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We’ve reached a point in total war’s lifetime. It’s 15 years since Total War started and it’s come a long way. Now we’ve got Attila, the successor to the initial failure of Rome 2, which was undoubtedly a flop on release to the dismay of many, along with Total War: Arena, a free to play battle MMO, Total War: Kingdoms and Total War: Warhammer. Attila has been a relative success with decent reviews and nowhere near the barrage which Rome 2 received due to it’s relatively bug free release with AI which is actually capable of using siege equipment without having to magic a few thousand flaming torches to burn down a metal gate. However it has some evident issues with multiplayer, campaign depth (in particular diplomacy) and AI are still are major issues in addition to CA’s marketing scheme which is very controversial. I’ll look at each of them, but will talk about how things are bad and how they should be improved in general for the whole series (with the exception of multiplayer).
Total War: Attila and Rome 2 were never multiplayer oriented games, unlike Shogun 2, with only around 5% who play multiplayer battles regularly. This has resulted in multiplayer being somewhat neglected with balancing currently... not great with Tagmata cavalry, Germanic Horsemen, Germanic archers, Uar Warriors (whose power is somewhat negated by the much more limited role infantry plays) and the lack of variety between the different German rosters which make up the majority of the playable factions.
Personally unit diversity isn’t as big as an issue provided that factions which aren’t the German factions are viable, which is sort of the case, but more factions will almost certainly be added as DLC or FreeLC (more probably the former unfortunately though). Many of the competitive players like the pace of battles and the roles which cavalry plays and I really like the pacing of battles, but infantry is currently a bit too weak, but multiplayer balancing is a discussion for another thread and balancing is extremely likely to improve.
What I want to talk about is whether CA should focus more on multiplayer in Attila and future total war games when they’ve got a totally multiplayer focused game in the form of Arena which is just around the corner. Frankly, they should do. CA should try and encourage more people to play multiplayer. Looking at the views of multiplayer videos by Heir of Carthage and other youtubers, shows that there are large amount of people who do watch it (and evidently enjoy it), but don’t actually play it. CA should be trying to encourage these players to start playing multiplayer as it can only be beneficial. How? I’m not totally sure as if CA make multiplayer battles easier to play like in Rome 2 EE, it just created more problems and drove more ‘hard core’ multiplayer battle players away due to it’s stale nature. However if battles become more micro-focused and skill based like in Rome 2 at release, it drives new players away due to the initial difficulty as if you don’t know the meta, you’d get wrecked. Some people may say, “So what? If the players aren’t focused and determined, too bad, I had to do the same thing.”
Should CA leave multiplayer as it is with a minority of players playing it or should it try and make it more ‘fun’ for casual players with Free for all or simply overhaul the system adding a sort of capture point system like the dojos in Shogun 2? Leave your thoughts on how Total War should act towards multiplayer below.
AI in Attila leaves a lot to be desired for a lot of Total War players. Just by looking at reviews of this game, which encouraged me to make this thread, it is one of the main contributing factors and that’s no surprise due to any Total War game requiring a good AI to be a good game. However, CAI is extremely difficult to develop, with the gap between what people expect and what is actually possible in the modern day for a game like total war.
People compare Attila to paradox games and Civilization, but Total War is a much more complicated game than them, some of them a re scripted and those games were in development for much longer. CA’s work on AI, has mainly been ignored due to it’s complexity and the fact that there are no other games like total war available to compare it to.
However, the AI is not clever. You can’t deny it. It may be cleverer, but it still isn’t clever enough to offer a real challenge without significant buffs and this is the weak point of total war games at the moment. You can only do so much balancing, improve graphics and add so many features, but the series can never improve as a whole and advance without a good CAI. I just hope that CA and SEGA will just allow more time for the next big total war to help polish the AI as much as possible, helping with reviews and allow the community to be a lot happier. There are many people who have stopped playing Total War games for Paradox games because the AI acts better in the latter. Even if AIs are more complicated to develop, the AI is still not great and will still drive people away as they see no advancement in AI. Battle AI is not actually that bad, with the exception of a few errors, it’s reasonable for a computer.
I know the series is called total war, but it’s meant to be a historical game and in history diplomacy was very important. In most total war games, you often have to wipe out a faction as the faction, despite the fact you repeatedly utterly annihilate all of the cheat full stacks they send at you, killing hundreds of thousands of soldiers from their only city, they never accept peace. In fact destroying their army just kaes them even less likely to accept peace. I know there are some cases where this was true e.g. the second punic war where Rome refused to surrender when Hannibal was rampaging through Italy, but the vast majority of the time, war ends in the surrender of one side and them giving up land or paying reparations. This hardly ever happens in Attila. It should be the other way round. You should mostly be able to get peace with people if you are soundly defeating them or are being beaten provided the loser pays, but with exceptions where some factions (dependent on the leader’s traits) will fight to the utter death. Also more options need to added in diplomacy e.g. give regions and make peace with.
Other depth issues are with sieges, the loss of siege equipment should result in a draw and the changing of capitals (if you can rename Rome to s*** hole, why can’t you change capitals?).
Perhaps one of the most annoying factors of Total War for some people are DLCs. The fact that 2 appear before the game is even a month old with factions that should have been in the base game for stupid prices. Unfortunately this is the way games are appearing to be going and like many others, it’s a bit... sad. However, people still buy DLCs which allows them to make money and that’s what businesses do, make money so you can’t blame CA. However, many people have had enough of it looking back to the days of Medieval 2 and Rome 1, when things were “all much better and more fun” with no bad AI and amazing unit balancing and more importantly no ridiculous DLCs. Whereas the latter is true, the former aren’t and without ranting, some people are unfair to the state of previous games. The point is that, even though DLCs are profitable, is it worth it for CA that they’re driving away loyal members of the community in their rose-tinted nostalgia are running to other grand strategy series and would otherwise continue to buy future games in the series.
CA and Total War has come a long way since the days of shogun 1, but looking to the future, to keep the series successful with a large happy community, CA must try and:
- Pay more attention to multiplayer. Even though more people play campaign, by paying more attention you keep multiplayer players happy and buying in addition to help attract new players to try out and start playing multiplayer. You can do this by making balance better which makes people who watch youtube videos warm to multiplayer more instead of seeing it as an unbalanced, meta dominated small community full of people who will wreck me as the friendly group of helpful players playing – a hopefully by then balanced game – which it actually is.
- Try and spend more time on the next big game to make it as good as possible by spending more time on it developing the AI and a better suited engine with great depth, but still keep up stopping previous older games from rotting away (as CA have done to Rome 2 after the release of Attila, which annoys me greatly as there still is a lot of potential in Rome 2 and more people play it than Attila currently). This sounds like a lot and I don’t expect CA to do it, but if it does happen, I don’t care whether it takes 3 years to develop the game, it will attract many people to the series who will hopefully stick to it becoming loyal buyers and produce an amazing game. I’m probably dreaming though, but let’s hope CA prove me wrong.
However this comes at a cost. The cost of money. If there aren't enough games being released, there isn't enough money, so I'm not sure if it's logistically possible.
- Try to not release a load of unit pack or culture pack DLCs straight after the release of the game.
Thanks for reading this really long post and I hope it all made sense. I would love to hear what other people think about what total war should aim for to make the next 15 years even better than the last 15 years.