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Hands-On With The Vampire Counts Of 'Total War: Warhammer'

Over the past few months, even dating back to E3, Creative Assembly slowly teased the playable races of Total War: Warhammer. Fans saw the human Empire, the Greenskins (made up of goblins and orcs) and the dwarves. At GDC, the developers introduced yet another race, the Vampire Counts, and granted us some hands-on time with the fantasy-based strategy game.

Dark Territory

The land of the Vampire Counts is a terrifying place. Amidst the rocks and trees are large spider webs, swamps and looming castles. The units vary from towering dragons to your frontline zombie soldiers (vampires love undead units). One of its leaders, or so-called Legendary Lords, is Mannfried von Carstein, a being that deals both physical and magic attacks.

Researching technology could take some time for the undead race. You’ll have to choose between four branches of research. If you want to increase your dark magic powers, you might want to go through the “Liber Necronomica” path. However, researching the tech tree of “De Noirot’s Blasphemous Bestiary” could provide new opportunities with your terrifying beasts.

Like with any Grand Campaign in the Total War series, the objective is to conquer a significant number of provinces throughout the game world in order to dominate the other races. Along the way, you’ll receive numerous quests that could grant extra resources or other rewards if completed.

However, it’s not always as simple as it sounds. When the campaign starts, you’ll have to deal with some internal problems with your group by eliminating a rival Vampire leader and his army. By uniting your factions, you can focus on eliminating other races to secure a strong foothold in the area.

Raise The Dead

The vampires’ war chest runs on necromancy, a form of dark magic. This is especially useful when invading an enemy territory. If you are low on units, you can use dark magic to raise certain units from the dead, such as Skeleton Warriors, Zombies and flying Fell Bats. Your commanding units can use a variety of dark magic spells, as well. You can cast a seal that delivers a significant amount of damage to a charging enemy, or if the battle isn’t going your way, you can heal units to provide a small boost in health.

Just like in past titles, it’s always entertaining to see your units in formation on the battlefield. With the Vampire Counts, it’s also more intimidating. The Zombies loudly moan while they march forward, and the Fell Bats hover over the army like a dark and ominous cloud.

However, none of these are more terrifying than the Varghulf monster. This massive beast can easily cause havoc on the battlefield by itself. At one point, a skeletal unit attempted to gain the upper hand against a legion of knights. Once I directed the Varghulf to reinforce the losing unit, the tide turned in my favor. The monster leaped and smashed a small group of humans. Its claws lashed out, taking more knights from the formation while the skeletons picked off stragglers.

In some ways, the Varghulf might be too powerful. There were a few battles where most of my forces were decimated, and my general and a single Varghulf were the only units left. Somehow, the monster was able to kill several enemy units before they retreated. I eventually won the fight, even though most of my army was wiped out.

Everybody Wants To Rule The World

For newcomers, Total War: Warhammer provides an exciting, strategical challenge. If you’re a Total War veteran, chances are that this latest installment will provide a similar gameplay experience when compared to previous games, but it's not just some rehash.

Its fantasy setting differs significantly from the franchise’s historical-based titles, at least in a favorable way. Creative Assembly took the time to carefully craft its strategy mechanics into this fantasy world. The variety of races, units, technology, and even the environment can really draw you into a prolonged session of battles, city management and politics.

In the past, Total War games pitted humans against humans, with varying degrees of technological advancements. With Total War: Warhammer, you’ll have to contend not only with humans, but dwarves, orcs and the undead. Your strategy will change depending on the opposing race, and the right tactics can mean the birth of a new empire or the beginning of the end.

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  • Alec Mowat
    I am a little disappointed in these screen shots. It looks like Attila, it's another reskin of Rome II.
    Reply
  • Dirk_Funk
    I am a little disappointed in these screen shots. It looks like Attila, it's another reskin of Rome II.

    Perhaps graphically, but personally I feel this is the most exciting TW game since I first discovered Rome:TW back in the day (back when "total war" came after the specific time period in the title!) Having magic in the game opens up so many possibilities, and the development crew can actually get a little creative instead of just implementing historically accurate units, and factions can end up being more balanced without worrying about being true to real history. Graphically I won't be able to max it out anyways so I'm just hoping it scales down well.
    Reply
  • Alec Mowat
    Perhaps graphically, but personally I feel this is the most exciting TW game since I first discovered Rome:TW back in the day (back when "total war" came after the specific time period in the title!) Having magic in the game opens up so many possibilities, and the development crew can actually get a little creative instead of just implementing historically accurate units, and factions can end up being more balanced without worrying about being true to real history. Graphically I won't be able to max it out anyways so I'm just hoping it scales down well.

    It's about value to me.
    Is a re-skinned, re-tuned Warhammer themed Rome II worth $80?

    No, not really. It's the exact same layout, and really falls into the "total conversion mod" category. You know the balancing and gameplay mechanics are essentially going to be the same. Performance will be the same, turn times will be the same, city management will be the same. I've already done this, 2 times .

    Not to mention all the already known issues with any game coming out; not polished, not finished, to short, to expensive, to much dlc, etc etc...

    I really have to say I'm turning sour toward gaming at the moment. The industry just keeps rehashing and reselling the same product, and it seems more and more like people with gaming addictions are being taken advantage of more than the average consumer.
    Reply
  • Alec Mowat
    Perhaps graphically, but personally I feel this is the most exciting TW game since I first discovered Rome:TW back in the day (back when "total war" came after the specific time period in the title!) Having magic in the game opens up so many possibilities, and the development crew can actually get a little creative instead of just implementing historically accurate units, and factions can end up being more balanced without worrying about being true to real history. Graphically I won't be able to max it out anyways so I'm just hoping it scales down well.

    It's about value to me.
    Is a re-skinned, re-tuned Warhammer themed Rome II worth $80?

    No, not really. It's the exact same layout, and really falls into the "total conversion mod" category. You know the balancing and gameplay mechanics are essentially going to be the same. Performance will be the same, turn times will be the same, city management will be the same. I've already done this, 2 times .

    Not to mention all the already known issues with any game coming out; not polished, not finished, to short, to expensive, to much dlc, etc etc...

    I really have to say I'm turning sour toward gaming at the moment. The industry just keeps rehashing and reselling the same product, and it seems more and more like people with gaming addictions are being taken advantage of more than the average consumer.
    Reply
  • elsmoko
    Is a re-skinned, re-tuned Warhammer themed Rome II worth $80?

    No, not really. It's the exact same layout, and really falls into the "total conversion mod" category. You know the balancing and gameplay mechanics are essentially going to be the same. Performance will be the same, turn times will be the same, city management will be the same. I've already done this, 2 times .

    Not to mention all the already known issues with any game coming out; not polished, not finished, to short, to expensive, to much dlc, etc etc...

    I really have to say I'm turning sour toward gaming at the moment. The industry just keeps rehashing and reselling the same product, and it seems more and more like people with gaming addictions are being taken advantage of more than the average consumer.

    You're kidding right? No? Well at least your post was good for a laugh then. If you think this is a "reskin of rome 2" then please. Don't buy this game. I don't want any Debbie Downers like you who feel slighted somehow fucking up an INCREDIBLE game. This will be best in the franchise BY FAR, and I don't want you anywhere near it. Go play heroes of the storm or something.
    Reply
  • hoofhearted
    Not $80, but rather $60. And GMG has a coupon for 20% off, so $48.
    Reply
  • mortsmi7
    I am a little disappointed in these screen shots. It looks like Attila, it's another reskin of Rome II.
    I take it you've never played Warhammer or WH:40k. Total War and Warhammer does have similarities which is why I think this is going to be really good. But they are still very different. I hope they manage to maintain the feel and playstyle of each race.
    Reply
  • Dirk_Funk
    Perhaps graphically, but personally I feel this is the most exciting TW game since I first discovered Rome:TW back in the day (back when "total war" came after the specific time period in the title!) Having magic in the game opens up so many possibilities, and the development crew can actually get a little creative instead of just implementing historically accurate units, and factions can end up being more balanced without worrying about being true to real history. Graphically I won't be able to max it out anyways so I'm just hoping it scales down well.

    It's about value to me.
    Is a re-skinned, re-tuned Warhammer themed Rome II worth $80?

    No, not really. It's the exact same layout, and really falls into the "total conversion mod" category. You know the balancing and gameplay mechanics are essentially going to be the same. Performance will be the same, turn times will be the same, city management will be the same. I've already done this, 2 times .

    Not to mention all the already known issues with any game coming out; not polished, not finished, to short, to expensive, to much dlc, etc etc...

    I really have to say I'm turning sour toward gaming at the moment. The industry just keeps rehashing and reselling the same product, and it seems more and more like people with gaming addictions are being taken advantage of more than the average consumer.

    I mean every Total War game is pretty much a reskin of the same game. I don't really have a problem with it since it IS a series. There's no underhanded trickery to try and convince people this isn't going to be another turn-based strategy + real-time tactics game. The fans of the series like that style (I've yet to find anything that fits the same niche). If they changed it too much it wouldn't be Total War. Not sure what you are expecting but I've been expecting pretty much a professionally done "total conversion". This is the first time CA have ever done a fantasy setting in Total War so if you weren't completely put off by all the "reskins" of the past then I don't see how this new direction can ever please you. Perhaps you should stop worrying and learn to love your games (aka just buy/play the games you find fun and stop worrying if its another case of the evil gaming industry taking advantage of you)
    Reply
  • captainshifty
    I am a little disappointed in these screen shots. It looks like Attila, it's another reskin of Rome II.
    Its been on the same engine since Empire Total War 2009. I said the same thing on PC Gamer and got chewed up a little for not liking the art direction. I mean graphics arent the end all be all but it'd be nice if they gave things an overhaul next generation maybe?
    Reply
  • Alec Mowat
    Perhaps graphically, but personally I feel this is the most exciting TW game since I first discovered Rome:TW back in the day (back when "total war" came after the specific time period in the title!) Having magic in the game opens up so many possibilities, and the development crew can actually get a little creative instead of just implementing historically accurate units, and factions can end up being more balanced without worrying about being true to real history. Graphically I won't be able to max it out anyways so I'm just hoping it scales down well.

    It's about value to me.
    Is a re-skinned, re-tuned Warhammer themed Rome II worth $80?

    No, not really. It's the exact same layout, and really falls into the "total conversion mod" category. You know the balancing and gameplay mechanics are essentially going to be the same. Performance will be the same, turn times will be the same, city management will be the same. I've already done this, 2 times .

    Not to mention all the already known issues with any game coming out; not polished, not finished, to short, to expensive, to much dlc, etc etc...

    I really have to say I'm turning sour toward gaming at the moment. The industry just keeps rehashing and reselling the same product, and it seems more and more like people with gaming addictions are being taken advantage of more than the average consumer.

    I mean every Total War game is pretty much a reskin of the same game. I don't really have a problem with it since it IS a series. There's no underhanded trickery to try and convince people this isn't going to be another turn-based strategy + real-time tactics game. The fans of the series like that style (I've yet to find anything that fits the same niche). If they changed it too much it wouldn't be Total War. Not sure what you are expecting but I've been expecting pretty much a professionally done "total conversion". This is the first time CA have ever done a fantasy setting in Total War so if you weren't completely put off by all the "reskins" of the past then I don't see how this new direction can ever please you. Perhaps you should stop worrying and learn to love your games (aka just buy/play the games you find fun and stop worrying if its another case of the evil gaming industry taking advantage of you)

    Compare Civ V to Civ IV.
    Both are Civ games, but they play very differently. It's not just a reskin, it's a new game.

    I don't feel Total War takes that directly. They generally just reskin the previous game, modified the units slightly for balance and appearance, tune the city management a bit and call it a new game.

    TBH, I don't feel most games take the right direction anymore. Consumers are really getting hurt by these poorly released, poorly developed, overpriced titles.

    Then they release it unpolished and half finished and expect to patch it later.

    Just because everyone is going to go out and pay $80 (Including DLC) for a full game, then spend more time on forums defending it than they actually will spend playing it (because the next big title is coming out next week), doesn't mean it's a good thing.

    I'm just drawing the line for myself. Reskin using familiar imagery? No, I'm not just going to buy a full priced game because they cater to my interests. Not this time.
    Reply