Total War: Warhammer is both a surprise and an expected iteration, which is perhaps the best that could be hoped for with this entry in the long-running franchise. As such, if you have read my preview for this game, I can now safely say that my initial impressions haven’t changed from the first few hours. Essentially, Total War: Warhammer implements some excellent ideas into the franchise, but it is also not afraid to fall back on tried and true gameplay mechanics that the Total War series is known for.
To begin, Total War: Warhammer has excellent production values, which range from the graphics, audio, to the gameplay mechanics. Everything in-game has been polished to a luminous sheen, and the game is one of the most technically proficient titles to ever be released.
Surprisingly, there are few bugs, and after a new driver for my graphics card, my experience with Warhammer has been silky smooth, which is a surprise considering how buggy the Total War series has traditionally been. While a polished release is something to be expected, to see Creative Assembly make such strides in their releases since Total War: Rome II should be commended.
What should also be commended is the iteration that Creative Assembly has done to the campaign. Before, the player would play their campaign in a historical setting. They would be dropped into a very particular moment, and they would play on from there. Now that still applies in Warhammer, but there is more to do. The fantasy background of the Warhammer IP allows for implementations such as the ‘Great Book of Grudges,' which are meaningful side-quests that influence the populace’s opinion on you help to add more variety to the micromanagement to your empire as a whole.
While these are excellent new additions both on paper and in-game, it’s still Total War. The battles are tense and nerve-wracking, but I have never personally found the management of my would-be empire to be especially compelling. It’s regrettably an ‘it’s not you it’s me’ scenario, and while I hoped that the Warhammer license would alleviate the tedium that I have always associated with the Total War single-player, it wasn’t to be.
The same goes for multiplayer, although the reasons for which are more amusing, as every time I wander onto the online battlefield, I join a team in the hopes that I will contribute. The thing is, I do contribute, but it’s always towards a crushing defeat for the rest of my team. If there is one thing I will never claim, it’s a mastery of Total War. I join games, get humiliated, and I feel sorry for my poor teammates. Technically, while the in-game experience was seamless, a few times I got an infinite loading screen, and I ended up having to exit the game entirely to leave the loading screen. Annoying, but not the end of the world, as I just joined another game when I reloaded Warhammer.
So while I cannot fully enjoy the multiplayer, I can enjoy the technical proficiency of the title. For instance, while the soundtrack isn’t as loud and dramatic as I want to be, it’s still excellent. Whether I’m fighting as a Dwarf or a Vampire, the music is perfectly fitting, ranging from the sinister calls of the dead or the proud drums of the mountains, and all told it’s well worth cranking up your speakers for.
The same goes graphically as well, and it’s always a treat to obnoxiously zoom in on my armies and as they sprint forward so recklessly that I can hear the salivation of Warhammer’s version of insurance brokers from here. Jokes aside, this is a showpiece for any enthusiast’s rig, no matter which race you choose or battlefield you decide to fight on. As it’s impossible to single out one particular thing that looks great in Warhammer as it all looks terrific, I won’t bother. It uniformly looks great.
Out of all the positivity for the technical aspects of Warhammer, there is one negative thing to point out: the loading times. It’s ridiculous, as it seemingly takes an age in of itself to load a battlefield each time, and it quite successfully destroys the immersion that’s been built up going into the battle. It got to the point where I was debating whether or not to even bother waiting for the fight to load or to just auto resolve each battle. As I’m impatient, auto resolve usually won, although the closer-matched battles I often tried (and failed) to orchestrate successfully.
As a whole, Total War: Warhammer is a release that does exactly what it sets out to do: create a fantasy Total War title. While the fantasy geek in me would be far more inclined to a Warcraft or Lord of the Rings variation, the Warhammer brand is still quite fun to play around in. Overall, it’s a well-thought-out iteration of the Total War franchise, and it’s an obvious choice for those who enjoy either the Total War or Warhammer brands.
Total War: Warhammer was reviewed on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.
Total War: Warhammer is a well-thought out iteration of the Total War franchise, which means that those that are still on the fence on buying the title should expect a release that is everything one may expect from a polished Total War title… for better or worse.