Sho & Tell: Shogun 2 Campaign Map Reveal

By Quintin Smith on September 10th, 2010 at 1:27 pm.

When will games actually look like this? I am VERY IMPATIENT.

Some kind of embargo has ended! The genetically engineered newsbats of VG247 have posted a collection of new Shogun: Total War 2 screenshots showing the as-yet unseen campaign map, and IGN’s trained news dolphins have posted a preview talking about it. Or rather, the dolphins squeaked and clicked about it, and this was transcribed by an interpreter.

But I know you don’t like to hear your news from these cost-effective animals. That’s why I’ve collated all the information and images for you, and you can find it right after the jump.

The big new feature this time around seems to be the chance to level up your generals and improve them via talent trees, which is deeply weird for me since that’s exactly what I said I’d like to see in Total War after I saw Lionheart: King’s Crusade at GamesCom last month. There’ll also be naval warfare without gunpowder, meaning a greater emphasis on boarding enemy ships, and a renewed focus on both agents- ninja, geisha, monks and metsuke- and general loyalty.

Now! Those new screens. You’ll want to click for bigger on the three campaign ones, because there are a lot of details here.

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63 Comments »

  1. Olix says:

    I hope this game is good.

    I haven’t really been able to get into the series much since Rome.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I have faith in this one. But then, I think I had faith in Empire too. I’m very faithful, despite not really losing myself in a Total War game since the original Medieval.

    • Daave says:

      I’ve never really fallen in love with a total war game since the first Medieval too, despite loyally buying them all. My theory is that they’ve never got cavalry to be fun since. Rome was infantry-centric, Med 2 lacked that crunch when you charged with cavalry, and everyone had guns in Empire.

    • frenz0rz says:

      I had faith in the series right up until Empire. I vowed then that it would be the last game I would ever purchase at full price on release, purely through the strength of the previous games. I didnt buy Napoleon. For me, the strength of Total War was always large chaotic armies smashing together in bloody fray; it simply didnt work for me in such a civilised, much more bloodless era. Plus the AI was shite.

      I think a lot of us are in the same boat. Sort of tempted by all the hype and screenshots, yet wary of past mistakes. For me to purchase this at full price, its really got to be more than CA’s more recent offerings, and they really have to deliver in terms of AI and… well, things actually working as intended.

    • jackflash says:

      Yeah, I agree. Nothing compares to the hours I sank in to the original Medieval, which is still the best in the series. Cavalry didn’t work in Medieval 2, Rome was excellent but ultimately too easy for many reasons, and Empire was just boring.

      Creative Assembly need to stop making total conversions of their first game and just make a new game.

    • Wilson says:

      @frenz0rz – Amen to the needing good AI to buy this. I love the setting of Shogun, but they really need to do a hell of a lot better than they did with Empire or I won’t get it until it goes bargain price. Not that Empire is a bad game so much (I’m playing a campaign now with a mod pack) but that it seems it had loads of potential that they locked away. Stuff like hardcoding too much of the game, bad AI, bad compatibility with hardware (I was going to load it on a new Windows 7 machine, but the graphics don’t quite work) and so on.

      A personal bugbear of mine is utterly stupid, stubborn and generic diplomatic AI in these kinds of grand strategy games. Everybody acts the same, refuses to concede any ground in any way even though you’ve taken all but one of their provinces, and constantly asks you to trade your best tech for 50 gold. It makes me so angry!

    • drewski says:

      Random example of awful AI in strategy games – Civ Rev on DS, had a nation’s last city nuked, surrounded with about 30 armies, offered them peace…which they rejected.

      I mean, really.

    • Web Cole says:

      “and everyone had guns in Empire.”

      and

      “the strength of Total War was always large chaotic armies smashing together in bloody fray; it simply didnt work for me in such a civilised, much more bloodless era.”

      Was basically my issue with Empire. I really, really want a Rome 2.

    • Uhm says:

      It’s an awkward situation with Total War now. Reviews failed to point out the weaknesses of Empire (the complete opposite, in fact) and there were dedicated fans insisting nothing was wrong even before it was patched. The mini-campaign had a lot of pre-determined behaviour, so it was hard to judge anything on that either.

      So now I have to rely on enough other people wasting their money (or not) before making a decision whether to buy it.

    • negativedge says:

      I find it amusing that you think 18th century Europe was bloodless.

    • frenz0rz says:

      @negativedge – Poor choice of words, perhaps. What I meant is that, if you look at the mortality rates of major battles during the 18th century, the victor usually suffers around 2%, and the loser rarely more than 20%. This, in comparison with the periods portrayed in other Total War games, is far more bloodless. War was like a game of chess, and the loser would usually just concede when he had been outmanuevered.

      Empire did not portray this accurately in any way. Which to be honest, I never really expected it to. But the fact remains that I’d rather watch two large armies charge together into a great mass and observe the fray from above whilst directing archers and flanking with cavalry, than watch lines of finely dressed expensive-to-train soldiers stand there and shoot until everyone is dead in a completely ahistorical fashion.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      MUST. HAVE. GOOD. A.I. Even if the reviews are good, as they initially were for empire, I will not buy it until I hear widespread forum approval.

    • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

      @ drewski

      Sounds like you backed them into a corner, really.

      Q. What did they have left, then?
      A. This:

      THIS. IS. SPARTAAAAAA!!!!!!!11!!!!

  2. Lack_26 says:

    Wow, these look beautiful. I really hope they do this one right, Napoleon was fun and a lot better than Empires but it never lived up to what Rome was (or at least seemed like at the time).

    • pipman3000 says:

      should i buy napoleon total war (i got over my nerd rage when i saw how bad empire was)? i heard it only takes place in europe and the non european campaign maps were my favourite parts of empire

    • Lack_26 says:

      If you see it in the less than £10 range then I’d say go for it, I’ve ranked up 87 hours play and I brought it for about £10. There’s a couple of mods in the forum that will improve on the AI, it’s fairly passable early on and will give you a hard time but it can eventually be defeated, then steam-rolled. The map is only Europe but it’s actual size is much bigger than the Europe of the last game (I think) (i.e. more detailed, ‘zoomed in’ more).

  3. Rich says:

    You disappointed me there. I fooled myself into thinking the painted picture at the top was the actual campaign map. It kind of looks like it could be an effect applied to a 3D mesh.

    The actual screens look pretty good, and they have sort of gone for a painted look, especially for the mountains. I’d be disgusted if they went with flat sprites for trees in the release though. That never looks good.

    • Colthor says:

      @Rich:
      Yeah, the trees do look out of place and very Late-’90s billboardy. Otherwise it’s very pretty, so hopefully they’re just placeholders, or a LoD bug or something.

  4. Sobric says:

    Wow the art style is fantastic. The campaign map in particular is gorgeous (although I guess the screens have been tweaked slightly? They look like they’ve been prodded with the sharpen tool. Also, I hope that depth of field effect is added in, or can be turned off in game. I hate that effect).

    The skill tree mechanic sounds interesting. I think it’s something that’s needed tbh, since it adds real flavour to your generals. Europa Barbarorum for RTW added something similar with traits, but it was so hodge-podge due to the vagaries of the game engine that it didn’t quite work. It did add a tonne of depth to the game though.

    • Rich says:

      Depending on how it’s used, depth of field can either be totally natural, but definitely a benefit to immersion, or more often just awful. I normally turn it off. I don’t know about you, but I’m able to focus on things at different distances pretty quickly, so fixing my focal point seems stupid.

    • Sobric says:

      It’s stupid in a strategy game, as you’ll be glancing at different points all the time. It kinda works in FPS, as it focuses you on your immediate surrounding, but it can still be really annoying.

      Added to that, it’s totally not how my eyes work, I wish developers would just drop it entirely.

    • Cooper says:

      I wish they would use it more -intelligently-

      Depth of Field is one of a number of computer graphic techniques which recreate Photographic vision. Whilst photographic and film material constitutes the bulk of our visual cultural consumption, we haven’t yet machno-biologically engineered out eyes into photographic lenses…

      If they are trying to create a cinematographic feel, Depth of Field can work really very well. I can see it looking very good on the battle screens if you were to zoom right in on the action.

      I generally hate it in FPS games. It makes me feel like I’m controlling someone via an interface and screen who is in turn percieving the world indirectly via a video camera. That’s far too many levels of removal… It kinda works ok for ‘iron sights’ if only to replicate the tiny field of vision you would be focusing on at that time.

    • Premium User Badge jaheira says:

      Depth of field can look quite cool in cinematics eg. Mass Effect where the focus changes to whichever one of the council is currently speaking.

  5. laikapants says:

    There isn’t a thing about those screenshots I don’t love. That said, I hope I don’t suck at the actual game. For no discernible reason I can’t wage a successful campaign in anything but Medieval II.

  6. kedaha says:

    Did someone forget to tell CA that naval warfare didn’t exist in Feudal Japan?

  7. Mike says:

    Needs more Hokusai.

  8. snv says:

    If used more to accomplish a “distance haze” effect it can be both, looking nice and useful in hiding Level-Of-Detail switching. But using it as actually depth of field is just plain wrong.

    Similar with the usual excessive bloom effect.

    There was a time when i switched off effects just to improve performance, and not because they just look bad.

  9. Cooper says:

    Very, very, very pretty. Kinda tempted. I got Med. II a liitle while ago after loving Rome (which I only got last year) but maybe I was all TW’d out? Or maybe I just much prefer the Rome period (actually, I’m more of an earlier period Greece fan myself, of which there are tons of mods out there for Rome…). Don’t know much about the Shogun, but I might just play on easy and take screenshots having seen these…

  10. Kevin McDowell says:

    In final release they will be poly trees.

    Kevin McDowell
    Lead Artist Total War Series

    • Navagon says:

      And a significant reduction in god rays? Other than that it’s looking pretty special.

    • Jerome says:

      I like what you’re doing with the campaign map – even if it makes overseeing the position harder and so implies a choice to move the campaign map away from detailed positional play, it really draws you into the world in quite a different way than the Empire map. Very touchy-feely!

      Yes, that Jerome ;)

    • Hmm says:

      Hi, why are you STILL going to use Steamworks? Stardock has made Impulse Reactor 2 available for everyone interested – it offers everything Steam does and it doesn’t force you to bundle a client , also, Reactor still allows you to sell your games on Steam.
      I can’t believe you are sticking to that nightmare which made so many of your fans furious when there’s an alternative now.

    • Pema says:

      Impulse Reactor comes too late to the party.
      Steam already has a stablished user base, with working communities and proper friends communication tools.

      CA has no need to perform a “Battle.Net”. The only way I found to enjoy Starcraft 2 was to add it to Steam.

  11. BoltingTurtle says:

    Yeah, while the campaign map stuff is mostly gorgeous, I’m having some trouble with the horses. Perhaps they aren’t quite wonky, but they definitely seem to be made of plasticy bits stuck together. Sort of the same with the riders. Rather like old school action figures.

    Oh, and I agree, it is hilarious that they have naval warfare in this game after the PDF overview of warfare in the period, “Way of the Daimyo” that came with the original Shogun, specifically mentioned naval warfare for its absence. This is one of the problems with historical games, you make a product with a certain feature, but you can’t take the risk of removing that feature when it is no longer historically pertinent.

  12. wm says:

    “That’s why I’ve collated all the information and images for you”

    I can see the images, yes. But where’s the information?

  13. Fumarole says:

    Beautiful screens, I’m loving the fog on the campaign map. Interesting how it seems to limit vision to the immediate area on the campaign map as well.

  14. cw says:

    I always end up wishing these kind of games would go for straight 2d on the campaign maps.

  15. cw says:

    However, I LOVE how civ 5′s is looking.

  16. Arathain says:

    I hope there’s still some randomness/environmental factors in how your Generals develop. I always liked the feeling that they were individuals who didn’t always develop the way you wanted them to.

  17. Tyra Banks says:

    Cautiously optimistic.

    Unlikely to buy until it drops in price. I have avoided Empire to date. I received Napoleon free with CPU, but have barely played it. I think maybe the era is not as appealing to me as medieval warfare.

  18. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Makes it even more heartbreaking that it’s going to be impossible to mod and the AI will probably be awful.

    • lePooch says:

      We can always hope….

      Medieval 2 was kind of broken(not bad, just slightly broken) on release, but then the moddability made brilliant things like Third Age:Total War and Stainless Steel possible.

      I refused to buy Empire, both because of the lack of mods and the general apathy I feel towards that period in history. Looking at the mods that ARE there, it seems that some amazing stuff has been accomplished despite the restrictions placed upon modders.

      If Shogun, which is essentially a revisiting of the series roots, becomes as restrictive or even more restrictive than its predecessors, I would be greatly disappointed. In truth, I would still buy it. Among the varied sins of other game companies out there, such as hyper-restrictive DRM and abusive hiring practices, refusing to let people change the game you release seems insignificant.

    • Vinraith says:

      Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe the TW series’ greatest strength, providing an engine from which others can make a great historical strategy game, isn’t really enough to justify supporting it. Maybe in the absence of that strength we’ll be more willing to give our money to developers who are actually making a great historical strategy game to begin with.

  19. Jimbo says:

    I ‘didn’t like’ Empire, and still ended up playing 70 hours of it, then buying Napoleon, then buying the Peninsular Campaign… so I guess there’s a good chance I’ll end up getting this.

    That top picture is fab. For a moment there I was kinda hoping it would actually look like that.

  20. Joshua says:

    Makes it even more heartbreaking that it’s going to be impossible to mod and the AI will probably be awful.

    Impossible to mod? They only said there would be no modding tools, and there where no modding tools for Rome or MED2, or Empire, or Napoleon, as far as I know.

    In other words.

    They are going to mod it anyway :P.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      Where are the total conversions for Empire and Napoleon?

  21. Doth Messar says:

    The Zelda faction is going to win every time.

  22. kafka7 says:

    We’re finally getting to the stage where the campaign map actually looks like the battlefield. Previously it always felt like two different games stuck together. A new art style and a return to the blood and guts of primitive warmongering will get my cash.

  23. Taillefer says:

    I don’t think I like the 3D campaign map. If they’d have done it in 2D using the ‘traditional’ style of the unit portraits shown on the same screen, that could have been stunning.

  24. MrDogbert says:

    I am sorry but Napoleon total war saved total war for me after Empire. I just hope they keep some of the great things fron napoleon the multiplayer campaign was great.

  25. Boris says:

    Triforce! \o/

  26. Drunkmonkey says:

    Hokusai? All the great prints from the credits of the first Shogun were Kuniyoshi. Check out the Taiheiki Eiyuden if you want to get in the mood for Shogun.

    God, I hope this TW doesn’t suck.

  27. Tetragrammaton says:

    Still praying, hopefully CA will address the serious issues the series has suffered since Medieval 1 (namely rubbish AI, broken sieges and all round soullessness)
    Personally I would liked to have seen a TW set in 16th century Europe (early modern warfare) A fascinating and much overlooked period of history.

  28. np says:

    Looks like I will be needing a new graphics card!

  29. bill says:

    Cherry trees!

    It’d be very cool to have dynamic visual representations of the changing season in Japan, as they are so important.

  30. Persooon says:

    I really hope the AI is like Rome in this game, because it was really good.( Maybe I think that because SPQR told me to conquer everyone at one point). I also hope they have Expansion Packs like the ones in MED 2, because I think the Mini-Campaigns were really good.