Total War: Warhammer 2: The Hunter and the Beast DLC
Creative Assembly / Sega
Total War: Warhammer 2 is definitely a fantasy geek’s dream come true. I know that for me that’s true. And like many gamers out there, I just love playing the game as both the Empire as well as their cold-blooded Lustrian counterparts, the Lizardmen.
It’s not hard to see why both races are so popular. The Empire is the main human presence in the Old World and as such, is beset on all sides by all manner of monstrous enemies. Besides the gruff, sometimes friendly Dwarfs, the Empire has to contend with blood-thirsty (literally) vampires, rampaging Orcs, and the uber-powered Warriors of Chaos.
Meanwhile, the Lizardmen are likewise constantly struggling to maintain a foothold on their home turf (the steamy jungles of Lustria) which is being overrun by seemingly endless legions of ratmen, waterlogged, blood-sucking pirate-vamps, and the ever-wicked Dark Elves.
So it comes as no surprise that Creative Assembly’s new lord pack, titled The Hunter and the Beast, got me totally hyped because it is focused solely on the Empire and the Lizardmen.
DLC-wise, on the Empire side of the equation, we are introduced to the emperor’s Huntsmarshal, Markus Wulfhart. Wulfhart has been tasked with sailing forth overseas to the New World in search of gold and glory while turning any lizards that he comes across into scaly piñatas with his magical bow.
The Lizardmen, on the other hand, feature big, bulky and buffed Nakai the Wanderer. Nakai is a sort of Lizardmen vagabond that frequently returns to Lustria to circle the wagon when his people…er…lizard folks are under threat. He arrives just in time to find a bunch of warm-bloods pillaging the Lizardmen’s temple cities, causing his already dour disposition to be further darkened.
Each of the two races campaigns mainly revolve around four legendary hunters whom Wulfhart is seeking out, in order to enlist them to help him in his conquests. Nakai merely wants to destroy all of them—Wulhart; his army; legendary hunters and all.
Wulfhart’s campaign takes the form of diary entries that lead to quest chains, which is really a unique feature amongst all of Total War: Warhammer 2’s expansions so far. The four legendary heroes have specific reasons as to why they ended up in Lustria in the first place and I thought that this was a neat little personal touch to introduce to the game (I hope to see more of this). For instance, Kalara has a big time grudge against a powerful monster which is lurking in Lustria, and Van Hel is on the warpath against the diabolical forces of the Vampire Coast.
What these quests in effect do is divide the main campaign into smaller modules that feed into the overall narrative, which allows for some prime role-playing opportunities. Not being a Warhammer buff, I had thought that these four heroes were totally made-up characters. However, after doing a little digging around, I discovered that each of them are part of Warhammer Fantasy lore. That, to me, is totally epic, and adds a lot of nuance and flavor to the jungles of Lustria.
Unfortunately, The Hunter and the Beast stumbles a little bit when it comes to Nakai’s faction, dubbed the Spirit of the Jungle. His primary goal is to locate the four hunters as quickly as possible and turn them into mincemeat with his gigantic croc jaws. The only problem is that since he starts out relatively weak, army-wise, he has to wait a while and build up his forces before he can engage in any retaliatory blood-letting. I just don’t find his main mission as nuanced and intriguing as Wolfhart’s but it’s still not bad at all.
Although Nakai has a pretty meager economy, he can gain some pretty powerful abilities that can turn the tide of any battle. He can also command some terrifyingly dangerous units. These take the form of Legendary Croxigors (piston-fisted crocodiles that can reduce men to mere puddles), Razordones (Salamanders studded with razor-sharp spikes), and the Dread Saurian (which had me saying: “I thought we’d already seen the biggest dinosaurs?”). When these units are unleashed upon the pink little fleshy ones, you might as well be witnessing a bunch of stunt dummies being torn apart by very angry and very large reptiles.
In an interesting mechanic, the more Wulfhart pillages and kills, the more notoriety he gains and the more supplies he’ll receive from home base, back in the Old World. When his infamy reaches critical levels, he’ll be assaulted by numerous bands of pissed off Lizardmen until the timer runs out. Eventually, a big granddaddy of lizards will show up, but I’ll leave that a mystery in order to avoid spoilers.
Overall, the Total War: Warhammer 2: The Hunter and the Beast DLC is a ton of fun to play. Although I didn’t find Nakai’s campaign to be as interesting as Wulfhart’s, there still a lot of content on offer here, especially for the relatively modest price point. This is one of the best DLC packs thus far and a good omen for the future of this already excellent franchise.
The Total War: Warhammer 2: The Hunter and the Beast DLC has some pretty nice looking graphics that make its strategy-based 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:
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