E3 2015 – Total War: Warhammer: release the dogs of WAAAAGH!

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Total War and Warhammer seemed like a franchise mash-up made in heaven. Of course, things aren’t always what they seem. So, I was really excited to get to check out some gameplay and see just how happy the marriage is between the two. Thus far, it looks like the honeymoon stage.

Despite having only two playable races in the game demo on show, variety and diversity were really important to the team. As such, there are a ton of units, each with a ridiculous amount of detail. They are still ironing out some details, so when I asked about customization (something Warhammer fans would love to do in terms of giving their units a specific look), they weren’t totally sure just how many options would be available to players. They are sticking pretty close to the lore, so much of the look and feel of the models is specifically as prescribed by the lore. That said, there is still a lot to play with.

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The demo I saw was a quest battle, The Battle of Black Fire Pass. For those who care about Warhammer lore, this is an important part of the history, a culmination of Sigmar’s Empire. These kinds of quest battles were added to the game to add narrative. However, they are totally optional and players can instead choose to simply take on the battles they like as usual in Total War. That said, if you want to find out about the actual warhammer the whole game is named after, you might want to complete the quest battles.

When I asked the developers about the rule sets and how the game actually worked, they explained that it really does operate as a Total War game. So weird rules and mechanics that you might know from Warhammer might not play into the game, unless it’s a core part of the experience, such as Doom Diver Catapults. That’s right, there are doom diver catapults in the game, and they can be controlled automatically or manually – it was hilarious to watch it on manual and I could easily lose a battle because of being too busying flying my goblin through the air.

The Battle of Black Fire Pass sees the Empire leader, Emperor Karl Franz face off against the Greenskin Warboss, Grimgor Ironhide. With the Empire featuring Celestial Wizard, Warrior Priests and Witch Hunters while the Greenskin units include Orc Shaman and Goblin Shaman, for the first time in the Total War franchise there is magic. This is depicted in an utterly gorgeous style; it’s so pretty that I will want to use it all the time. Another first for the franchise – flying units. With the introduction of all kinds of flying units, aerial combat is a big part of battle, with units fighting from surface to air, air to air and all other combinations.

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Thanks to taking place in a fantasy environment, realism is a bit different. Thus there are Dwarven tunnels, lava on the battlefield and maps on an incredible scale. With being limited by the reality of actual battles in locations on Earth, Total War: Warhammer when the different parts of the game are completed, it will have the biggest map of any game in Total War.

What struck me about the game when I saw the demo was just how the sense of scale has been maintained. Huge divisions of units, a massive battlefield and all the usual formations that people are used to from playing Total War are present, just in an entirely new form. The way battles will play out is totally new, but it still feels like a Total War game; it hasn’t lost that core experience. However, when zooming all the way, the detail on each model is staggering. From the Greenskins who only wear paint instead of armor to the stunning textures on the Boar Riders and Demi Griffs, Total War: Warhammer looks poised to be the most visually stunning experience they’ve made thus far.

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I didn’t get to go hands on with the title, but based on the portion of this one battle that we were shown, the game is coming together. Plus, assuming that this title does well, it sounds like they might be willing to carry on with the partnership, possibly creating a Warhammer 40 000 game in the future, too.

Last Updated: June 22, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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