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[First impressions] The Ancestral Update

The_baronThe_baron Registered Users Posts: 646
edited July 2018 in General Discussion
*A quick note* My first TW game was Rome! I can't describe the impact it had on me but I can surely say that after playing for a decade before that Heroes of Might and Magic 3 , having the numbers replaced with actual troops on the field blow my mind ! but Rome for me was only half about the battles, the other half was about the long road to secure the top position in Rome, climbing the power structures of the senate balancing out the internal politics while at the same time pushing Rome's external enemies to the brink of extinction! TD;LR (comment only if you read the whole thread)

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When Rome II came out it was a huge disappointment ! No ... it wasn't for the bugs - bugs can be fixed, it was for the lacking mechanisms one would have expected after playing Rome I for many years before.

Now obviously expectations are something that very subjective in a sense but in another sense, making a follow up for a specific title creates those expectations ! and for me and many others the disappointment came in from the lack of gameplay aspects surrounding the internal politics of Rome. A good example for a missing feature was the much desired Family Tree which had two rules in old Rome : The story telling of a linage father to son and their heroics on the campaign and the general political story of Rome as player's attempt to make sure it is his family in control of all the top positions on the senate.

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Its often said, better late than never, and in general I agree but this lateness had a cost and I will dive into the cost as I explain my experience from playing the game after the patch.

In general the additions in the last two patches to the game were much needed, its the depth that was missing from the time of release ! Finally the player has some control about things such as Session which had been proved as a better and improved system over the old Civil War ! and with the recent patch the player also now has more control over the characters that make up the political world of Rome. The problem is that it feels as if those were suppose to be the core mechanics and by now, almost 2019, we should have had an improvement for those core mechanics and not just now getting introduced to them.

So let me elaborate, I had not a single minute played in Attila as I have seen it as the reason for why Rome II failed so badly - they rushed to get Attila out at the cost of cutting features such as the politics and character intrigue from Rome II. I had a glance at those features in Attila (via a friends copy) and for the time of Attila's release they were certainly an ambitious attempt for improving the much outdated Rome I political and character aspect of the game. The result wasn't perfect but it was a good attempt for its time, in comparison Rome II update that came out features a system that is still lacking in certain aspects compared to Attila and at the same time suffers from the same problem Attila's system suffered but only instead of it being 2014 ... its almost 2019.

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So lets dive into the details now !

'Experience , only on the battlefield' : People enjoy systems were they get rewarded for their actions, so for example TW always did quite well in rewarding the player for winning the battles he fought , whether it was via receiving traits or great battle landmarks in Rome I and Medieval II or via ranks and captives and even via capturing settlements in later TW games ! The games who combined as many of those features above just made for a better TW experience. However Attila's political system which now entered Rome II is lacking exactly on that ! pressing 'secure promotion' is nothing but lacking any enthusiasm and waiting for age instead of having miraculous characters that could put Augustus Ceaser to shame takes out even more of the connection the player has with his characters and the political system.

Solution : Simple - Politicians gain experience ! successful missions will aid to increase faster the politicians rank ! Now that there is 20+ intrigues there is plenty of ways to help your characters gain experience ! correlate the level of the character to its success chances leading the player to try to build up different family members for different jobs with different stats ! add critical success and failures, so for example a critical success for provoking/insulting/spreading rumors will only reduce the target's -1 authority/zeal/cunning without reducing the political standing with the other faction ! (everytime I wanted to reduce another targets states was in order to improve relationship with them which was ironic cause it would have cost me political standing with all factions). All characters including the family leader should gain levels and experience, those should be indicated on the political screen with a rank bar when selecting a character and the ranks shouldn't be corresponding with a position - which leads me to the next point.

'Securing position' : Instead of having all your characters climb up to the same position how about bringing back the way it was in Rome I with a flavor of how it was preformed in Empire. One of the few good features Empire had(!) was senate/government positions ! climbing the political ranks will open up the option to contest other factions for top political positions which will give special personal and factionwide bonuses depending on whether the position is held by the player's faction or not, in order to secure it the player will need to be in with as much favour with as many of the political factions and spend influence to secure it, a risk and balance worth working towards for ! (p.s. swap the title dictator with co-consul for the republic and dictator for empire)

'Daily routine' : The character intrigue is definitely a feature I love , I like the fact the player has the ability to impact the characters around him and he may chose to spend cash or influence or both to advance his plots not only in the field but also back home. However a lot of the intrigues turn into a game of heavy micromanagement as there is no passive activities or long time activities (except vacation) that make use of the character and improves it without having the need to constantly every turn use it ... this might not be a problem early game but as your character pool grows larger micromanaging everyone becomes tiresome

Solution : more passive abilities to gain rank and experience for politicians, maybe missions should take longer then a turn to achieve making the decision to go on a mission with a character more impact as you won't be able to use it longer but at the same time won't have to micromanage it every turn. Another possibility is to give a passive / active for each of the intrigues making the active intrigue for example a tool to allow the player to achive greater things faster with the critical chances I mentioned earlier but with passive it will be much slower and with no critical chances.

Political rivalry : As mentioned at the start of the post on of the feelings that escorted my Rome I gameplay was the feeling of competition with the other power houses of Rome , the updates did bring up some visuals and mechanics that introduced it to Rome II however I don't feel the competition much if at all. Its good that there are predictable ways of improving your standing and that you can with skill take control over the senate and still be likable ! but since its so easy there is no reward in doing it, its so easy its almost feel skilless ... and most of it is because the AI doesn't 'fight back'. This happens due to a few reasons -
a) The other political factions don't grow in numbers unless the player 'helps' them by recruiting new politicians this in turn means that they garner less influence and less power in the senate. the player's best strategy is just to wait for opportunities to expand his family / get 'other nobles' and to overwhelm the AI with ease.
b) Political factions seem to have no relationship between them , nor does it seem like there is relationship between the characters in a specific political faction. This means they don't boost each other or support each other which is the exact thing I would love to see in a political struggle either towards the player or towards other political factions ! without it the whole political field feels like 1v1 1v1 1v1 isntead of FFA / TEAMPLAY and obviously on the first mention of the two is the easiest to deal with.
c) AI political factions missions, those are rare and often it seems like they are unrelated to a specific faction or character, which means the AI unless again being 'helped' by the player will gain next to nothing in terms of political advancement. Now obviously with the lack of infinite recruitment pool of politicians/generals from your family some usage of other political faction figures might be done early on to help your faction grow but as soon as you grow a bit in your character pool due to the short time for missions there is no reason to do to much with the other political faction members which deny their growth and impact !
d) AI factions don't seem to try to provoke/insult/spread rumors/praise and so on to improve themselves or other political factions from their faction or other factions.

Solutions : So in order for the other political factions to 'fight back' we need -
a) Political factions should have each one of them their own family tree (which should be accessible to view) this in turn means they will expand and grow, husbands and wives children and successors and also from time to time the occasional 'other nobles' added to the family.
b) with having a family tree the AI should aim to boost his own and with more members under his control he will be able to gain more levels and experience and therefore influence. If not on himself the AI should from time to time compliment factions he is in good standing with whether it is the player or other political AI factions hence allowing AI characters grow even stronger with more states at their disposal. In turn this will lead to stronger AI political factions which give a fight for the senate sits not only as single entities but also as a collective.
c) So basically I would love to see the AI uses his politicians to gather food and public order in his territories in order to gain more influence while balancing it out with his standing with other factions (he won't have revolt but he shouldn't get disloyalty of 100 without fear). This means that the AI will gain more for the player from time to time but at the same time he will also be boosting himself (maybe bonus the AI for those actions depending on game difficulty to give more challenge). So for the player it might be a welcome touch at a certain times but one with a cost :)
d) AI political factions should interact more with each other, trying and failing to boost or reduce each others stats including the players ! This will give the senate a meaning - when a political faction provokes you , you will want to retaliate ! let the senate be what it was - a battleground with words instead of swords !


Republic and Empire : Now this one has felt wrong for me ever since the Politics patch, mainly because it just didn't portray the different you would expect from the two government types with the new patch out I think like its a good opportunity to update this difference to what it should as now there is more depth to explore.

Solution : In the republic the political fight is mainly done at the senate floor , therefore the political factions who feel as they have power even when standing on lower grounds, would fight with words rather than actions. So a good start of for difference should be what kind of political intrigue you should expect in each government type. Insults , Rumors , provocations all of those should be encountered more often in a republic as some political factions play more dirty than others ! however assassinations those are extreme tools who are often used only by those who are desperate, therefore the play would more likely to encounter them while leading a Dictatorship as an emperor.

at the moment empire has greater benefits than republic but I am leaning towards giving equal footing for both but with republic to be equal more effort needs to be placed. So for example if there would be 'government' positions then a republic they are being chosen by all political factions and therefore won't necessarily be in the control of the player whoever in an empire you could point who ever you want to which position you want ! at the moment the empire is a bit more reflective of the military oriented government type it is which is good but it can be relfected even further with more bonuses for republic to fields such as diplomacy with foreign factions or growth and food which will reflect the more free society.

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The real weakness of this patch coming so late is that the game system feels old, while I am a graphics **** I can say that Rome II with its graphical update is still very much relevant and I enjoy its graphics - yes ToB and WH look better - but I believe that Rome II aged pretty well. So if not the graphics where is the problem ? the problem is the game AI mostly the campaign game AI... going back to Rome II for this patch I got reminded of all the small quirks and issues the AI had which plagued my game experience.

Its also a problem in compared to newer games in the manner that with newer games there is hopes for patches of the scale of this patch which change the game on drastic levels ! with Rome II while the patch was a very welcome surprise I don't have much expectations for any of the issues and suggestions I discussed in this thread to be resolved / improved with further patches of this scale (implementing government positions , changing the political faction AI , politician ranking and experience, adding family tree and other nobles for each political faction all of those changes are quite some work - mostly the government positions and election and ranking for politicians).

What CA added now was suppose to be the core that should have been released back at 2013~ what I suggested now was suppose to be the additions to set up for the next DLC in 2018.

I said after Rome II came out that family tree unlike what CA claimed was very much possible and missing it was a huge mistake, my suggestions in this thread are very much possible and could make the game even much better but at the end of the day CA is still gonna be limited when comes to change basic mechanisms such as diplomacy and AI battle and that is where the real age of Rome II is gonna be felt.

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Minor details:

Agents and Generals : The revamp of the Agent skills ( and some of the general skills is impressive ! I haven't seen all the changes and surely some of them are a welcome addition , there is no need to mention that the spy before with poison was OP ;). However I am feeling that due to the heavy limit on agent count some abilities are much less attractive than others and in some cases with some agents I found my self not wanting to spend a point on any of the 6 level 1 skills.

Children and the dead : I don't understand why you can't select children or dead people to see what they had or going to have when coming of age but a more important issue while I am so glad for the return of the family tree to Rome, it seems that unlike Rome I Children don't feel belonging much the their parents. In Rome I / Medieval II I remember children would inherit traits from their parents, so for example a child on a general who kicks as versus the barbarians might gain the dislikes barbarian trait as soon as he gets of age ! which meant potential for greater leaders if they are being raised by great leaders !

Can there be to many women ? : I love the fact that women play a bigger rule in the game now ! I love that they can work behind the curtains of politics influencing what is going on ! Its one of the best additions to the game and the portraits look quite nice as well ! however it feels like half of the map is now being ruled by women , don't get me wrong some of the old world had prominent women and even women leaders but that was quite a rare case and it does take the game more into the fictional realm when 50% of the faction leaders are women ...

Black is the new black ? : The menus of the Political and Factional tabs are quite lacking , some background of marble / wood or even a nice picture would add so much , some factional flag decoration on the sides is also a nice addition but most of all - the portraits :/ a lot of them look out of position and with the black background they just look hideous or awkward , the Diplomacy menu and the Agents portrait already feature some really nice backgrounds which can be used - please add those to the political tab as they are really missing ! (if you want to put effort you can make a senate floor background ^_^ )

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Final verdict (for now) :

I think this is a great patch, I love the fact CA gave attention to a game that featured probably the most beloved historical time period despite the fact its getting old ! I did enjoy the new additions but at the same time I feel that as things are at the moment those additions are still tedious and not rewarding. They give a lot more depth to the updates which introduced in the former patch but as I said without features such as : politician ranks and experience and government positions and with a bit less micro intensive control, this system will feel lacking.


Shoutout to the person who added this "PULLO ! SINGLE FORMATION !" the TV SHOW Rome was and will be probably one of the best TV shows ever and now that I know there is someone at CA who actually appreciated a master piece of this magnitude which showed us how politics are done ... maybe I can hope he will read this thread and the suggestions and understand why its a must implement into the game !
Post edited by The_baron on

Comments

  • ItharusItharus Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 12,531
    A way around the agent unit limit:

    Convert other faction's agents.

    You can go over your limit when you do it that way...

    ...well... I assume you can still convert enemy agents? I'm not actually sure if that's still possible...

    In the last version of the game it's basically the only way you could stay competitive when 20987234689625342734 agents come down on you -- by making them all yours!
  • The_baronThe_baron Registered Users Posts: 646
    @Itharus better check then before posting ;)

    I don't know personally if its possible or not , but I haven't seen an option , didn't dig deep enough.Even then you are restricted by the limit till you find other agents to convert.
  • RonBurgundyRonBurgundy Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 2,354
    edited July 2018
    Good points!
    Team Mercia

    Team Picts

    Team WRE
  • The_baronThe_baron Registered Users Posts: 646
    @RonBurgundy Thank you my friend !

    if you have any criticism or points you think can be improved upon feel free to share (but refer to the original point ;) )
  • ShiroAmakusa75ShiroAmakusa75 Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 31,904
    Itharus said:

    A way around the agent unit limit:

    Convert other faction's agents.

    You can go over your limit when you do it that way...

    ...well... I assume you can still convert enemy agents? I'm not actually sure if that's still possible...

    In the last version of the game it's basically the only way you could stay competitive when 20987234689625342734 agents come down on you -- by making them all yours!

    That has already been removed in the ED update. If you try to convert agents beyond your limits, the converted agents will immediately die.

    Considering that agent actions have been completely revamped and poisoning is now only available to very high level agents, I think it's not so bad anymore.

  • ItharusItharus Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 12,531
  • HugothesterHugothester Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 566
    Listen carefully to this:
    Look in the wrokshop for a mod called Rome 2 HD Textures (Outdated) and install it right away.

    I know it says outdated, do not mind it, it works just fine with the new version. You will get amazing HD terrain textures in the campaign map which makes the game look 2018 if you use it with the new lightning options.

    I am absolutely amazed with the new changes, not only the AI works waaaay better (except in forts, they leave it for some reason and not defend it), but graphichs have improved a lot and the new political system and family tree are amazing.

    It took 5 years, but I finally got the Rome 2 Total War I originally wanted.
    Biggest Spanish total war youtube Channel
    https://www.youtube.com/user/hugothester
  • the_real_weedthe_real_weed Member Registered Users Posts: 243
    I love the Family Tree but your Post brings it to the point. It has to be improved like so many other features back from 2013. There is a Chance that Rome 2 becomes better than rome 1. But work has to be done to archive this. I supported CA for the family tree and buyed some DLC i don´t have for the game. But CA needs to read your post so improve things.

    I love Attila and also ToB. I hope that Attila gets a patch too at least with the family names that comes to Rome 2.
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