Shogun 2: Total Blimey That Looks Pretty


GameTrailers, who we do like to thank for their seemingly infinite video bandwidth, have snaffled the scoop on Shogun 2: Total War in-game footage, and I’ve posted it below. The video features The Creative Assembly’s chirpy Kieran Bridgen and AI programmer Ingimar Gudmunsson talking through one of the real-time battle sequences. It shows off the new detailed unit models, the general’s speeches, the massively detailed new battlefields and buildings, the weather effects, and, of course, lots of tiny men who won’t be going home to their virtual wives at the end of the day.

You are going to want to watch this.

105 Comments

  1. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Detailed unit models, general speeches?
    Exactly what i dont want!

    While they are at it, why dont they add an backstory generator to each unit, so while you are battleing you can stupidly zoom in, click a unit, and read about his boring life as you ignore that battle around you.

    Also, obligitory CA boo hiss after Empire.
    Boo hiss indeed.

    • Eggy says:

      so let me get this straight.

      You first insult the game because of an apparent lack of narrative depth, and then intimate that adding a different form of narrative depth would be absurd and detrimental to the game?

      dat fanboyism

    • Eggy says:

      correction: dat misreading of your comment 8E

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      The general’s speeches were always in previous Total War games, they simply dropped from Empire.

    • robrob says:

      They were pretty cool, they picked up on your general’s traits and the enemy and recent events. Obviously total fluff but they were a fun intro to the battles.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Er, no. I first insult the game for adding narrative depth, then intimate that adding blah blah blah…

      In Total War games, i am the commander. Not the general unit. I give the orders, i decide what goes on.
      Adding speeches before hand is fluff.
      Adding unique armour to each individual! is fluff, and takes up space, resources and time.
      Adding unique battle animations to each unit, when a person is looking at the bigger picture is fluff.

      Fluff doesnt add to the game, and takes up time and money for the developers. I would gladly return to Medievals stick figures chugging across the map. Gave me the info i needed, didnt require some insane graphics card just to compute the motion of a mans moustache as he takes a lance to the face.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Triple Ninja’d.

      I know general speeches were introduced in Rome (They werent in the first Total War game) and they were fluff then that i skipped, and they are fluff now that i would skip.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      I think I would really like a backstory-generator. Nothing wrong with a bit of extraneous detail.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      So what improvements would you like to see, Peter? Or are you actually saying you are happy playing the older games?

    • Navagon says:

      “I would gladly return to Medievals stick figures chugging across the map.”

      Then do so and STFU about anything new. Bloody hell. Half the comments on this site these days are “Get orf ma lawn!” jaded cranky old bastards insisting they’ve still got an interest in gaming even if it’s only to bitch about it.

    • alh_p says:

      Monsieur Pig has a point here. What was wrong and un-popular about Empire was not the graphics…It was principaly the AI and the gameplay it generated.

      But then, if graphics are what make you buy and (re)play a game, it’s understandable that you’d like this trailer.

      If on the other hand, you wanted a bit more strategic meat to go with the presentation, then you can reasonably be cautious, as all the video mentions is promises. And Empire included plenty of those.

      Now get orf my lawn.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      the graphics are amazing and caring about graphics is the new not caring about graphics!

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I quite liked the Cornish Romans in R:TW.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      And yet the trailer is largely a discussion of the AI. Does anyone actually watch these things, or do you just go on my gibber in the intro?

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      The only thing i saw the AI do was have archers in the trees. They didnt even seem to notice the cavalary at the bottom of their hill, standing still.

      The real improvements for the game would be the campaign AI and the diplomacy, and i think they go hand in hand.

      If you want me to feel like im actually part of a great big campaign, i dont want those silly general speeches. I want another faction that has one besieged stronghold, no food, no reinforcements to take my peace terms. It really doesnt make sense to do it any other way.
      Half your battles should be won with swords and bows, the other with diplomacy, marrying factions, geting lords to betray their lieges etc…

      And i think a better use of CAs resources would go towards this, not doubling the amout of bodyparts a unit has, or hiring real martial artists for mocap, for “realism”.
      Its feature bloat with shit features.

      @Navagon, i think ill complain about what i dont like in a game. I also get excited about what i do like.
      Complaining about complaints is also very silly.

    • Novotny says:

      This is true Jim, however CA have made similar claims regarding their AI before.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Oh, and an about face button during battles. So so stupid to have a unit being attacked from behind, and to make them turn, you have to spen them right around, instead of making the men turn on the spot.

      Its really really simple. Empire had a good rotating thing, bit there needs to be a pivot button.

      And logistics, which i hear were in napoleon, but i didnt play it as it came after Empire.

    • alh_p says:

      Jim, I’d be dissapointed if that video really is enough to get you excited about shogun2’s gameplay and AI.

    • psyk says:

      AI and graphics are done by the same people now, Nice.

    • Bluebreaker says:

      The video in question shows nothing of that “improved” AI.
      It starts moving all of its units forward.
      The “elite” units engage. 2 player units lose agains 3 ai units.
      The player engages with cavalry the ai “weak spot” (trough a unit of spearman) even trough you can clearly see the red icon of a unit in the forest. It gets raped.
      The “whole” AI army runs forward. Engages the poor player units. Some of its units stand doing nothing, others cross diagonally the field…
      The player charges cavalry to archers on the left. The AI doesn’t react in any way.
      The player charges cavalry behind the AI battleline. The AI doesn’t react in anyway (at this point doesn’t have any unit not in melee).
      And the whole AI army routs.

      It feels awful alot like in previous games, to be a vid showing “improved AI”.

    • Freud says:

      “And yet the trailer is largely a discussion of the AI. Does anyone actually watch these things, or do you just go on my gibber in the intro?”

      To be fair, CA has said they are focusing on AI for every game for quite some time only to release games with no real improvement.

      Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Totally with Peter on this. Fuck general’s speaches, even if you watch them once, you’ll just skip them every further time you play. Meanwhile I didn’t see anything in this video to convince me the battle AI is any better than previous efforts.

      One thing I’d like, one tiny little thing, is an ‘advance’ button on the battle UI. A toggle that makes your forces walk forward. Currently there is either the silly hold down button which inches forward at a crawl as you depress it, or the right click on a location, which unless you correctly judge to be directly ahead of the centre of your army, results in your forces pivoting around themselves. Is that too much to ask? IS IT?

      Oh, and campaign AI that works in v1.0. And seiges that aren’t stupid (Empires had epically bad seiges). And less than half a million bugs at launch. But speaches, meh.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s not just the general’s speeches, it’s also the time CA will spend on lovely animations of assassinations that you will watch exactly one time. And I’ll join in the pile-on for Jim’s defense of the developer’s comments about the AI. They always say that. The proof will be in what finally hits the market, and they have a lot of people to convince after Empire.

      Anything from CA at this point is in my “wait for user reports first” box, and I can predict a six month wait before it’s ready to buy.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Navagon

      100% agreed.

      Personally pretty interested in this one. I really enjoyed the original gamr, but never really got into any of the others beyond the first medieval (though I have both Rome & Medieval 2 sat idling on my Steam account).

      I quite like the idea of the game adding a bit of personality to the generals. Sure it’s just a bit of colour at the end of the day, but if it adds a bit of investment into the game in terms of having a favourite I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing.

  2. robrob says:

    Total War games always look so lovely. I remember seeing Medieval 2 for the first time and being blown away, all those little guys were so detailed! The sieges in particular looked incredible. Empire looked great too, especially the naval battles. Hopefully they’ll have sorted out mods and AI for this one.

    • robrob says:

      To be fair, CA don’t seem so sharp on communicating with their customers. Mod support was always implicit but Empire was a real kick in the balls.

    • wm says:

      They should fire that Kieran bloke. He’s chirpy, yes. He’s also an idiot. Fan communication is definitely something CA still don’t know how to do.

  3. Baboonanza says:

    Narrative depth? Who asked for that?

    The complaint is that ever since Rome Creative Assembly keep on fixing the things that aren’t broken while completely ignoring the major problems that completely screw their games. Every release they go on about ‘detailed inits’ and ‘amazing graphics’ and then you get the game and discover that the AI is still just as moronic as it was in Medieval 1.

    • Baboonanza says:

      Having said that, I hope Shogun is different. I’d absolutely love a GOOD Total War game.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      In fairness to CA (an I was as burnt as anyone by Empire) they are focussing very much on the AI in this video and it does appear to address significant issues from previous games.

      Of course, the campaign AI has been a bigger dog in my opinion and I could use some convincing on that front too.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      >Narrative depth? Who asked for that?

      Me.

      I usually lose interest quickly in strategy games because I can’t get any emotional attachment to any characters. For me this feels like a step in the right direction. But if you are a long-time wargamer fan who crave a pure strategy experience, I can see how this is a “GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN!” moment.

      But seriously, these are rather small details in the game, aren’t they?

    • Baboonanza says:

      I don’t have any complaints about the general’s speeches actually. As previously mentioned they have been in most previous games.

      But if you think better unit graphics and general’s speeches actually add narrative depth then you are going to be disappointted. The narrative is created by your own actions during the game, not by such ‘fluff’.

    • Sobric says:

      @ Lars

      They are small details indeed, which is often why TW fans get frustrated that CA spends an inordinate amount of time on them, instead of improving both campaign and battle AI (which has always been the major gripe in TW games since Rome).

      That said, they’ve released a video that addresses this (well, is meant to address this: I don’t really see anything that couldn’t happen in other TW games here).

      If they implement a great AI system, clean the game of bugs AND include small details that flesh out in-game narratives then more power to them, and this will be a great game.

    • Foxfoxfox says:

      @ Sobric – I didn’t realise you had such an intimate knowledge of CA’s resource allocation? Where are you finding this information?

      I loved the little narrative touches in Rome and Medieval, and they absolutely provided some of the best experiences in the game for me, giving the generals more personality is a great move as far as I am concerned.

      But then I can understand there are different types of gamers in the world. I love the TW games because of the implied narrative perhaps more than for the battles.

  4. Gibius says:

    Looks lovely, but the battle seemed to be over too quickly like in Rome. Five minutes of fighting and then a route on way or the other. I guess that’s a symptom of the scale, in that 120 men are going to be affected by morale faster than say, a block of 2000 men like you’d expect in a real battle from the day. Would like to have seen more of the combat close up, but I guess that’s for later videos.

    This is probably a definite purchase for me. I’m a Total War whore.

  5. Po0py says:

    My PC is at this very moment cowering in the corner of my room.

  6. Fringe says:

    “Shogun 2: Total Phwoar!”

    Surely?

  7. Skinlo says:

    Despite the fact I’ve never really enjoyed a Total War game, this, like all the others before it gives me the illusion of me enjoying it, despite the fact I know I won’t.

  8. T says:

    Its the same thing all over again, nice graphics, detail, facial hair blá blá.. I just want to the Tactical/ Strategy experience TotalWar is supposed to be.
    Give me the ability to manouver army’s, reinforce, emulate friction, logistics, their is so much they can do! Yet they cannot go beyond Rome or even surpasses what Close Combat did decades ago with a fraction of their investment. I´m certainly NOT convinced to get this one.
    “Hint”- its about War, Its about the grand plan to conquer everything, NOT side effects

  9. Moth Bones says:

    Hmmm, I’ve got three of the Total War games, I think that’s enough. It looks sweet, but that’s all. I dread to think how effective fire arrows are when it’s not pissing with rain.

    I’m not very impressed that when I go to a site to watch what is basically an advert I have to sit through another advert first.

  10. cliffski says:

    This does look interesting, i think the weather effects look fantastic. Personally I play these games with all those annoying bouncy flag icons turned off. i like my battles to look like battles, not powerpoint presentations.
    For me, although i can see that there is an awesome game there, the thing that frustrates me about total war is the feeling that I have no control during the battle. The troops retreat or run without me having any say in it, and the battle often moves too quickly for me to keep up. Maybe I’m getting old. (I know there is a speed control, but its hard to keep an eye on all sections of the battle at once).
    Also, I only buy the newer TW games for the battles, the grand strategy game is overcomplex and bloated for me, so I’d only ever buy them for random battles when I have some spare time. It doesn’t help that the game takes aggggess to load, so as a quick and fun battle game, it is too big and clunky.
    I’ll buy it anyway though.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      Correct me if i’m wrong but doesn’t galactic space battles give you absolutely no control over the battles once they’ve begun?

    • Novotny says:

      I wish people wouldn’t say things like that (I’ll buy it anyway though). it can only encourage CA to continue with their 10 year old strategy of putting some new makeup on their increasingly aged dog and then sitting back to count the coin.

    • Lukasz says:

      Heh.
      I bought all Total War games for turn based mode while i treat rts part as a necessity. It gets boring for me after twenties battle and becomes a chore when i have to play 5 battles per turn because they are too difficult for AI too handle.
      Last parts of the game always lead to me clicking autorresolve.

    • Reapy says:

      I think I quite agree with your opinions here. The game looks great, the rolling fog looked fantastic, very cool lightning.

      I have the same gripes with total war games, I feel out of control during the battle. Often I have to pause in fights and very carefully redraw my entire army formation because the AI army moved off to my left and I need to shift the facing.

      I don’t fully understand the controls of the game in terms of the group formations. I know they have had set formations to pick but they never seem to line troops up in a useful way. That whole rotating your units in place complaint is missing too, everybody just turn around, not do the spiral dance.

      It took me about 3 total war games before I figured out the alt move option. I just always feel like sometimes you misclick, and your entire formation is just all messed up. I really have waited each total war game for them to announce improved controls or a new way to move the armies around, but I have yet to see it.

      I think they have sort of fixed up the campaign somewhat over time and gotten it a little more streamlined, though it still has some glaring things missing from it (though I didnt play empire more then 10 minutes and left napoleon, I haven’t seen a simple ‘next unit’ button).

      Anyway, hope they fix up the base game, just seeing large masses of troops on the field isn’t going to be enough for me to overlook gameplay failings anymore.

  11. DiamondDog says:

    I look forward to this game.

  12. stahlwerk says:

    This looks fantastic. Say, if I, having never played a Total War game before (do not dig the name), wanted to get a peek into the series, which of the three demos offered on steam (medieval 2, napoleon, empire) would you recommend?

    Now get off my bright green, flat shaded, polygonal lawn!

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Empire is terrible and should never be played. Napoleon is better at everything, if you fancy 18th/19th century combat with muskets and square formations and all that. If you prefer swords and shields, try Medieval 2.

      I’d say overall Napoleon is definitely the most polished TW game so far, but if you hate the time period, you obviously won’t like it.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Napoleon is a lovely starting point.

    • RKB says:

      I prefer empire total war for the campaign just because of the fact its on a larger scale. I enjoyed having a war on three different fronts at once.

    • UsF says:

      Napoleon: TW when it is cheaper, since I felt betrayed that it was full price minus 5bucks. 10 or 15 maybe. Until then, I’ll stick with Cossacks 2 Battle for Europe. :D

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      I started with Empire and really enjoyed it. I didn’t play the earlier games so I’ve never really understood all the harping. Napoleon is also very good.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Thank you all, will try Napoleon tonight, then. Maybe with a glass of austrian red wine? ;-)

  13. drillerman45 says:

    I assume you mean “Gratuitous Space Battles”.

  14. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Want. Still play the original Gold Edition (battlefield Ninja ftw!), definitely going to play this. As long as it’s not as shit as Empires.

    Fingers crossed for a demo.

  15. Calabi says:

    Sounds like they have focused on the important parts like the graphics and story(and a movie story at that). It would be nice if they thought about trying to innovate the other areas. Making it more accesible, and realistic.

    Anyone in the real world could order a real army about and get it to fight reasonably well as long as they have a voice, a game like this no way, only expert experienced gamers need apply. I’d like to see you able to use a series of simple verbal or textual commands and the soldiers you command behave seemingly intelligently. Like not driting of when you click somewhere near the enemy, and end up with their backs to the enemy. It would be nice to have the soldiers with at least some awareness of what is going on around them.

    Why didnt they take cues from the series Time Commander, and remove the need for those guys at the pcs clicking alot.

  16. Metalfish says:

    As with every TW game, it looks stunning. I’m glad they’re talking about the AI, as it’s the think the more vocal fans of the series tend to focus on. If the AI can’t be beaten by sitting in a favourable position even when you were the one attacking, then that’ll be a start. Looks like it’ll melt my PC though.

  17. Langman says:

    Since Medieval 1, the series has taken a consistent downward turn with each new incarnation, with Napoleon the exception in moving back in the opposite direction and being slightly better than Empire.

    Will Shogun 2 carry on from Napoleon and be another improvement? I hope so. Perhaps one day if they keep going with this series, they’ll eventually make another TW game that matches Medieval 1.

    • Bluebreaker says:

      how did improve napoleon over empire?
      apart from giving massive cheats to the IA on maximum difficulty, its the same useless IA of always.

    • Langman says:

      It was a more tighter, focused game with few of the bugs Empire had on release. CA bit off way more than they could chew with Empire. It was a complete balls-up.

    • Freud says:

      TW: Medival was my favorite too. Great balance and the last game with the old Risk style map. It had a much more addictive just-one-more-turn gameplay than any of the sequels had.

    • Ateius says:

      @Langman, and the rest:

      What, exactly, was so great about Medieval 1? I’ve played it, and (graphics aside) it seemed exactly the same as Rome and Medieval 2, only with a Risk-style campaign map and no diplomatic options.

      Seriously, the AI was just as terrible there as it is in newer ones. What little diplomacy there was had the AI handle it as “Older Alliance > Newer Alliance > Alliance with Player” with no regard to relative power of nations or royal marriages, its handling of armies on the campaign map was rubbish (Many a time I’d have three units of peasants shift into one of my provinces to attack my army of elite knights and infantry while the enemy’s heavy units twiddled their thumbs) and the tactical AI could be defeated using exactly the same tactics as in later games: Pepper with archers, tie down with infantry, flank with cavalry. The battles sometimes lasted longer than in later games, yes, but that was only due to the armies moving at a snails’ pace.

      That the battle AI hasn’t been particularly improved continues to be a source of amusement and frustration to me, but honestly, how are you able to hold up Medieval 1 as some sort of golden age?

      … oh right, Shogun. Um, it’s very pretty, but I’m not particularly seeing the fantastic new AI they’re claiming to have. Hoping for more evident results as development proceeds.

  18. Shadrach says:

    Ouch those rain and fog effects, I definitely have to get a new PC when this one comes out… looks very pretty.

  19. Collic says:

    It looks encouraging, and it’s good to see them add back in some older features sadly absent from Empire. My hope is that the lesson learned from Empire was don’t just continually strive for a bigger scale, and more features, to the exclusion of what’s important. Napoleon was a good step back from a lot the things Empire got wrong.

    I’m not really convinced on the battle AI side, though. They say these exact same things every release, and it doesn’t ever seem to get any better. You can usually they are really trying, but what usually happens is the AI just confuses itself and either ends up jumbling up it’s lines, or otherwise just not really following through with any kind of plan. They seem to be suggesting this AI will be a little less reactive, but we’ll see. I won’t be convinced until I see it heh.

  20. Fathom says:

    Anyone here who is complaining is beyond pathetic. I don’t know what kind of person can look at what was shown in that video and actually think of negative things to say. You have no imagination and no perception of much outside your own whinyness. The graphics and atmosphere should be enough to make anyone astonished as how far we’ve come in video games, much less the amount of involvement and emotional depth (like speeches, etc.). If this stuff doesn’t but a smile on your face, you need to stop playing video games and get a new hobby for a while. Come back in a year or two when you’ve forgotten how to analyze and criticize games to the point of retardation, and you’ll be much happier.

    • alh_p says:

      I think you’re missing the point of the “complaints”, or rather scepticism. This isn’t people saying “oh this LOOKS rubbish, I hate STRATEGY games anyway”. It’s people who have played the TW series since the beginning, who associate TW with STRATEGY and an engaging intelectual challenge from the AI. if you want graphics, go and watch Avatar.

      I am happy for you to be wetting your pants over visual effects, they are indeed astounding. Yet, as I said above, to long term fans of TW -graphics are not the attraction.

      The video is, despite the two voices talking about AI, not much of a demonstration of the AI.

  21. Toby says:

    That was awesome. Can’t wait to see more.

  22. mbp says:

    I must hang my head in shame and admit that I failed to make it through the tutorial in Shogun Total War and kind of abandoned the game. CA always did make sucky tutorials. In later years I discovered Rome TW and it sucked me in becoming one of my favourite games of all time and I subsequently got into both Medieval 1 and Medieval 2.

    Should I go back now and try Shogun again for nostalgia sake before Shogun 2 arrives and makes it irrelevant?

  23. Tigranes says:

    The game looks pretty but there’s really nothing in that video to suggest that the chronic problems plaguing the AI since RTW/MTW2 (i.e. utter stupidity) has been solved. It’s very pretty and very slick but CA have tricked the fanbase with “improved AI” line before and we need to see more real evidence. For instance:

    -The player sends forth his army in small waves. Yet many TW players generally like to use their entire army to attack or at least to maneuvre, instead of sending them out piecemeal, and the AI doesn’t deal with that. The AI sucks at adjusting formation or responding to a moving line. So again, no negative or positive evidence of improved AI.

    -If you look at the bit where the narrator says “human brain and outwit the machine”, you can see that the AI has actually broken its line. A regiment on the far right is actually rushing in front of the rest of the line to cross diagonally to te other side for no discernible reason, and then, hell, everyone stops for a few seconds. So the AI charges, then suddenly stops, then decides to stick one regiment in no-man’s land for no reason. This happened in the majority of vanilla versions for RTW, MTW2 and ETW.

    – Soon the entire AI army is routed. Again no negative or positive evidence – we dont’ know if the AI is smart enough to pull out if the day is gone or stay until everyone’s routed/dead.

    We’ve always known that the AI can perform a small number of set ‘tricks’ given a static environment, such as an appropriate starting formation or the placement of archers in forests. More importantly, just about every version of RTW, MTW2 and ETW have been plagued with the AI’s failure to react adequately to any dynamic circumstances (i.e. in response to player) and that has made for some terrible and ridiculous experiences (never moves under trebuchet fire, chokes itself on a bridge, walks in and out of a gate endlessly, breaks its own line while charging, etc). Do we see any evidence that has been fixed? Not really. CA ain’t getting my money until there’s tangible improvement.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Exactly. There have always been smaller problems with the AI like the “suicide Generals syndrome.” But the overall problem with the series (at least since Rome) is that the only time you see a cohesive formation that acts as an enemy army, is right at the start of battle. Then the AI starts acting more like individual units, running around like chickens with their heads cut off . The AI never re-forms or regroups and acts as a cohesive army, as the battle develops. There is too much initiative invested in individual units, instead of an overall commanding General AI.

      In some cases, units should have individual initiative, like cavalry and certain skirmish units. And yeah, battles can sometimes devolve into chaos in the real world, as lines of communication break down. There should be some room for that. But the enemy army breaks apart much too easily in TW games, and much too early in most battles. That’s what they need to be working on, more than pretty graphics.

  24. bill says:

    Lesson 1: It’s much easier and more exciting to make a video that shows your graphics than your AI.

    Lesson 2: Making great graphics for a game this complex is easier than making great AI. (seriously, there are so many more variables in this kind of game than something like chess – and it’s darn hard to make an AI that can handle all those variables. (chess is a limited move set, so it’s just crunching all the options quickly) but we can’t even make an AI that can beat humans at GO – because Go includes tactical ideas like territory. Yet that doesn’t have things like terrain, grids, etc.. )

    Lesson 3: They need some kind of swarm/hierarchical AI. Where each unit has AI to handle minor things, but groups and then armies have higher level AI to give orders.

    • Calabi says:

      They should hire the L4D Director.

    • D says:

      Considering that they’ve had 10 years to improve the same thing (AI), they’re showing very poor results, regardless of how much harder it is to do than graphics. Also, to compare TW AI to Go is ridiculous – I can easily find tons of Go AI’s that’ll beat me every time. You’re proposing that the only acceptable TW AI is a strategic genius, when most of us just want an AI that is somewhat capable of handling its attack and defense. The word to go for is verisimilitude, not simulation.

  25. Davian says:

    So basically you engage the front and rush the cavalry around the enemy’s flank to strike from behind. Been doing that since Shogun. Some new tactics, please.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Yeah I know what you mean. It’s like in all those WW2 strategy games where the anti-tank weapons always destroy the tanks. BORING.

      Come on CA, reinvent warfare you useless cretins!

    • Davian says:

      No need to reinvent. Just give me more options to play around with. The way it is now it’s basically just about positioning your units well and flanking. Not to mention siege warfare is incredibly boring to me in TW games. It actually took me more time to get used to the new clunky interface of Empire than it did to exhaust all the strategic options. Let enemy sit. Shell with cannon. Flank. Laugh at enemy as it crouches, stands up and forms a diagonal line, then routs.

  26. Ilinx says:

    I’m surprised at the negative comments about Empire here. The grand campaign well and truly sucked me in… although now that I think about it, a lot of the battles did boil down to ‘Make semi circle of troops around my artillery, Send cavalry round the back to destroy enemy artillery, Annihilate enemy’. Did the earlier games require any more sophisticate tactics?

    • Bluebreaker says:

      no

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      I think the main problem with Empire was that Creative Assembly were promising vastly improved, unified AI, but in the end it turned out little improved from the daft-as-a-sack-of-hammers AI that graced the earlier games. That the game also proved much trickier to mod also generated a lot of bad blood.

      Hence this trailer, which promises AI advancements but merely shows more pretties, seems almost calculated to nettle the seething bearpit of disgruntled (ex-?)Total War fans.

      I’ve had a lot of fun with Empire meself though (with the caveat that I came to it late, after little things like naval invasions had been fixed), the battle AI is deeply silly at times but that is more than made up for by the fixes made on the campaign level. Thus I’m somewhat looking forward to Shogun 2, blimey it does look rather pretty doesn’t it?

  27. Hmm says:

    It’s a shame CA are making their games less and less moddable. Not only does that make TW less appealing for many, it also prevents fans from fixing things CA usually fuck up.
    Look at Rome or Medieval 2 and mods for it.

  28. Hikkikomori says:

    Ok, this is obviously an attempt by CA to show that they (want us to know they) will be improving the AI, wrapped in a dazzling packet that will draw the masses. They have broken promises before but they are willing to risk trying again so may they succeed.

    I’m getting desperate with the lack of historical accuracy though. I have been researching oriental military history for a long time and was hoping for a Shogun 2 for as long a time. I was really hoping for something closer to Japanese war tactics and not a copy of the European model again. Chinese and Mongol armies fought in block formations but the Japanese never did in this period. I would be surprised if CA doesn’t know this, I think they just don’t want to go out of their comfort zone.

    Also the horses! The bloody horses! the Japanese had small little ponies at the time, foreign big warhorses were a rarity. There was never such a thing as a devastating horse charge in medieval Japan, horses were used for mobility instead. And it’s not just the horses and the formations, I could go on for hours, but I won’t. :) I don’t imply that the game should be 100% accurate. What I mean is that the game shows European men fighting in Japanese clothes and masks.

    I actually had thought that they would grasp the opportunity to make something really special and novel that would intrigue Westerners that have never seen Japanese medieval warfare ever before. And hearing that modding is difficult for their games sinks me more as I would definitely want to give it a shot and make a more accurate representation of historical reality.

    There’s still time to make some changes CA people, right? Right? o___o;

  29. Demtor says:

    Haha, wow. There are a lot of passionate whiners up in here ;-)

  30. Swanky says:

    I I’m not going to throw myself into the Pit of Despair that opens up every time a Total War game gets tagged. I just wanted to say that I’m one of those people who like a slice of narrative with their strategy. It brings it alive, surely?

    One of my fondest memories of Rome TW was my insane general – we’ll call him Maximus. Maximus was a deeply troubled man. Every single one of his personality traits – and he had many – indicated insanity in one form or another. Honestly, this guy would have made The Joker feel squeamish. And boy, he was a demon on the battlefield. Whether the stats actually made the difference or if it was just me using him in the most aggressive way possible, I can’t say. I do remember sending him to all the most difficult troublespots on the map, though, because it just felt right.

    What’s that? A revolt in Sardinia! Dispatch Maximus the Mad immediately! They’ll regret the day they were born when that dangerous lunatic lands on their beaches.

    It was a sad day when that frothing loon fell on the battlefield.

  31. Daniel says:

    I <3 the narrative. The most fun part of Rome for me was the stories that my generals accumulated as they traipsed across the empire, murdering, pillaging, ruling, electing, etc… it was such fun. A great change from Starcraft's cookie-cutter characters and Civilizations complete lack of narrative.

    As far as the AI – has it occurred to anyone that "smart, sophisticated, human AI" is beyond our reach, at this point? It took decades to create a smart chess AI, which has 16 pieces and 64 squares. Fans seem to expect that a small UK studio can create a fully human, intelligent AI with a relatively small budget that will handle range, distance, 1000s of little men and all the tricks that we, the human, can play on it.

    Perhaps it is simply not possible.

    • D says:

      I don’t care about the size of the studio, for one. If I’m asked to pay 50€ for a game about war, I will expect the game to be competent in the way it fights battles. It doesn’t have to be a perfect strategist! Winning battles is after all the whole point of Total War.

    • jalf says:

      They still haven’t created a smart chess AI. They’ve created the simplest one you can imagine, and put it on a ridiculously fast computer.

      But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to create an AI that *seems* convincing is impossible, or even out of reach for a team the size of CA. No one’s asking for an AI which picks the best possible move at any time (that’s the goal of a chess AI, and in a game it just wouldn’t be much fun)

      But an AI which doesn’t just line up its troops and then have them walk left, then right, then left, then right, until they ‘re exhausted, all while being under artillery bombardment doesn’t seem so unreasonable to ask for, does it?

      Doom didn’t have a particularly advanced AI, but they had one that *worked*. Enemies didn’t just walk into walls or fire in random directions, which would be about equivalent to what Empire offered most of the time.

  32. Jimbo says:

    Maybe you just have too much control in these battles for it to satisfy anymore. Being able to pause at any time and being able to precisely and instantly maneuver every group on the field, no matter where they are, gives you massive and unrealistic advantages compared to any real commander. The AI is always going to look like an idiot so long as you have so much god-like control.

    I wonder how these games would feel with some kind of Rainbow Six-esque planning stage before the battle, where you broadly see how they are expected to act during the battle (the amount of knowledge you have being based on a number of factors: spies, commander skill etc.), and then you broadly set out how you want your army to set itself up and act during the battle.

    Once the battle starts, you would still be able to control your units, but doing so would not be instantaneous (send a runner or whatever, who very occasionally might not arrive in one piece), and the general competence of any given unit carrying out your commands (or reacting to a situation itself) would be determined by a unit’s training and experience.

    I’m not trying to make excuses for the current AI – because it often acts remarkably stupidly and that needs solving – but even if the AI were fine the battles still wouldn’t be exciting because they always feel too safe. There is no chaos of battle, or the sudden realisation that your grand plan is going to get torn apart, because you always have absolute control of the battle.

    I’d aim for far less battles during a campaign (stop having the AI walking around the map with single units doing nothing at all), but try and make each battle feel like it matters and that each one is a risk.

    • SubterraneanRivers says:

      “Once the battle starts, you would still be able to control your units, but doing so would not be instantaneous (send a runner or whatever, who very occasionally might not arrive in one piece), and the general competence of any given unit carrying out your commands (or reacting to a situation itself) would be determined by a unit’s training and experience.”

      Its actually already been done.

      http://www.histwar.com

      If such a game were given an AAA budget, I would be a happy chap.

    • jalf says:

      Ah, and the “If only we make a complete model of the real world, fun will somehow emerge automatically”-trap has claimed another victim.

      No, we don’t have “god-like” power in battles, because the AI can do the exact same thing. It doesn’t *need* to press pause because it can do the same analysis in a split second. The ability to pause 1) levels the playing field by letting us do roughly the same that the AI can also do, and 2) allows players to do what they *want*, which makes the players happy.

      And being unable to issue orders to your units reliably wouldn’t really contribute much to making the battles more fun. Sometimes, some games occasionally fail to register a mouse click or similar, and funnily enough, players don’t usually treat it as “oh, hah, I guess the messenger got shot”. They treat it as a breach of trust. The game is supposed to put you, the player in charge, but it was incapable of doing what you asked. It broke the contract between player and game, and we get furious as a result.

      There is no chaos of battle, or the sudden realisation that your grand plan is going to get torn apart, because you always have absolute control of the battle.

      Huh, hardly. I’ve had plenty of grand plans suddenly getting torn apart in MTW, despite my so-called “absolute” control. Again, the problem isn’t that I’m able to issue orders to my units, the problem is that the AI seems to think it’s participating in a dance competition, not a military battle.

      The way to fix that is not to make the player’s units move equally randomly, but to make the AI’s units move with something approximating a purpose, just like yours do.

      Fewer, but larger battles is a good point though. And it’s also something that MTW seemed to have, which later games forgot about (probably because of the infinitely more detailed campaign map which means that the same province can now hold 15 different single-unit armies, giving you 15 tiny pointless battles to fight instead of one significant one)

  33. SubterraneanRivers says:

    I remain quietly hopeful for this. After 4 extraordionary games, empire was a biro in the eye. If they spend as much time oin the AI as they did on the shinyness, I will forgive CA their past violations

    Also any word on modability? Another facet to CA that always boggled the mind and made me question their businesssense.

  34. Tyler says:

    I’m with the guy that is always fooled into thinking he’ll like the games even though he never does. I haven’t liked one since Shogun:TW. Medieval was great, but it was just too much for me. I’d given up on Empire, which I -could’ve- liked by the time they fixed the showstopper bugs (that happened, right?)

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the cavalry charge through woods knocking out an entire squad like bowling pins in the blink of an eye, either. That was just completely ridiculous…like Rome. Need to take over a city? Cavalry.

  35. pipman3000 says:

    i am buying this game just so i can bitch about it :D

    wish me luck!

  36. Ybfelix says:

    From this video the computer Takeda doesn’t display much AI, it just watches and does nothing to prevent cavalry from running past the frontline and charge archers from the back…

    Also it’s almost played like a turn based game.(Though I’d really like to see the return of Risk style campaign board)

  37. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Man I’d stop complaining if CA released a patch for Medieval 1 that let it work with newer nVidia cards. The AI wasn’t a genius, sure, but he’d at least march his army at you in one line and try to flank with cavalry. That’s all I want. Something plausible who could sometimes be a real bastard if he decided to sit on top of a hill. Plenty of narrative from that – how I dragged these specific longbowmen across France, or this general is “scarred” after seeing heavy fighting in the Holy Lands. Didn’t need speeches (though the stuff for things like when the enemy general routs were pretty great).

    But yeah, I’ll stop polluting every comments thread about CA once they patch Med1. Hell I’d buy it off GoG or even straight from CA for $50. But stop flogging the “new shit” at me.

  38. Nick says:

    This calls for a new series of Time Commanders!

  39. jalf says:

    @Mad Doc MacRae: Amen. To be fair, I’ve gotten plenty of value out of their newer offerings too, even with the silly AI, but MTW is by far my favorite. All the little things like the traits which added so much more flavor and character to your generals than in later games, the ability to assassinate your own king, the simple campaign map which doens’t try to steal the show from the battles, the ability to execute prisoners mid-battle…

    And an AI that *worked*. It wasn’t a genius, but 99% of the time, it was stable and sensible and had some basic understanding of the battlefield.

  40. pupsikaso says:

    Why are all games of this kind made by just one developer? They are all Total Wars, and having bought a big pack o’ Total Wars games on some steam sale I can say that they are all pretty much the same. A few changed/added features here and there, a few improvements on the AI. Mostly it’s all just improved graphics and a new theme. So how is this game going to be different from other Total Wars? It’s just going to be prettier and will be set in a different theme.

  41. Garrett says:

    *Sigh*

    Does anyone really care about these ridiculously over sized battles?

    I’d be happy with a tenth of the units broken up into squads.

    Then push into WWI – WWII tech.

    All of these games play the same in the tactical combat. With the exception of empire. Which was basically line up and then wait an hour and a half for the two sides to actually hit each other. I would like for them to actually take a risk and give me INTERESTING combat options. I want firebases, airfields, and armored vehicles.

    Oh and go get medieval 2’s meta game back. Whoever thought up empire’s redesign after medieval 2 should be shot.

    But no. Now we go back to the start so we can fight with guys in wooden armor with pointy sticks over a tiny strip of land in the pacific with jack shit for resources and more natural disasters than you can shake a stick at. I mean seriously?

  42. Boris says:

    General speeches may be fluff, but I’ve still not laughed harder while playing a game then when my batshit insane general held a speech about moon-men and tin hats.