Total War: Warhammer 2 – or also: the perfect symbiosis of a fantasy world and a video game series, part two. It’s only been a good year since its predecessor marked the beginning of a three-part saga in the renowned fantasy world. Round after round, generals conquer the land there, while they knock down their opponents in massive real-time battles. Nothing has changed in principle. In the test, however, we examine whether developer Creative Assembly also had enough time to expand the familiar concept meaningfully.
Warhammer 2 is not a direct continuation, after all, instead of the previous races four new races are led into battle. So the high elves are there as well as their hated relatives, the dark elves, while besides the lizard humans also the Skavans want to take control of the Great Vortex.
This is new: This vortex is not only the optically interesting center of the New World, the area where the campaign of the second part takes place.
The race to control the Vortex also gives it a superior goal, because the first people to do so wins the game.
The campaign is still open and long. After all, armies are raised as usual to capture settlements and destroy enemy factions. They conclude non-aggression agreements, enter into economic as well as military alliances, research numerous improvements and make it possible to recruit stronger troops by expanding the cities.
In fact, this Total War also revolves mainly around war; there is no provision for economic victory, nor for diplomatic victory. The income from plundering defeated places and defeating other armies alone is so high that it far exceeds the steady flow of money through taxes and trade.
Essentially, the Vortex race only adds a generous time limit to the campaign – and it’s not about physically reaching the vortex. Rather, you have to perform five rituals before you gain control of the vortex, and they have it in them. In order to perform them, each race must collect or produce a resource that is unique to them, the Dark Elves, such as the so-called Scrolls of Hekarti.
These are obtained by performing tasks that can include destroying a certain city as well as fighting certain battles. But if these tasks were given by other factions in the predecessor, in whose reputation one rose after a successful conclusion, the missions come this time as if from nowhere and also do not explain the origin of the reward. Generally, the resources needed for the rituals are too obviously recognizable as artificial breadcrumbs on the way to the game goal, which is why they look like foreign bodies in the otherwise coherent Warhammer narrative.
If one finally initiates one of the rituals, it takes ten or 20 rounds before it is completely executed, whereby three places serve as magic anchors – if one loses only one of them during this time, the procedure fails. After all, armies of chaos invade the vicinity of the settlements concerned, which try to achieve exactly that. So you should position sufficiently strong troops beforehand in order to become master of the chaos.
In return, you can disturb the rituals of enemy factions by hiring mercenaries of different strength for different amounts of money, who cause unrest on enemy territory. It’s annoying, however, that these units are far too weak to prevent a ritual. In other words, the investment is simply not worth it, which of course makes the principle ad absurdum leads. Therefore, and since it is very easy to prevent the last step of a faction to the Vortex, you can feel how the developers cling to the race to the Vortex as a goal-directed structure. Their timid introduction of the new system unfortunately seems strangely discouraged.
Happiness in misfortune: The race does not disturb the course of the campaign, which in many details emphasizes the peculiarities of the playable parties even more than those of the predecessor. After all, every nation can now take any settlement again, but may have to make do with adverse climatic conditions, which results in lower financial profits and longer construction times for new buildings. If you own all villages of a region, you can also issue guidelines to increase the power of the lizards’ armies or growth and income, while the Skavens reduce the cost of recruiting units or building new buildings.
The rat humans also use underground tunnels to move around, where they remain undetected by the troops of other races, and are often only discovered in supposedly abandoned ruins when an unwary army treasure hunt within the walls. Tricky, however, is that the Skavans always need food: If they have enough, their settlements will grow faster, their armies will be weakened and there won’t be enough food.
The sneaky beasts also need food to call additional units in the middle of battle. The high elves are masters of diplomacy: foreign alliances simply break them up and by increasing their own reputation, they increase their chances at the negotiating table. Last but not least, the research trees of the four factions are structured differently in parts. In addition, each faction has four rites with which it can increase certain basic values or use special technologies for several rounds. The dark elves use them to convert a settlement into a flying fortress.
Due to many of these special features in all parts of the game, it is great fun to discover every race. The parties of a Total War have never been more versatile and this variety is the biggest strength of the second Warhammer offshoot!
Thick monsters and powerful spells give the battles an entertaining explosive power and so much tactical variety that you can still experience huge and sometimes exciting battles – familiar mistakes and a lack of variety disturb the all too familiar troop pushing, but not only since Warhammer 2.
Creative Assembly has greatly improved the conquest of the great world map, because the peculiarities of each of the four playable races demand their own approach: the underground corridors of the Skavens, the flying fortresses of the Dark Elves, the often arbitrary dinosaurs of the Lizardmen raging across the battlefield or the high elves with their diplomatic sensitivity. The research takes place in different ways, settlements enjoy faction-specific advantages, and commanders develop in different ways – not only as representatives of their faction, but also according to the way they are used. In terms of diversity, the second fantasy offshoot is the strongest Total War yet!
Because the stagnating real-time battles are annoying, because the central race for the Great Vortex determines the campaign too timidly, because the campaign lacks interactive events in addition to the elimination of enemy armies, and because the constant expansion of all settlements is bland in the long run, however, Total War: Warhammer 2 misses our Gold Award. Maybe a little more time for a bigger development would have really helped him.Tags: game test, review, total war 2