Game of the Year
Release Date: September 28, 2017
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy / Real Time Tactics
Developer: Creative Assembly
Aside from its optimization, Total War: WARHAMMER II is everything we hoped it would be. While it was again a controversial release, most of the controversy stems from ignorance. If you already own Total War: WARHAMMER, then you get the Mortal Empires expansion for WARHAMMER II for no extra charge. Mortal Empires merges both games into one, giving you a strategy game with unparalleled scale for the type of game and level of detail it provides. Too many factions to count, so much content that you will probably never get to it all. WARHAMMER II also includes its own Vortex campaign by default, a more focused campaign as it centers around one main objective, making for interesting and distinct gameplay.
Like previous Total War games, WARHAMMER II is like two games in one, speaking figuratively (since it literally is with Mortal Empires). I would say roughly 65% of a campaign takes place on the Campaign Map, where it plays as a highly detailed Turn-Based Strategy game in which you play as your faction’s ruler (like a King and also a General). Here you will govern your people and your cities, take part in diplomacy, expand and move your armies, everything a King and a General does. Other factions do the same thing, with perhaps the most dynamic AI in gaming. The Campaign Map alone compromises more varied gameplay, more content, and more detail than most other strategy games, and again that’s only about 65% of the game.
The other 35% of gameplay are the battles, in which you play as the field commander. This component showcases the Real Time Tactics (RTT) gameplay of Total War. Like the Turn-Based Strategy Campaign Map and like its predecessors, the battles of WARHAMMER II consist of more intricate tactics and detailed mechanics, and far more detailed visuals than most other RTT games.
An analogy I like to use is, Total War is like the Neverwinter Nights 2 of strategy games, or the Arma of strategy games (although the Total War franchise predates both of these). What this means is, all of these games feature just about everything and far more that all games of the same genre/subgenre have (these being historical and now fantasy war themed strategy games excluding Grand Strategy, fantasy tactical RPG for Neverwinter Nights 2, and war themed shooter for Arma), and it does just about all of it better in nearly all objective ways possible.
The gameplay diversity of WARHAMMER II is out of this world. The amount of factions and how different they are, with core mechanics changing depending on the faction. You can play as more normal human factions such as Bretonnia or the Empire, with soldiers that will range from warriors to archers to gunmen to steampunk creations as well as magic. Or play as the reclusive Wood Elves, plague spreading Clan Pestilens and their steampunk creations, simpler barbaric factions with Orcs and Goblins and Trolls, command dragons and phoenixes and great eagles as High Elves, play as the undead Vampires and soon Tomb Kings, or highly defensive Dwarfs with their unique technology, or Chaos themselves, there is no end to it.
Mortal Empires features the largest and most diverse campaign map in Total War history, and you will see all kinds of land from forests to grasslands, deserts, wastelands, and more. You can play WARHAMMER for 10 years and all of it would be unique content.
Most strategy games can only compare to one of the two main elements of Total War, and they almost always lose in detail. Yet WARHAMMER II manages to combine both into one epic game. WARHAMMER II features new campaign mechanics and the most detailed units and models in Total War history. Combined with Mortal Empires and the first game, it seems too good to be true. It would be if it had good, modern optimization. It uses DX12 but hardly benefits from it. Any Ryzen 5 processor performs the same as any Ryzen 7 processor, which performs the same as the Core i7 8700k and any Skylake-X processor in WARHAMMER II, and Ryzen 3 and Coffee Lake Core i3 lose by less than 10%. Shows how much potential performance Ryzen 5 / Coffee Lake Core i5 and above users are losing.