Total War: Warhammer 2 is a strategy game that’s available on Steam and Humble Bundle. This review was conducted by Joseph Pugh with all of the currently released DLC.
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Total War: Warhammer 2 is an incredibly massive game made even larger by an assortment of DLC. The game is played in two halves, the strategy map where you manage your empire, city’s and units’ in turn-based grand strategy style gameplay, and the real-time battles when two or more armies meet.
The game is playable in a grand campaign, custom battles, and online multiplayer. You take on the role of one of many legendary lords within a faction. Each faction has its own goals, play styles, techs, and units.
The game’s deep mechanics and breadth of choice are truly staggering, even without the DLC. A game on the scale of Total Warhammer 2 can offer the right player countless hours of enjoyment, but it can come with a cost, both monetarily and in-game design.
A DLC For You And Me
There is no sugar coating this. The game has a massive amount of DLC. Not only DLC made for Total Warhammer 2. The entire first game and its DLC’s are also DLC for the second game, bringing over all the units, factions, and lords with it plus a grand campaign to fit them all together.
If you already own the first game and its add ons, that’s great! If you don’t, it can be a little overwhelming.
The amount of DLC isn’t really a negative, each one includes meaty additions that are totally worth their price individually. If you don’t have a given DLC, you will still encounter and fight any factions, lords, and units they grant. You pay for the right to use them yourself.
It’s perfectly reasonable to play Total Warhammer 2 as a standalone game to see if you like it. Most DLC’s consist of new factions and playstyles that can always be explored later. One exception is the Skaven. The race of Ratmen is a base Total Warhammer 2 faction but their DLC units feel extremely necessary. Locking Ratling gunners behind a paywall feels bad in a way DLC units for other factions doesn’t
Taken together, there are a whopping 15 playable factions and numerous lords between each one, many of which change the game significantly when you play them. This review was conducted with all currently available DLC, so keep that in mind going forward.
If I were to try and talk about every facet of Total Warhammer 2. The length of this article would make Brandon Sanderson blush and you would be facedown and drooling on your keyboard before you got through ten percent of it. It’s, bloody, huge.
Take for example The Empire, a single faction out of 15. If you choose to play them not only do they have their own tech tree, units, hero types, and economy. You must also deal with an entire political system based on working with or against other Empire factions in an Elector council.
Unless of course, you choose to play as Markus Wulfhart, an empire Huntmaster. He isn’t involved in any politics. instead, his campaign is a Colonial one against the natives of Lustria. Featuring a native hostility system that you have to work around while you are periodically granted reinforcements from the empire to aid in your hunt while you recruit other famous hunters.
That’s just a snapshot of a single faction and an alternative playstyle of a single lord within that faction. You could play as the Skaven. Hiding them in undercities and spreading corruption to the surface world. Or perhaps the Vampire Coast with their mobile ship cities searching for treasure via maps.
Some factions forgo cities altogether, carrying everything with them as a nomadic horde. Everything I’ve mentioned so far is strategy map gameplay, the diversity carries over into battles as well. Yes, some units have similar roles. High Elven Spearmen and Empire Spearmen will both counter calvary and large creatures for example. But most units have unique quirks to them and varying statistics that go beyond simple roles.
Every faction has a lot to offer and for the most part, they are pretty balanced. The ones that aren’t have historically received patches to bring them up to speed. The Greenskins, for example, just received a free update that reworked them when the most recent DLC dropped.
The battles themselves take place in real-time but fear not. If you are as awful at real-time strategy games as I am. You can slow down and even pause time to give yourself some breathing room. The battles are tactical, and fun but they are also a spectacle, more so than any other game in the series.
Total Warhammer 2 features a huge variety of units and monsters. It is an absolute joy to watch a dragon swoop into a formation of infantry, swing its tail and send several of them flying. It’s satisfying to watch a rain of arrows descend upon a horde of Skaven, or a group of chariots to plow through the frontline, or a ghostly ship summoned by magic to open fire into a platoon.
The only problem is battles tend to be over quickly which harms both the strategy and the spectacle. Most of the time your commanding little dots moving around, zooming in for a second to view the chaos is a fast way to get your archers flanked or your lord surrounded. You simply can’t spare the time during the battle to enjoy the wonderful animations of the raging conflict.
Luckily you can save and view replays of your favorite battles and bask in the sheer awesomeness of it all later. Don’t get me wrong, the battles are absolutely tactical, but any long-term process will never come to fruition. Battles of hundreds upon hundreds of bodies are over within minutes.
There is a good chance you will already have won or lost by the time your sneaky forest flankers ever reach their destination. There is an entire stamina system in place and the tutorial even teaches you about it. Your units get tired during a battle and you are encouraged to pull them back, rotate your ranks and let them rest.
This will never, ever happen. Battles are over far too quickly for the concept to ever be viable during actual play. The tutorial doesn’t do the game justice either.
With the vast scale of Total Warhammer 2, comes a steep learning curve. To say that the tutorials teach you the basics would be giving them far too much credit. There were very basic things I didn’t learn until I was 60 hours in, like overcasting spells or the fact that I could shift and rotate formations with the arrow keys. I learned them, by watching others play.
There are a lot of tooltips that pop up when you mouse over things, but they are woefully inadequate. You need to learn so many concepts at one time purely for a single faction and lord that it can be overwhelming. It certainly took me a few tries while being in a learning mood.
The reality of it though is pretty much the same as most things in life. Anything worthwhile takes effort, Total Warhammer 2 rewards your efforts with an incredibly wide, deep, and varied strategy game experience. The strategy is immense and the playstyles are varied. If you get bored of playing one faction or lord, you have an incredible amount of other options.
The AI certainly falters at times and some campaigns can be predictable early on. For example, if you play Lord Tyrion of the high elves, you can absolutely expect to fight the Pirates of Sartosa and a high elf civil war in the early game. If you play as the Dwarves, you’re going to be up to your beard in Greenskins for a good while. I would love to see an option in the future that places the factions in random starting locations.
Yet, if you ever tire of one campaign you can play several others. If you’re starved for time you can just set up two armies in a custom battle and slam them into each other.
If you ever need a wake-up call to realize that your not nearly as good at the game as you think you are, you can jump online and get steamrolled. No, this is not from personal experience, shut up.
Total Warhammer 2 is easily one of my favorite strategy games, I eagerly await any update and DLC for it and it’s one of few games I don’t believe I’ll ever grow bored of.
If great power comes with great responsibility then a massive scale comes with massive sacrifice. The AI suffers, the learning curve is steep, battles end without you being able to enjoy the moment and the large amount of DLC can be a steep investment. Especially if you are like me and need the complete package to fully invest yourself in it.
Is it worth it? It is for me. Total Warhammer 2 is a complex game with deep mechanics, varied gameplay and I’ll never tire of watching my Carnosaurs thrash the filthy Skaven (Via viewing replays of course). It takes an investment of time to dig into the game but that investment pays off in spades when you know what you’re doing. It’s just a shame that you need to seek sources outside the game to truly grasp it.
You might also be interested in my review of Age of Wonders: Planetfall
- The truly immense variety of factions, lords, units, and playstyles
- Fantastic grand strategy and tactical battles
- Battles are a spectacle to behold
- Difficulty Settings present
- Incredible replay value
- Balanced and interesting mechanics for each faction
- Combines the content of Total Warhammer 1 into an epic combined campaign unlike anything else on the market
- A staggering amount of total content
- AI can be poor at times
- The steep learning curve with inadequate in-game tutorials
- Battles are over far too quickly impacting the strategy and the ability to enjoy the spectacle
- Some campaigns can be predictable
- A large amount of DLC can be a heavy buy-in for newcomers