Total War: Rome II Announced, Promises a Cinematic and Intimate Experience

SEGA announced today that The Creative Assembly is currently at work on a sequel to its popular and critically-acclaimed Total War series, Total War: Rome II.

In the latest Total War game, players will navigate the treacherous political waters of Rome while debating whether or not to trust their so-called friends. Fight battles and determine the fate of Rome: will it be an empire, a republic, or under the heel of a tyrant? What are players willing to do along the way to get what they want?

Creative Director, Mike Simpson, has this to say:

“Our games have always encompassed a grand vision. But we’re now pushing that vision at both ends of the spectrum. From the immense reach of the sandbox campaign right down to the human-level drama of a single warrior on the battlefield, we’re aiming for an unprecedented level of detail and scale.”

Rob Bartholomew, Brand Director, adds:

“In our 25th year of games development, it feels fitting to return to our most critically acclaimed era. There’s been a multi-generational leap in technology since the original game and we are ready to set another benchmark in gaming.”

So what are some of the features that the developers are toting as “unprecedented”?

  • Real-time battles with tens of thousands of units in great detail that you directly control
  • New graphics engine to make ancient cities and huge armies come to life
  • New unit cameras, which let you see the battle from a variety of perspectives
  • Scalable experience, which means you can play the game on your top-of-the-line gaming PC or crappy 5 year-old laptop

Cinematic Battles

An exclusive IGN article has more details about the game, describing an “amphibious assault,” the first for a Total War game. The game places a heavy emphasis on cinematic-quality battles. Players will be able to move the “unit camera” about at will, jumping to the perspective of a man climbing a siege tower and then pulling all the way back out to see the whole battle again. From there, you can further zoom out to a strategic view with tiles, etc. The unit camera adds a whole new dynamic to the game, allowing players to watch units giving speeches to other units right before they attack.

James Russell, Lead Designer on the Total War series, elaborates:

“It’s this combination of those two views, that whole spectrum, which is what is unique about the game. We see them as adding to one another. It looks more breath-taking when you see ten thousand men because you’ve just come out [from seeing just one], and the impact when you’re zooming in on that human level combat is all the more striking because you know that there are ten thousand of these going on at one time.”

Dynamic Gameplay

Sieges are shaping up to be much more dynamic. There are multiple capture points and traps and ambushes can be laid in the actual streets of the city. Defenders will have to be more proactive and not just rely on their walls to defend them. The map itself is also larger.

The moral decisions from Shogun 2’s DLC, Fall of the Samurai, will also figure prominently in Rome II. In Fall of the Samurai, players would be presented a situation and be forced to make a decision. Then, depending on whether the decision pleased or displeased the populace, the player would be given a buff or debuff. In Rome II, the developers want to take this a step further:

“We want to really push the dilemma system so we have proper chain dilemmas. It’s almost interactive storytelling in a way. We want chain dilemmas so that this choice will take you down this path, and that will create different choices as a result of that. It’s human level drama woven into the campaign map.”

The trait system is also getting reworked. The traits will be attached to players’ armies, which are called Legions, based on the way they fight. The idea behind this is to create histories for the individual Legions.

Revamped AI

In prior Total War games, the AI had two conflicting drives: the one that wants to kill you and the one that wants to be a trade ally. Rome II is striving to combine the two into one, more comprehensive and thoughtful AI. AI’s will think about things prior to acting – massing armies, preparing double-crosses, etc. They’ll have “proper personalities” from vengeful to forgiving.

But all of this is a while away, as Creative Assembly has only mentioned its hopes for a Christmas 2013 release date. Who knows what the game will end up like? Check out the live-action trailer below, which shows some of the treachery in store for players:

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