Should you wait for Total War: Warhammer 2’s DLC?

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When Total War: Warhammer launched last year, it was a marked departure for the series – though not, perhaps, quite as dramatic as 2005’s Spartan: Total Warrior – and contained no dearth of experiments and new ideas. It was exciting to see all of those changes to the formula, but it wasn’t until the addition of key pieces of DLC, introducing new campaigns and mechanics, that it really came into its own. So with Total War: Warhammer 2 [official site] arriving today, you might be wondering if you should hold off. But you shouldn’t worry; this sequel is an entirely different animal.

Warhammer’s DLC changed the game in two important ways: it fleshed out and refined existing factions, and it introduced new ones that allowed Creative Assembly to double down on experimenting with how a Warhammer army might work and look within the framework of a Total War game.

The Wood Elves are a great example of what the studio is able to do with a bit more time. They are unlike any other Total War faction, built entirely around ranged attacks, guile and ambushes. More than any others, the Wood Elves use their environment to manipulate battles, and they’re blessed with several unique mechanics on the campaign map, encouraging new ways to play the game.

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Even the frequently overlooked diplomacy was improved thanks to the tension created by the need for amber. Do you conquer a settlement, netting yourself some immediate amber that can then be spent on upgrading the tree at the heart of your realm, which is your main objective? Or do you make friends, working your way slowly towards the military alliances that also reward you with amber?

Arguably the most significant change was the inclusion of different starting areas and more lords. With them came new challenges, unique quests and new places to begin your conquest of the Old World. Play as the Dwarven Clan Angrund, for example, and you’ll be given a quest to reclaim your old home, and the longer you take to win it back, the harder the game gets. You’ll also be able to fight alongside your ancestors, spectral hero units with their own upgrade paths.

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The DLC bumped Warhammer from good to great, so you might think it makes sense to wait until the sequel has similarly had time to stew. But the lessons learned by Creative Assembly while they worked on the DLC have already been applied to its sequel. With the foundations of the first game propping it up, Warhammer 2 builds on the experimentation of the previous game and its DLC.

Framing it around a dynamic, objective-based campaign really helps. Normally, Total Wars launch with a grand campaign, but in the case of so many of them, including Rome II, Shogun II and Warhammer, some of the best moments are tucked away in the smaller, DLC campaigns. Fighting over the giant Vortex at the heart of the High Elf kingdom feels like one of those campaigns rather than the vanilla grand campaign you might expect. It’s more nuanced and focused, but still has the huge scale and flexibility that Total War has always offered.

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Where there are gaps, they’re gaps on the map; places where a random assortment of minor factions squabble over land. Later, they’ll likely be filled with playable DLC factions, but they’ll be bonuses, not necessities. I don’t doubt, given the last game’s post-launch factions, that they may offer compelling reasons to return to the game, but it still feels complete without them.

The undead, Egyptian-themed Tomb Kings are a safe bet when it comes to new factions. Their region is already on the map, and they’re a core army from the tabletop game. But since Warhammer 2 feels balanced for a four-faction race to the Vortex, there are extra considerations required when it comes to slotting them, and any other army, into the game, lest the pace be ruined. And if you’re struggling with defending your vulnerable ritual sites from three factions, how is Creative Assembly going to make four or five just as manageable? There’s an argument to be made that a smaller roster is more appropriate in the Vortex campaign.

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If there is a reason to delay jumping in, it’s Mortal Empires. I don’t think Warhammer 2 needs it to become great – it already is – but there’s no denying that fighting across the Old World and the New World with 117 factions is a compelling prospect, especially if you crave the freeform, domination gameplay that typically comes with a grand campaign. It’s important to note, however, that Mortal Empires will be free if you’ve got both Warhammers.

So should you get Total War: Warhammer 2 now? If the only things stopping you from taking the plunge are your concerns about it needing DLC to feel like a feature-complete game, then yes. Absolutely. Come join me in honouring the Horned Rat.

Total War: Warhammer 2 is out today on Windows via Steam and the Humble Store for £39.99/$59.99/€59.99.

38 Comments

  1. Ariakkan says:

    mmm the Wood Elves DLC was possibly the worst DLC of the bunch by far. The Amber mechanic felt undercooked and was heavily critized by the community.

    Additionally, the micro campaigns that came with the new factions (Beastmean and Woodelves) were also very critizied and CA themselves decided to ditch this approach in favour of more fleshed out new factions (Norsca being the best example).

    To be honest no single DLC changed the fundamentals of the game in any significant way. Just added variety.

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      I tottaly disagree. I loved the Wood Elves unique mechanics and its campaign.It felt tottaly different then my beloved Vampire counts,which was great.

    • Parrilla says:

      Yeah disagree, I think WE special rules and armies worked well. Only problem was they were too powerful and overran the map as AI. With the release of Bretonnia and the tweaking patch I think it’s pretty well balanced now.

    • Vayra says:

      Really? I disagree with that. The Wood Elves are much, much harder to master than the other factions overall, but that is a reward in itself to be fair. They present a challenging balancing act. And I won’t deny I’ve played campaigns with ‘more Amber’ mods too, but while they made playing Wood Elves easier (in fact, far too easy), it didn’t make it more fun to do; apart from building ridiculous armies.

    • bambusek says:

      Community was criticizing Amber mechanic, because it made WE a threat similar to Chaos: they needed to go out on conquering spree, while in lore they are isolationist race that cares mostly for safety of Athen Loren and nothing more. But, if CA made them true to lore, then they would be boring as hell unless their “grand” campaign would be about defeating waves of waves of waves of Beastmen armies with rare incursions from Bretonnia and Dwarfs.

  2. HexagonalBolts says:

    I have been playing the game straight for the last 7 or so hours since it came out! It’s absolutely fantastic. The new campaign mechanic is great – you get to defend your biggest cities & garrisons against invading forces that feel like a fun challenge. There is definitely enough here to keep me going for months even without DLC. I made an RPS forum post if anyone fancies mucking about in multiplayer.

  3. TotallyUseless says:

    I want my Storm Cast Eternals as DLC. >:(

    Or better yet a legendary lord, The god Emperor of Mankind Himself leading his Thunder Warriors. Ooops that’s about overkill. XD

  4. SaintAn says:

    Well the game feels a lot different with each DLC they add, so I’m not sure you should wait. The DLC will keep the game changing giving you more play time on it. And that’s even if you don’t buy it.

    This game does kinda feel empty though. The first game had a bunch of races piled next to each other and it ended up being a massive battle Royale. The Dark Elves so far from what I’ve played aren’t fun. They mostly fight Skaven and each other, but DLC will probably improve that if they add Alith Anar the Shadow King invading the Dark Elf areas to make it more active and High vs Dark.

    I do recommend waiting on the Mortal Empires Mega Campaign though if that’s your main want out of this game. They’ve been super cagey about it like they know if they reveal stuff about it there will be a bunch of outrage that would hurt sales. So wait and see when it comes to it.

    • Fraser Brown says:

      Skaven, Chaos, High Elves and Lizardmen are all threats to the Dark Elves. Once the lizards start expanding, they’ll come from the south to gobble up Dark Elf settlements, and there are some minor High Elf factions close by that can cause problems.

      Ultimately, the Vortex campaign does a good job of getting all factions competing with each other. Once you start doing rituals, you’ll likely find yourself fending off armies from each of them.

    • bambusek says:

      They already revealed a bunch of information about Mortal Empires and nothing looks like it will be bad (not counting AI turn time increase that is a given considering there will be 117 factions).

      • SaintAn says:

        They revealed some numbers that show content will be missing and a little carefully worded stuff. Nothing informative that would make anyone think they’re not expecting everyone to be pissed. If it was good they would have showed it off for marketing because it’s what people want.

  5. Silent_Thunder says:

    Part of the difference between this and WH1’s launch is how empty the map felt with just 4 races (Even if those 4 races provided a lot more variety than the larger pool of culture groups in historical TW’s). However, a lot of your buddies from WH1 are putzing about the New world as well, which helps a ton. Imperials, Brettonians, Dwarfs, (placeholder) Norse, the Orcs, etc. They aren’t major threats like the big boys, but they are still there providing more variety.

  6. stringerdell says:

    Wish I had the self control to seriously consider putting off this purchase.

    Actually that’s a lie. The only tricky decision for me is which faction to play first…

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Sounds like the tricky part will be deciding if it’s worth going to bed tonight and even bothering to pretend you’ll go to work tomorrow.

  7. Koshelkin says:

    It’s true that TWH1 had some great and worthwhile DLC but CA gave such massive discounts on the base game that I don’t think I’ll buy it at full price this time around. I didn’t feel my initial investement was valued by CA.

    • Rince says:

      Well, if you’re poor you wait and buy it cheaper. If you can afford it you buy it at release and enjoy it earlier.
      Everybody wins. I don’t see the issue.

  8. unimural says:

    What about Total Warhammer vs Total Warhammer 2? I was kind of shocked when TWW2 was announced before I had managed to find the time to get to the first one. Is TWW2 the way to go, or is TWW with DLC the better option?

    Getting both sounds rather unreasonable, both from cost and time perspective. I’m also wondering if TWW3 will follow the same aggressive release schedule as well, and make this even more difficult a decision.

    • bambusek says:

      There is suppose to be bigger time gap between TWW 2 and TWW 3 than TWW 1 and 2. So, Warhammer 3 probably not earlier than 2019.

    • Silent_Thunder says:

      It should be noted that owners of both WH1 and Wh2 will get a combined map in a few weeks with the factions of both games playable, including any owned DLC races from WH1. So on a budget, the best bet is to get WH2 and then grab WH1 next time it’s on sale, as that will add a whole new campaign and 5 playable races to Wh2.

  9. bambusek says:

    On chat during one of streams this week, one person from CA said that at least first DLC race will have unique (and different for each Legendary Lord) victory conditions, separate from Vortex.

    • Silent_Thunder says:

      Sounds like Khemri then, which makes sense given the Greatlands/Southlands presence on the map. They are the big conspicuous absence on the map like Athel Loren was in the first game, and I can 100% see each lord having different objectives because they REALLY don’t get along with themselves at all.

      I mean heck their great city is even on the map right now, just there’s some vampires squatting in it at the moment.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      That’s what I was thinking – maybe the Vortex campaign works quite well with 4 factions, but what if you’ve got another objective that perhaps overlaps with the race to the Vortex but is independent of it? I think that would be a solution to crowding the Vortex campaign with factions.

  10. mariandavid says:

    Of course there are no mods since the Workshop is down for at least a week so I am happily playing off the first 15 or so turns for each of the eight leaders. So far am VERY impressed – in effect there are 8 factions at the start as the two leaders from each are very, very different to each other in challenge, location and style.

  11. BaronKreight says:

    I haven’t even bought the base game yet. Probably not evne going to. This series have become stale.

    • Landiss says:

      How do you know it’s stale if you haven’t played it…

      • BaronKreight says:

        dude I played every single TW game including the first warhammer game.

        • Obi-Sean says:

          Your posts are contradicting each other. You either still haven’t bought the “base” game yet, or you’ve played every TW game including the first WH. Or you’re a filthy pirate. Which is arguably worse.

    • Jmnea says:

      Just do what I did for the first one. Wait until it’s finished and all of it is insanely cheap, then buy it. Don’t support their nickle and dime-ing insanity

      • Pheon0802 says:

        nickel and dimeing? I wonder what you expect they should charge for the work they put in. in my book they actually should stop altogether to make them this dirty cheap in sales unless its been 3 or even 4 years since release. It just hurts the gamer in the end.

        I like a company I like the games they put out you damn well believe I pay full price to support them and show them yep this is what I want more off.

        And honestly? TW are such huge Time sinks…. Money well invested in my book. Especially when you actually work and earn money its not really that big of a deal to pay for it.

        Nowadays it isnt money but TIME I have to look out for in a sale. My (Want to play list is piling up I just never get the time to do it!)

      • BaronKreight says:

        Its not about the price. The game is stale. They stopped changing it after Empire was released with naval combat. After Empire its all the same stuff with no new features.

    • RainbowCascade says:

      Soo Baron.. why are you keeping up with WH2 news if the entire series is stale? Trolling for attention is stale… hasn’t changed since early 2000’s.

  12. wombat191 says:

    I’m annoyed the combined campaign will be missing my murder vikings at least at the start

  13. DeadCanDance says:

    How is the performance? Total war games are notably difficult to run at 60fps even if you exceed the recommended specs…

    • Boosterh says:

      Actually, it runs better than the first one. My three year old laptop is right on the edge of playability for TWWH1, but it can actually handle #2 with shorter load times and less stuttering during play. I haven’t got to the point where I am throwing 40 stacks at 40 stacks, but so far so good.

  14. wombat191 says:

    I’ll wait till the grand campaign is released, while its enjoyable the vortex campaign makes me feel rushed and I like to take my time in a total war game

  15. Pilgore says:

    Araby is also a shoe-in for a DLC faction. Like the Tomb Kings their lands are already there (Great Desert of Araby).

    My bed for DLC factions: Tomb Kings, Araby, Amazons and Pirates of Sartosa (faction is already in the game but right now they’re just generic Empire soldiers).