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To start off, let it be known that I am a huge fan of Total War games, and I care a lot about them and their success (otherwise I wouldn't have posted this). Creative Assembly generally make some pretty good, solid games, nevertheless Rome II has some large gaping issues and a lot of things that could have been done far better.
Here is a proposed list of, in my opinion, what those things are. My experience for this is largely based off of Rome: Total War, Medieval II: Total War, Empire: Total War and a little bit of Shogun II: Total War.
Here are some proposed assorted revisions to Rome 2.
So, firstly, let's forget about the rampant bugs that CA is inevitably going to fix anyway, such as;
1. Unaggressive AI
2. AI that does anything to hold/gain capture points, i.e. charging a phalanx with cavalry to try and get to the capture point behind it.
3. AI that does not properly use walls to their full advantage in siege battles and instead sits at the capture points letting me take the walls easily.
4. AI that sucks at Diplomacy and won't do anything, even if it’s mutually beneficial (i.e. trade agreements).
5. Various graphical and technical issues, i.e. floating ships.
6. Lengthy wait times when ending your turn due to a large amount of other Factions.
7. Poor navy battles and implementation of navy tactics.
8. Pathfinding issues, especially noticeable in boarding and disembarking of navy units.
9. Unit ‘mobbing’ where fights between units just become giant mosh pits and no units stay properly in formation.
10. Units breaking, routing and shattering far too easily resulting in very short unsatisfying battles.
11. Very odd timescales in battles, for instance did you know that if you are capturing a capture point and you speed up the time-scale the speed at which it captures actually stays the same.
Instead let's focus on some aspects of the game that CA may think they have got right, but that I would contest they have got sorely wrong. So here are some things that, in my opinion, need to be changed or added to Rome II.
Some of these were present in previous Total War games, some of them were even present in Rome: Total War.
They are as follows;
1. Fix the amount and strength of archer units.
Archers need to have a greater range than slingers, factions need to have more archer unit types available, and missile units overall need to be more effective, the order of effectiveness (accuracy/damage) should be Archers > Slingers > Javelins, with each having their own particular benefits in various situations.
2. Fix the ‘buff/debuff’ system.
The General/Admiral/Unit 'buff/debuff' system (similar to StarCraft 2) should be optional, i.e. disabled on harder difficulties for both AI and human players. This means that the General only buffs the morale of units within a certain radii and neither he nor individual units have any added 'special abilities', except where they make sense such as Spartan hoplites forming a Phalanx (for reference on how to do this properly refer to Rome: Total War).
3. Bring back Family Trees.
Bring them back for all of the houses within your faction (i.e. Rome; Julia, Junia, Cornelii and other houses), complete with sons and daughters, or at least just for the house you choose at the start of the game (and have the other trees run hidden in the background).
4. Bring back Governors (Statesmen).
The system of sending Generals to govern settlements that existed in Rome: Total War, Medieval: Total War and other Total War games was a great and very realistic system.
This system has the potential to be really well integrated into the political system boasted in Rome II, i.e. an overly ambitious General or Governor can be sent to govern a small settlement on the other side of your Empire, thus reducing the chance that he mounts any sort of political rebellion on you (but perhaps increasing the chance of him mounting a military rebellion).
5. Slow down the time-scale of the game.
Setting the time-scale to '1 turn = 6 months' or '1 turn = 3 months' instead of '1 turn = 1 year' so that family members last a decent amount of time, and don't die off as soon as they become really useful, is a necessary change. In addition this could bring back campaign seasonal map changes, and this would, in turn (slight pun), fix the issues with battles that come from this. What I mean by that is one time I was fighting a battle and the default setting of the battle when the battle map loaded in was 'Snow', when I waited it changed to 'Dry', I waited again and it changed to 'Fog', and then back to 'Dry'. This is clearly a bug as there is no way that a snowy region could suddenly all melt and leave no soggy earth within a reasonable amount of time.
Changing the turn time-scale would also solve the issue of attrition applying to sieging/besieged armies on the very first turn.
6. Revise the economic system in the game.
Improve trade relations and trade diplomacy so that it's a bit more in-depth and interesting. At the moment it’s fairly simple; get trade agreements with as many people as possible to make more money (although the AI makes that so hard to do), and there is no evidence of any supply and demand mechanics that the player and AI can manipulate.
7. Revise the settlement construction system.
This point ties in with point 6, but the settlement construction system is really convoluted and rather annoying (a little unrealistic too, but it is a game after all). I much preferred the system of Rome: Total War and Medieval II: Total War where you could build everything with a few exceptions based on geography, choice or culture (i.e. no aqueducts if you weren’t Roman, and the various Temple choices for each Faction).
Why should Rome have to choose between a Harbour and a Shipwright? It's Rome! The powerhouse of your Empire! Really, though, what IS the difference between the two? Realistically cannot a Harbour serve the same purpose as a Shipwright and vice versa, or can't we have both?
The limited construction made sense in the context of the small-scale map in Shogun II (Samurai-era Japan, a small nation in any case), but it makes no sense at all when settlements/provinces are spanning huge regions of the map, such as in Rome II. For example the Italia province consists of 4 settlements, meaning there are 18 building slots (14 if you don't include the city slot), however this region is actually a huge chunk of modern day middle-Italy!
In addition to this the public order effects of higher-tiered buildings need to be heavily modified and edited. In the context of Shogun II it made sense to have a negative public order effect on some buildings, as there was a conflict among the citizenry as to whether or not they should modernise industry or stay more traditional, and thus this conflict was accurately represented in public order effects.
However in Rome II there is no such historical conflict that I am aware of, certain buildings make sense, but why should my Roman Tier III Armourer have -12 Public Order attached to it!?
8. Revise the taxation system.
The taxation system in Rome II is bad, really bad. It's silly that you have to set taxes across your WHOLE EMPIRE and cannot even set them individually for each province let alone each settlement.
Add the option for us to set taxes provincially and, better yet, per settlement. As it currently stands I have two options of manipulating taxes to improve public order in a settlement/province;
A. Reduce taxes across my whole empire.
B. Keep taxes high and simply not tax that whole province at all.
9. General/Admiral Cinematic Speeches.
Bring back the speeches made by Generals before each battle where all the units cheer and listen to him, they were really cool cinematics. While I realise the General still gives a speech, and some of them are really good/funny, they just don't feel as epic as they have in, for example, Shogun II: Total War.
10. Public Order.
There needs to be more methods of controlling public order, setting taxes per settlement is a start, as is revising the construction system, but options to ‘Exterminate’, ‘Oppress’, ‘Suppress’, ‘Repress’ and ‘Enslave’ certain citizens of a settlement would be a really nice addition and could add a lot of variety to the game that is easy for players to understand, as well as potentially influencing the stats and traits of your General/Governor.
This point does also tie into point 7 which relates to the construction system.
11. Revise Settlement Sacking/Looting and Razing mechanics.
Sacking and Razing cities needs to be revised, currently there seems to be no reason to EVER raze a city, and sacking/looting a city wrecks the whole provinces public order so much that you end up having to not tax that whole province and lose more money than you gained by sacking/looting the settlement.
There needs to be an option to 'Sack and Occupy' and the option to simply ‘Sack’, so you can loot the city and then not have to manage it at all (rather than let it rebel), this accurately reflects Barbarian tactics too.
Razing a city also needs a 'Raze and Occupy' option so the regular 'Raze' option does not require you to take it over, and therefore can be used to hurt an enemy city that you don't want to take as you don't think you can govern it properly or that it is in an bad strategic location.
Where the 'Raze and Occupy' option can be used to cleanse the city of buildings that you would need to replace anyway as they are from a different culture.
Razing should also have a large monetary reward.
I'm not too sure if, currently, sacking/razing a city reduce provincial instability or adds to provincial instability, but I think it should reduce instability in a region, as any would-be rebels are dead (or at least you should perhaps have an 'Exterminate', 'Oppress', 'Suppress', 'Repress' option to control the lower classes too?).
Bring back the ability for me to set my own garrisons for each settlement rather than having them predefined based on the buildings which I build (not that this would matter as much if the construction system was revised properly).
The amount of units in a garrison should be restricted based on the level of the military building in the settlement and if it’s a provincial capital or not, but the makeup of that garrison should be completely up to the player.
Increasing the garrison could also then be used as another method of controlling public order, as in other Total War games.
13. Building bonuses/upgrades.
Some versions of buildings (usually higher-tier buildings) currently have strange negative effects on public order, through ‘squalor’, and these need to be mitigated by other buildings, upgrades, or new methods of controlling public order, i.e. refer to point 7 and 10.
Currently units rout very oddly (and far too quickly), that is to say they run in straight lines and you can’t mow them down and capture lots of them like you could in Rome: Total War and Medieval II: Total War, nor is there an option to ransom prisoners.
15. 'Guard Mode'.
This and various other ‘modes’ (such as loose formation) present in previous iterations of the Total War series need to be brought back or implemented more explicitly. I don't want to hear any arguments that the people of 200BC were incapable of spreading out to minimise the amount of them that get smacked in the face by an incoming boulder hurled by a catapult.
16. Unit formations.
Units should not have to be locked into a group to have their formation locked and for them to stay in the formation that you set. Alt+rightclick when moving should automatically keep them in the set formation, as it did in previous Total War games.
17. The UI.
The UI is not good at all at displaying the information in an easy accessible manner, Rome: Total War, Medieval II: Total War and Shogun II: Total War are far better at this. It’s hard to describe but it feels a little sloppier, more so on the Campaign Map than on the Battle Map.
The Tech Tree in Shogun II: Total War was far better at displaying all the information needed than the Rome II one.
18. Senate/Noble/Chief Missions.
Bring back senate missions, or at least increase how many 'active missions' are handed out, at the moment they don't happen that often and this could be used to give players a direction especially in relation to settlement construction and management if those systems are expanded on in the way I propose.
Possibly implement Noble/Chief missions for Factions other than Rome, i.e. Carthage or the Suebi.
The SPQR should be consistently requesting various actions to be taken, such as requesting the that family members from various houses be assigned to govern settlements or manage armies. Offering reward if you comply, detriment if you do not. Family members should also take initiative and request assignment to increasingly higher positions which they aspire to, but only if their Gravitas level is appropriately high enough (as it is representative of ambition).
This would create a much needed relationship between balancing Senate/Noble/Chief politics while also balancing the ambitions of your Generals/Governors.
Spies, Champions and Dignitaries are very interchangeable. That is you can accomplish the same task with any one of them.
Perhaps add some default bonuses to each agent when attempting each task, such as Dignitaries being better at ‘Persuade’ or ‘Tempt’ than Champions and Spies, and Spies being better at assassinating, etc.
It would be cool to bring back the physical appearance changes for Agents as they level up.
Slaves are great, but they don't seem to do much other than wreck my public order, i.e. one of my settlements was 25% slaves and it added no income benefit at all, why?
In addition to this when making decisions such as enslaving captured soldiers it should tell you where they are being sent and what public order/economic effect they will have there.
21. Political Offices.
Securing the promotions of your generals/statesmen is pretty cool, but currently there's no way to tell where in the hierarchy they fit in, unlike in Rome: Total War where you could easily tell where they slotted in as Aedile or Consul, etc.
22. The Currency.
Why is the currency in the game called ‘Talents’ and not ‘Denarii’?
It has come to my understanding that a 'Talent' is a measurement of weight utilised in the era, however it differed between various nations (i.e. a Roman 'talent' weighed more than a Greek one).
So that, in my eyes, is everything wrong with Rome II that I've noticed so far, putting aside the obvious AI bugs and graphical issues.
Now let's talk about the few things Rome II did right;
Agents are still really fun to use and I have a blast using my Spies, Champions, and Dignitaries. Hopefully if the AI is fixed they use them against me and each other a bit more, Spies should also increase the chance of detecting foreign spies, especially if they are higher ranked (if they don't already).
The only issue is they die really quickly because of the turn time-scale and are all very similar to one another, but that has already been discussed
2. Combined battles.
These are awesome, and I wish my computer was better so that I could play them in their full glory. They are really cool and hopefully the implementation of them is cleaned up a bit, as it’s a bit buggy at the moment.
3. Army stances.
These are a really nice addition. Ambush and fortify are lots of fun (although the forts can be a bit small sometimes, and need to be scaled to army size and unit scale, i.e. small/normal/large/huge), as it’s nice not to have to hide in trees or pay for a fort like in Rome: Total War.
My only gripe here is that you cannot attack other armies while in the ‘Force March’ stance. Nor can you use it to move somewhere, and then turn it off and attack. The lack of this has led me to chasing after an army in no stance trying to attack them as they run away in forced march so I never catch up, or chase them in forced march, catch up, but be unable to do anything.
4. Unit replenishment.
The way that units replenish over time in friendly territory is great, it’s nice not to have to retrain units all the time as in previous Total War games, and the system is really easy and intuitive to manage.
It would be nice to be able to upgrade my experienced Leves to Velites, though, but a small point.
Provincial edicts are very nice and fun to use, they add useful bonuses and really give the player a sense of managing a classical Empire (it always reminds me of Monty Python’s Life of Brian).
However I don't think there should be any limit to provincial edicts. Instead implement some faction-wide edicts that are limited by Imperium, i.e. 1 new Faction-wide edict slot per level of Imperium.
The list of things that other factions like and dislike about you is nice and should make diplomacy less of a puzzle. However we’re all still waiting for this to reach its full potential as diplomacy is still in a shambles.
7. The map is huge and awesome.
No explanation needed, it’s great, even though my terrible computer slogs along.
8. The Objective system.
I really like this as it gives direction to the player and offers some decent rewards to help you on your way to building a big Empire. Although I think rewards for bonus objectives should be awarded immediately, simply because playing as the Suebi I would attack a Germanic faction and my ‘Declare War on Germanic Tribes’ count would go up by 1, but then I would defeat them, they would be destroyed, and my count would return to 0.
10. Unit recruitment.
Unit recruitment is so much better than in other Total War games, and would be even better if the construction system was revised.
The tradition system is amazing and really cool, as is the General/Agent rank system. It’s really nice to have my Legio III Victis or my Dread Beserkers be feared across the lands!
Both of these devices would work really well with Governors so you can give those characters all the traits that boost regional growth and stability.
12. The Technology Tree.
I like this addition, and it is different for each Faction so there is a lot of variety. However at the moment it’s really neither here nor there, especially considering winning an economic victory without any military expansion is not really possible due to the simplicity of trade (i.e. its often more profitable to simply capture a province than trade with it).
I like the household system, although honestly I preferred the ancillary system as with this system I just end up accruing masses of household traits that I never use. It would be better if you could use more than one (say; 3?), and trade them between generals and... dare I say; Governors?
The political system is okay and definitely has a lot of potential. It’s not as good as Rome: Total War or even as good as ‘the Pope’ in Medieval II: Total War, but the potential is definitely there. Currently it is severely underused and political stuff happens so rarely that it's almost not worth mentioning.
When looking back over the videos of Creative Assembly describing the political system it sounds like they’re talking about a different game. I think it’s clear that a big chunk of this system got cut from the game due to time constraints. I’d like to see it added back in for free, not as DLC (although I’m such a fan I’d probably buy it anyway).
In addition stop making us pay money to assassinate political targets when we have plenty of agents who could accomplish that feat!
15. Empire or Republic?
The choice, for Rome anyway, between an Empire and a Republic was really cool. Putting aside how insane the balance of the Civil War was, the concept of the choice itself was cool. Having said that there’s not enough incentive, for me anyway, to stay as a Republic (other than for the sake of being a Republic) because the Senate is so unimportant in comparison to Rome: Total War.
Anyway that's all from me, if you actually sat through and read all of this then you're amazing. Feel free to add to/criticise everything up here.
TL;DR - Rome II is good but misses the mark on a lot of things.