At PAX West, I got to sit down with Senior Producer John King to discuss the new commander Boudica while watching her unleash her war hounds on the battlefield, plus I got to check out World of Tanks’ war stories in person!
Chomping through enemy lines
I know that my Total War: Arena demo was about more than just Boudica and her dogs, but I have to admit that’s what really got my attention. (That and the amazing detailed bios for each general that I am so interested in reading!) I am not the most tactical of players, but watching those beasts charge at and demoralize the enemy as they ripped through the enemy lines entices me to play this commander. King told me, “Unlike the other Total War games where war dogs were just kind of a fire and forget unit, in this one you actually control where dogs go. Sometimes they have a mind of their own and they will attack another unit that’s closer, but this gives you more control over them than you ever had before.”
Watching the fight play out on the battlefield is very interesting — it’s way more intense than I expected. Rounding a corner that you couldn’t see around and coming face-to-face with a full enemy battalion was shocking. I also found the morale mechanic intriguing; even more important than health, you need to keep morale up so your troops aren’t routed. Add in the fog of war that obscures vision on the map, the friendly fire mechanics (so you can sacrifice a few for the good of the many), and the constant recalculating of tactics made the game more engaging.
If diving into the 10v10 match feels a bit too intimidating at first, there are different modes to play. King explained that there is a practice mode that allows players to do the tutorial over, an officer training mode that makes a 5v5 battle, and soon a 10v10 practice mode as well. You can also group up with three friends when diving into the game.
As a note, besides all of the commanders being historical figures, each map is actually the location of a major historical battle. So it is possible to play a commander on the field that he or she really did fight on. (Let’s just hope if that commander lost there that you don’t jinx your team by playing it!)
Closed beta began right before PAX started, so those who want to check the game out might be able to get in. And be on the look out for an upcoming OPTV stream (where we might even get some codes to giveaway).
After watching a brief bit of play in War Stories, I am really sad that the mode is available only on consoles; I’d love to jump in and play through these PvE campaigns. Even though the War Stories are completely free to play, they aren’t available to PC players like myself. When asked, John King said, “The focus now is just console.”
War Stories launched with two stories last month month, one that PR Manager Jamie King described as semi-historical based on the Battle of Romania, and the second as an alternate history convoy of tanks called Flashpoint Berlin. Each campaign, which lasts about an hour long with three different chapters each, is narrated in a comicbook style. Two more campaigns will come out later this year, and the plan is to continue to put more out.
Jamie King noted that players can customize their characters now, including changing genders and voices; she told me there are currently about 45 different options to play solo or online co-op. John King noted that all the stories are objective based and emphasized that the enemy AI is pretty smart. Luckily, though, your AI teammates also play smart! Players can play solo or co-op online. King also stated that once you complete the story campaign, you can go back and play in a challenge mode where you can pick our own tank to use.