Imperial: Total Warhammer’s First In-Engine Video

There’s a moment in this first in-engine trailer for Total War: Warhammer [official site] when the Emperor Karl Franz rallies his troops on the battlefield. It’s a reminder of one of my favourite parts of any Total War game – the pre-combat speeches that draw on the context of the coming battle to deliver bravadao in the face of certain doom, or the swaggering arrogance of a general whose forces outnumber the enemy ten to one. When the forces in this video meet, everybody seems to lose. Some are stabbed, some are stomped…one poor chap gets eaten.

Even the weakest games in the series capture my attention with their scale and spectacle, and when there are mage-chomping dragons thrown into the mix, my heart beats just a little faster. This footage is taken from one of Karl Franz’ “unique quest battles”, which means it’s probably the equivalent of the standalone historical battles in the previous games. The ones that I never play because I’m too busy campaigning. If the questing system is a way of working set battles into the structure of a campaign, that would be quite the thing.

This is the first of a series that will introduce the legendary characters available in the game.

These renowned characters from the Warhammer Fantasy Battles world can be selected in-game to lead the charge of conquest. Each has a unique range of special abilities, weapons, armour, mounts and their own distinct narrative quest chain.

In this trailer we meet Emperor Karl Franz, the revered leader of the Empire, as he rallies his army of men and deadly imperial artillery in a famed battle against a ravening horde of ferocious Greenskins.

The Battle of Black Fire Pass is one of Karl Franz’ unique quest battles in Total War: WARHAMMER, and also formed the basis for this year’s E3 demo. You’ll be able to watch the battle in its entirety, along with a developer walkthrough in just two weeks’ time on Thursday 30th July.

I’d be lying if I pretended that I’m not very excited about Total Warhammer, even though the series tends to pluck at all of my most finicky critical faculties. As noted previously, it’s strange to think that the game might be a memorial for Franz and his world now that a new age has dawned.


  1. Auru says:

    I’m glad this is still based on the Warhammer we all know and not Age of Sigmar, it’s just not Warhammery without the build regiments crashing into each other.. it’s a visual i’ve loved about Warhammer for many years :)

    As for the game, I am SO interested to see how the ‘other half’ plays out.. campaign map stuff like in other Total War games, sure the battles are fun and require strategy and planning to a degree but imo, this series real meaty portion of the game took place on the map.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Our does seem weird to go from big fantasy battles to an almost Eador setup. Especially when its technically canon that the Warhammer world is actually a planet in the 40K universe.

      • Werthead says:

        There were hints to that after 40K came out, but GW then explicitly ruled it out. Then some of the stuff towards the end of WHF suggested that it was set in the same universe (I think there’s an oblique reference to Space Marines somewhere), but they’ve really made it explicit.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          In 2nd or 3rd edition of 40K, from back when I was still playing, there was a lore bit about pre-industrial, medieval tech level planets being relatively common in the backwaters of the imperium.

          • ChiefOfBeef says:

            My theory based on the obvious- WHF can not be set before 40K because of the presence of Slaanesh in both and having a definite origin story in the latter leading to the creation of the Eye and near-extinction of the Eldar and their deities.

            But also, WHF is set a very long time after 40K because the beings of the Warp would surely involve Chaos Space Marines and make the conflict on that world very one-sided. Also, Necrons, Tyranids and Space Orks would overwhelm a single world like that in no time whilst pure chance can’t explain why they haven’t discovered it already. So this is so far in the future almost every powerful space empire and threat has been destroyed, including the Imperium itself. I’m reckoning the Golden Throne finally failed and knowing it was the end, the last act of the Emperor to save mankind was to kill most of the galaxy and beyond.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          There’s a load of obscure references. In one of the anthology books a mage from the Warhammer universe 40K asks a Tzeentch demon for knowledge and is shown various planets, one of which is the Warhammer world.

    • Hammer says:

      I was always more WH40KRP and WHFRP orientated, but surely lowering the barrier for entry in terms of cost with Age of Sigmar is the only thing they can do to keep the game scene attracting new entrants?

      Modelling hobbies of all stripes are dying a slow, painful death. Railway, remote planes, military modelling are now entirely the domain of older folks with the cash to splash on expensive models. I don’t think WH can sustain itself on that basis, especially given it’s retail overheads. Age of Sigmar isn’t my thing, but like the endless D&D rewrites, if it brings folks into the hobby, it’s good in the long term.

      • Werthead says:

        There are various ways they could have done it – personally I’d have been interested to see if they could have done a new Hero Quest style mass-market game – which didn’t involve completely destroying the existing lore.

        Reminds me a bit of what Wizards of the Coast did to Forgotten Realms, except that was even more inexplicable (when FR was WotC’s biggest-selling fantasy setting, while WHFB has been dying off for years).

      • AngusPrune says:

        Well, they used to have a whole stable of smaller games that kept people constantly playing, constantly visiting their shops and picking up White Dwarf. I’m fairly sure I played far more games of Necromunda, Blood Bowl and Man o’ War than I ever did Warhammer or 40K.

        Killing off their so-called “specialist” games was the dumbest move they could have made. It was the kind of decision you come to when only looking at the balance sheet, not the fringe benefits of your product range.

        • Smaug says:

          What makes you think the “specialist” games are going away? Did they not just now release a new Blood Bowl game?

          • LMN118 says:

            and link to as well as Bloodbowl 2, link to

            I am looking forward to this game, I have the EE edition of Rome 2 and despite the way in which battles play which can be a little bit bizarre it is quite enjoyable.

            I think GW has been pushing towards online only for some time. Modelling etc is essentially dead. Unfortunately much like many of these types of products the communities themselves killed them.

            Modelling and action figures in particular, people kept asking for better detailed models and so the companies gave them what they wanted. Problem is the price went up and the people didn’t want to pay for it.

            GW is much the same, back in the day nearly everything was metal and quite well detailed, they made some modern plastic sets that are also well detailed but the detail came at a cost, slide ejection moulds and models are very expensive. So now you have the mainly plastic models with the high line resin which cost a lot more.

            Amusingly, resin is actually cheaper than the plastic and they are using the same moulds from the old metal figures.

    • RanDomino says:

      Having just learned about Age of Sigmar and read a little about it, my first reaction is… Holy crap, they HoMMIV’d it!

  2. Auru says:

    build? I mean big regiments :)

  3. Premium User Badge

    Ben Barrett says:

    please be good please be good please be good please be good

    please lead to a Total 40k please lead to a Total 40k please lead to a Total 40k

    • Chiron says:

      I’m sorry but I do not understand people after 40k Total War or modern day Total War, the combat in the games is just totally unlike modern or future warfare.

      At best you need something along the lines of Wargame or Final Liberation to represent the size and scale of battles and interlinking forces.

      • Thurgret says:

        Wargame 40,000 sounds fantastic.

        • Tundra says:

          Hot damn, Wargame: 40k is the only series I think could pull off the scale of the battles. Titans, hundreds of thousands of men, orbital bombardment. My favourite books were always the ones that showed the scale of the universe. Gaunts’s Ghosts had a few, and the series with the infected marine outcasts did as well.

        • Chiron says:

          I have been pimping the idea for years, join me, join meeeeee…..

      • Premium User Badge

        Ben Barrett says:

        40k is pretty melee focused, or at least you could very easily slant the balance such that it was as melee focused as any Total War game that featured archers. It has guns in it, but the entire fiction is about space marines crushing each others heads.

        • Fiyenyaa says:

          I don’t think that 40k is *that* melee focused – it’s highly dependent on faction of course. Tau, and Imperial Guard are basically all range all the time (with a few exceptions), plus situationally a few of the other factions are going to want to be as firepower focused as they can be. Obviously there are factions on the opposite end of that spectrum (Orks, Tyranids, etc), but I think ranged combat in 40k is much more of a thing than any period depicted in a TW game barring Empire/Napoleon/Fall of the Samurai.

          However, I don’t know why people think range = impossible to make a TW game about it. Whilst Empire was probably my least favourite TW game and I didn’t play too much of Napoleon, I really liked Fall of the Samurai and there’s really no reason why TW games of the future have to adhere to the same exact mechanics and solutions as previous ones. A 40k/Victorian/Vietnam/Modern War Total War game is totally possible, and entirely possible to be good too.

    • pepperfez says:

      I know it’s impossible, but Total 30K (Total Heresy?) would be just the best thing. The setting is more focused on huge engagements of roughly symmetrical (but distinct and tactically interesting) forces, there’s a canonical campaign, and I will never ever ever be able to afford enough models to play a game.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ben Barrett says:

        Been brainstorming this on twitter today and it does seem like the best option. I think to do it ‘properly’ you’d start it from the outset of the Great Crusade, so you get the whole build up, spend a bunch of time fighting aliens and lesser humans until some pre-determined moment. It would end up operating much like when the three Rome factions eventually turn on each other in that game, though I’d sacrifice some of the freeform campaign-mapping for more story stuff. Then you have the fight back to/defense of Terra, then it could end (expansions of chasing Abaddon into the Eye of Terror, etc.)

        That sounds ludicrously massive and basically impossible but also really fucking good, so you know. Get on it, CA.

    • Smaug says:

      Please no 40k Total War, I can not see how it could work in any way.

  4. raiders says:

    would love to see some real gameplay. tired of movie trailers for pc games.

  5. goon buggy says:

    Pity that universe doesnt exist anymore.

    • Cinek says:

      It obviously does seeing that we are waiting for this – a brand new game to be released.

  6. Soulstrider says:


    With the death of Warhammer Fantasy, I want this at least to be a big goodbye and that eventually all the races will be available. I want to play as the Tomb Kings.

    Also the obligatory, really GW you squatted this setting before this game came out? This game could have caused an huge surge in WHFBs popularity

  7. Volcanu says:

    Adam- Im pretty sure these quest battles ARE woven into the campaign, from what Ive read elsewhere – rather than being standalone scenarios.

    They are tough optional battles which you can engage in in order to unlock upgrades for your hero and make them more powerful in the wider canpaign. The idea sounds promising although potentially a little same-y on repeated playthroughs…

  8. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    That looked rather spiffing.

  9. Reapy says:

    I haven’t total warred since empire, but before that they used to be auto-purchases. I wonder if the fantasy setting and units will make any and all combat oddities woosh away as the expectation for grit and realism disappears for madness and fun.

    Either way it seems like bad timing for them to blow up their old world. Whatever you want to say about CA they will produce amazing artwork, animations, and music for warhammer fantasy and probably get a giant group of people interested in something they didn’t know about.

    Then when they turn to look for the gamesworkshop products they will find nothing of what they were just introduced to. Eh gamesworkshop for you.

  10. anHorse says:

    This looks so cool that I might get into the tabletop game to appreciate it some more

    • anHorse says:

      Oh wait, read the thread and found out they’ve killed it for a replacement game
      That’s dumb.

    • Werthead says:

      It was a premature decision. There seems to be some correlation with the release of Dawn of War in 2004 (a big RTS from a respectived, well-known developer that appeals to non-existing WH fans) and the explosion in popularity of the WH40K setting, the book sales going through the stratosphere, the game and models selling more and the franchise becoming better-known in the States. It obviously wasn’t the sole thing driving it, there was Dan Abnett’s books, the publication of the big omnibuses and so on, but it was a core fact.

      Total War could have done the same thing for WH Fantasy, and I’ve seen a fair few people who’ve ignored it up until now saying that this looks interesting and different, only to find that the game and the world have been destroyed and there isn’t anything really they can do to support it. A very daft decision. The add-on sales resulting from the Total War game could have a big difference.

  11. Hedgeclipper says:

    Funny reading the comments, I much preferred WHFB before they started shifting to turning the battles round named major heroes with special powers (back when Karl Franz was a weak figurehead with a mutant son).

  12. joansam says:

    The theme alone in TW style looks incredible…some of my leftover skepticism from Rome 2 is starting to peel off in layers. That said, I have well learned its message – never pre-order. Could anyone tell me in a few words how different Age of Sigmar is from old Warhammer? I thought that it wasn’t really supposed to be more than a rule change with new miniatures.

    • tormos says:

      in a few words: the world and almost all of its inhabitants (including most of their gods) was destroyed

  13. Hunchback says:

    Ok, i saw the video. Can i get excited now, or should i wait?

    I am not even a WH fan! (even tho i am a TW fan since Shogun 2)

    • anHorse says:

      It’s a TW game so wait until 6-12 months after release to be excited

      • Hunchback says:

        And the initial 120 DLC that will come out 5 days after release?

  14. PancakeWizard says:

    I would’ve preferred it if the general’s little speech was talking about ‘green tide/horde’ rather than ‘darkness’. I thought we were going to see Chaos for a second.

    • EhexT says:

      Remember, despite the constant pictures of Chaos artwork and demons in their CGI trailers, officially they’ve not announced a Chaos faction. Imagine how shocked we’ll be when they do.

  15. racccoon says:

    All I can say is his pheasant thingy on his head is too big & does not move, so it must be or is set in that brittle hair gel crap its a shame all that work and forgetting animation flows & curtains addons lol

  16. Lowenhertz says:

    Thiss looks awesome but it made me a little sad everytime I saw Karl Franz without his runefang

  17. Apologised says:

    Personally I’m waiting for Dark Omen myself.

    (And SFC2, but that’s a discussion for a different topic)

    Shadow of the Horned Rat is a great game, but I’m not sure how well it will have held up over the years, still a lot of memories though. Maybe if I see it on sale I’ll get it then.

    Also, the Chaos Gate OST is great, but Final Liberations is no slouch either, and has some infamous cutscenes from the era of greenscreen. The only downside is that I never really clicked with the 2nd Edition Epic ruleset that Final Liberation copies verbatim.