Total War: WARHAMMER II – Curse of the Vampire Coast Review – Yo-ho-ho, A Pirate’s (Un)Life For Me!

Total War: WARHAMMER II – Curse of the Vampire Coast
Creative Assembly/SEGA

By all accounts, Total War: WARHAMMER II has had a slow start coming out of the gate, especially considering how well-paced the first game’s DLC release schedule shuffled along. However, unless you are a gamer who is rather embittered about Creative Assembly’s DLC pricing policy, the complaints about the lethargic pace has mainly been because fans were salivating in anticipation for the next new factions rather than legitimate gripes.

Many people clamored for the mercenary-themed Dogs of War and the bear-riding kingdom of Kislev, but few saw what CA had in store. First, they managed to pull off perhaps their most glorious DLC faction ever—Rise of the Tomb Kings—earlier this year. But most recently, like a cannonball out of nowhere they’ve graced us with the utterly over-the-top (even by Warhammer standards) Vampire Coast faction. I certainly didn’t see them coming, that’s for sure.

Curse of the Vampire Coast is a full-fledged expansion pack that brings the whacky undead pirate faction into the fray. While they terrorize the waters of both the Old and New Worlds, they also search for a super weapon, as well as mythical sea shanties that will eventually allow them to destroy and raise from the dead, Amanar, a legendary leviathan.

Similar to the Tomb Kings, while the Vampire Coast is on the same map with the epic Eye of the Vortex campaign, they aren’t directly affected by it. This allows them to sail the seas without having to become involved in the arcane rituals that the other New World races have to contend to.

As a faction, the Vampire Coast DLC introduces four new legendary lords, each with their own starting locations and beginning units. They also have their own individual buffs and bonuses and share faction-wide traits as well. It’s within these traits that the Vampire Coast truly set themselves apart from the other races. Simply put, these necromantic pirates are able to switch between playing both as a horde race, and as a more standard, fixed one.

Indeed, not only can the Vampire Coast faction occupy and build up settlements just like their landlubbing counterparts, but each of their legendary lords also have access to their own legendary ships. These unique ships serves as both a highly mobile (and upgradable) base of operations as well as a place where they can recruit their units. In this regard, Vampire Coast players have the option of either utilizing hit and run tactics, or venturing further inland to build up settlements.

In an interesting twist, after a Vampire Coast army wins a settlement battle they are presented with an option of establishing a Pirate Cove instead of the classic options such as Conquer, Sack, etc. Once a cove is set up it can leech money from the settlement in question (which remains under the original owner’s control) without having to pay any upkeep. These coves also generate a steady flow of infamy, which is the global currency detailing who the most notorious pirates of the seas are.

Creative Assembly has stated in the past that they don’t intend to incorporate naval battles into TW: Warhammer, as well as their reasons why. However, I feel as though this is a glaring omission not only in a macro sense but also because of the naval-based nature of the elven and Vampire Coast factions in particular.

Instead of having some truly epic naval engagements—such as I used to witness in Total War: Shogun 2—here you’ll see islands suddenly pop up next to the conflict. These islands function as the battlegrounds for any engagements that take place at sea, which can be quite jarring.

The Vampire Coast’s four legendary lords are largely hit-and-miss. The hits being the two male LL’s, while many people feel that the two females feel shoe-horned in due to political correctness (which is seeping its way into the gaming world these days—but that’s a separate subject). Thankfully, their unit roster is both expansive as well as totally unique.

For starters, most Vampire Coast units have some sort of ranged attack which sets them at the opposite end of the spectrum from their landlubbing brethren, un-ranged The Vampire Counts. Many of these units are also gunpowder-based which are sure to give even the Dwarfs a run for their money.

Truly over-the-top units like the Necrofex Colossus—which is a gigantic amalgam of derelict ships, cannons, undead crewmembers, and strips of grotesque sinew holding them all together—are a sight to behold and fit in well with the game’s other races. Meanwhile, they also have access to a huge artillery cannon called the Queen Bess which is capable of routing even the most hardened of turtler-types.

In addition to this, the Vampire Coast faction may unlock various Regiments of Renown by tracking down and acquiring relics known as the Pieces of Eight, which are scattered through the world. The result is a refreshing pirate-themed take to what’s already on hand in this epic fantasy series.

Overall, Total War: WARHAMMER II – Curse of the Vampire Coast is a welcome DLC that introduced a highly unique faction that I thought couldn’t possibly top the excellent Rise of the Tomb Kings expansion. Its only drawback is the shameful lack of naval combat within the game’s mechanics. Also, like many gamers, I’d love to see more of the franchise’s more classic factions—such as Kislev and Arabay—realized in the near future.

SCORE: 86%

Total War: WARHAMMER II – Curse of the Vampire Coast features pretty great graphics that make its fantasy-themed gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

Visit CyberpowerPC’s website to check out all of the other great deals as well!

 

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