Total War: Rome 2 is expected to launch on PC sometime in the second half of 2013. While most of the specifics on the campaign mechanics of the latest entry in the iconic Total War series remain mysteries, the developers at Creative Assembly have finally introduced all of the eight playable factions.
Spread throughout the Middle East, Europe and North Africa, the factions also indicate the size and scope of the campaign map. The playable factions represent a wide variety of societies and military styles and roughly correspond to three cultural archetypes: Barbarian, Greco-Roman and Eastern.
If the scripted campaign openings in Shogun 2 are any indication, each faction might have their own unique scripted challenges as well, including rebellions or succession crises to handle. The splitting of Rome and Carthage—the two most significant powers historically at the game’s start—into sub-factions might be a move to divide their power so that the less technologically and militarily advanced civilizations can have time to catch up.
Creative Assembly says they made a conscious decision to keep the number of playable factions down so they could develop and differentiate each of them. With eight playable factions, and with Rome and Carthage each being split into three playable sub-factions, the game still has a fair number of options. This naturally does not rule out the possibility of faction DLC, as seen in Shogun 2. Mods to unlock all non-playable factions are a staple of the series as well, so players should have even more variety beyond the game’s release.
The map will have 117 unique factions, giving players a ton of replay value. Fans with a background in history are betting on an Iberian (Spanish) peninsula tribe and/or the Seleucid Empire from the Middle East as possible DLC factions. Players worried the large number of factions will have little functional difference–such as in Empire: Total War–should take heart that Creative Assembly has promised more than 500 unique and distinct land units alone and each faction will have a unique play-style.
A view of the entire map has yet to be unveiled. However, the close-ups from each of the faction previews show the map at least ranges from the British Isles in the Northwest, Morocco and Algeria in the Southwest, Eastern Germany in the Northeast, and to Bactria and Eastern Parthia in the Southeast. This covers the same area of the continent Total War fans should be used to, but the lands are much more densely subdivided. With 183 territories separated into one or more provinces, the map will feel larger and campaigns will feel more epic in scope.
The expanded map also means some areas that suffered from lack-of-focus in previous games get expanded. For example, the lack of detail on Arabia has always been noticeable in Total War games, but the developers promise that Rome 2 will rectify this. The breakdown into provinces is based upon different specializations within a territory and is designed to reduce necessary micromanagement while still allowing for some if they player so chooses.
The last faction announced is the Egyptians. While their inclusion comes as little surprise, the Egyptians are designed to be completely historically accurate. The Egyptians in Rome: Total War were over half-a-century behind everyone else in terms of culture and design. For example, they used the more iconic Ten Commandments style despite having long converted to Alexandrian Greek warfare by the time of the campaign. Such a matter as historical accuracy might seem trivial to many players, but the Total War games have distinguished themselves a great dedication to truthfully representing each time period. The community in general holds to this as well. In fact, the grossly inaccurate Egyptian faction in the first Rome: Total War was a main impetus in the mod community, which remains actively developing and updating mods to this day.
Total War: Rome 2 has been on fans’ radars for some time now. With the projected release at the end of 2013 inching closer, the game has been receiving continual bits of news from Creative Assembly. Considering the game aims to bring the polish and depth of Shogun 2 to the scale of ancient Rome, the game makers certainly have quite a task to accomplish.
The next scheduled promotional appearance for the game is at Rezzed in July, where developers will show off a live code demo. Fans should then have a clearer idea as to how the game matches up to its ambitions.