It’s A-Parta The Plan! Total War: Rome II – Wrath of Sparta

This. Is. A screenshot.

It’s a shame that the promotional machinery of video games moves so rapidly these days, because it would have been Just Plain Charming had Sega been able to announce this Total War: Rome II campaign expansion two hundred and eighty-nine days ago.

Then again, it would have wildly inaccurate to do so because Wrath of Sparta is set about sixty years after some well-oiled Greeks with CGI torsos fought off thirty million Persians [citation needed], and as we all know video games rarely play fast and loose with historical facts.

This time around The Creative Assembly are focusing on the Peloponnesian War, which – gags aside – is a really fascinating historical period. It pretty much marked the end of the golden age of Greece, seeing an increasingly greedy imperial Athens entering into full-scale war with Sparta and the other remaining independent Greek city-states. Greek military tactics shifted away from a somewhat ritualised form and toward full-scale war, leaving entire cities devastated. It was, in short, a horrible period of history, and is therefore perfect for a Total War game.

The expansion’s campaign is set on a new map that spans all of Greece and parts of Asia Minor, and it’s really rather lovely looking – as you’d expect for anything built around the Aegean Sea, eh? Supposedly there will be wonders dotted about the map, no doubt including the Colossus of Rhodes, the Temple of Artemis and… actually, I can’t think of any others. Clearly all that time spent playing Civilization wasn’t quite the same as reading history books after all. More importantly, we’re also promised new tech and skill trees, new army and navy legacies, new buildings and, of course, new units.

The only thing I’m not quite sure of is why Wrath of Sparta is an expansion pack for Total War: Rome II, given that it concerns itself with a different historical period and a different empire in a different country. It’s hard to argue with it as a piece of affordable DLC rather than a pricey new Total War game, though, and if you close one eye and squint a bit there are enough similarities between the Greek Hoplite Phalanx and the Roman Legion that it makes a kind of sense. Plus, the Romans always did secretly want to be the ancient Greeks. They even wrote “we’re Greek, really” fan fiction.

Total War: Rome II – Wrath of Sparta will be released on December 17th, priced at £9.99.

There’s a little more info to be found in this latest episode of the Total War Rally Point video series, including the suggestion that if you manage to unite Greece you can go off and duff up the Persians. Rally Point also has some titbits on the forthcoming Total War: Attila. And more jokes about The 300. Sorry!

33 Comments

  1. Wulfram says:

    Isn’t Greek military stuff a bit dull before the Macedonians add a bit of combined arms to the mix?

    • CKScientist says:

      I can’t imagine Creative Assembly will start allowing historical accuracy to restrict their design choices at this late point in their existence.

    • Gormongous says:

      Frankly, yes. Battles such as Sphacteria show the first attempts by Greeks to employ ranged auxiliaries as something other than a sideshow against other auxiliaries while the hoplites got ready, but updates to hoplite panoply, the use of cavalry for something other than raiding, and tactics that weren’t just breaking the enemy line by frontal assault are still two or three generations away at the close of the Peloponnesian War. The Thebans won the Battle of Leuctra over three decades later just by advancing obliquely with all their best troops massed at the leading end, which utterly wrecked the Spartans and rolled up their entire line. That’s the state of military science at the beginning of the fourth century BC, simple concentration of force.

      The interesting parts of the Peloponnesian War are the contributing factors to its outbreak and end, the large-scale strategic and logistical decisions, and the effects of it on the home front, none of which are parts of war that the Total War series models particularly well. It would be nice (and make a lot more sense) if we could have a campaign about the rise of Epaminondas, Philip, or Alexander instead, maybe even a campaign where you control one of the Greek city-states during the Persian Wars, but Creative Assembly clearly values name recognition, for which I guess I can’t blame them.

      So yeah, like CKScientist says, I’m sure it’ll be whatever strikes their fancy. They’ll use historical units when appropriate, and then just have units called “[Adjectival form of city-state’s name] [Type of armament]” to fill out the rest of the roster. It’s par for the course, these days.

      • DavishBliff says:

        They did an Alexander campaign for the first Rome, but I think it was more of a novelty and more linear than their usual expansions. I agree an Alexander campaign would be interesting, and it would be cool to see them expand the map to the east some more – pretty much all of Persia is already in the game but Alexander’s foray into India would require a new map or at least an expansion to the existing map, which I guess may be much more work than they’re willing to put in since their main focus is probably Attila at this point.

      • 3Form says:

        I don’t know if you’ve given “Hegemony Gold” a go, but the original campaign there focuses on the ascent of Macedon. There’s not huge variety in units or depth in city management but the changes in terrain due to the seamless map make the game continually interesting. Having to bear in mind logistics and supply routes is also something that distinguishes it from TW. Not to mention continuous fighting on multiple fronts is quite challenging.

        Above all though it’s pretty informative, can’t say I knew much about Phillip’s campaigns until I played it.

        • Soulstrider says:

          I wanted to try “Hegemony Gold” but since I heard the AI just stays quiet and doesn’t expand until you border it and only ever fights you killed any interest I had in that game.

          • 3Form says:

            Well it’s a different game to TW, it’s a narrative of Phillip’s campaign against the Greeks. It wouldn’t make much sense if he got to the gates of Athens to find it had been taken by Crete already.

            When the AI does attack you, it’s unrelenting for what it’s worth. Juggling 3 or 4 fronts at once is a real stretch and many times I had “Oh ****!” moments where I’d completely forgotten about an engagement on the other side of the map.

            If you’re interested in the time period there’s not much out there game-wise, so it’s worth giving it a go. I believe there’s a demo available.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The sea battles were interesting and fairly pivotal later in the war, but that’s a side of the Total War game that’s always been underdeveloped, when it worked at all. Maybe they’re better now, but the sea battles in Rome 2 were so bad I just auto-resolved them.

      From the campaign map showed in that video, it looks like it doesn’t extend to Syracuse to the West, so a major event in the war (and bad strategic decision by Athens) won’t be included. No big sea battle in the harbor at Syracuse then. As for the Aegean Sea controlled by Athens as the main way they projected power, the Spartans wouldn’t have had a real navy to challenge Athens until it was basically paid for by the Persians. So I don’t know if that aspect of the war will show up either.

      Oh well, I’ll probably pick it up on sale later on, because I’m interested in the period. But I’m not expecting much more than a cartoon sketch of an actual “what if” scenario on the campaign map. I’ve only treated Rome 2’s campaign as a battle generator anyway, when I need a fix of ancient armies on the battlefield.

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      if CA went for a strictly historical approach it could be. The Peloponnesian war was mostly pillaging countryside and long drawn out sieges. There were relatively few pitched battles. The most significant being Athens ill fated invasion of sicily. The war does have some very interesting characters such as Pericles and link to en.wikipedia.org. Thing is Total war doesn’t do characters or strategic attrition warfare that well, or fleet battles really.

  2. DavishBliff says:

    I’ve been really, really pleased with this game since Emperor Edition redesigned so much of it. The Total War series was always consistently my favorite series of games but the mid/late game tedium of conquest and management, as well as the relative predictability and small scale of Shogun II made the series feel a little stale.

    Rome II was ok from launch I felt, but the re-release really does streamline quite a lot of it and I’ve been playing it pretty much constantly for the past week, and it’s hooked me like the two Medievals and the original Rome did. It really does feel like a sandbox because of the magnitude of the campaign map and faction list – it’s fun as Rome to have your attention focused toward Carthage, subdue them, and then come back up and find that everything north of the Alps has been completely consolidated by one or two superpower factions. The other factions definitely aren’t just waiting for you to conquer them.

    The scale is also great because it feels like you could play the entire game without worrying too much about Italy or even the Mediterranean, really. I’ve spent hours as Rome fighting my way up to the Baltic, absorbing the lands of a single faction and ignoring the Eastern Mediterranean, Spain, and Gaul. There’s a ton more to the game than just Rome (though Rome obviously has the most realized campaign) so stretching it into other periods and regions is fine. The first Rome had the Alexander expansion, of course, which was as far from the Roman period as this one is.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      Do you work for CA?

      • Grygus says:

        Nobody can ever like anything, and anyone claiming otherwise is being paid to pretend.

      • EvaUnit02 says:

        I’m really fucking tired of these “publisher paid shill” accusations on RPS comments sections as of late.

      • David Bliff says:

        I wish!* Nah I was just bored at work, had too much sugar and caffeine, and found thinking about the game more interesting than doing my job. I do get really excited about history games in general, especially this one since it’s way more balanced now.

        *I don’t think I actually wish this, work in game development actually seems really miserable in a lot of ways.

        • Kerr Avon says:

          Just out of curiosity, what exactly is this job you don’t actually do whilst day-dreaming and commenting on RPS? NHS middle-manager? Metropolitan Police? Civil servant? Politician? If either of the above, it would make perfect sense.

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            because investment bankers never get tired of setting fire to piles of money and want to put their feet up on a peasant and chat about games now and then.

          • David Bliff says:

            Record-keeping/English speaker at a company in Amman. Let’s just say Jordan has a very casual attitude towards work sometimes

      • hausser0815 says:

        Have you played it since the Emperor patch? Sure, they didnt rewrite the game, but they changed a lot of stuff which makes it finally enjoyable.

  3. krait says:

    The way the right spearman (in the screenshot) holds and uses his spear looks just wrong. His hand position anyway. It might be a perspective thing. Can’t imagine you’d have a lot of control over the spear like that. Left one looks more realistic to me. Except his shield is kinda useless like that.

    Oh well, no one cares if it looks cool.

    • 3Form says:

      I think it’s perspective. Looks like an overarm thrust to me which is the way a spear would typically be used. In a clash of shields it’d be a case of trying to stab over the shield wall. The picture there looks like a bunch of Spartan hoplites mauling some light troops – I mean who didn’t do that in Rome, stick a bunch of Spartans against a horde of peasants.

      Also I’m pretty sure the Corinthian helm and bronze cuirasses were out of fashion at this point. I think most Hoplites forsook heavy armour for the extra mobility. It looks cool though. Just anachronistic.

      • krait says:

        3Form: Yeah, I just tried it with a staff and I think for an overarm thrust the hand would be the other way around, because that creates a hammer-like movement and not a pushing one. But it’s just a game obviously.

  4. Soulstrider says:

    Will get this expansions based on if I can play the achaemenids or not

    I still haven’t played this game after the first campaign I did with Egypt, in all honesty besides the performance issues I found Rome II alright and most of the shitstorm highly exaggerated, sure it was not as solid as Shogun II or the previous titles minus Empire but it was hardly the piece of crap some comments seemed to make it. I keep hearing that it has improved a lot since them and I guess this may be one makes me try it again

  5. Monggerel says:

    The Spartans never carried their shields.

  6. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    My God, Shaun, that was the worst pun I’ve seen in a good while. I don’t know whether to try to kill you from afar with my condensed scorn or to start worshipping you as a pungod.

    • Shaun Green says:

      Eheheheh.

      If it’s any consolation, I think that is the best / worst pun I’ve ever written.

      @cp3oh – yours is easier to read, but I was hoping that people would mentally read mine in a sort of comedy Mario voice, thus fulfilling the Italian connection of this being a TW Rome II expansion. :D

  7. fredc says:

    “if you close one eye and squint a bit there are enough similarities between the Greek Hoplite Phalanx and the Roman Legion that it makes a kind of sense.”

    Shaun, you do realise that you can play a large number of Greek factions in Rome II, right? Most of which are basically “Greek Hoplite Phalanx”. Maybe I’m misunderstanding though.

    • Shaun Green says:

      You’ve caught me out fredc! I’ve not actually played Rome II – it slipped down my list after its disastrous launch – so I didn’t know that there were playable Greek factions with units of this type.

      Between Wrath of Sparta and the Emperor patch, though, I’m hoping to pick it up over Christmas.

  8. cp3oh says:

    “It Sparta the plan!” C’mon now.

  9. lordgronk says:

    Actually, though the Narrative of the Aeneid was a creation of Virgil, the idea of Aeneis going to Italy has been found on Etruscan pottery, and seemed to have been considered a sort of divine ancestor by some Italic tribes. In Greece and the Black Sea area we have found depictions of Aeneas leaving Troy, but interestingly, the destination is never specified.

    • Shaun Green says:

      I love reading this sort of comment! Thanks for the historical tidbit – it’s a long time since I read Virgil and I certainly did not remember that Aeneas’ departing Troy and travelling to Italy preceded the Aeneid.