Total War: Warhammer Is a Thoughtful Celebration of the Warhammer IP

Warhammer's history dates back multiple decades, rich with violence and lore. Merging it with the video game realm has always had tremendous potential, but most attempts have left something to be desired.

This month Warhammer tries something new: Total War. It's as if it was meant to be, blending a well-regarded franchise based on war with, well, a well-regarded franchise based on war. But that didn't necessarily mean that it would work. Thankfully, it did.

The first thing you're likely to do in Total War: Warhammer is start a new campaign. From here, you'll select from up to five familiar factions. The New Campaign page provides pertinent information regarding how each faction functions; no two factions are alike. Each faction starts its campaign with an introduction video that visualizes the world of Warhammer in a beautiful way. You'll see notable places like Altdorf and Karaz-a-Karak brought to life in CGI. It sets the tempo for the great fantasy to come.

You'll soon find yourself spawned within the game world. If you've brushed up on your Warhammer lore, then you'll quickly identify your in-game location. Whether it be Reikland, The Chaos Wastes, Eastern Sylvania, or the Northern Grey Mountains, Total War: Warhammer goes out of its way to recreate the world it is derived from in a thoughtful way. The location of each faction and the boundaries by which serve as perfect regions for violent war. In some cases, you'll relive historic battles that altered territory. In other cases, you'll perform epic military sieges that transform your own virtual landscape.

Each faction has its own unique units that are derived from Warhammer. In the case of the Greenskins, you'll command Orc Boyz, Goblin Archers, Orc Warboss, and even Trolls. Meanwhile, Vampire Counts rely on Crypt Horrors, Giant Bats, and more. Seeing these iconic units on the battlefield in large numbers is a sight to behold. It hasn't been since Warhammer Online that these tabletop-derived characters have been seen in such great numbers, just as they should be.

As you amass an army and attempt to take over new territory, you'll need to carefully manage your faction using unique mechanics. One of the most interesting is the Dwarfs' Grudges mechanic. As in the lore, each action of enemies sends bitterness through the Dwarf kingdom, and they don't soon forget. Missions will pop-up that require you to take revenge on these actions in a variety of ways. The Greenskins are a bit more simplistically-minded; they're heavily encouraged to remain in combat at all times. Sitting around leads to in-fighting and animosity between troops, but they are a handful when they decide to go on a pillaging spree.

Of course, all this is done within the context of a Total War game. Naturally, this means that combat can be controlled in highly refined ways, and the visual experience is wonderful. There's a little bit of everything, with plenty of melee and ranged units, siege equipment, and more that will be mechanically familiar to fans of Total War.

On your path to victory you'll command from the perspective of one of over 10 different leaders. Mannfred Von Carstein, Grimgor Ironhide, Emperor Karl Franz, High King Thormgrim Grudgebearer, and Kholek Suneater; the names are notorious, and their impact on the lore is enough for several novels. As with a few of the elite units, they are capable of utilizing unique magic that has devastating effects on the battlefield. These don't just look like high profile characters, they have a high profile impact on each battle and should be defended with vigilance.

Ultimately, with all this careful consideration and attention to detail, you are able to experience Warhammer in a true-to-IP fashion that is unlike any game that has come before it .The marriage between Total War and Warhammer is genuine and exciting, making it a game deserving of attention from anyone with an interest in either franchise.