The first thing one should know when approaching Thrones of Britannia is that it is part of that new line of spin-offs planned by the company. Encompassed within the umbrella "Total War Saga" the British want to create small, so to speak, Total War games focused on a very specific historical moment and place . With Thrones of Britannia we will move one of the most critical moments of Great Britain.
In the year 878 the king of Wessex Alfredo the Great defeated in the battle of Edington the Danish troops led by Guthrum the Elder . After the Viking defeat the Danish troops withdrew to Danelaw where they were, once again, defeated by Alfred the Great forcing Guthrum to be baptized Christianly under his tutelage thus ensuring his loyalty. The kingdom of Wessex was freed from the Nordic yoke and the British islands entered a strange era of peace and unresolved war tension between the small English kingdoms, Welsh, Scottish and Viking visitors still eager for revenge for the death of Ragnar Lothbrok .
This is the temporary moment chosen by Creative Assembly for its first spin-off . Thanks to the idea that surrounds these games, the studio is allowed to substantially modify some of the mechanical pillars of its franchise . We are not talking about great changes such as those experienced in Total War: Warhammer (and which are hard for us to ignore) but in changes on the foundational pillars themselves. Although we talk about a minor game within the Total War franchise we should not think that we are facing a small game in terms of size or duration. In fact we are facing one of the densest and most complex maps created by the company without counting the experiments within Total War: Warhammer.
The British Isles are divided into dozens of small provinces controlled by dozens of small nations (we can only control the 10 most important ones) and each small settlement or city has its own characteristic. Thrones Of Britannia slightly modifies the regional organization of the Total War by dividing each province into a large city and small settlements ; the capital will have many construction spaces and will grow as we expand the city but the settlements are relegated to being small sites to build farms, mines or buildings that serve as support for the province. This makes them easy targets for enemy armies since they do not have their own garrisons and will be easily conquered.
This new separation of provinces, which reminds us of the classic but with some simplification, is accompanied by the common trend in Total War: Warhammer and other deliveries of having special buildings only available in certain places on the map . These buildings will allow us access to exclusive resources or unique skills to reflect the region's own idiosyncrasies. However, despite how much we are enjoying the density of the map we can not help believing that something is missing in its design. Despite having spent hours in it, it is still difficult to distinguish which settlement is ours and where a province of our property or of our enemies ends and begins , and on more than one occasion it has been practically impossible to find a passable road for our troops.
Thrones of Britannia puts us in front of 10 nations divided between the Viking Kings, arrived from the north, the Nordic peoples already settled in the islands, the Welsh, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms or the Gaelic leaders ... each of these nations will have its main leader with which we will start and your own agenda hides with your victory objectives. In a similar way to what we have seen in the fantasy iterations of Total War in Thrones of Britannia our goals to overcome go beyond conquering or eliminating enemy nations allowing even the victory for "fame" through technology research, construction and, in general, the political good work of our nation.
Thanks to this small change of our Creative Assembly objective, it is also possible to tinker with other fundamental pillars of Total War; the characters and he does it looking at Crusader Kings in terms of character management, politics and family. Our leader, the initial, must also keep his lineage up and that is not always an easy task. Each turn will bring us closer to death by old age (or in combat) and our heirs and consorts will have to manage our kingdom. This makes our generals and governors must be loyal if we do not want to mount a civil war in our moments of weakness and we must ensure that our firstborn comes to inherit if we do not want to lose the kingdom at the hands of our nephew. We can arrange political marriages of our descendants, punish unsupported vassals or reward loyals with noble titles.
Without reaching the depth of the Paradox titles, the inclusion of a more political aspect in the development of the characters is appreciated . Creative Assembly has also taken advantage of this slight political change to play with its classic character evolution system; there are no more skill points when climbing levels and instead we will be adding different figures to our character's entourage . Each of these assistants will modify our abilities in combat, movement, loyalty or ability to govern. This allows us to modify the entourage depending on the mission of each character; if we are talking about a governor, he will need more scribes and priests to increase the collection and loyalty than siege engineers and specialists in intendancy.
Reinventing the wheel
And if the characters have changed, so has the way in which our nation evolves and prepares for war. Creative Assembly has taken a more realistic approach, within what is possible, for the technology and although it is a bit strange during the first hours, one quickly appreciates the intention of the company. We will not be able to investigate from the first turn because we will first need to build and make use of the most primary technology. This means that, for example, to advance tactics of war and equipment for our troops we must first recruit a certain number of them and little little by its use we will open different research possibilities trying to imitate an organic approach to technological advances. This also moves to civil advances, in the case that certain nations, without access to some buildings, can not advance in some civil aspect if they have not conquered, for example, a province with a certain type of building or resource.
In the most direct playable terrain, the battles, Thrones of Britannia remains stable and is exactly the game that everyone has in mind when thinking about the franchise. There are hardly any significant changes beyond the functions of different troops in combat and of our need, or not, to forget the Warhammer spells and dragons (although on some occasion my Vikings would have liked the support of some other dragon ). However, what has changed is the way in which our troops prepare for battle because Thrones of Britannia has substantially modified the recruitment system.
Now we can recruit troops from any settlement or place on the map without any restriction. As we unlock units we can recruit them up to a temporary limit number (which will increase as we increase in resources) but with a slight change; they will join our army with a third of their combat capability. This means that we can quickly recruit large armies but it will take several days to finish being in top shape. Again it is a kind of realistic approach to reflect the system of medieval levies that will allow us to gather many troops, but at half gas, in case of being especially threatened.
Thrones of Britannia is a very interesting direction for the franchise to show us a Creative Assembly without fear of touching their sacred cow . If Total War: Warhammer already told us that they were not afraid to merge their proposal with other universe thanks to this first installment of their spin-offs we know that they are not afraid to modify part of the essence that their most historic followers appreciate the most.
Although aesthetically we miss the muscle shown by Creative Assembly in its two iterations in the Warhammer universe, the truth is that the company has been able to replace its little aesthetic margin in terms of troops with an exceptional interface design . The menus, images, references and part of the texts are recreated as if they were medieval miniatures giving the whole a package that, although sometimes makes it difficult to recognize buildings or characters, fits perfectly with the idea of Total War Saga; Focus on specific historical periods to get the most out of it. We could not have an aesthetic vision of the interface like that in a Medieval Total War because of the extensiveness of its proposal and now we can not help but think about what next historical period it will focus on to see how they mold its interface and design aesthetically.
Thrones of Britannia manages to revitalize the Total War proposal after having been, for many, mortally wounded after its merger with the Warhammer universe. While it is true that for those of us who have spent dozens of hours playing in the Old World it is difficult to abandon certain things; character development, narrative weight and variety (especially the variety) the truth is that this historical return has managed to play enough keys to advance one step further his classic vision of his own franchise.
We do not know yet, only time will tell, if Thrones of Britannia is the return that many of a historical Total War expected but what is clear is that it is an interesting way to go. Next May 13rd Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia will arrive at our computers fully.
Thrones of Britannia is the first of the spin-offs planned by Creative Assembly to keep its historical spirit alive. The study has not hesitated to modify some of its most basic aspects making submerging in the 9th century Britain a new experience for the most veterans.