by Noe Ponce
Last week, honorable guest writer, Noe of house Ponce, was sent on a quest to explore the vast unknown of a brand new Total War series: A Total War Saga! This was not Sir Noe’s first trip to the Total War universe, however. He went on his first quest for OnRPG six moons ago, where he learned of the rat people invading the lands of Total War: Warhammer II. When he returned smelly but uneaten, we knew he could be entrusted to brave the Viking-filled lands of the late 9th century Europe in A Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia!
Kings will rise. One will rule.
And rule I did! While on my quest I was able to try out the Gaelic Kingdom of Mide (pronounced ‘Meed’), one of the 10 playable factions that will be available upon the game’s release. I also had the privilege of interviewing James Given, the community manager for Total War. James offered some amazing insight into the gameplay and development of Thrones of Britannia. He was a wealth of knowledge and I’ll be sharing much of what he told me throughout this article.
But enough with the pleasantries…TO BATTLE!
Beginning the game as King Flann, I was immediately hit with loyalty issues. I had apparently lost many recent battles and my men were beginning to lose faith in me as their king and commander. Something had to change if I was to ever achieve my dream of becoming the High King of Ireland. That’s when the game suggested I use my forces to put down a nearby rebel army.
While only a minor battle in the scheme of things, it was a small step in the right direction. The victory set me on a path I desperately needed to be on. A Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia is full of these smaller steps towards larger goals. In fact, it’s kind of why they chose the region and time period they did.
“With Thrones of Britannia being a ‘Saga’ title, we wanted to give [the game] a very focused geographic location and narrative for all of the factions involved. We wanted a map where there’s enough going on that everyone has something to do or conquer but still gives unique challenges based on the [player’s] culture and geographical location. We’ve been trying to break away from the more larger scale, historic time periods and eras. You want a tighter focused game and I think that’s what we got here with Thrones of Britannia.”
Cultural and faction traits were another cool feature that showed off the game’s flair for history. Each kingdom has their own cultural trait that benefited the factions of that Kingdom in some way. The Mide, for instance, are Gaelic and have the cultural trait “Legitimacy.” This trait grants bonuses to Gaelic kingdoms (Scottish and Irish) for owning Gaelic territories and assisting allies in battle.
The Mide’s faction specific bonus is the Fair of Tailtiu. Just like its historic namesake, the fair is a peaceful celebration that greatly benefits the faction and improves ally relations. However, if the Mide can’t shell out the necessary coin to host it or the capital is under attack, the fair will be postponed. But the cultural differences don’t stop at traits. There are faction specific units as well.
“All the factions can recruit very different things. The Vikings, for example, can call upon Berserkers. These guys with massive axes have been rowing oars and have upper body strength. So they’re just chopping away. That’s the kind of scary stuff you get from the Vikings. But then you look at the Welsh faction and they can call upon longbowmen with devastating range.”
Speaking of units, Thrones of Britannia is introducing some major changes to many already established Total War systems; recruitment being one of them. Money is no longer the sole deciding factor in acquiring troops. Players will now have to muster additional forces from nearby settlements they control. James said this new system really honors the time period.
“This is the dark ages of Britain, not many people could make weapons or armor that were worth their salt or money. So the idea of mustering gives you that sense of recruiting and training. You’re bringing in people from farms and other towns. You’re training them and putting them in your army.”
To further emphasize this point, all mustered troops will come in at about 25 percent of their potential strength. And while they can be used immediately, the noobie soldiers can reach 100 percent after several turns of replenishment. They need time to bulk-up.
With my troop situation figured out, I was now ready to fulfill my destiny and become the next High King of Ireland!…if that’s what I wanted to do of course. Probably my favorite part of the rich campaign mode is the different ways to win. There’s a conquest route where the goal is to expand a nation’s borders by conquering settlement after settlement. The fame route brings victory through economic developments and technological breakthroughs. The kingdom route offers a rather interesting win condition. You must complete a series of historical objectives unique to your kingdom’s history and strive to unify your lands in an effort to become an even greater kingdom.
There’s one final victory condition players can work towards, the ambiguously named “Ultimate Victory.” It can only be achieved after one of the previously mentioned victory conditions have been met. James said it was too soon to discuss what the big endgame challenges will be but did confirm they’ll vary based on the faction you played. He also really played up their difficulty, stating even veteran Total War players will suffer (at first anyway) if they try and tackle the late game.
That about wraps up what I learned during my quest but before I finish things off I wanted to mention the charity the Total War team is working with. They’re named War Child UK (Registered charity number: 1071659) and they help children that have been caught up in the conflict of war. It’s their mission to protect, educate and stand-up for the rights of these children. It’s one thing to make an amazing war game based on history long passed, it’s another entirely to support those affected by today’s wars. Creative Assembly is doing both by donating 25% of their profit from every pre-sale of Thrones of Britannia from now until launch, to War Child UK. See how you can help too and get involved. Thank you.
A Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia releases worldwide April 19, 2018. It’s fun and definitely different, even by Total War standards. This fresh addition to the franchise will easily appeal to any Total War vets, wargamers, history buffs, even RPG fans. It offers an incredibly deep campaign mode, rich lessons in history and warfare and you won’t find a better narrative (which you can learn more about in this dev interview). Pre-order your digital copy today from any SEGA approved digital retailer (Steam is one of them) and get a 10 percent discount now until April 19th! It’s a great deal and supports a good cause.
Thank you again to Creative Assembly and their PR team at Clever Communications for inviting us out to yet another phenomenal Total War press event. We can’t wait for the next one.