Ten Things I Want to See Done Right in Total War Warhammer 2
Warhammer 2 is almost here, bringing sneaky Skaven, cold-blooded Lizardmen, and two Elf races who couldn’t be more different. These four races are the initial playable factions, but the Warhammer world will be far larger than that. Though annoyingly pricey, CA’s DLC campaigns usually do a lot to fill out their Total War games and Warhammer 2 will be no exception.
We have DLC, unannounced content, and for the first time in a Total War game, merged maps from Warhammer 1 and 2’s main campaigns for a gigantic map across 4-5 continents. We know we are going to see Warhammer 3 in the future but we will have so much to look forward in Warhammer 2 and the combined campaign. Here are my top ten things I want to see in Warhammer 2
Combined Map: I Want Mammoths Fighting Lizardmen
I came into Total War Warhammer as a Warhammer lore novice and was suspicious of a non-historical Total War. Man am I glad I gave it a go as it is an absolutely amazing and refreshing twist on the Total War formula. The fact that the Warhammer world blatantly takes its geography and theming from history makes it quite accessible, The Old World is Europe with Viking Norscans, French Bretonia, and others while the Lizardmen are paralleled to Aztec’s and Inca of Central and South America.
With a little historical grounding, it will be amazing to see how the larger combined campaign plays out. I’ve been having fun with my Norscans in 1 and I can’t wait until I can set my mammoth against a Lizardman Carnosaur. Imagine a three-way battle between wood, dark, and high Elves or a stout line of Dwarves fending off a swarm of Skaven until the sneaks burrow up behind their lines. Tactically, I would think a group of Bretonian knights would have a heyday with the plentiful light troops offered by the Skaven and Lizardmen.
Hopefully, the combined map releases without too many bugs. CA also needs to make ocean crossing work correctly, we need it to feel significant to have Karl Franz landing on the shores of the Vampire coast, but it can’t be too boring or difficult, especially seeing that we still have auto-resolve only naval battles still. We know that the combined map will arrive in a later update which is helpful in a way as it gives us a chance to test out an entirely new endgame goal as part of the Warhammer 2 main campaign.
Dynamic Endgame: Quest for the Vortex
Speaking of a new endgame, I am fascinated by the battle of the Great Vortex as it gives the campaign a much different feel, especially as a single player against AI. Each faction has a desire either to protect and stabilize the Great Vortex or to destroy it. I’m not deep enough into the lore to know who wants to do what and why but that’s why I’m hoping CA does this right.
Knowing the lore of Warhammer just from the game I am looking forward to compelling stories and motivations brought into the campaign to make the struggle for the vortex immersive. Already I see more fleshed out factions and lords for each race of Warhammer 2, from Queek Headtaker of the Skaven to the well-voiced Malekith of the Dark Elves, the personality shines brightly just from the trailers and campaign intros we have so far.
Lastly, I am curious to see how the AI and objectives play out for this campaign style. We have seen some campaign gameplay already and it looks promising. One thing I noticed is the ability to summon a full-stack army to fight your enemy’s city as they are working on a vortex building. This army is yours, but AI controlled with the sole purpose of hindering Vortex progress. Assuming that you will have to fight these armies as well makes for an interesting mid to endgame as you can fortify your Vortex city and prepare to fend off waves of armies instead of steamrolling them as is often the case in most Total War endgames.
Two Words: Vampire Pirates
Yes, that’s right, vampire pirates are coming to Total War. While Warhammer 1 had Vampires of the coast as the one-province of Mousillon, it was a sad, poor, and insignificant faction. This time we have a full-on Vampire Coast in the easternmost area of Lustria, led by the Mad (crazy) Vampire Lord Luthor Harkon.
Luthor has a history of arriving on the coast and immediately assembling an army and conquering Lizardmen territories. He has been beaten back to the coast several times and that’s where he seems to start on the maps we have seen. The Vampire coast operates as a pirate nation, so much that they have allied with sea monsters such as sirens (scary mermaids) and others.
I expect to see less magic and more creative units in the Vampire Coast. I’m thinking a mix of reckless firearm units, ultra-mobile Sirens and a good base of vampires and zombies, with appropriate pirate flair. A ghost ship flying over the battlefield would make a great spell for Luthor or even a standalone unit. Monstrous sea serpents could be almost an equal to the terrifying hell pit abomination of the Skaven. Luthor is supposed to be pretty crazy and has his own quests that pit him and the Lizardmen against each other, possibly opening up an engaging mini-campaign.
Tomb Kings: Warhammer’s Take on Egypt Won’t Disappoint
Here we have a faction that seems fairly simple but is actually as complex as the true history it mirrors. The Tomb Kings are obvious parallels to the Ancient Egyptians and have a history about as long in the Warhammer universe. Will likely have them led by King Settra, but the Tomb Kings were literally hundreds of entombed conquering kings, each trying to outdo the rest. Settra was simply the best king, able to unify the land of Nehekhara.
What can you imagine if you think of a mythical Egyptian army of the dead; Zombies, skeletons, Sphinxes? You got it. Trust me, the Tomb Kings are coming quick, modders already made an excellent Tomb King faction for custom battle play in Warhammer 1, and it’s quite popular. We have 4-horse skeleton chariots, pyramid slaves as fodder, and skeleton infantry as base units.
The excitement really comes in when we consider that they have bone and/or mummy giants and sphinxes both large and mammoth-sized. Liche priests will likely come in several varieties as they are the mage class mostly responsible for the undead culture within the faction, to begin with. Tomb guards are going to be your elite infantry and various kings will serve as other legendary lords. Giant scorpions, flesh-eating scarab swarms, and sandworms are other possibilities.
Araby: Coastal Traders Figure to Have a Central Position
Filling out my DLC faction wishlist is the Araby faction. A combination of historical Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Many Sheiks and lesser Sultans are led by a great Sultan. In the lore, Sultan Jaffar, the most militaristic, was killed in battle already, but he may be made the leader if we see Araby as DLC.
The opposite of the Vampire Coast, Araby has a vibrant trading culture. Though the interior is harsh desert serving as a buffer between them and the Tomb Kings, the coast is full of spice markets, trading caravans, and proud mounted warriors. Though not quite Muslim, this is a fantasy world, after all, the culture and worships were different enough that Brettonia eventually launched crusades against Araby.
Unlike the Tomb Kings and Vampire Coast, we’re not certain we will see Araby as a playable faction, and their units and lords are sparse even in the tabletop game. We know that the winds of magic are exceptionally sparse in the desert land, hopefully, this will be present in the campaign and present challenges to players with magical lords hoping to invade.
Bringing back childhood memories of Aladdin, Araby will certainly feature genies and flying carpets powered by a desert magic independent from the standard winds of magic. Aside from that, we don’t have too many outlandish units aside from elephants. Arabian spearmen and camel knights form the core, but the trading culture might see mercenary units of elves and dwarves, and possibly giants.
Naval Battles: We’ve got the Sea, Now we Need to See the Action
We’ve covered the new map and possible factions, and with the new additions comes a glaring step back for the Total War franchise, no manual naval battles. While Warhammer is all about land battles, Total War has had epic siege and naval battles for quite some time.
The lack of manual naval battles wasn’t a big deal in Warhammer 1, as we hardly see the coast, especially with the first playable factions. But with the introduction of playable Brettonia and Norsca, we have more interest in the sea. Add in the eventual grand campaign and we have four continents and a central vortex “continent”. Lustria and Naggaroth have dozens of isolated islands and the great ocean serves as a barrier.
Given all of this, autoresolved naval battles would get extremely annoying in the long run, especially if there was a blockading fleet we knew we could handle but the computer just decides we have no chance against. Naval battles are hit or miss in terms of player enjoyment, but I think the freedom allowed in the Warhammer universe would keep them exciting and engaging.
Fringe Oldworld Factions Taking Center Stage
Remember Estalia? How about Tilea? The southern realms of Warhammer 1 didn’t often factor into the campaign, though I did have some epic clashes on one Dwarf playthrough. In the combined map of 1 and 2, Tilea is perfectly situated to venture out to the New Worlds, located where the oft seafaring Spain and Portugal would be.
Tilea and the Southern Realms also would be among the first encountered factions for those invading the Old World. Their pikemen and mobile pistoliers make for a unique challenge to get around. Aside from that, we can see such fun developments as Dwarf factions venturing out from The Black Gulf to invade the steamy jungles of the Southlands. If we did get Araby as a faction, they would certainly play a big role in the combined campaign.
Good Siege Battles, At Least Bring Back Minor City Battles
The sieges in Warhammer are quite disappointing as it currently stands. We will get to mods in a bit, but on the vanilla game, it’s sad and underwhelming. Narrow approaches, odd and infinite range towers and terrible pathfinding make me want to skip most sieges.
They can be stunningly beautiful landscapes, but unfortunately, the game engine limits us to a small section of the great cities. I can’t even remember all of the options in vanilla as I use mods to fix things, but I do remember that there weren’t even options to fight in minor unwalled cities. Like naval battles, sieges were scaled down so CA could devote their resources to the unique factions, flying units, and the always important land battles.
I get it, Warhammer is about land battles, but this is also a Total War game. A siege of Constantinople was one of the most epic things I’ve seen in a game and that was in Attila. If it was made a priority, I’m sure we could get some better sieges and some themed small towns to battle in.
Monster Animations that Mesh: Dragons Vs. Dinos
A small one, but one I have seen snippets of in trailers, I want to see monster units fighting like they were monstrously large, especially against other large units. The best look I have of this is in the first official gameplay trailer of Warhammer 2, a dragon lifting up a carnosaur and throwing it to the ground, in perfect animated glory. Hopefully, that will extend back to things like giants, so two giants fighting don’t just hit each other in the feet anymore.
I am also looking for spot-on animations of big creatures against humans. We saw a great in-engine reveal of the Dark Elf hydra, and boy was that awesome. A hell pit abomination can get away with randomly flailing, it’s practically a giant blob anyway, but the hydra has multiple heads that need to have attack animations that make sense. I have already seen a battle where a giant carnosaur seemed to be stuck in a loop of banging his tail on the ground and nothing else, so I am hoping we get variety and animations that make sense.
Many, Many Mods
Ah, the many possibilities of user game modifications. Since Rome 2, we have been graced with the ability to use the Steam Workshop to get mods for Total War games. You can do things for personal preference, like removing annoying AI agents, or add mods that make a very sensible change and balance out AI recruitment for their armies.
Though there is nothing specific, I just can’t wait for the array of mods to join the new Vortex campaign and the combined map. I guess I am hoping that CA we keep mods working as well as possible through Warhammer 1, 2, and the combined map. Hopefully, we don’t run into a host of compatibility issues forcing habitual modders like myself to sort through dozens of mods to find the problem.
Modders give Warhammer deeper gameplay and an extended future. If Warhammer somehow never adds the Tomb Kings, a modder sure will. If Mazdamundi is too powerful, or not powerful enough, there will probably be a day-one mod to fix that. I am still concerned with how CA will handle ocean crossings, but however it pans out, there will be a mod to change it every which way, and that’s why PC gaming is awesome.