Total War: Warhammer Review – A Retrospective on the Entire First Installment

Total War: Warhammer
Creative Assembly/Sega

When my gaming geek buddies first told me that Creative Assembly and Sega were teaming up to make the next Total War game to set in the Warhammer universe, my eyes nearly rolled back in their sockets with glorious anticipation. From that point on I would frequently scour the web for any updates on the game, as well as for various people’s predictions as far as what sort of content (i.e. factions) the game would come with. And yes, I’ll admit that I’d even sit around sometimes and daydream about the fascinating implications of combining the two genre defining gaming stalwarts, and what they might bring to the table together.

That’s because as a huge pen and paper RPG fanatic in my younger years, I’d often gazed at Warhammer Fantast Battle figurines and rulebooks, but considered them way too costly at the time for me to even entertain purchasing. Back then, I never really imagined what bringing WFB over to the digital realm might entail. I guess that’s because I was too concentrated on playing Dungeons & Dragons games such as Icewind Dale and the unparalleled Baldur’s Gate series.

The announcement of Total War: Warhammer changed all of that. For the first time, I, like many gamers out there, would be able to experience all of the rich lore and legacy that the Warhammer universe brought to the table, without having to invest hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into pricey miniatures.

But here’s the kicker—when it was also announced shortly thereafter that one of the main (actually the main antagonistic) factions would be sold separately as a DLC, it might as well have been a defcon 4 situation because many gamers raised holy hell about that bit of news. Although the base game came with four fully diverse factions (The Empire, Vampire Counts, Dwarfs, and Greenskins) there was much sound and fury that the DLC in question, which contained the Warriors of Chaos that had to be purchased separately. Many felt that Creative Assembly and Sega were being overly-greedy and that they as the gaming public were having a golden carrot dangled in front of their noses.

Personally, I thought it ironic that people would be in such a feverish uproar over paying such a minimal amount for a DLC. I mean, do these people know how much a single WFB miniature costs, let alone the money it costs to purchase a basic army pack in real life? I simply chalked the whole hissy fit reaction to being a symptom of these current times we live in, where people feel entitled and that everything should be free.

With the exciting recent announcement of Total War: Warhammer 2, and that the first installment had come to an end, I thought back to what this first offering brought to the table. Did it live up to my (and many other gamers’) expectations when all was said and done? Barring the DLC policy controversy, what did Total War: Warhammer, plus all of its various DLCs, offer to the gaming public?

To me, Total War: Warhammer was the first Total War game that I had really ever gotten into. I’d certainly found the idea of the Total War series, i.e. combining grand strategy elements with exciting real time tactical battles which included thousands of men on the field all at once, an intriguing one. But for some reason, basing these games (or any strategy game for that matter) on a more strictly adhered-to historical timeline never really appealed to me. For me, strategy games should be all about taking (or creating) an existing fictitious faction/race and guiding them to some sort of grand victory (of course through adversity).

Therefore, Total War: Warhammer was my ticket in. Instead of playing as the U.S. forces during WWII for the umpteenth time, or as savage Visigoths stampeding towards the crumbling gates of Rome, I could play as the steadfast Empire of Man, or the brutal and barbaric Greenskin masses.

The base game plus all of the DLCs offer a veritable plethora of sweet fantasy goodness, and create the opportunity for all kinds of dream matchups. In addition to the aforementioned four base factions, the DLCs give you the Warriors of Chaos, The Beastmen, the Wood Elves, and Bretonnia, for a total of eight to choose from (not including the sub-factions). I’ve always wanted to see how the two most powerful human kingdoms, The Empire and Bretonnia, would fare against each other. Oh, and Wood Elves against the Vampire Counts? Another cool matchup that features the ultimate powers of light/life/nature against the forces of darkness/death/decay.

Really, the only DLC that I felt was a little petty was the Blood for the Blood God one. In-game blood and gore should really have been a simple game option that players could toggle on or off within the base game, instead of having to pay $3 bucks for it. I mean, this is the Warhammer universe, one of the most blood-drenched and grim fantasy settings out there. Blood and gore are sort of a no-brainer.

Total War: Warhammer’s graphics have certainly held up well since its debut in May of 2016. This is simply the best looking fantasy strategy game on the market. Seeing thousands of men/creatures/monsters wade into battle against one another across vast, beautifully crafted battlefields never gets old. On my gaming laptop with GTX 1070 I can have everything maxed out with zero stuttering or frame drops to interrupt my epic battles.

Simply put, Total War: Warhammer is one of the most (if not the most) grand fantasy strategy games on the market, and with the announcement of Total War: Warhammer 2, will only get even more epic. Hopefully the second installment will offer naval combat and a more involved diplomacy system, but I’ll take the introduction of High Elves, Dark Elves, and Lizardmen (and hopefully Skaven) anyway.

SCORE: 88%

Total War: Warhammer is loaded with great visuals that will really immerse you in its fantastic universe, but you may need a powerful gaming PC or gaming laptop to play it properly, such as:

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