existing playable races.
As ever, though, the campaign represents hundreds of hours of empire expansion, city development and widescreen, real-time battles. That much doesn’t change.
Total War: Warhammer II trailer
If any of this is failing to coalesce in your head, just take a look at Creative Assembly’s stunning announcement trailer. Here you’ll see High Elves, Dark Elves, and Lizardmen clash in a magically-charged conflict that reflects the focus of the whole campaign.
“The success of the first game has increased our ambition,” says game director Ian Roxburgh, and that’s already evident.
The more we know, the more we’ll print here - so check back for more info, and share your excitement in the comments.