Update, 11/30/2017, 7:55am PT: The "Empire Divided" DLC is now available, and Creative Assembly has released a cinematic trailer for the new content. The base game is also available with a 66% discount through December 26.
Original story, 11/8/2017, 9:00am PT:
Last week Creative Assembly teased a return to its historical-based titles with not one, but three projects. Today the studio revealed the first batch of new historical content. In addition to a free update, Total War: Rome II will get a new piece of downloadable content (DLC) called “Empire Divided.”
Fighting For Power
The new DLC will take you to when the powerful Roman Empire split in multiple factions in 270 A.D. You’ll have 10 factions to choose from, and five of them are considered to be Heroic, which means that they have an enhanced story, unique leaders, and special victory conditions. Similar to other Total War titles, you’ll have events and missions that push you to expand your territory and start or continue a conflict with other groups.
However, you’ll also have to keep your citizens happy and safe, and there are new mechanics that you’ll have to deal with in order to maintain a strong empire. You’ll need to keep bandits at bay with armies or special buildings because they can cause food shortages or special events that will pose a threat to your cities. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also have to deal with plagues, which were a common occurrence at the time. If left unchecked, plagues can reduce income, lower public order, and stifle growth. With the right buildings and technologies, however, you can reduce or even prevent the spread of disease. The split of the Roman Empire also gave rise to multiple cults. In the “Empire Divided,” Christianity, Mithraism, and Manichaeism are the three major beliefs in the world. By adopting one of these cults you gain bonus traits, but you’ll also need to push back the influence of the other religions because they can cause disorder in your settlements.
New DLC also means additions to existing mechanics. The technology tree was modified so that its options reflect the factions’ needs in this time period. Creative Assembly said that the third century technology tree “doesn’t represent scientific or technological breakthroughs; rather they represent the measure taken by rulers to deal with specific problems facing their empires.” Additional structures are also available for some factions. For example, Rome now has an Administration building, which manages taxes, agents, and the rise of bandits. In addition, you can create Naval Training buildings in the capital settlement of a coastal province, which provides bonuses when recruiting ships. As usual, you’ll also have some new units to use in combat such as the Roman Equites Dalmatarum light cavalry, Gallic Legionaries, and even armored camels.
Even if you don’t purchase “Empire Divided,” you will still find new content in Total War: Rome II with the free “Power & Politics” update. A majority of the content will focus on the many political parties within your empire. As you continue to progress in the campaign, you’ll have to watch the change in influence and loyalty from the different parties, which can own multiple territories in your country. Those with a low loyalty towards you can secede to create their own country, but the act can also turn for the worse in a civil war where all the parties must choose a side in the conflict.
If you don’t like the current structure of your government, you can choose to change it to one of four options: Kingdom, League (or Union), Republic, or Empire. Creative Assembly said that all players should strive to reform their government to an Empire variant because it provides the best bonuses. However, you’re free to experiment with the different types if you want more challenging scenarios.
Political mechanics aside, the update also includes numerous bug fixes, balance changes, and UI improvements. The game will also finally support 4K resolution with this update.
For The Glory Of Rome
“Empire Divided” and the free update will be available on November 30. You can pre-order the DLC now and receive a 10% discount from its original price of $17. The “Power & Politics” update is currently available in public beta, although the developers advise you to deactivate any mods that work with the game before trying out the previewed content.
You can purchase the expansion on Steam now, and you can read the update's patch notes on the Total War blog. Unfortunately, Mac users won’t be able to get the new DLC or update. Creative Assembly said that it doesn’t have plans to bring the content to Mac “for the time being.”