Fantastic fantasy and serious strategy: Total War – Warhammer review

Total War Warhammer

The story-led missions are a highlight

Total War: Warhammer digitises the tabletop miniatures of the Games Workshop figures, and thrusts them into an epic military campaign consisting of thousands of troops over a sprawling map. Having mastered the art of war through historical ages as diverse as the Roman and Napoleonic empires, Total War developers Creative Assembly turn their attentions to the realm of fantasy, picking up the Tolkienesque battlegrounds of Warhammer.

The armies of Dwarfs, Orcs, Vampires, Chaos and Humans duke it out for supremacy, and you’ll need to become both an adept diplomat and shrewd general to lead your chosen faction to supremacy.

You can tell that the developers are revelling in the relative freedom the fantasy genre affords them, giving each faction distinct abilities and tactics that just wouldn’t fit the historic realism of earlier Total War games.

Total War Warhammer

Faction campaigns are lengthy

Flying creatures, spellbinding wizards and gargantuan monsters threaten the front lines in a way Roman spears could only dream of, while the story writers and voice actors have clearly enjoyed the challenge of concocting monstrous factions with such vicious hatred for each other.

In fact, Warhammer’s faction-based story-led quest lines (focussing around each group’s invincible Legendary hero unit) are a unique stand out for the Total War series, which has previously had to at least loosely adhere to some historical precedent.

Here instead, quests for magical items can lead to as fantastic and strategically taxing a battle as the developers can come up with – a welcome crafted diversion from the usual skirmishes, considering a single faction’s campaign can last tens of hours.

Total War Warhammer

The game is accessible but quickly becomes challenging

However, even as one of the most accessible Total War game for some time, the combination of 16 years of Total War mechanics and decades of Warhammer tabletop gaming rules leave this latest adaptation riddled with complexity.

From battalion stances to provincial taxation, there’s a steep learning curve to be mastered first by anyone that may just want to see dwarves and goblins trade blows on the battlefield.

But, shy of shelling out thousands of pounds on the paint-your-own miniatures, this is probably the best way to enjoy the fantasy warfare of Warhammer. And, with a rich and playful lore to tap into, it’s the most fun Total War has been in ages, too.

Platform: PC

Price: £39.99

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