Now that both Warhammer 2 and Mortal Empires have been out for a while, it is looking more and more like CA is struggling to deal with the scope of the trilogy. The one area where I believe this is more apparent is feature parity. Simply put, the Warhammer Trilogy is unlike anything else CA have done in the past. With previous games, CA would release a handful of DLCs, maybe an expansion and then move on to the next game. With the Warhammer Trilogy, the expectation is that as we move forward throughout Warhammer 2's lifecycle and eventually into Warhammer 3, CA will continue to iterate on old content and bring everything up to the same standard of features and quality. In this regard, the Warhammer Trilogy is closer to an MMO than a stand-alone, fire-and-forget game. Warhammer 2 may have the spotlight right now, but there is still demand for additional content for Game 1 factions. Judging by comments on social media, Reddit and these forums, there is also a customer desire for reworks, new features and further polishing of Game 1 factions.
To illustrate what I mean by feature parity let's look at two new features introduced with Game 2: Rites and Army Abilities. I think that going forward, most players (myself included) expect new races (both Game 2 DLC races and Game 3 races) to release with Rites and Army Abilities. Would you be disappointed if the Tomb Kings came out of the gate with no Rites and no Army Abilities? I have seen some CA folk argue that Rites are part of what defines and makes Game 2 factions unique. The argument seems to be that Rites are to Game 2 factions what mechanics like the Book of Grudges, Brayherds or Chivalry are to Game 1 factions. I would argue that Rites provide a system that can be used to deliver race-defining features (such as Black Arks to Dark Elves), but the system itself shouldn’t be considered race-defining. To see what I mean with this, we can take some Game 1 factions and use the Rite system to deliver faction-defining features. The cumbersome Greenskin WAAAGH! mechanic, for example, could instead be replaced with several WAAAGH! rites, one of which brings forth a controllable player army , and Fightiness could be repurposed as the currency required to unlock and activate these rites. For the Beastmen, the Morrslieb cycles could be repurposed as Rites that can be activated at any time, but only provide the full extent of their benefits when Morsslieb is close. One of these rites could unlock a Brayherd, and just like the previous example, Bestial Wrath could be repurposed as rite currency and earned by winning battles. As you can see, the Rites system provides a fantastic vehicle for adding more flavor (and in some cases redesigning) Game 1 races. For this reason, it is my hope that CA will eventually add Rites to Game 1 factions.
The discussion of feature parity doesn't end at Rites though. Mortal Empires has put Game 1 races and Game 2 races on the same map, and the current feature imbalance is staggering.
Just to name a few, in no particular order of importance:
- Siege battles that occur in settlements belonging to Game 2 factions have animated destruction of walls, towers and some town elements. These features have not made their way to Game 1 Siege maps yet; when the walls of an Empire settlement crumble in ME, they just disappear in a puff of smoke just as it happened in Game 1.
- Siege maps for Game 2 factions have more layout variety than siege maps for Game 1 factions. None of the new Game 2 siege map layouts have found their way into Siege maps for Game 1 factions.
- Game 2 Legendary Lords have Campaign Map dialogue, some of which is contextual (Malekith's "Abominable snow!" comes to mind). Game 1 Legendary lords don't.
- Game 2 Lords and Legendary Lords have voiced lines when they win or lose battles, as well as when you mouse over battle options such as Attack or Retreat. Game 1 Lords and Legendary Lords don't.
- Similar to the previous point, post-battle options also have voiced lines when the defeated faction is a Game 2 faction, but not when it is a Game 1 faction.
- Game 2 Lords, Legendary Lords and Heroes have unique voice lines when they go on water or when they are commanded to dock. This is not the case for Game 1 factions.
- Game 2 Lords and Legendary Lords have a standardized army skill line that allows them to focus on the units they want. They also have a unique veterancy skill (rank 7+). Furthermore, Game 2 Lords, in general, have unique and flavorful abilities. Skill trees for Game 1 Lords are bland in comparison, and often force you to spend army points on skills you don't want before you can unlock the upgrades for higher-tier troops.
- When playing as a Game 2 faction, clicking on a Settlement will sometimes provide some contextual dialogue about the state of the town (high corruption, low public order, high public order). This does not occur with Game 1 factions.
- All Game 2 factions have unique battle music, whereas several Game 1 factions share the same theme (the Wood Elves sharing the same battle theme as the Empire and Dwarfs is particularly weird as the theme does not fit them, in my opinion).
- The same post-battle loot option gives better and more desirable benefits to Game 2 factions than it does to Game 1 factions. A good example of this is the "Kill Captives" option, which increases unit experience by 100 points for Game 2 factions while only providing a temporary leadership buff to Game 1 factions.
- Similar to the above, post-battle loot is incredibly lopsided in favor of Game 2 factions. Game 2 factions typically earn 6,000 to 8,000 gold per battle whereas Game 1 factions rarely break 2,500 gold.
- Magical items and artifacts earned while playing as Game 2 factions are, in general, far more interesting, useful and powerful than those earned while playing Game 1 factions.
- In battle, synced animations do not play between Game 1 and Game 2 units (squigs won't eat Skaven or Elves, Trolls won't pick up Dark Elves or Lizardmen, Kroxigors won't eat Empire troops, etc.)
- Game 2 monsters, Lords and Heroes have synced combat animations. Game 1 monsters, Lords and heroes don't. Two Giants engaged in combat will attack each other's feet.
- In general, Game 1 factions and battle maps are not as well optimized as those of Game 2. The Vampire Counts, for example, tend to murder your FPS with the countless VFX that play in battle (especially if they bring Corpse Carts). The Empire with their Hold The Line! and their gunpowder units also suffer from this.
I am going to stop here, but you get the idea. Don't get me wrong, I love this game and I plan to ride the Warhammer Trilogy until the end. My concern is that CA doesn't have the resources to address the feature imbalance between Game 1 and Game 2 that Mortal Empires has brought to the spotlight. Or perhaps the issue is that CA never anticipated players still wanting content for Game 1 factions well after Game 2's release. The closest we have gotten to a polish pass on old content was the Foundation Update for Warhammer 1 which, quite frankly, only brought a handful of minor new things. I fear that the feature imbalance will only get worse from here on, and ultimately it will be up to modders to attempt to cobble together overhauls for the game.
My personal wish is for CA to dedicate an entire patch cycle to polishing and redesigning old content, to bring it up to par with the standards of Game 2. What are everyone's thoughts on this? Do you think the feature imbalance between Game 1 and Game 2 content is a problem?