Huah! Total War Sale-O-Trial Weekend Bonanza

I’d have felt bad for Total War if developers The Creative Assembly had chosen to celebrate the series’ fifteenth birthday with only five seconds of Total Warhammer. Poor, lonely, unloved Total War. But wait! Those pranksters threw a dummy party, saving the real festivities for this weekend.

A Total War weekend on Steam brings 75% off the price tag of most games in the series, Steam releases for the original Medieval and Shogun games, and trial weekends offering the full versions of seven Total Wars. Chin up, Twary: they still love you.

More’s on sale than that page lets on, mind. Total War DLC on sale too, as are more games, as you can peep in this listing. You can pick up a lump of Total War in the Master Collection or even more in the Grandmaster Collection too, though even that is missing a few games.

Ye olde Medieval: Total War – Gold Edition and Shogun: Total War – Gold Edition have finally arrived on Steam, and are not in either bundle. You’ll find them over here and here, costing £6.99 apiece and each coming with their expansion pack.

As for those trial weekends I mentioned, you have until 9pm UK time on Sunday to play the full versions of Total War: Attila, Total War: Rome II – Emperor Edition, Total War: Shotgun 2, Total War: Shogun 2 – Fall of the Samurai, Napoleon: Total War, Empire: Total War, and Medieval II: Total War. If you like ’em, the discounts continue until Monday.

If you’re reading this at work right now and have left your PC on, do remember that you can start installation remotely through the Steam website. It might give you something to look forward to at the end of the day, beyond whatever cheap spirits you didn’t drink on Thursday night.

45 Comments

  1. mukuste says:

    So which is the one a newcomer to the series should sample given this free weekend?

      • Malarious says:

        I definitely would not recommend jumping into Medieval 2 or Rome. Stick with the newer games if you’re new to the series — the older ones do not play very well with modern OSes and they lack some really important quality-of-life features that make playing them kind of miserable. For example, in Rome and Medieval 2, if you speed up the game then move the camera, the game slows right back down. The UI also scales horrendously for modern screen aspect ratios.

        Don’t get me wrong — I think the older one’s gameplay is better on the whole, but there are so many incremental UI upgrades and QoL improvements that I’ve gotten used to which make playing the older games a serious chore comparatively.

        • Loyal_Viggo says:

          With all due respect to someone I disagree with violently, I think you are misguided with regard to the optimisation of Medieval II on newer systems.

          Windows 7 no problems. 27″ monitor has no problems scaling. No UI issues for me. Modding options means you can tweak the UI if you so desire. Quality of life improvements are relative, I would rather stick pins in my eyes than play the newer, more ‘streamlined’ TW games but you see the elements there as QOL improvements.

          I do not know what rig you have that struggles so much with the earlier games, but I suggest you consider upgrading.

          But, we do agree that the earlier gameplay to be superior, although it’s strange to suggest an inferior game instead.

          • Shadow says:

            It’s rather paradoxical to suggest a computer upgrade if it’s an old game which is working poorly.

            Anyway, I don’t know if there have been further unofficial efforts since, but when I tried to play, say, Medieval II on a modern PC with a widescreen monitor, the 2D interface didn’t scale well. It was unseemly stretched since it wasn’t really modular, and designed with 4:3 resolutions in mind.

            Personally, I find Medieval II difficult to stomach at this point in no small part because units in battle become ugly 2D sprites once they’re a semi-fair distance away from the camera. I haven’t played Rome 1 in years, so I can’t recall whether it had the same graphical quirk (presumably to optimize performance).

          • Malarious says:

            My rig doesn’t struggle with the game. I’m talking about the fast-forward feature in Rome and Medieval 2 deactivating if you pan the camera while it’s active. I pretty much play 100% of Total War either at max speed or paused so not being able to fly around the battlefield and check what’s going on is actually really annoying. The default game speed just feels incredibly slow, and Rome and Medieval 2 are pretty much locked to it.

            I haven’t actually played Medieval 2 in a few years, but I played Rome five or six months ago and the campaign UI was hideous on a 16:9 monitor. Stretched sprites everywhere (yes, even if you change the aspect ratio in the options).

            I still think the games are worth playing, but if you don’t have nostalgia for them, it’s a miserable experience by modern standards. The graphics are terrible and the UI is clunky. If I could have the gameplay of Rome and Medieval 2 ported to the new engine with zero gameplay changes, they’d be by far the best Total War games out there.

        • Solidstate89 says:

          What are you talking about? They play perfectly fine with modern OSes. There’s nothing wrong with them. I have Rome: Total and Medieval II running just cromulently on Windows 8.1. No issues and I haven’t even added any mods.

    • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

      I’d say Shogun 2, it’s an excellent all-round game.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      Having grown up with this series, and spent countless hours waging total war, I think if you want a ‘full’ TW experience where buying the game and expansion gets you everything without being DLC’d to death, then earlier TW games are best (Medieval II + Kingdoms arguably the winner).

      Best not only in terms of tactical gameplay (positioning, speed, actual tactics and use of siege weapons) and strategy, but also total modding that means the earlier games have some excellent total conversions and those communities are still thriving. The graphics too are very good, and the modding community released so many updates for Rome 1, Medieval 2 that its impossible to list here.

      Later TW games introduce the DLC scourge, and CA severely limit modding options for map changes and new units, meaning total conversions are not possible (for example there are outstanding Warhammer, LOTR and more total conversions for Medieval 2, but you can’t mod the campaign map in later games because, well, fascists at CA + DLC plague begins).

      The newer the TW game, the more, ‘streamlined’ the strategic elements have become, which is not a positive thing. Battles become more arcade, less about positioning, terrible new battle mechanics are introduced such as burning down city gates with torches, family trees removed and more hideous decisions that are obviously made for the equivalent of a tactically minded mental midget, just… horrific design generally the later you get.

      So as you attorney I advise Medieval II with Kingdoms expansion then just mod yourself up and don’t leave your room for a month. Job done.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      Rome: Total and Medieval II: Total War are still my two favorite Total War games to date.

      • Cyrus says:

        I concur, hands down.
        Been playing some Shogun 2 recently and it is not the same experience. Rome stands as one of the most played games in my “career”, due to the mods of course.
        But I did play some campaigns before mods too.

    • Greg Wild says:

      Shogun 2, easily. It did a fantastic job of distilling Total War down to the core.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Shogun 2 would be my recommendation. It looks good, plays well, and is more tightly focused than the other games, so it avoids most of CA’s chronic problems with campaign AI. Very good DLC too, if you end up enjoying the game.

    • killias2 says:

      To sum this up: Shogun 2 if you want a newer experience, as it is hands down the best recent TW.
      Rome or Medieval 2 if you want an older, squeakier, but overall deeper experience. Also, if you want total conversion mods, go to Rome or Medieval 2.

    • Jediben says:

      EMPIRE!

    • PhilBowles says:

      Shogun 2 is both probably the best game in the series and the most accessible. Its limited unit roster with very pronounced ‘rock-paper-scissors (or shotgun)’ gameplay is a very good way to learn the TW unit types and capabilities relative to each other (which CA strives to be consistent with across ancient- and medieval-era games, to the extent that spears beat cavalry even in ancient era warfare where spearmen were mostly used against infantry).

      Strategically it’s more similar to the newer games than the older ones, with a similar agent system, building slot limits, skill trees, and research structure; again limited numbers of options help to become familiar with the TW system and, frankly, is an improvement over the more cluttered systems of both older and newer titles – a rare case of simplifying a system being elegant rather than ‘dumbing down’.

    • blastaz says:

      Rome 1 and medieval 2 are both too old to play now without the benefit of nostalgia. Shogun fall of the samurai is probably the most polished. Rome 2 has the most interesting grand campaign, in that you actually have to make trade offs with city building. If you prefer the real time battles pick the period that most interests you, bearing in mind that the engine works best with swords and bows rather than guns or pikes, so shogun or Attila or medieval are probably best for that.

      • Cropduster says:

        Going to have to disagree here, I hadn’t played any TW games until about 2 years ago and started with Rome then Med II and to this day enjoyed them more than any of the others. Although Shogun 2 is pretty great.

        Although Rome would crash 33% of the time when alt+tabbing which kinda sucked.

  2. Loyal_Viggo says:

    Medieval II with Kingdoms expansion has been, and always be the best TW game.

    The modding capability is part of what makes this supreme, the rest being that it actually had grand strategy!

    Nothing since then has come close.

  3. BobbyDylan says:

    I think Shogun 2 is the best, but I’m not a fan of the setting. I prefer the setting of Medieval.

    • Jdopus says:

      I’m actually of the opinion that Attila is the best TW game they’ve done. It’s just a real shame that I don’t think it sold as well because of the big backlash over Rome 2.

      I wouldn’t recommend it for a novice, but for people who’ve grown a bit bored of traditional campaigns where you mass an unstoppable army and winning is just a matter of patiently waiting for public order to settle and grabbing more territory from your enemies, it really freshens things up.

      The Western Roman Empire campaign is the most fun and most challenge I’ve ever had from a TW game.

      • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

        I’m with you there, even as a smaller faction (i.e. not one of the big roman punching bags) I’ll get hit hard by other factions with raids and invasions, sometimes having to form a hoard and run and then try and build again elsewhere. The best description I’ve heard of Attila is “I’ve never had this much fun losing”.

        The increased unit variety is great too. Early game is far more interesting.

      • blastaz says:

        Agree.

        Attila gets overlooked due to hatred of Rome 2, which even Rome 2 doesn’t deserve post emperor edition.

        The grand strategy of Attila is really quite developed, trying to balance happiness, sanitation and food across your empire.

        The issue is how it’s trying to be masochist though, constantly insta spawning huns, immigration, inability to really trade, climate change. It’s just trying to be nasty to you. I prefer the happier build your empire vibe to this is all going wrong and you’ve got to hold it together.

        That said barbarian invasion was much harder. Wre campaign in Attila is a cake walk compared to your starting position in BI…

        The new campaign they have brought out where you can play as a ROMAN HORDE is awesome though!

  4. Joriath says:

    I may in the minority here but I quite enjoyed Napoleon, possibly mostly for the historical setting though.

    • gunny1993 says:

      I quite liked Napoleon, its not really a top contender but it’s fun enough, specially for the tactical battles.

    • X_kot says:

      You want to talk minority, my favorite TW is Empire. That’s right, I said it! It was the first one I played when I jumped back into PC gaming, and all others have paled in comparison to its scope. Sure, the fleet combat was janky, but…cannons! Plus, Darth Mod.

      • bills6693 says:

        I join you in your Empire minority!

        I really love that game. I think its the scope of the campaign – the option to pretty much take yourself anywhere in the world. Combined with many of the campaign mechanics – growing settlements & food etc, researching multiple simultaneous techs, the trade nodes, the government system… all of it really.

        I found that later games really simplified and reduced many of these elements. I felt like in Empire I had the most freedom, especially as Britain or the Netherlands due to the freedom to send your armies anywhere in the world by sea and set up camp in any continent.

        I really enjoyed the battles too, although the AI was a little dumb sometimes, it made it quite fun to try to ‘overcome the odds’ and fight off far bigger armies defensively – and I don’t feel the AI has really improved that much since anyway.

        So yeah – my favorite TW game stands firmly at Empire and given the direction the later games have gone, I feel less and less that it’ll ever be topped.

        • Jediben says:

          Empire us the only one that truly allows my Xenophobia to shine. It is also the only one with good naval battles.

          • Zenicetus says:

            I find it hard to reconcile “Good naval battles” with square-rigged ships that can sail directly into the wind.

            That game made a mockery of golden age-of-sail combat tactics; things like gaining the weather gage on the enemy (being upwind), and tacking for position. The ships all drive around like motorboats.

            CA’s naval battles have always been a weak spot ever since they showed up, but Empire was the worst. At least when they went back to oars in Rome2, they could use the invisible motors and it didn’t look silly.

        • PhilBowles says:

          Loved Empire’s setting and much of its approach, but the poor AI set the difficulty too low to really get into a game that shone in the late game – I could win campaigns within half the turns available. Add the most tedious siege system in any TW game, serious balance problems and a very poorly-designed Indian theater (one playable faction that was massively overpowered compared with its rivals, exacerbated by the AI’s refusal to move between theaters – so the Europeans never arrive), and I can see why it isn’t loved.

  5. anHorse says:

    Is Rome 2 good now?

    Thinking about getting another TW game after I haven’t managed to get into recentish ones like Napoleon and Shogun 2 because of the settings

    • JustAPigeon says:

      It’s shit. But look, you have a whole weekend to download it and try it for free and confirm that it is shit.

    • Greg Wild says:

      It’s not terrible. Not the best in the series either. My chief complaint is that the factions all play too similarly on the campaign map level. Barbarian tribes should really play differently to a city state or Hellenistic empire.

    • Great Cthulhu says:

      It’s by no means the classic that the original Rome was, but it’s no longer a stinker. It’s the one that I’m most likely to replay, and I’ve got them all, except Attila.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s not terrible if you only play as Rome, because at least then the “political system” makes sense. It’s a poor fit for the other factions, most of which should have been royal succession (i.e. family tree), and not a grafted Roman system. That’s one reason why all the non-Roman factions seem so similar, at least on the campaign map. There is very little cultural flavor in the game unless you’re playing as Rome.

      Agent spam by the AI is still a nuisance, but there may be mods to help with that. Campaign gripes aside, at least the tactical battles on land can be fun. Sea battles are still a mess, so I just auto-resolve those. Siege AI has been improved, still not perfect but it’s much less broken than before.

    • PhilBowles says:

      Rome 2’s relaunch (disguised as ‘Emperor Edition’ to avoid the embarrassing admission that the game was so poor for so long that they basically had to release it anew all over again) is fine mechanically, but as Rome 2 has been since release is lacking in character.

      Attila is a better game, despite a limited unit roster, but what it’s strategic layer is trying to accomplish (survival rather than conquest) is too much of a departure from the essential ‘conquer the map’ gameplay of TW games, and in my moderate (80 hr) experience so far leads to stale and repetitive campaigns in which the AI refuses to expand (but will often burn other people’s settlements).

      I was thrilled to have Shogun (which I never played) and Medieval on Steam, and I’ve been playing the latter. It’s a reminder that CA’s catering in recent years to strategy gamers who’d really be better-off graduating to strategy games was a mistake. The campaign is a joy to play in its simpler, strategy board game style of the first two releases (but then, I love strategy board games), its role unashamedly to link battles together and nothing else.

  6. Poppis says:

    Finally MTW that works on modern GPUs! Swe-et!

  7. raiders says:

    DON’T GET THE BLOODY DLC’s!

    They were over 75% off during the spring sale and will be again come the holiday sales. Just get the base game if you really want it or play over the weekend. Make sure to subscribe to some awesome mods to max out the experience. Happy Warring!

  8. Sidewinder says:

    Have they stripped out the SecuROM from Medieval 2’s expansion pack? I played (and quite enjoyed) the first Rome, but when I found CA was running that deep into the DRM game, I stopped; I’m not supporting that nonsense. Steam versions of games usually don’t have other DRM, but a few slip through; does anyone know if this one still does?

    • Lordcrazy says:

      SecuROM is not part of the Steam version, however as far as I can see it is still a part of any of the Phsyical copies. So, I would suggest buying it from Steam if you already have it in the physical form, because Kingdoms is definitely a Total War game you should play and you would need it to play most of the modifications, if you’re into that sort of thing.

  9. SlimShanks says:

    I just bought Napoleon and Medieval 2! I avoided Rome because I have already played it quite a lot, but no one should hem or haw over buying that one. Shogun 2 is also highly recommended, only downside is low number of units. It has so much flavour and lovely design you just won’t care though. Also pick up Rise of the Samurai.
    I think that it is worth mentioning that these games are a great learning opportunity. No, they aren’t super realistic, but they do illustrate many important aspects of battle in a very clear way. That’s cool!

  10. Lordcrazy says:

    Anyone have a clue as to why RPS hasn’t done a story on the stampede of DLC CA has been putting out lately? I mean, their games have always been good, but they have gone from being particularly good to the denizens of the PC realm (See Rome 1 and Medieval 2 mods) to Evil McMoney Pants Corps™ with their DLC. I’m perfectly fine with extra campaigns and the like, but restricting units and blood and gore?

    • SlimShanks says:

      It’s because they are too busy writing about new LoL characters.

  11. MisterFurious says:

    “As for those trial weekends I mentioned, you have until 9pm UK time on Sunday to play the full versions of Total War: Attila, Total War: Rome II – Emperor Edition, Total War: Shotgun 2, Total War: Shogun 2 – Fall of the Samurai, Napoleon: Total War, Empire: Total War, and Medieval II: Total War. If you like ‘em, the discounts continue until Monday.”

    Total War: Shotgun 2? I didn’t know they made a Shotgun 1! Is there a special ‘Boomstick Edition’?