Carry On Carthage: Rome 2 Hannibal At The Gates DLC

By Craig Pearson on March 17th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

Total War: Rome II has probably had the most troubled existence of any Total War game, trampling on expectations like a giant war elephant crushing the skull of an infantry man. At least that’s the impression I had from comment threads and old ladies who stopped me in the street: my brain is not wired for grand strategy games, so I only played it for a short time and then abandoned it to the Recycle Bin. However, that won’t stop me pointing that out there’s a new DLC pack coming out: Hannibal At The Gates. The trailer below shows a whole lot of big talk for people facing a man with angry elephants at his disposal.

Hannibal At The Gates will add detail to Rome II’s western Mediterranean region, bring a new campaign map with 19 provinces and three new playable factions to the game: the Arevaci, the Lusitani, and the Syracuse. With that in place, the scene is set to historically reenact Scipio and Hannibal’s elephantine clashes, and a couple of Historical Battles (the Battle of Cannae and the Battle of Zama) specifically focuses on either sides’ greatest moments. Additional tech trees–wrapped up in diplomacy–will round off the DLC.

The trailer sets the scene, even if it doesn’t actually show much of the game.

It’s out March 27. Has anyone here stuck with Rome? It’s still loftily riding the Steam Stats page.

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40 Comments »

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  1. SVW says:

    I’ve really really really tried to have fun with Rome 2 – but alas – i’ve returned to Shogun 2, and it’s tighter gameplay, better DLC, almost comparable graphics, etc.
    So I don’t really feel like paying for another crack at it.

    • Lord Byte says:

      You hit the hammer on the nail in my opinion at least. There’s just too much conceptually wrong with the game to be able to fix it in patches. Caesar in Gaul fixed some issues on that account but still a flawed campaign system and retarded ai.

      Shogun 2 TW was just so much better, everything fit together like clockwork. And while the CAI wasn’t very good at least most battles were good fun and challenging enough (apart from defending your own castles.. I’ve held off armies with just a few peasants and a few samurai).

  2. Awesumo says:

    Rome suffered a death from a thousand cuts. Lots of little things not working right.
    For example at release the enemy could walk down off walls, but couldn’t climb back up the stairs to them…. also they tried to walk through them and got stuck… a side effect was that you could persuade the AI to take their troops off the wall, then put 1 unit on the opposite side of the wall… the enemy army just marches straight into the wall for the rest of the battle.

    • Grygus says:

      AI is still the central problem (Patch 10 Beta). It isn’t good at consolidating its forces, which was harmful in previous titles but utterly debilitating in this one, when the number of armies is severely limited; losing an army in Medieval II represented time and money, but in Rome II it is also necessarily a significant percentage of your overall forces. The AI’s diplomacy remains fatally flawed, with it declaring pointless wars it cannot possibly hope to win. There are still problems with incompetent administration of its provinces, leading to rebellion and/or starvation. And of course it often declines to defend its holdings.

      But none of these feel like bugs; they just feel like you’re up against a very bad player. This is improvement! I still hold out hope that someday I will love this game as much as I expected to at launch.

      • Skiddywinks says:

        This is disheartening news. I was hoping it was in a much better place now. While I do love Shogun 2 I always felt like Empires was my faviurite, in terms of mechanics (namely universities and gentlemen etc for research and the tech trees felt way more varied to me).

        I’ll probably still pick this up but not until it is real cheap. Is there anything game breaking? Will I still love it on account of it being a TW game?

        • Grygus says:

          If you’re already a fan of the series then there is a lot here to like. You still have the moments that only a Total War game can provide. The graphics are better than any previous title. The diplomacy, while still missing some important features and needing more work, is already the best in the series so far. The campaign map is a point of contention but I believe it’s the best one so far; certainly the largest and most detailed, and the idea of consolidating settlements into provinces is a good one, though the attendant new city improvement system is not as well thought-out, in my opinion. Agent chances of success are communicated much more explicitly, which is really nice.

          I would not recommend paying full price at this point to anyone because I’ve already seen the game at half price, but assuming you get it on sale I would say it’s a pretty safe purchase for fans of the series at this point.

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          bills6693 says:

          I agree with Empire, my favorate too. The best campaign and mechanics in my opinion – the huge campaign scope, the research making real meaningful progress, the cities and towns and building options, population growth, all of it.

          And while the AI can be a bit stupid in battles, they’re still really fun.

          With Rome 2, so many of the underlying mechanics are… well, maybe they’re not broken (i.e. they work as intended) but I dislike them. Its really made the game more ‘arcade’ in my opinion, and while they were never realistic, the systems with a number of food units and army limits and battle abilities etc really just break the game for me.

          I used to be keenly awaiting an Empire 2 but now I’ve realised that if TW keeps going in the direction it is going, I won’t enjoy it.

  3. Scootaaa says:

    I still play the multiplayer regularly which i am enjoying thoroughly. I enjoyed the campaign as well except for when it came to the siege battles. Although I wish the enemy AI was more agressive.

  4. Alfius says:

    I picked up Rome 2 in the Valentine’s day flash sale and have sunk 50+ hours in so far. Yes, it suffers from some of the annoying recurring issues that have affected Total Wars past but honestly all in all it feels like the pinnacle of the series.

    Shogun 2, bless it, tried so hard to make me love it but I just don’t care enough (at all) about feudal Japan to get excited. Empire and Rome 2 compete for my affections, having an interest in the setting helps a great deal in seeing past the bugs. If the classical world doesn’t float your trireme already then I suspect you’d be better off elsewhere.

  5. Glubber says:

    Rome II was the first TW game I didn’t buy, and I’m so glad I didn’t. Occasionally, I like to indulge in a little schadenfreude and browse the forums to see people complaining about how bad it is. Once this comes out, I predict a whole new round of disappointment, and will especially enjoy checking in on people who bought and complained about Rome II and then bought the add-on thinking it would fix it. Cuz it won’t.

    • Grygus says:

      Most of the forum whining is no longer warranted; the game was a buggy mess on launch but there have been nine (going on ten) patches and most of the problems have been fixed. The game is still flawed! But if it had launched in this shape you wouldn’t have gotten the show you did. As a fan of the series you’re safe to jump in at this point, especially now that you can get the game for half price. Many of the problems remaining also existed in previous titles.

      Actually the DLC campaigns do make the game better, except in terms of scale. They feature multiple turns per year, which addresses a few problems, and the smaller campaigns reduce the late game slog that is endemic to Total War. Caesar in Gaul also made the horrible political system mostly irrelevant, which I consider an improvement, as well. Obviously the AI remains the same, but depending on what bugged you about Rome II, the DLC may very well be a fix for you.

      • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

        The problem with Rome 2 isn’t bugs (although there are still lots), or AI (although it’s still not perfect), it’s that it is a boring, soulless, turgid game. The battles are OK I suppose, even if neither the player nor AI army can hold a formation, but the campaign is just a mindless and soulless grinding exercise. Medieval, Rome and Medieval 2 seemed to understand how to imbue a campaign map with a feeling of flavour and soul, and Empire and Napoleon substituted that with more in-depth mechanics (for which I was grateful). Shogun 2 seemed to want to find a middle ground, but generally erring on the side of flavour where possible, with its stunning art direction, UI design and voice acting. Rome 2’s mechanics don’t make period sense, and they are not fun to play either. People say it’s unfair to compare Creative Assembly’s efforts with Paradox, but I disagree profoundly. Rome 1 shares more with Crusader Kings 2 mechanically than it seems to share with its own sequel, and it is just bizarre.

        In an interview published shortly after the game’s release, Creative Assembly stated that they would mercilessly cut features “even if they were 90% done” if they didn’t think they would give the game a higher metacritic rating. I don’t normally get upset with gamespeak, but that is a sickening way to design a videogame. No wonder it results in a husk of dry and unrewarding mechanics with bugger all flavour, I guess all of that stuff would not have helped the metascore. The only thing that really makes me lose faith is that Rome II isn’t EVEN the most disappointing game of recent years, for me, lying third after Bioshock Infinite (2nd) and Skyrim (1st by a country mile). The bean-counters have won, the designers have lost.

        /rant, but if you want to hear someone other than me ranting, I can’t recommend the Sanity Critique of Rome 2 highly enough. First chapter on battles, second on campaign. They’re in the vein of Plinkett, but without the sub-plots.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXkWfEIALxM

  6. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I’m enjoying Rome 2 a lot more after (surprise surprise) a bit of modding. Removing the bonus cash from minor factions (so they don’t all have two full stacks stood next to their solitary province) and removing the food and squalor penalties from buildings (so I’m actually motivated to climb the tech tree – one of my biggest joys in these sorts of games is taking a society from near-barbarism to civilised awesomeness) has made the game far more enjoyable. And yes, I have also made it far easier, but fuck it, I’m having more fun like this.

    DLCs (this and Gaul) look somewhate interesting but I’d like to see something other than a zoomed-in version of a punch up you can have in the main campaign. (In other words, I’ll grab them in a sale, but not at that price.)

  7. Zenicetus says:

    Hannibal At The Gates will add detail to Rome II’s western Mediterranean region, adding 19 provinces and three new playable factions to the game:

    That’s not quite accurate, or maybe just badly phrased. It doesn’t add 19 new provinces to the original game. It’s a separate “Campaign Map” that zooms in on a smaller section of the overall map, split up into more little provinces, and has different starting setups and diplomatic relations than the main game. The previous Caesar in Gaul DLC was like this too. The three new playable factions and their new units can be used in the main campaign, outside the DLC.

    It’s not a bad idea for focused mini-campaigns like this, because some of the other interesting scenarios like the Peloponnesian War couldn’t be done without it (i.e. not enough map room around Athens). Apparently Syracuse still doesn’t have city walls in this DLC though, which is ridiculous.

    I won’t be buying it because the main campaign is still a mess. Siege AI has been slightly improved, but it’s still dumb as a post, and gets stuck and abandons siege equipment too easily. They’ve done nothing to improve the incredibly lame “political system” so it’s hard to stay immersed in the campaign. I’m just treating it as a battle simulator for now, when I need an ancient warfare fix.

    Maybe it will be better a year from now. There are some mods making small progress, but a few things like the political system can only be revamped by CA, if they still care enough about the core game instead of cranking out mini campaigns like this DLC.

  8. jalf says:

    Total War: Rome II has probably had the most troubled existence of any Total War game, trampling on expectations like a giant war elephant crushing the skull of an infantry man

    Well, in fairness, that is what people say about *every* TW game.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of Rome, so I skipped Rome 2 entirely. Is it really that much worse than other TW games?

    • Great Cthulhu says:

      The launch was significantly worse than any previous one. But the game in its current state is no worse than Empire or Medieval II. That is to say, there are still unresolved bugs, but the game is nonetheless quite playable, and, IMO, enjoyable.

      • MX11 says:

        Sorry to say it, but this game has no where near the amount of qualty(of gameplay experience, GAMEPLAY MECHANICS, etc) that Med II does. Its almost blasphemy to even attempt to compare the overall product that is Rome 2 to Medieval II.

    • Grygus says:

      At launch, yes. Now, no.

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      bills6693 says:

      Well maybe each one is worse than the last…

      Personally I just really don’t like the mechanics and they’ve departed a bit from older games… but for me, the mechanics have been going in a direction I dislike from Napoleon onwards, and thus each is a little less enjoyable than the last. But while I still got some enjoyment from Shogun 2 and FotS, I did not enjoy Rome 2 at all. Empire is still the pinnacle for me.

  9. Volcanu says:

    It does feel like people have divided into two camps. Those that say it’s been fixed to the point where it’s good, flawed fun like previous TW games (which have always suffered from erratic campaign & battle AI) and those that say the game its pretty much a lost cause because of fundamental design issues, like the campaign map, the political system and other game systems.

    It’s hard to know who to believe. Which is why I’ll probably avoid it until it’s super cheap and I’ve got around to playing through Shogun 2.

    • fredc says:

      All the TW games are different in their overall experience, but I’ve found Rome II the most fundamentally problematic, although admittedly I uninstalled it a few patches ago.

      It doesn’t have the AI dogpile awfulness of original Shogun II, which I sort of expected when I read about the “civil war” event in previews. Unfortunately, while the AI dogpile in Shogun could be modded out very simply, Rome II’s strategic game just basically meanders, not helped by the astoundingly long AI turn. IIRC, Steam says I have 110 hours on the game. That represents one single partially-completed campaign as Rome. Battles also tend to become repetitious and you’re often facing very similar troop types with different coloured banners.

      The best parts of Rome II for me were the initial battle tutorials, which I think shows you what CA were aiming to achieve with the game. Unfortunately it seems like they failed at the design stage to integrate that into a fun strategy / global conquest game.

      Empire TW, which everyone but me hated, has a global scope and a similar sense of scale, but plays through much quicker and (despite the very limited treatment of non-European unit types) differentiates place and the progress of the strategic game so much better. I am honestly more tempted to load up Empire (or Shogun II FotS) for yet another campaign than slog through Rome II, despite the undeniably better graphics.

      Basically, Rome II is slow-moving (in every sense) and boring rather than outright bad. Which to me makes it the one exception in the TW series of games.

      • Volcanu says:

        It’s a shame really as many of the things they were trying to do sounded like good things to be focussing on. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into every TW up to and including Medieval 2 and the late game always becomes something of an ‘auto resolve fest’ with multiple inconsequential battles per turn. Having a focus on fewer but more significant battles sounded really good. It just seems like the execution was sloppy.

        I’d like them to be bold, (or maybe have a spin off series “Total War: Campaigns” or something) where you have the much tighter geographical focus of the expansion packs along with a tighter chronological period, like a few decades. Then they could build on the ‘conducting a campaign’ side of things and you’d have to focus on ensuring supply lines, watering locations etc for your army etc, and put a lot more thought into moving them about like a great big game of chess. Almost all ancient and medieval campaigns involved opposing armies shadowing each other, probing, repositioning for the best ground and trying to force a battle only on advantageous terms. The campaign map on TW games always ignores this (which is a necessity given the scope) and has you more or less charge your army icon into the enemy army icon and unless the enemy is on a bridge or a humongous mountain, you’re more or less golden.

        I’d find that really satisfying, combined with the series massive real time battles. Scale would suffer, certainly, but I’d probably sacrifice that for a tighter, tenser, richer experience. I mean there is always a place in my heart for painting the campaign map in your factions colours, or having Gallic tribes conquering Egypyt but I can see what CA were attempting to do for sure.

        • P.Funk says:

          I agree. As I’ve played more mods over the years for TW titles I’ve become more and more bored with the vanilla campaing map gameplay. Reading accounts of actual campaigns by real Roman generals underscores how lacking TW campaigns are in meaningful options for proper Generalship. I feel like there should be a tighter link between the campaign map and the tactical map with a much closer scale since the entire character of real campaigns was entirely dictated by terrain considerations and choosing when to fight and when to keep maneuvering.

          That said, you say “supply lines” to most players and their eyes glass over*….

          *Not that I’m one of them.

        • Zenicetus says:

          Yeah, that’s always been a weakness in the TW series for simulating realistic engagements. Some battles were won with pure tactical genius like Cannae, but many famous ones were pre-determined by maneuver in the days and weeks before the battle, like Agincourt and Gettysburg. You can’t set that up in TW, because armies just crash into each other with no last-minute maneuvering before the battle.

          If the battle maps were much larger, you could do a little more maneuver before the battle started. Or there could be an intermediate phase with a more simplified interface (like the Tab tactical view during battles) where you zoom in for final maneuver before the actual battle starts. But that probably clashes with CA’s goals for keeping the game fast-paced enough for a large audience.

  10. Auldman says:

    I’ve got about 234 hours on this game and I’d have more if RL permitted (job). The game has run very well for me since release so I cannot speak to graphical issues or performance as those have never troubled me.

    The bad: Sieges. Especially sieges where the AI is attacking you. When it was first released the AI would stand next to ballista or ladders and ignore them in favor of a few units attempting to burn down your iron gates with torches. They’ve patched it since then and now the AI will attempt to use the siege weaponry it has but if these fail at the first attempt they’ll resort to the crazy torches (leaving still intact ladders at the walls). CA hasn’t been able to get to grips in a proper way with these problems in 10 patches.

    Also a failure is Politics. It’s there…sort of. But after you’ve fought and won your civil war it’s a non-factor and that can mean an additional 100 turns with nothing much happening internally. Generals also die too quickly giving you no feeling of any connection to them (this is eased somewhat by Caesar In Gaul).

    The good: There’s more than you might think given the flak. Diplomacy is the best I’ve seen in any TW. Alliances mean something and the AI allies will actively help you in your wars by obeying your summons to attack an enemy or even sending armies to guard your undefended cities. Treaties are harder to get and there are some decent penalties for breaking them. But the best thing is that you don’t have to wait 75 turns for your Roman diplomat to walk to Persia as in Rome I.

    The BAI is pretty decent after the patches. It will attempt to flank you and for the first time the enemies general does not suicidally charge at the battle beginning. The AI still recruits too many skirmishers but this is better than it was at release.

    The CAI (particularly in Caesar In Gaul) is pretty aggressive. I also like the fact that unlike Rome I I cannot be lazy and simply check the box that allows the AI to manage my cities, provinces, taxes, and recruitment. I am forced to do all of that and despite their being less building types in Rome I I am quite happy to be forced to think about what industry, style of army recruitment, or agriculture a province will have. I also like that unlike Rome I armies must now be led by generals. No more 3 unit armies attacking you led by a non-entity.

    CiG was pretty decent expansion that had an aggressive AI (more than in the main campaign was my impression) and introduced seasons and the winter attrition on your armies and economy was a challenge I enjoyed. I see no reason why this new one should not be fun to play. Rome II is a flawed title like Empire Total War but it is still a lot of fun.

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    Bongo_clive says:

    So everyone is saying “wait for it to get cheaper”??

    • Zenicetus says:

      Basically, yes. It’s already been at 50% off several times on Steam, so keep an eye on the sales. At 50% off, it’s a decent ancient warfare battle simulator, if you can just ignore all the flaws on the campaign side.

      There are some mods that help, but you need some experience with the game to know whether you want a big realism mod like DeI or Magnar (both good, but different), or just select a few mods that fit your taste.

      I’m using just a few mods that reduce agent spam, reduce income for minor factions, and give a little boost so factions like Rome and Egypt have a chance if your’re playing another faction. And I still seldom get more than a third or halfway through a campaign before it gets tiresome on the campaign side. Meanwhile though, it’s an okay battle simulator that I can dip into, once in a while.

  12. DetCord says:

    I just fired it up for around 30 minutes after not having played since the release. My conclusion – No amount of patches will fix the fun factor.

    A game that’s utterly lacking in urgency or momentum. Developing provinces and economics feels more like tossing a dart at a board than counting down the turns until your shiny new building.

    Perhaps what’s most dismaying about Rome II is that it doesn’t seem salvageable – its problems are as much conceptual as they are pragmatic. In most grand strategy games, the motivation to play “just one more turn” is the most appealing part.

    http://i.imgur.com/mtsQhIP.jpg

  13. wrcromartie says:

    If you want to play Rome 2…don’t play vanilla. Load up twcenter and download Divide et Imperia.

    At launch, R2 was a mess. I warned most to stay away (and I’m a big fan of the series). After 10 patches, vanilla is quite playable albeit hollow when compared to mods such as RS2 or EB for the original RTW. The mod DeI is doing a great job of restoring some of that substance…although I think we will still need to see some major mechanical improvements by CA to get R2 to the fun level of R1.

  14. frenz0rz says:

    I used to be a huge TW fan, having bought every game+expansion up until Empire. I found that game sorely disappointing though, and the by-now-usual lacklustre battle AI and woeful diplomacy finally convinced me to look elsewhere for my map-painting kicks. I must say since switching to Paradox’s brand of grand strategy with EU and CK I doubt I’ll ever return to TW.

  15. Poppis says:

    I think I’ll wait for Europa Barbarorum 2.

  16. mariandavid says:

    Yes – playing away at a game which produces genuine fun now through a combination of serious upgrades (one has to admit TW is trying hard) and some very, very clever and useful Steam mods. Must say that I agree with the initial comment on opinions – the comment sites, especially that on Steam, contain some of the most childishly petulant remarks I have ever despised seeing,

  17. quijote3000 says:

    I was so looking to the release of Rome 2. What a shame

  18. Screamer says:

    Waiting for it to be in the $5 or $10 range before taking a chance.

  19. MX11 says:

    Wait til its in the bargain bin.

    CA and Sega ban all posters at the offiicial forums if you say anything negative about the game. They (or at least its speculated that) have PR people pretending to be actual posters who’ll troll anyone with honest opinions of the bugs. And people fall for it alot, and hence you have people rage and look childish, its not surprising that people go off when they are constantly provoked for no reason excpet they wanted a quality game/the advertised product. So now your left with a totally fantasy island at the offiicial forums.

    The game is lacking in many areas. CORE GAME mechanics are poor, very poor unfortunately. In the new beta patch they’ve decided to downgrade extreme graphics and LoD and they are calling it a “performance increase” for all setups. Which means for those whom have powerful gaming pc’s your SOL(shit outta luck), because CA is going for the lowest common denominator. The stuff they’ve pulled with and since this release almost comical at this point. I don’t hate the game, but I’m really sick of dishonest people trying to sell a broken product. I don’t hate CA, or anyone for liking it, I just hope to help inform is all. Its playable sure. Its not quality though, well maybe its low quality at best. Its mediocre. Maybe it’ll get better, but Sega is more about money than quality these days with thieir recent games than I’d like to admit…

    Purchase the game at your own discretion. If you can pretend its a good working game when Seige ai just plain doesnt work, unit diversity is just copy and paste with different colors, maps are copy paste with one or two changes, ect….then you’ll enjoy it. If you expect to play the game the facade makes it out to be, you’ll be disappointed. Good luck.

    • mariandavid says:

      Highly unlikely that PR reps still post on Steam and even were this weird speculation to be true still a poor excuse for infantilism taken to the extreme. Seems TW Rome II is doomed to be forever the classic example of utter bifurcation of opinion. On the points – agree on one core mechanic, the obtuse political system, not the rest; agree also that until modified the combat and campaign was bland. But on the remainder an adequate game, touching greatness in some of its mods – though remain baffled on this whole business of the 4% or 10% whose systems find the graphics flawed. Obviously I am not among them but understand the frustration of those who are.

  20. Sharongamer978 says:

    Bullshit game. Does not even run normally on my pc, and I have a good pc.