What can be said about Total War that hadn't been said before? A whole lot if you start to talk about Total War: Warhammer 2, a breath of fresh air this franchise needed to stay in business. Everything about fantasy Warhammer and it's SF cousin Warhammer 40,000 is interesting and should be labeled as creative insanity. How to make two equally interesting Total War Warhammer games without getting stale and still make a great new game upgraded in every way, use 4 new Warhammer races that introduce many new ways of playing the game, place them on a new continent and see how it all turns out, turns out it turned out great.
I have to start with new races and special gameplay mechanics each of them provide.
High Elves - Grand defenders against the Chaos, High Elves are one of the most disciplined armies in Warhammer universe. Their warriors are experienced in ways of war and heavily armored, High Elves mages are one of the strongest in the world and they are the ones who created the Great Vortex. Their monstrous units include great eagles, phoenixes and several dragon species. Very cool looking army and very strong starting army.
Dark Elves - Dark Elves are more sadistic and evil than their High Elves cousins set to dominate the world and use all sorts of dark magics and monsters. Dark Elves use slaves to do most of their work and they are their special resource for upgrades. Dark Elves armies are very deadly and can get stronger after long battles in order to please their god of murder. Their monster units are raptors, hydras and black dragons. Very interesting faction.
Lizdardmen - Lizardmen are ancient protectors against the chaos and can use many humanoid lizard species and feral dinosaurs as monster choices. They have strongest spellcasters called Slaan mages and are using geomantic web to power their magic and economy. They have one of the best looking armies in the game, and one of the strongest. Great starting choice along with the High Elves.
Skaven - Skaven are special kind of crazy, these ratmen are one of the most cunning and resourceful races in Warhammer universe. They have one the more advanced steampunk tech in the game and are also known to create all sorts of mutated monstrosities and release them on their targets. Skaven use food as the main resource and can travel underground, their army is filled with mad creations. They can release all sorts of plagues on their enemies and they worship the great horned rat god.
Main objective in the game is a race to finish 5 rituals after collecting enough of the special resources specific for each race. To achieve that victory goal you will have to play around 200 turns and try to dominate, or engage in diplomacy. Diplomacy, however, can't help you achieve total victory, this is not a Total Diplomacy game, name of the game is Total War, and what a war it is. You will need to get your hands dirty and put your gray matter to work. To win a Great Vortex campaign with any race is a hard task to do (specially with Skaven whose early game is very hard considering they have very low armor).
When enemies start their own ritual you must asses the threat and send your own armies, or hire mercenaries to help you stop them if they are in a greater lead than you. During the last few rituals you can easily be surrounded with 10 full armies trying to destroy your ritual sites. Constant pressure of making it first brings a new and dynamic way of playing Warhammer 2.
There are several new mechanics like Rites, Hero Traits, more schools of magic and Rogue Armies. Rites are special events you can start if you have enough resources, every faction has their own specialities, for example Dark Elves can summon a special Ship and roam the seas, Lizardman can summon a dinosaur army, Skaven can get a food surplus and thus increasing their growth. Very cool little bonuses that can help you win. Capitals are now larger and most of the tech can be built inside your main capital, unlike the first game where that was more cumbersome and needed to be spread around.
There are new winds of magic with very strong new spells like ruination of cities or various plagues and diseases Skaven can summon. Heroes and Lords can now gain upgradeable traits after completing several prerequisites, slowly by the end of the game your Lord can become truly powerful with 15 different traits, unique weapons and 40 levels of skill upgrades.
From technical standpoint game looks great and runs great, only one minor problem I noticed is sometimes unresponsive AI while playing Lizardmen campaign, it was probably a bug because my Skaven campaign went smooth without any AI issues, in fact AI was quit challenging then.
This game is a product of 15 years of Total War games, all that experience from before has allowed Creative Assembly to create one of the best Total War games and one of the best strategy games ever. Games with unlimited replayability provide ultimate value, Warhammer 2 is one of those games, a prefect strategy game. Buy it if you can, thank me later.