Up until Total War: Warhammer, the series has centered around historical events in the real world. The switch to the High Fantasy setting initially was met with disappointment, with some players preferring to wage historical wars rather than imagined ones. I, personally, wasn’t very interested in it either and I never picked up the game for myself until a copy was gifted to me by a friend. With nothing to lose, I decided to give it another go and I ended up really taking to it. It was because of this that I started to pay attention to Creative Assembly more closely for new information about the sequel. Now there’s Total War Warhammer 2 (which I really loved) and the free Mortal Empires campaign for owners of both and 2.

Total War Warhammer 2 Mortal Empires map

The size of the campaign map dwarfs anything that came before it. Source: the Total War: Warhammer wiki.

So what’s the Mortal Empires campaign about? It’s about doubling the size of the landmass available to explore and conquer by smashing together the Old World map (from Total War: Warhammer) and the New Word map (from Total War: Warhammer 2) to form one gigantic landmass with an alarming number of towns, cities, and factions. The Mortal Empires campaign also adds some of the new mechanics from 2 to the campaign, meaning that Old World races will now also have access to treasure hunts and the trait system that gives your Lords flat bonuses depending on their performance on the battlefield.

The map itself is ludicrously large and detailed, with a wide variety of locales keeping the backdrops of your wars nice and varied and fans of the lore will recognize many places and factions from the tabletop’s fluff. The awesome thing about a map spanning both the Old World and the New World is that you can now wage wars with factions that previously were cut off from each other. It’s completely possible to send Karl Franz to conquer the High Elven realm of Ulthuan now or raid the Dark Elven lands with Grimgor Ironhide and his Black Orc hordes. All your DLC for the first game also works here, so you can play as the Wood Elves or the Norsca (although the latter race will not be present in Mortal Empires as a playable faction until another update coming soon) or as any of the DLC Lords you own. The large campaign map, while impressive, isn’t without its problems. There are technical difficulties where retaining a stable 60 on the campaign map was nigh on impossible (real-time battles were absolutely fine, however) and a weird lighting issue that made all the characters’ 3D portholes look overexposed and bleak. The size and scope of the campaign map and the amount of factions within it means that you’re bound to run into performance problems the farther along in the campaign you are. The simulation is pretty complex, and your PC has to essentially control every faction except yours. The more factions you discover, the more the game needs to show you what they’re doing, the longer the end turn time will be. This can only worsen when Creative Assembly releases Total War: Warhammer 3 at some point in the future and its map and factions get added to the Mortal Empires campaign as well.

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While there is no real story like there was in Total War: Warhammer 2, it does still have quests you can complete for special traits and gold and gear. There’s not much more to it than that, and the game pretty much revolves around conquering the rest of the world through a combination of diplomacy and open warfare. There’s less of a focus on a story, but this game still fares fine when you interact with the more freeform nature of the campaign without the guiding hand of a narrative steering you forward. This may turn you off if you prefer the more structured nature the story provides since all you’ll be doing in Mortal Empires is kill until you’re the only one left standing. It’s a substantial update that dramatically expands the replayability of the game.

I really like that Creative Assembly decided to unify content from the Total War: Warhammer franchise. Mortal Empires will no doubt be able to hold your interest for months, maybe years. There’s not a lot of new mechanics to tinker with, but the size of the thing makes it a better sandbox for grand strategy warfare than any other campaign in the Total War series.

An early review code for Total War Warhammer II’s Mortal Empires Campaign was provided by the developer.

 


Chris Anderson

Staff Writer

I've been playing games since I was just barely able to walk, and I never really stopped playing them. When I'm not fulfilling my duties as senior staff writer and tech reviewer, I'm either working on music, producing one of two podcasts or doing freelance work.