Empire: Total War Campaign Multiplayer

By Jim Rossignol on December 1st, 2009 at 4:59 pm.


Sega says that the 1 vs 1 Campaign Multiplayer Open Beta of Empire: Total War will be available to all Empire: Total War consumers globally on December 7th, via Steam. This will apparently allow two players to enter into turn-based conflicts with each other, or cooperative against the AI nations on the full grand campaign map of Empire. Thanks, Mr Sega! You will, however, have to sign up to the beta program, because Creative Assembly want lots of feedback, and we don’t seem to have a link for that at present. I’ll update this post when it turns up.

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75 Comments »

  1. Andrew Dunn says:

    Excellent news.

  2. Kingmarzo says:

    Been waiting for a TW multiplayer campaign for years!

  3. Some Guy says:

    at bloody last, they been prommising this for months, i just hope they dont try to sell the final thing.

    • StalinsGhost says:

      I imagine in some shape or form, they will be. More likely than not, the fully fleshed out version of Total War multiplayer will ship with Napoleon. Empire will probably remain a testing ground for it.

    • Andrew Dunn says:

      I don’t think so. Napoleon may well have its own multiplayer bit, but Empire will almost certainly get MP as a free add-on. After all they’ve been promising such since release, and there’s enough bad blood in certain sections of the TW community that they’d be mad to go back on this promise.

    • StalinsGhost says:

      They’ve only ever talked about a beta. They’ve been very careful to phrase it that way :P

  4. EBass says:

    Good news, I would really like to see up to mayve 8 player MP campaigns although the problems are obvious. What if one player gets into a large fight when their turn ends and the others don’t? Do the other players just wait up to 40 mins or so until everyone can go again?

  5. Vinraith says:

    Well, it’s late, but at least they’re actually still working on it. Now if we could just get them to unlock the damn files for modding, we’d have the game we should have had back when this thing was released.

  6. Lack_26 says:

    Haven’t you heard Vinraith, Empire was never released. It’s just been in beta, but only people who’ve pre-ordered can play it. They’re not unlocking the files to prevent pirates pirating it before release day, obviously.

    • TCM says:

      This is a very sensible explanation. Scarily sensible.

    • Vinraith says:

      I have to agree with TCM, this fits the facts a little TOO well in some ways.

      Here’s hoping you’re essentially right, though, as it implies that eventually we’ll get the whole game we were promised, which would be great.

    • jonfitt says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s sstraight forward as:
      They won’t let the modders at E:TW or any TW game from now on so they can sell extra units as DLC, or use them as pre-order bait.

    • jalf says:

      “were promised”? When were we promised that the data files would be unlocked for modding?

    • Vinraith says:

      @jalf

      When the developers repeatedly touted it as “the most modable Total War yet” in prerelease press.

  7. Hunam says:

    Bloody hell, so this is what they’ve been hiding!

    Maybe next they’ll add ship battles!

  8. Scundoo says:

    @ Vinraith

    Sorry m8,. that’s just not going to happen.

    People seem to forget that the only tool CA ever released, was a model exporter-importer for RTW. It was 3 years late (A modder named Vercingetorix had already made one) plus (and here is the kicker) IT DIDN’T WORK!

    That’s right, 3 years late, obsolete, and broken! That is all the support CA has shown it’s modders over the years.

    So if people want to mod E:TW they have to do it themselves, as always. There are a few problems though:

    1)E:TW is just not as popular with the modders, especially when compared to R:TW or even M2:TW
    2)Steam updates are automatic, and thus usually ruin any modding attempt one makes.
    3)CA’s new hobby, DLC units guarantee that they will be hostile against any freely-given units i.e. modding, so E:TW is especially hard to mod, precisely for that reason.

    • Vinraith says:

      I’m not talking about a tool. I’m talking about unencrypting the files they’ve never encrypted in any previous TW game. In other words, this isn’t about HELPING modders, it’s about ceasing to actively hinder them.

    • jonfitt says:

      You can guarantee 3 is the reason those files are now encrypted.

    • Vinraith says:

      @jonfitt

      I agree, and it speaks very poorly for CA. It’s not as though modding and DLC can’t coexist, but it does set a certain standard for said DLC: it has to be better than the stuff you can get for free from modders. Clearly CA feels their unit packs wouldn’t hold up against that standard very well. That’s reason enough not to buy the even in the absence of mods, to my thinking.

  9. Heliocentric says:

    Sounds good, might actually buy this if they add the multiplayer in a fit shape. I suppose it makes to lack of mods even sadder.

  10. Railick says:

    I’ve been been drawn by this game to begin with and this new mode doesn’t really change that. I’ve heard nothing but bad things about this game since it was released, and to be honest my personal interest skips over early gun battles and goes directly to World War 2 and MAYBE funny videos showing world war 1 era tanks getting stuck in ditches only to flip over and keep going.

  11. RGS says:

    This is great news + they’re also releasing more DLC, Elite Units of America (details on Steam) which I will be getting straight away.

    I seriously hope that they roll out some fixes at the same time, as 1.4 and 1.5 added a fair few new bugs.

  12. Railick says:

    What Elite units did America have in this time period? Slightly professional soldiers? : P Hey look they all wear the same uniform, awesome, they even have similiar weapons for a change that’s neat.

    • RyePunk says:

      They have Mel Gibson shooting officers off horses. And throwing axes at people who threaten his way of life. Really what more of an Elite unit do you need?

  13. panik says:

    two players battling it out with bugs the likes of which god himself has never seen.

  14. Wooly says:

    Hell, it’s about time!

  15. Taillefer says:

    What state is the single player in at the moment? Have there been significant AI improvements?

  16. Gutter says:

    My and my brother are big Total War fan, and we have been waiting for this update for so long.

    But you know what? We went full King Arthur. The game was mentioned on RPS last week, calling out it’s generic theme, but it’s actually a great (arcadish perhaps) war game and it’s multiplayer.

    Too little too late, Total War.

  17. Railick says:

    anyone who plays this game, what time peroid does this start in? Does it allow you to play the American Revolution and if so does it give an accurate account or does it make the American units seem like super heros that never run from battle ect?

    • RyePunk says:

      Pretty sure it starts around 1700 and it runs up to 1790ish… right before Napoleon hit the scene in Italy.
      The game gives you no account of the Revolution beyond fighting at Bunker Hill. And the American units behave just like their British counter-parts. Now you can pretty well steamroll over the natives to the west if you’re inclined. The game simply says “You’re revolting”. The main reason you can win is because the game is played as though Britain doesn’t actually exist, hence no reinforcements ever arrive, and their naval power is never realized. And taking Canada is quite fun.

  18. Derf says:

    This would have been good news if the game in question didn’t happen to be utter gash.

  19. jonfitt says:

    It sounds like a good addition. However, like Civ multiplayer, I cannot see myself ever getting another person to sit down for 3 days and play a campaign with me.

    • Bhazor says:

      That’s pretty much my first thought.
      For me an average game of Empire/Medieval 2 can last weeks with a single turn taking 30 minutes. What about if I have a battle with an AI controllled faction, does the other player just sit and watch for 20 minutes?

      Unless they’re stripping out the real time battles I have no idea how this will work. But if they do strip out the battles then the campaign simply isn’t dense enough to make a full game.

    • Turin Turambar says:

      I am pretty sure it’s only 1 vs 1 because the other human takes control of the enemy AI army in each battle.

    • Vinraith says:

      I imagine it’ll work like Sword of the Stars, where (assuming the players aren’t attacking each other) the game attempts to schedule the real time battles that occur on a given turn to ensure that everyone is playing simultaneously. If there aren’t enough battles to fill one side’s queue, they just have to wait until the other player is finished.

      Turin’s suggestion is definitely incorrect, as it explicitly states it can be played co-op against AI or adversarial, so each player has control of an individual country.

    • jonfitt says:

      The increased monetisation of Total War games have turned them from something I had a fondness for, into a business scheme that is out to grab my money.

      I liked expansion packs. They were a way for a developer to give everyone more of what they liked if they wanted more. The developer got to creatively expand on their ideas and produce content without the investment of a new game, and gamers got additional experiences.
      Not all expansions were like this, but many were. Expansions were also big releases which could be reviewed and avoided if poorly made cash-ins.

      DLC was supposed to enable this in smaller chunks with less delay from initial release.
      Instead it is used as a baby carrot and stick to drive consumers to spend more money than they would, or to prop up pre-orders.

      Quite how getting one additional unique unit only available if I pre-order from a certain store which is then usable online is beneficial to me the player, I don’t know.
      Especially when they just seems to be re-skinned existing units with some tweaked stats which would be done by modders for free had they not been locked out.

    • jonfitt says:

      Whoops, that was supposed to go after my other post.

  20. DMJ says:

    Waitasecond… “Empire: Total War consumers”?

    Mighty Rossignol, please reassure us that that phrase was used in jest, quoting (for comic effect) a press release’s exact dispassonate business-speak with tongue firmly in cheek.

  21. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    That’s how CA treats its fans these days so it’s entirely appropriate.

  22. Snall says:

    I own all the TW games, I think this shit has pissed me off enough though. Profiting while specifically fucking your customers wishes is BS. No more cash from me CA (and SEGA douchebags). *shrug*

  23. VHATI says:

    marketing an unmoddable game as the most moddable TW game ever was reason enough for me not to purchase this.

  24. Collic says:

    I gave up on Empire a long time ago. As good as this news is, it still seems.. underwhelming. I guess I’ve just completely lost faith with them as developers.

    It’s a shame because they were one of my favourites, but after Empire:Total War I’m not sure I’ll ever buy another of their titles. It doesn’t help that it received almost unanimously glowing reviews from the gaming press on release. Even with a lot of the techincal issues fixed (and it was horribly, horribly broken on release), it still seems empty and soulless compared to their earlier games.

    They added a lot features but most of those didn’t bring any depth, and even detract from the basic gameplay in some cases. I guess what I wish is that they’d take a look at Gal Civ:2. One of the tenets of that games design is they don’t add extra abstractions or features if the AI can’t use them effectively against the player. I’m sure that’s the source of most of Empire’s problems.

    They lost their way somewhere along the line (sega; a sign of the times?), and it’ll be hard for me to take a risk and buy from them again.

  25. jackflash says:

    I agree completely

  26. Eyre says:

    I don’t like the sound of this:

    “Information and user feedback gathered from this Open Beta should help us getting the Campaign Multiplayer mode ready to be a regular feature in upcoming titles in the Total War series”

    http://www.totalwar.com/empire/gameinfo/news.php?n=3664

  27. Rick says:

    Good god that film was atrocious. Not to mention painfully anti-British and so wrong it would insulting to the term “historically inaccurate” to even label it as such.

    • Rick says:

      That was meant to be a reply to RyePunk, but hey. Stupid thing…

  28. MWoody says:

    I purchased Empire thanks to dev-fueled rumors that this would come out no later than 30 days after release. And here, after they’ve released for-pay DLC and on the eve of them releasing yet another entire game, we get an announcement of an upcoming beta test. Bleah.

    Nine goddamn months, Creative Assembly. In that time, I could make a goddamn PERSON.

    Your good will is spent. And yours was already gone, Sega, when you decided a Yakuza release wasn’t worth the cost of an English translator. You’ll neither one see my money again for a long, long time.

  29. Nickosha says:

    I got some enjoyment out of E:TW after installing the Imperial Splendour mod, but the vanilla game was a mess for the longest time and it is still pretty bland when it comes to differentiation between factions. I doubt that I will be playing N:TW.

  30. RoteByrd says:

    I agree with basically everything that has been said. When I first played R: TW, my thinking about games and their possibilities changed for the better but each game they release fails to show that CA has enough innovation left to truly revolutionize historical strategy gaming.

    They have had little improvements here and there like spheres of influence on strategy map units, releasing buildings from the captital of each province and actually making the AI do water-based invasions. However, these small improvements won’t keep me interested and I get an increasing feeling with the TW games that they are running out of steam (no pun intended.)

    My list of things that, imo, are broken in TW games is as follows:
    1. unrealistic ‘steamroller’ action
    - as you defeat a nation or two you can defeat them all and even faster and faster as you go along

    2. unrealistic turn-based campaigns
    -it takes 6 months to make it from the tip to the top of italy for some reason even though Magellan’s expedition made it around the entire world in 2 years. Not to mention that it causes some weird things with being able to dodge an army put somewhere to block you. What if in real life in basketball a guard wasn’t allowed to move until his opponent had moved 15 feet? They would be powerless to block their shots (unless that player stupidly chose to walk right into them for some reason.)

    3. Buildings
    - I know they’re supposed to more or less simulations of infrastructure and all that but it still bothers me that you can’t build more than one building at a time in one place. If you have the money, you should be able to build whatever you want whenever. Also it’s weird that the player starts out at a certain year in a country’s history when it apparently has no standing army even if it is in the middle of the Punic Wars for instance. (I don’t need a special building for my KING to have a ROYAL FREAKING GUARD, CA.)

    4. Battles, themselves.
    - CA had too much ambition and not enough talent to actually make their system of battles work.
    I eventually got bored of RTW battles where units would look like they are just staring at each other when ever 5 minutes a unit would realize they were in a battle and swing their sword. It is better in ETW but that doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t feel dynamic enough and units don’t react well to changing battle situations.

    I could continue listing things, but I’m not going to be buying any more TW games until those major issues are dealt with convincingly. The Europa Universalis and the other games that accompany it are now my favorite games in the genre for what they’re worth. Their real time campaigns make more sense and allow for more dynamic multiplayer where you don’t have to wait for other people or icons to float by to get things done.

    Also, my first post on RPS sorry for the wall of text but this has been pent up for like 6 years.

    • Derf says:

      Agreed.

      However, I would hazard to say that from an artistic point of view, TW lost the plot from Rome. Yes it was a shiny new 3D engine, but a boatload of attention was drawn away from what battles actually are.

      Go back to the 2D campaign map I say.

      *Sigh*

      When will we see lovely hand-drawn graphics again?

    • Nickiepoo says:

      Yeah, the EU games kick the Rossignol out of this when it comes to the campaign metagame. The lack of playable battles will no doubt turn off a lot of TW fans though, but for those I would rather play an actual wargame that focuses specifically on army scale battles and doesn’t water it down as a result.

  31. Fumarole says:

    I for one welcome this news, pshah to the naysayers. Reading these comments makes me think that some people need to learn the difference between The Creative Assembly and Sega.

    And if I am not mistaken, I am pretty sure you can build one of each type of building at a time in Empire per settlement. Bitching about the unrealistic turn based style is pretty lame too. A balance must be struck for gameplay’s sake. Playing a game where the majority of your casualties are lost due to disease or exposure simply isn’t fun, hence it is not in the game. The campaign map and its components are representations, that is all.

  32. RoteByrd says:

    “I am pretty sure you can build one of each type of building at a time in Empire per settlement.”

    yes but you can’t build more than one building at a time in one settlement

    “Bitching about the unrealistic turn based style is pretty lame too.”

    not really, no. I just gave an example of a game that has real-time campaign gameplay that is good.
    It’s also just my opinion that I don’t like it, so I get to complain about what I want with a game I paid too much money for.

    “Playing a game where the majority of your casualties are lost due to disease or exposure simply isn’t fun, ”

    I never said anything about that

    I honestly don’t care about the difference between CA and SEGA because neither of them managed to make a game that’s worth playing and if CA isn’t as bad as SEGA then they should lead by example and publish their own games in this world of money-grubbing publishers. Otherwise they deserve the criticism they get.

    • Fumarole says:

      “not really, no. I just gave an example of a game that has real-time campaign gameplay that is good.
      It’s also just my opinion that I don’t like it, so I get to complain about what I want with a game I paid too much money for.”

      Way to go there, dismissing my opinion while in the very same sentence elevating yours to the status of unassailable. Truly Orwellian doublethink, that is.

      I just checked, and you can build one of each type of building in a settlement concurrently. So not sure what you’re complaining about in that department.

      And way to not quote my entire comment regarding realism vs. gameplay to attempt to make your argument relevant.

      Although I don’t know why I bother with someone who cares not for the difference between a game developer and publisher.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      A lot of CA’s problems with quality control go back to ROME, which was published by Activision. Things have gotten a lot worse since they went to Sega, but the fact that the developers have had an ongoing litany of problems (such as the release broken game, patch later mentality that existed for both ROME and MEDIEVAL II) before going with their current publishers is quite telling, I think.

      CA really need to get a clue and start listening to the critics, and the magazines and reviewers need to actually start mentioning the fact that the games are repeatedly being released in incomplete and unfinished states and stop automatically giving them 93% for every release. It’s getting quite embarassing now.

  33. Ed says:

    I bet they still won’t have bothered improving pathfinding… so that it, y’know, actually WORKS.

  34. Cigol says:

    They said it would be patched into the original Empire – this beta stuff is something new. I’m not fussed personally as I hardly have the motivation to play it singleplayer let alone find someone to play it with over the internets.

  35. Ragabhava says:

    Good to see that many share my frustration at the gross over-comercialization of the TW Franchise.

    The merchant overlords try to push us around in all aspects of life to meet their greed; quite effectively and more so every day. I don’t need to be shoved that dire fact into my face whilst im trying to ESCAPE IT through playing a game!

    Oh, and money mixed with any creative activity like arts sooner or later morph most of the creative energies into mere profit generation: away from art towards blunt cheating. This makes me SAD, do you hear me CA ?, SAD AND DEPRESSED, and thats not the state of mind I pursue when playing a game!

  36. Tull. says:

    Multiplayer Total War? Great. There goes the hope of any chance of the Total War devs releasing a half-decent AI ever. Well played, CA, well played. You won in the end. You beat us.

    • mrmud says:

      They seem to have done well with atrocious AI so far, I doubt things would have changed anyway. This is pretty much the only chance we have of playing the game for real.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      What makes it more ridiculous is that some of the mods have really good AI. They can’t make it perfect (the AI does seem hardwired to make moronic decisions and occasionally get confused about if they want to get off a boat or not), but they can make it a lot more formidable than in the vanilla games (although the AI in KINGDOMS was a step up from vanilla MED 2 anyway).

      This is also the explanation for the lack of modding for EMPIRE. The number of mods for ROME and MEDIEVAL II that are superior to the vanilla games, to the point of rendering them completely obsolete (such as TOTAL REALISM and STAINLESS STEEL), is just ridiculous. Maybe the Creative Assembly just got tired of being shown up by people working from home for free producing more professional, interesting and enjoyable work than they can working full days for a lot of money, and took away their ability to do so?

      Or was that too harsh?

  37. simonkaye says:

    I couldn’t give two hoots about commercialisation and the rest. My issue with Empire is that it is not as fun as Medieval 2.

    Empire represents a big loss of atmosphere, playability, entertainment and historical detail. Now, if they could retrofit a campaign multiplayer system to Medieval 2 or Rome or even Medieval 1, I’d be a happy man. But I have no reason to think that Napoleon will be anything other than a glorified expansion pack for Empire, and I don’t think this news will encourage me to purchase it.

  38. Daniel Klein says:

    For someone who hasn’t actually played any Total War games yet, what type of multiplayer do they (say the most recent, Empire) have? How’s it different from this?

    • Vinraith says:

      You can set up and play battles against other players (the real-time component of the game), but can’t play with other players on the campaign map (the turn based “over layer”).

    • Daniel Klein says:

      Oooh, okay. I played a demo of one of the Total Wars series once, and the one thing that stuck with me was that I really liked the combination of overland map play (reminiscent of Europa Universalis / Civilization) and the actual battles. Glad they’re finally getting that all hooked up in the MP! Can’t wait to try.

  39. dadioflex says:

    I must admit the review scores have confused me. Bought E:TW when it was half price on Steam. Played the tutorial and most of a SP campaign. Never went back.

    RPS was officially on the E:TW band wagon back then. Has official opinion changed since?

    BTW, how many people’s memory of R:TW is actually a memory of the Total Realism version or another mod?

    Out of the box R:TW had plenty of problems.

    Anyway… E:TW does seem to be THAT straw. I wonder will Napoleon really tank?

    • Vinraith says:

      Well, Napoleon will be the first TW I don’t buy since I started playing them (Rome), but I don’t for one moment imagine I’m typical. I’d love to see them take a hit for the way they’ve handled Empire, though.
      And you’re right, of course, that Rome without mods wasn’t all that. That’s why my biggest problem with Empire is that there can never be an equivalent Europa Barborum or Rome Total Realism due to the idiotic file locking.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      I enjoyed vanilla ROME and never bothered with mods for it. However, it was certainly a problematic game and didn’t get really good until the patch they released alongside ALEXANDER fixed the last few major bugs and left the game in a pretty good state.

  40. Christopher Waling says:

    This is nice and all but Napoleon gets full MP campaign mode right out of the box so basically ETW is now the beta testing ground for the next 3 months…

  41. Serenegoose says:

    Napoleon looks like a lot of fun. I really enjoyed Empire, I just thought that the lack of truly different starting spots (and territories that were too big, like France) meant that it didn’t quite keep some of the fun I had in the earlier games. I feel that the series best campaign map was Medieval 1s – Shoguns was too small, and Rome/m2/empires was just balanced wrong, compared.

  42. JB says:

    Ok, it’s available. If I remember correctly, the link is something like this.

    The server seems very busy, so keep hammering that F5 key. Also you need a Sega account to log in, so it might be advisable to set that up while you’re trying to get into the beta page.

    Good luck!

  43. StalinsGhost says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    What makes it more ridiculous is that some of the mods have really good AI. They can’t make it perfect (the AI does seem hardwired to make moronic decisions and occasionally get confused about if they want to get off a boat or not), but they can make it a lot more formidable than in the vanilla games (although the AI in KINGDOMS was a step up from vanilla MED 2 anyway).

    This is also the explanation for the lack of modding for EMPIRE. The number of mods for ROME and MEDIEVAL II that are superior to the vanilla games, to the point of rendering them completely obsolete (such as TOTAL REALISM and STAINLESS STEEL), is just ridiculous. Maybe the Creative Assembly just got tired of being shown up by people working from home for free producing more professional, interesting and enjoyable work than they can working full days for a lot of money, and took away their ability to do so?

    Or was that too harsh?

    Both agreed and disagreed. I could say without a doubt, the main reason I sunk so many hours into Rome: Total War, and infact the reason I took up a degree in Ancient History, was more down to the modding community than the game itself.

    But on the other hand, Total War game’s are hugely complex beasts. Modders could not have a hope in hell of achieving the ground work for a game on the scope of CA’s, with its fluid accessibility and immense production values. I can say that with conviction, not only because mid-high level development studios have yet to put out anything comparable, but because the professional teams that were born out of the Total War community (e.g. The Lordz) have yet to produce more than some rather ugly looking Hex based wargames I wouldn’t touch if someone paid me (coming from someone whose game of the year when they were released was a tie between World of Goo and Armaggedon Empires.) It’s not that I don’t think they’ve got the passion, talent, or skill. They just haven’t got a hope in hell of putting it all together as CA have done time after time.

    Though regardless, if there’s one thing that annoys me about CA this time round, it’s the lack of modding tools. Where the flying badger are our modding tools you stingy gits?

  44. Bobsy says:

    I’ve started a thread over in the Social Club forum. Still looking for a doubles partner.