Last weekend at PAX East, I had the privilege of playing the upcoming Total War: Warhammer from the talents of both Creative Assembly and Games Workshop. Having never played a Warhammer game and barely having played a Total War, the game was pretty new to me. I was familiar with the massive scale of the Total War games, where players command thousands of units in a truly enormous battlefield, but I wasn’t quite familiar with Warhammer. I’ve seen a few friends play it, but I’ve never really gotten into it myself. I was accompanied by Andy Hall, Lead Writer on the title. So here I was, playing a mashup of two games I knew barely anything about, and I was blown away.
Hall taught me the basics of the game and about the four very different armies. One of the armies, the Vampires, were quick and had vast numbers, but didn’t have any ranged units. Another, Orcs, had to constantly keep fighting, or its units would turn against each other. Each army had a wizard of sorts: a single incredibly powerful unit with powerful spells. After a basic instructional run-through, I jumped into my first game.
During my first game I controlled the Vampires; A group containing hordes of undead, armies of flying bats, and an incredibly powerful wizard. I quickly got used to the playstyle. I was battling the Empire, a human army with units that had few weaknesses as well as few strengths, essentially jacks of all trades and a masters of none. Being as confused as I was, I led an epic charge straight into the enemy’s army. Hall used my foolish attack as a perfect example of how important terrain, positioning, and range were to the game. The enemy had ranged artillery and high ground, so my army was half the size by the time I reached them. Hall then showed me the true power of my wizard. My army appeared to of crumbled, but my wizard raised hordes back from the dead at my will, then again my army stood a fighting chance. To show off the level animation, Hall put the game in a cinematic mode of sorts, showing each of the thousands of units fighting off one another. This view set things up as if I was watching a scene from The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings; Undead were clawing at enemy cavalry as they charged through the horde, bats were picking off singled out swordsmen, and all while enemy catapults rained down on my army. Hall paused the game and zoomed all the way out, revealing the huge map, and showed how I can reposition my units and coordinate my attack all while paused. Eventually, I lost the attack miserably… But it was the coolest defeat I’ve ever had.
For my next game I played as the Empire. They had a wide array of units as opposed to my previous Vampire army. Hall helped start my game off on a good note. He help lead a coordinated charge against an Orc army. I went back down to cinematic mode and followed the cavalry as they led an epic charge right into the enemy front lines. The enemy lines didn’t have a clean break – some units held their ground while others were trampled. The enemy army quickly broke into chaos. Their units were separated and being mowed down by the ranged units quickly catching up to the cavalry. The level of detail was incredible. Each unit was having it’s own battle which I could zoom in and see on an individual level, all while being able to zoom out and see the massive war happening from above. I didn’t get to finish my second game, but after learning the mechanics with a little help from Hall, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Total War: Warhammer is a mashup of two separate games I wasn’t at all familiar with, but after playing the combination of Warhammer and Total War, I’m quite keen to try out both of them.
Total War: Warhammer releases May 24 on PC and Mac. You can preorder it on Amazon here.[We’re currently working on finalizing our Total War: Warhammer photos and videos, we’ll update the post accordingly.]