CA On Rome II’s AI, Scope & Incendiary Pigs

By Alec Meer on July 3rd, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

Yesterday, you first endured me waffling on about what I’d seen of Total War: Rome 2, and then harkened to a cleverererererer man than I shedding further light on his studio’s intentions for their next epic historical strategy game. In this second and final part of my long chat with Total War series lead designer James Russell, we cover the geographic scope and scale of the game, why it’s not Supreme Commander BC, the importance of multiplayer and – here we go – whether and how the AI has improved.

Editor’s note – as there’s currently a shortage of promotional screenshots for Rome 2, I’ve had to get a little inventive with the illustration. Special thanks to Kieron Gillen for providing the last image here.

RPS: Is there any part of you that thinks ‘maybe we don’t want to call it “Rome” because that’s just a part of it, actually it is all these dozens of different nations’?

JR: Yeah. I think Rome is the most identifiable and obviously Rome was the winning power in a way, in that game you’ll start off small, you’re not going to start off controlling lots of different regions. You’re going to make your own empire, so anything could happen. When people think of the idea of the Roman world, I think in the popular imagination it includes the enemies of Rome and the different cultures that they faced, I think it conjures up a very rich world, partly because the empire was so global. It’s different from the idea of Greece.

Any empire that became so powerful obviously does horrendous things, I think you only get military power through that, doesn’t make it ok, but I don’t think they’re any different from any other power in history really apart from perhaps, well actually no, I was going to say a slightly declining brutality with time, but actually no, that’s not valid at all. It was a militaristic society but it became much less so.

In Total War obviously we start in the Republican era and we obviously want to get to the height of the Empire, but the height of the Empire was under Trajan technically, but the Empire was pretty much at its peak at the time of Augustus, and then it lasted for hundreds and hundreds of years after that, before it split, before Constantine. It was actually quite stable and peaceful for a long time.

I remember seeing some interesting estimated statistics of probability of death in a year for different situations in the armed forces, and a Roman legionary in 100AD was very, very safe. They really weren’t doing a lot of fighting. They were garrisoned across a huge empire. There’d be the occasional little war. This was after it was established, we’re looking at this at the time when you’re making a Roman Empire, which obviously was a much more brutal age.

RPS: What is the geographical scope of it? Is it just Europe or are you going to have Egypt and North Africa as well?

JR: It’s definitely bigger than the Rome 1 map, so it will obviously include all the areas that the Rome 1 map included, like Egypt, but we’re going to go further east in particular. Different directions.

RPS: Multi-player seemed to be a bigger thing in the Shogun 2 games than in earlier titles. Is that a philosophy that’s continuing generally?

JR: We’re not really ready to talk about multi-player, all we’re saying at the moment is that we’ve got big plans for multi-player.

RPS: In your experience does it seem most of your audience are in it for single or multi-player?

JR: I think the core Total War experience generally is I think about playing your campaign. Lots of people play multi-player campaigns, that core single player deep strategy campaign experience is obviously the focus of the series. We’re looking at doing something different for multi-player. I guess that’s all we should say really.

We’re really committed to constantly improving the AI, because that’s a very important part of the experience, particularly for single player obviously. We’re doing loads of new stuff with the AI, part of that human face thing that we were talking about is to make the AI in diplomacy, for instance, feel a lot more human and a lot more convincing. So we’re doing a whole bunch of things related to that, to add a lot more personality and let the player understand the motives of the AI more. We’ve got these two separate systems; there’s the diplomatic relations system and the core AI intentions system. What we’re doing is combining those into one. The AI intentions and the way it behaves diplomatically won’t be separate systems that are communicating, the will be the same system. So we’re putting love and hate at the very heart of the AI’s intentions.

What it means is it’ll allow us to tell the player, perhaps if they spy on the AI or whatever, why the AI’s doing certain things, or warn the player that it might do certain things. So for instance, you might think ‘well why is the AI refusing to trade with me?’ and you might be able to find out that it’s because it really covets this particular region that you’ve got, and it wants to attack you. ‘Why won’t it ally with you?’ Well, it actually doesn’t trust you because you broke an alliance before with someone else. All of these kinds of things will actually be able to unify because they’ll be all part of the same system, so will be able to tell a player more about the AI intentions. It’s all part of making it feel more human, giving it more personality, and just making that world come alive.

RPS: And you’ll be able to affect those decisions?

JR: To an extent, yes.

RPS: And AI in general I guess has become a bit of an albatross round the CA necks, at least in the perception of some. Do you feel they’ve had valid concerns or has it become an unfair accusation that you can’t shift no matter how hard you try?

JR: There’s a number of things I’d say there. Obviously as a player, you want a game that offers you a convincing game, and an enjoyable game, and a challenge. No amount of talking about how difficult it is to do a good AI is going to change that, you’ve got to create a great experience. I feel that we’ve made significant strides in the AI over recent years, and the Shogun 2 campaign AI for example, is I think a lot stronger than any campaign AI we’ve had before. So we’re constantly improving AI. Certainly it’s the case, working on Rome 2, we’ve got more AI effort than we’ve had before that’s for sure. We’ve got design and programming working on AI, we’ve got a bigger AI team. It’s something we are determined to make work well. I don’t feel that it’s a massive weakness as a series in a way.

CA’s PR: What is slightly galling is adopted perception as well – you can see conversations on forums, and someone can quite easily say ‘oh, the AI’s been shit since Empire’ or something like that, and it simply isn’t true. Especially with Shogun 2, so much work went into improvement, and even Napolean was a leap over Empire. It’s just people have a perceived perception. It’s like: here’s a thing I know about Total War, so I’m going to drop that into the conversation, without having actually played through the different iterations.

RPS: Have you been able to ascertain what amount of the playerbase have these concerns?

JR: We certainly know it from a metric perspective that people certainly want a challenge at different difficulty levels, and the vast majority of games are played on Easy and Normal. So there’s a relatively small proportion of games played on Legendary or Very Hard. As an example of how things are different in Shogun 2, on a normal difficulty level the game cheats in favour of the player. So the AI’s not cheating – we’re cheating in favour of the player there, so that’s different. In Rome 2, we’re pushing it even further. We’re really wanting to make the AI a great, convincing human opponent, both in battle and in the campaign.

RPS: Can you talk in layman’s terms about what it is you’ve done to really tighten up and expand these routines and stuff?

JR: I mentioned in terms of the diplomacy unifying those systems. I think it’s also about having more people and also design attention given to exactly how we want the AI to work, how we want it to play and win the game rules that we are designing. I think it’s important to think about AI right from the get-go. So we think ‘Ok, well we’ve got this system designed, how do you win that system?’ And then we talk to the AI programmers about how to do that, genuinely within the context of those rules. Similarly on the battlefield, when we design the city lay-outs, like you saw in Carthage…

RPS: If all of that’s navigable, that must be a huge task on so many fronts…

JR: The point is that we design those lay-outs thinking about the AI, that’s the point. We don’t make the world and then get the AI to try and deal with it. We design it thinking about how the AI’s going to navigate it, and play with it. It’s just that change of approach that is what makes the AI stronger, and just making sure that we’ve got a really really solid amount of programming effort – and a really solid amount of design focus on directing that effort and working out the optimal things for the AI to do.

RPS: And in terms of those cities what’s the scope of the sieging you can do, you can go all the way round it, can you be trashing anything, creating your own path by knocking down this row of buildings? How dramatic can that get?

JR: Partly those cities will be pre-destructed because we want to create that sense of armageddon, when you’re besieging a city, so we don’t want to have a pristine city for you that you then completely destroy. In a Total War battle they’ve all been under siege for some time, so we want to create that sense of dark, foreboding. Actually it should be apocalyptic when the city’s been under siege for a long time. But really I think it’s about making the gameplay strong, and what makes the gameplay strong is having multiple capture points, because it means you’ve got a lot of cat and mouse play within the city.

In previous Total Wars often when you just had one plaza, effectively once the walls are breached, the defender was incentivised to come back and put everything in the plaza to defend it. Having multiple capture points means that you’ve got cat and mouse gameplay, you can heavily defend one capture point but then they can come round and flank you or create another breach on the other side of the city. Also, having the cities being bigger means there’s more scope for proper developing gameplay inside the city, rather than it being all about breaking the walls and trying to get through that one breach.

RPS: Or just ending up with a queue of dudes waiting to get in, which is what I’ve had a few times.

JR: Yeah. But also the combined battle, the fact that you’re coming onto the beach, you can have potentially defensible points near the beach, which means that they’re potentially an incentive for the defenders to come out of the city to attack you as you’re landing. There’s all sorts of possibilities and I think that’s the focus of the siege battle design, is really making the gameplay as interesting and varied as possible. So it’s not necessarily that every single building will be completely destructible.

PR: Not all battles are going to be that big, that’s essentially a boss battle. That’s the capital city of an empire.

JR: But we do want to have variations. We’ve got the barbarian settlements which all look different… The guys doing the building work are actually trained architects, the artists in charge of all of that. They’re really obsessed with exactly how a Greek city looked, and how a Carthaginian city looked, all that kind of stuff.

RPS: Building wattle and daub huts to live in, I hope. And you’ll get to defend sieges as well presumably?

JR: Oh yeah.

RPS: In terms of the naval aspect from the defensive perspective, are you able to knobble the boats as they’re coming in towards your cities?

JR: If you’ve got the artillery for it, then yes. Also you might be able to have your own naval reinforcements, so you might have a defending navy. You saw Carthage there, the Carthaginian navy got destroyed, but Carthage there had a big harbour, you’ve got your own ships in there. If you were defending Carthage, you could have your own ships in there and come out and have a naval battle before you even land.

RPS: It must be possible to have some incredibly long battles with cities that size and that many different elements going on as well.

JR: I think the key thing is that you’ll have some battles that will last longer than others, the battles tend to be a good length. The very longest battles tend to be 45 minutes or something like that, maybe an hour I think. We’ve got an hour-long setting, a time limitation of an hour. Those are the very longest battles, so they’re reasonably contained. It’s very rare to get that long. They vary from 20 minutes to 40 minutes for a big battle.

RPS: It says a lot about what that visual scale suggests, because I was watching it thinking ‘ah, this is Supreme Commander BC, this is going to have to take three hours’.

JR: No no. There’s no save point in battles.

PR: But as you saw, the action telescoped there fairly quickly, from being in the sea, onto the beach, breaching the wall and getting the city gates open by capturing that point, getting into the city. Although that demo of the Carthage battle only gets halfway into the city. It’s what, about 9 minutes long? I think that’s a very quick battle but yeah, I think that could be a lot longer.

Thieron

RPS: Especially once the elephants get to do their thing. One more question: will there be incendiary pigs?

JR: (laughs) Never say never.

RPS: Good enough for me. Thanks for your time.

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87 Comments »

  1. Vinraith says:

    OK, now can I complain about the lack of a modding question? Especially since there have been some prior indicators that CA aren’t as opposed to it as they used to be, and might actually be moving towards a slightly more supportive posture?

    • Alec Meer says:

      You know how when you’re having a conversation with someone you don’t necessarily ask every single thing that someone else might ask them? That.

      • Vinraith says:

        Apologies Alec, that came off more hostile than I intended. I’d just really like to know where they stand on this topic these days, since I don’t think the answer is a given (like it used to be).

        Also, I liked your screenshots.

      • HisMastersVoice says:

        Wouldn’t you say asking for modding support might be a little bit more important than asking if we’ll be able to defend sieges?

        I mean, I enjoyed the read, but I was hoping for some good, old fashioned RPS grilling on the subject that concerns a lot of people.

        • Brun says:

          I get what you’re saying, but if RPS did nothing but ask questions designed to expose and highlight games’ shortcomings, they wouldn’t get a lot of interviews. They’ve got to sprinkle those “hard questions” in little by little to avoid alienating their interviewees.

          • derf says:

            But an intelligent and to-the-point blog with its own opinions, compared to a blog that doesn’t ask the right questions has more integrity.

          • Brun says:

            It does, but such a blog won’t be competitive if they interview in such a way that gets them a reputation of being “hostile territory.” No one from any of these developer shops is going to agree to an interview if RPS has a reputation for asking nothing but questions designed to provoke or humiliate.

          • derf says:

            Competitive? I’m not sure RPS is hell-bent on world domination. It’s a blog, not a global corporation. If it prefers less ballsy, off-the-point interviews, then fine. But the cost will be a shift in reputation among the current audience.

            Sacrificing integrity for a larger audience sounds a bit like how lots of games now seem to be designed primarily for consoles.

          • wodin says:

            derf they have to pay the wages.Simple. So they need the interviews, simple again. SO they can ask more to the point questions but they also have to ask about the game for the sales pitch too. Otherwise there would be no RPS. This isn’t a blog someone does in their spare time.

          • Hikkikomori says:

            I think the “defend sieges” question was just “making conversation”, don’t read too much into it.

            As one of the RPS guys mentioned, there’s that much time in the interview. I think RPS has built enough trust so that we all know that they will grill CA about modding, AI, and all that us readers care about.

          • Alec Meer says:

            Look: one of the things that some people want to hear about just didn’t come up this time. It happens. It happens *all the time*, everywhere.

            There’s no conspiracy, there’s no conniving, there’s not even any internal debate about being hard or soft, it’s just that every single interview takes its own course on the day. Relax, for heaven’s sakes. It’ll be asked about next time we chat to CA, I’m quite sure.

          • Jimbo says:

            Lemme save some time so we can cut straight to the inevitable whining and bad DayZ analogies:

            RPS: So, those mods huh?

            ****SPOILERS****

            CA: No.

          • derf says:

            Can I just point out that I’m not accusing anyone of anything. I’m discussing principles.

  2. Some_Guy says:

    nice variety in screen shots ;).

  3. Hug_dealer says:

    Is the AI really improved in the lastest games, or is he blowing smoke?

    Its the reason i dont play these games anymore. The terrible AI just broke the games for me, so i stopped buying them because it was to easy to exploit, and it always made bad choices.

    • Chris D says:

      It’s no tactical genius but it’s perfectly competent in my opinion, if a little predictable sometimes.

      • Vinraith says:

        Wasn’t the larger problem the strategic AI? I’ve not played a TW game since the huge disappointment that was Empire, but I always thought the battlefield AI was at least adequate (outside of sieges). The issue (from my perspective) was that the AI couldn’t run an empire, and didn’t understand diplomacy.

        • Chris D says:

          I think I would probably go with the same assessment for the strategic AI as well. I think it perhaps depends on waht you’re looking for in a game. It doesn’t provide the same level of challenge a human opponent would, that’s true, but I’m not sure that was ever really on the cards.

          Personally I don’t necessarily expect a given computer opponent to provide an individual challenge so long as the campaign as a whole is interesting. I’m happy enough to play as me against the world and have a reasonable chance of coming out on top.

        • Bobsy says:

          I am equally bothered that CA don’t really understand diplomacy. This bit in particular:

          “we’re putting love and hate at the very heart of the AI’s intentions”

          Love and hate should ideally have very little to do with diplomacy. Diplomacy is gritting your teeth and being friendly to those you hate, being a dick to people you actually quite like, all because your own empire/kingdom/nation’s interests come first.

          The warlord may have brutally crushed your valued trade partner, but you extend the olive branch because you don’t want to go the other way.

          Your peaceful ally has been nothing but charming with you, but if you don’t turn around and conquer the shit out of them then those critical resources are never going to be exploited.

          If you base your diplomatic AI on love and hate then conflicts like WW2 can’t happen. Stalin and Roosevelt would just turn on each other regardless of the practical concerns of having to stop Hitler first. The Cold War wouldn’t quickly turn hot because the USA and USSR hated each other so much. Forget that mutually assured destruction scared the crap out of both sides, it’s all about love and hate.

          I’ve really fallen in love with Crusader Kings 2. It also has a love/hate opinion system, but it’s only tangentially related to declaring war. You go to war for a specifically defined reason, most frequently a family claim (or a forgery of one). Once you’ve achieved your goal in that war, it’s all over. Do you hate the King of France? Tough shit, you’ve got no legal cause to go to war. You’re still going to dick each other about, but it won’t be on the battlefield. And you never, never get in those ridiculous situations from other grand strategy games where your enemy is beaten but won’t surrender because they just hate you so much.

          • HisMastersVoice says:

            As someone who has studied the history of diplomacy, I’d like to point out that for each Talleyrand there were ten people doing their best Mark Antony impression. The number of historically significant events that happened because someone slept in the wrong bed is pretty absurd if you want to view diplomacy as a purely intellectual game of value trades.

          • Kong says:

            sry did not read that post until now.
            If there ever will be an AI that is capable of considering the politics of the 20th century, it will be the AI which decides to get 20th century on our collective ass. There is a movie from which I can recite, the AI will decide: “throw the bomb, exterminate them all”
            Diplomacy of the 20th century. Fascism on the rise in Europe. Civil war in Spain. Christian fascists fighting socialist revolutionaries. Just like the French revolution almost 200 years ago. Burning catholic idols for the sake of enlightenment. The US stood watching, could not help itself. Britannia appeased the german huns or so Britannia thought, diplomacy alright. There is no BI (bio intelligence) with enough guts to explain that particular blight.

          • Apolloin says:

            It’s actually not that hard to fathom. Facism arises as a counterweight to the spread of Bolshevist Communism, or at least a drive to Socialism (which is what it turned into in those countries which handled it properly). The Powers That Be don’t like this bunch of stomping and shouting thugs, but they understand them more than they understand this red-painted steamroller that just slaughtered the Romanovs and seems to be hell-bent on starving, shooting and imprisoning most of their own population whilst simultaneously threatening to export the madness to the rest of the world. Stopping Bolshevism from arriving on their own shores seems to be worth talking nicely to that strange Bohemian corporal with the funny moustache.

            Add this desire to stop Bolshevism cold to a hefty dose of Realpolitik. There’s a strong sense that the treaty of Versaille is just retardedly harsh and that it’s beggaring Germany – “Clearly there’s nothing wrong with them taking back the Sudetenland, especially since the Home Office in the UK can’t convince the French to be even slightly reasonable. Austria? Well, I guess if they want to be one happy greater Germany, then that’s okay. Czechoslovakia? Well, that’s starting to get a little over the top, but if they’re going to play nice with Russia, then it’s just Great Powers being Great Powers, I suppose. Poland? Now wait a minute…”

            So there you go. More on point, take a look at the Diplomacy in Fall of the Samurai, the last expansion to Shogun 2. Finally an AI that has the concept of not screwing you over if your goals are aligned – far too often the AI would ally with you, get you in a war with a powerful neighbour and then attack you when your armies are fighting this mutual foe because it lowered your military preparedness along your shared border – now fixed.

        • Kong says:

          TW games were never about diplomacy, to me. It was the battle action of units, their morale and battle experience and how I managed to get my best asskickers into action where I need them. In Medieval I loved to watch my 2D pixels act die and win, that is how I got hooked to TW.
          In Shogun 2 I love to have a battery of guns and a line of Line Infantry, watching them and I do nothing, exactly nothing of anything else but enjoying the spectacle of battle. In single player campaign. I tried multiplayer, but most of the time I do not have the amount of concentration or ambition to beat real humans in battle.
          As in every post about TW, I must state that blockade breakers are good fun. I will alwas want single enemy ships breaking my sea blockade in order for them to block my trade lines or bombard my most important harbours. Sea battles of TW are the best thing since the advent of computer tactical war simulation. I can never resist the autobattle button, because I love TW seabattles. I love it when the enemy has twice or thrice the amount of movement points my fleets have. It is what a great tactical AI does: run have a nice time in Hel and give my best regards to Nidhoeggr

      • dejawolf says:

        battle AI in total war games hasn’t been much of a genius either, mostly after rome.
        in rome, medieval II, you had the problem where reinforcing armies would march around your walls slowly, while getting pelted with arrows all the way, eventually stopping. this was finally fixed in shogun 2.
        in medieval II you could basically win every battle by creating a castle with some units of cavalry, some archers, and a ballista. you used the cavalry to clear away the archers, then used the archers to kill the cavalry, and after that, you rolled the ballista up on the side of an army, and fired away. i could usually wipe out armies 5-10 times larger than my own using this technique.
        in empire, the AI usually provided a fairly decent challenge, when it wasn’t bugged to hell.
        in shogun II, you could pretty much take any castle in the start with 2 units of archers, and eventually build massive archer armies to spam fortresses with, without taking a single casualty. just had to make sure you were close enough to the walls to arc the arrows, and split your archers so that the AI put their archers on a single wall.

    • Tim Ward says:

      The campaign AI in Shogun 2 is a massive improvement over previous games. The battle AI also shows improvement, albeit less significantly.

      • derf says:

        But the strategic map in Shogun 2 is significantly more linear with less routes and approaches. If I play checkers, i’m not suddenly more intelligent than when I play chess.

        • Tim Ward says:

          Finding a path from point A to point B was never the problem with the campaign AI, so that’s hardly relevant.

          • derf says:

            What about conquering all of Japan except for 1 city, then offering an alliance + 200k Koku to that remaining clan, only for them to then break the alliance and attack you after 5 turns?

          • Tim Ward says:

            Sounds like something you can blame on the realm divide mechanic, which was… not as well implemented as it could be.

          • derf says:

            What about tiny clans declaring war on my incredibly almighty clan prior to the Realm Divide?

            What about the computers inability to realise that all my cities behind the front line are defended by only 1 rubbish unit, and that it would merely take 1 ship and 2-3 units to raid my territory, massively disrupting my plans?

            What about tiny 2-5 unit enemy stacks attacking my full stack of uber-elites?

            What about the inability for the computer to realise that I am on a storming rampage of the entire country and that they should accept peace terms as they have 1 more city left?

          • Tim Ward says:

            I realise this is probably pointless as this post fell off the front page, but for posterity.

            >What about tiny clans declaring war on my incredibly almighty clan prior to the Realm Divide?

            Well, I can’t say I’ve never seen this because I can’t remember, but I don’t recall any glaringly stupid instances. Other less powerful clans will attack when I’m already engaged in other wars, but that makes sense.

            > What about the computers inability to realise that all my cities behind the front line are defended by > only 1 rubbish unit, and that it would merely take 1 ship and 2-3 units to raid my territory, massively > disrupting my plans?

            Thankfully, we seem to have progressed past the point where the AI’s only goal in life is to massively disrupt your plans. There are naval invasions which land troops well behind your lines and not two to three units but full stacks, but the AI seems to prioritize local threats over sailing half way across the map just to piss you off.

            After realm divide, though, they all team up on you so you see a massive increase in this kind of behavior, especially from factions a long way off.

            > What about tiny 2-5 unit enemy stacks attacking my full stack of uber-elites?

            Never seen that. The AI will try and retreat if it’s over matched, so I can’t imagine why they’d initiate a battle in those circumstances.

            > What about the inability for the computer to realise that I am on a storming rampage of the entire
            > country and that they should accept peace terms as they have 1 more city left?

            Or that. Pre-realm divide. They seem much more interested in self-preservation than in previous games who just won’t make peace under any circumstances ever. It seems to base it’s calculation on its remaining forces rather than number of provinces, though.

    • Raidhaennor says:

      I bought Shogun II because the demo convinced me that the Campaign AI (my main point of interest / source of disappointment in the previous games) had gotten better, and I don’t regret it.

      Yes, it is better : allies actually help by attacking ennemies, even attacking rebels in the player provinces (provided they have access, of course), small factions don’t attack you when you’re much bigger (unless you run into trouble and lose a lot of troops / battles, which makes sense), they retreat their armies, regoup their forces (the AI no longer sends lone unit after lone unit against a full stack). They accept peace when in trouble (if only to rebuild and attack you again later), sometimes even offer peace (!). And no more insane allies declaring war for a turn, then accepting peace the next, only to declare war again for no reason the turn after that. There is still some backstabbing, but it makes a lot more sense.

      Overall it’s a lot more coherent ; and a lot more competent when it comes to weighing chances of success.

      It’s not perfect, but I would say that the AI in TW games has gone from being the bottom of the barrel to being perfectly acceptable. I wouldn’t point to the TW series as an exemple of the best AI in today’s strategy games, but Shogun 2 felt like a genuine effort (or at least the first time their efforts actually panned out).

      I’m fairly optimistic for Rome II.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The strategic AI is much better in Shogun 2 than it was in Empire, but I think a big part of that is due to the way options are restricted by the map of Japan. There are only so many ways to move troops, and it’s much more difficult to leapfrog or flank around neighboring territory, compared to the more open maps in previous TW games. I think that’s one reason the strategic AI seems a bit smarter in Shogun 2. It’s almost (but not quite) like a return to the old Risk-type maps. It will be interesting to see if CA can maintain that illusion of smart strategic AI on the more open game world of Rome 2.

      On the tactical level, the AI in Shogun 2 seems better than in Empire and Napoleon, but it still has that classic problem where the AI controlling the enemy army can’t maintain cohesion, after first contact with the player’s army. The individual units in a battle line tend to break up (or are easily teased apart by the player), and then they run around independently… never re-forming into a cohesive army. To a certain extent it’s realistic, but it shouldn’t happen in every single battle. And the AI still stinks at sieges.

      It’s still fun. I’ve enjoyed Shogun 2 much more than Empire, and almost as much as Rome. It could just be a lot better. It looks like they’re changing the scale of how armies operate in Rome 2, so maybe that will help solve the army cohesion problem.

  4. misterT0AST says:

    “Big plans for multi-player” !!!
    Oh God I want a multiplayer campaign! I don’t care how you make it work! Just make it and make it perfect! Or else I’ll have you hurled off the Tarpeian Rock! *whiplash*

    • Vinraith says:

      I thought both Nappy and Shogun 2 already had this?

      • Duffin says:

        They do but they don’t work.

        • Vinraith says:

          Would you mind elaborating on that? I’d understood there was some capacity to play co-op in the more recent titles, in what sense doesn’t it work?

          • MommaB says:

            It works perfectly fine but sometimes a desync (as in, breaks the game for both) can occur. Happens not as often as it used to though

          • Duffin says:

            If it completely breaks every couple of hours I don’t consider it to work.

          • Vinraith says:

            That’s a real shame. Thanks for the warning.

          • Captain Hijinx says:

            They debuted the Co-op Campaign as a beta in Empire and it was fully integrated into Napoleon and Shogun

            Sadly as the above poster stated, they do not work and have never worked, at least i have never ever managed to finish one with my friend, we both have powerful computers, live close and have 50+ fibre optic internet connections, but every single Co-op campaign will desync at one point, there are ways around it like copying a save from one computer to another but this only fixes the problem in the short term, once desyncs happen, they keep becoming a more and more regular occurance until you just give up.

            So since they’ve introduced the Co-op Campaign, having tried every iteration many many many times, i have never been able to finish a single Co-op campaign, it’s probably my biggest frustration with CA at the moment.

          • Grygus says:

            People say this because co-op was essentially broken for a long time, but a recent patch seems to have mostly fixed it; my friend and I had never completed a co-op campaign up to the last patch, but since then we have had zero desyncs in three completed campaigns (and halfway through a fourth); if you still care, I recommend you check again.

    • Mctittles says:

      I was hoping that too until I read:
      “We’re looking at doing something different for multi-player”

      I understand that most people will not want to play an hours long campaign, and that’s fine but at least give us the option. It’s been hacked into Rome I, but you have to auto-resolve battles. Just put in something to let us take turns and play a really long game if we want to. You can also put in the other multiplayer you are working on too, no need to keep it out as an option.

    • Apolloin says:

      Or how about not bothering at all so that they don’t waste manhours and resources coding a buggy multiplayer campaign that stolidly refuses to work and spend all that lovely stuff on making Single Player better from day one?

    • Joshua Northey says:

      They need a hot-seat strategic campaign and a much better auto-resolve function.

  5. Njordsk says:

    Giants head firing laser beams, WTF ARE U THINKING CA §

    • Duffin says:

      Gone from an instant buy to a steam sale purchase for me. Rome 1 wasn’t exactly historically accurate but this is just getting ridiculous.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Calm down, I’m pretty sure that’s just a depiction of the god Mars. The curly hair is a dead give away.

      I’ll grant you the lasers are a new slant.

    • Gap Gen says:

      There’s an apocrypal story that Archimedes used beams of light to burn Roman ships in the Siege of Syracuse, so perhaps this is a version of that?

  6. dsch says:

    In-battle save points would be a great idea. It’s very well saying the battle time limit is 1 hour, but that doesn’t take into account time spent paused. I’ve definitely spent over two hours on a battle (holding the bridge in Kiev against the Golden Horde in MTW!).

    • Lowthor says:

      This. Sometimes when you’re playing the single player campaign its nice to be able to drop everything when reality feels the need to intervene. If you’re mid-battle that means reverting to the autosave from the end of the previous turn, which is a bit of a pain.

      • Ateius says:

        Or the ever-dreaded freeze/crash. I’ve sometimes stayed away from a Total War game for days because it crashed at the end of an hours-long, hard-fought crucial battle and I can’t work up the motivation to do it all again.

    • Kong says:

      totally agree. In the midst of battle my family cries out for dinner. Pause. eating, talking, socialising, mind in Japan. Yes my dear, yes yes. You did not listen. Where is your head? Yadda yadda hours later my PC has eaten kilowatts tis ain’t quite ecological

      Edit: this was meant to be a response to a fellow gamer who asked about quick save in battle…sry no thread

  7. Flint says:

    I hope these screenshots are representative of the actual gameplay experience rather than being anything pre-rendered for promotional purposes.

  8. Gap Gen says:

    Up, down, flying around
    Looping the loop and defying the ground
    They’re all frightfully keen
    Those magnificent men in their Roman triremes

  9. Gap Gen says:

    You have completed: The Horto
    You can now hire Caecilii.

  10. Wulf_ says:

    I’m sorry but…. Napolean?

  11. Phase says:

    What? The AI was shit SINCE Empire? Did they actually play Medieval!? It became playable from an AI perspective in Empire.

    • MattK says:

      The AI in Empire was unable to travel to and from or understand the different theatres. That’s a fundamental flaw in my book. And that doesn’t even begin to mention that the battle AI in Empire was far worse than Medieval2. CQ troops in Empire didn’t understand their role so if they were faced off against a much larger ranged opponent, they wouldn’t charge (because the AI told them that they wouldn’t win), but would just run back and forth in front of the enemy getting their arses shot at.

      Napoleon did it better, and Shogun did it best. However, CA continue to gloss over the poor endgame of the Total War series by making their AIs genocidal/suicidal against the player.

      I really want to see a strategic AI that can understand honour, fear, bravery and villany. And I want CA to make revitalise the management of your empire to make the main threats to an empire to be from within. Shogun has gone a long way to making the campaign more enjoyable from beginning to the end.

      But most of all I want CA to treat the the non-roman/greek factions with a little bit of respect. The inhabitants of Britain did not imagine that throwing heads into the enemy was a good use of heads.

  12. Cinnamon says:

    I completed a Shogun 2 campaign on very hard and if I had to guess why most people didn’t it’s because you just get turn after turn of siege defences right from the start where you have exploit the weakness of the AI to win against multiple stacks. Once I got past that the challenge was not that great in terms of the AI making smart defensive moves since it didn’t garrison forts properly or counter attack.

    In terms of battle AI on the field I was impressed the first time the AI hid in a forest on top of a hill but then every map had a forest on the hill and attacking the AI on a forest on the hill is just frustrating. And it still loses.

    But I played Shogun 2 campaign a lot while having a handful of hours in Empire and not that many in Medieval 2. A lot of people just want to sandbox it with their favourite period I guess and any level of challenge just annoys them.

  13. Morte66 says:

    The real question: if there are flaming pigs again, will you still only be able to set fire to pigs once you’ve got a maximum sized city?

  14. Nameless1 says:

    A question on mods?

  15. Kong says:

    putting the sword to Cicero’s neck is one of the greatest moments of TV history. Cinema did better, what can games do?
    Cinema gave us Caligula starring Malcolm McDowell. That piece of art which is known west of the iron curtain as a short movie. To a very few people, who are lucky enough to be born in free countries it is a full movie. Two hours of sex, violence and motherfuckers. Rome is where the terms mother and fatherfucker got invented. The movie Caligula is an artistic vision of ancient Rome and one of its rulers. Maybe the most acurate vision of classic Rome made in the 20th century.
    You do not get to see the penis of Malcolm Mc Dowell in the uncensored version of this classic of movies. But if you find a copy from sources in the free world you will get a good impression of decadent Rome and its pleasures. You will not see the penis of Malcolm McDowell in the uncensored version. But some erect penises you will and then some you will see. Punishable by death in some countries. Be advised.
    Be advised! Pictures of decadent Rome are not allowed in extreme religious environments that deny the existence of sexual habits and organs of pleasure. Penis and Vagina are created by the Creator for fornication only. Practice other than fun is a sin!

    Jeez moderators…sry am I in a thread about TW Rome 2? Please move or delete this if necessary. But Rome is doing things to me. Rome’s power fucking me eternally game or not

    Edit: and yes I am very looking forward to Total War Rome 2. May it be total war. Do you want total war? Forever? Yeah hail hail all hail better AI hail!

    • kharnevil says:

      Say what what what?

      • Kong says:

        Please except my excuse. This being the third (fourth?) TW discussion thread within a few hours my comments as well as my brains have got scattered like the Obama Shogunal Vanguard on hard difficulty in the province called Omi, right next to Yamashiro.
        When posting this I believed to still be in the “theatrical trailer” section.
        Maybe it was not Omi but Wakazishi or Sishkebab, where my besieging Army was surronded by no less then 5 Obamas, which never attacked in order to lift the siege.
        Lord of war, the Obama was armed to the teeth, lots of Armstrong guns and enough cannon fodder levys to make me run back to Nagasaki and drop some big shit on my capital. But no. Obamas.
        I know this name from the real world, cannot remember though. What or who the fuck is an Obama?

        • BubbaNZ says:

          I’ll have what he’s having.

          • Kong says:

            Born deutsch, drinking german beer, vodka and occasional LSD flashbacks make my man. Love for PC games and globalization. Tolerance for madness. Have what I have

        • Apolloin says:

          Obama used to be a port town in Wakasa province, after Tokugawa Ieyasu’s victory and the formation of the Tokugawa Shogunate at Edo this town formed the capital of the newly minted Obama domain. The domain became the fief of Kyogoku Takatsugu, by way of a reward for him fighting a losing battle that diverted troops away from the battle at Sekigahara.

          At one point Obama was a thriving port full of trade, but during the Edo period it gradually degenerated into a dusty little provincial castle town. After the Edo period, as part of the Meiji Resotration, the Obama Domain was disestablished and Wakasa province became Fukui Prefecture.

          • Kong says:

            so the Obama never got to play the leading flute? Just a samurai family? Cold steel pierces flesh, death is not the end and that is it? Obama bleeding, years blitz past, winter becomes spring. Year old colours match the banner, inadequacy return to page one. Insert coin

            Edit: my inadequacy, not yours comrade. Your knowledge humbles my small efforts on being a clown.

  16. azhag says:

    I would love a Barbarian Invasion expansion coming along some time after the release. That was one of the most intense experiences that I had playing a Total War game.

  17. GenBanks says:

    I love all of the RPS exclusive screenshots

  18. Solanaceae says:

    For those who have played Shogun 2 has the battle AI improved at all? I see a lot of comments on here about the strat AI but not the battle AI.

    For me it totally killed the immersion in Rome when the enemy was absolutely incapable of advancing in an unbroken line. It was always just disparate units flying around haphazardly on the map.

    • Kong says:

      The AI generals are still suicidal.
      The enemy advances in unit cohesion more or less and tries to flank.
      Cavalry seems to never break an attack, they follow orders to certain death. They charge into spear walls, break and charge again into the same bloody wall. Like any good Samurai would. Again, Generals act like any cheap Cavalry unit. Eager to be the first to die. It is a wee bit better than before, but the AI almost always wastes the General in battle.

      What is most disapointing: using more than two different kinds of units (Line Infantry and cannons) is a matter of roleplaying but not necessary. 4 cannon 16 infantry win every day. On hard battle difficulty (could be different, I am not at home to check my settings, but I play TW on h/vh usually)

      Sea battles still suck, I want to autoresolve every single one. But I still have to play through every single one, for the old reason. Which is an endless grind, because the AI spams single ships which bombard my harbours which results in loss of honour due to bankruptcy.

      And they never surrender. In TW:M the AI did surrender. Those were the days. It began with TW:R I think. A single company of dumbass heroes charges into the meat grinder like pubescent SS recruits, or like true Samurai. “The levy are ready!” Do digital peasants dream of electric sheep

  19. BubbaNZ says:

    I for one want to thank you from the heart of my bottom for asking about the Incendiary Pigs.

  20. RamoneSXE says:

    That’s a fine collection of “obviously” you got here, mister.

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